Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., the Maryland minister who led an unsuccessful campaign to overturn D.C.’s same-sex marriage law, told an audience last Sunday that he placed a curse on the Washington Blade in 2009.
In what appears to be a sermon that someone recorded and posted online, Jackson said he placed his curse on the Blade two months before the Blade’s November 2009 shutdown following a bankruptcy filing by its former parent company, Window Media.
“I remember one night I walked past one of those newsstands,” Jackson said, referring to one of the Blade’s sidewalk boxes used to distribute the paper.
“As I was walking past it I looked at that newsstand and it had some article about same-sex marriage — all of that stuff on it,” he said. “And I laid hands on that newsstand and I said, ‘In the name of Jesus, I curse this paper!”
Speaking in a loud voice, Jackson added, “In less than two months, the paper went bankrupt. It was part of a six-state, six newspaper chain. It went bankrupt! It went out of business! It went under!”
Jackson didn’t mention in his sermon that the Blade’s staff continued to publish even after Window Media’s bankruptcy.
Within the next several months, three staff members formed a new company that later purchased the rights to the Washington Blade’s name from the bankruptcy court. The staff never missed a week of publishing during the upheaval.
Jackson didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Blade editor Kevin Naff said he found it interesting that Jackson is not aware of the Blade’s comeback.
“Harry Jackson has never let the facts get in the way of his misguided opinions,” Naff said. “He is comically misinformed about the Blade’s track record.”
In his sermon last Sunday, Jackson told of how he moved to D.C. from Maryland in 2009 to become “involved and ultimately become the leader” of the effort to kill D.C.’s same-sex marriage law through a voter referendum.
“So I get into the District and I started having all these stories written by this gay newspaper called the Blade,” Jackson said. “And they were writing these things – had me on the front page day after day,” he said.
Although he didn’t go into specifics, Jackson was referring to a series of stories the Blade published in early 2009 questioning whether Jackson was a legal D.C. resident at the time he registered to vote in the city and took out petitions to place a same-sex marriage referendum on the ballot.
The Blade reported that Jackson listed as his D.C. address an efficiency apartment in a condominium building near the Washington Convention Center that was ineligible for being rented to a tenant under the condominium’s rules.
The owner of the apartment told the condo board that Jackson was his roommate, according to sources at the upscale high-rise building. But LGBT activists raised questions about whether Jackson actually lived in the building. Other sources told the Blade Jackson and his wife were seen arriving and leaving the couple’s house in Silver Spring, Md., during the time Jackson claimed to be living in D.C.
The Blade stories prompted a Mt. Vernon Square neighborhood activist to file a complaint with the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics challenging Jackson’s D.C. residency status. The board said it responded by investigating Jackson’s residency. It announced a short time later that it found Jackson’s living arrangement met the legal requirements of D.C. residency.
Jackson and his supporters lost their campaign to overturn the city’s same-sex marriage law when the D.C. Court of Appeals issued a ruling upholding a city law that prohibits ballot referendums on issues that could lead to discrimination. The appeals court held that the city has legal authority to ban referenda on certain issues.