March 13, 2013 | by Robert Turner
Patrick Mara for City Council

Two weeks ago, fellow Washington Blade contributor Peter Rosenstein took to these pages to present his strongest case for why the District’s LGBT community shouldn’t vote for Patrick Mara in the April 23 special election for an At-Large D.C. Council seat: Mara, a socially moderate Republican who’s a strong supporter of gay rights, attended the party’s convention in Tampa and supported Mitt Romney for president.

Consider me underwhelmed.

If Rosenstein wishes to make the case that the gay community can’t support any candidate for office who has supported another candidate that doesn’t support gay rights, he’ll have disqualified anyone in the current field who’s been supportive of Council member Marion Barry.

Instead of entertaining Rosenstein’s arbitrary and unreasonable standard for casting your vote, consider Mara’s stance on just two major local issues that affect LGBT voters in their daily lives.

The first is marriage equality, which is settled law in the District of Columbia thanks in part to Mara’s efforts. When the Council had public hearings on the matter, nearly 300 people signed up to testify. Then, as a board member of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, I testified.  But as a regular citizen – a straight one at that – so did Patrick Mara. He even took the additional step of lobbying conservative members of Congress not to oppose the District’s efforts.

All of the candidates running today say that, were they on the Council back in 2009, they would have voted to support bringing marriage equality to the District. That may be true, but only one of them—Pat Mara—took direct action to make it so.

The other issue is home rule. The Home Rule Act requires affirmative congressional action with respect to the entire District budget. So, for instance, if there’s a federal shutdown, that affects the District’s use of its own funds. It also deprives D.C. citizens of full voting rights in Congress, even though we pay federal taxes. Mara has long been a supporter of giving the District budget authority and voting rights, both as a board member of D.C. Vote and as a strong advocate within the party for including congressional representation for the District in the national Republican Party platform.

The facts speak for themselves: Patrick Mara is a moderate Republican with genuine cross-over appeal. The fact that the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club actually met to discuss allowing him to address their membership speaks volumes to that appeal, which surely makes partisans like Rosenstein nervous.

Mara is running an excellent grassroots campaign doing it the old-fashioned way — going door to door and meeting the voters. And he has a vision for education and ethics reform that all voters can get behind.

Robert Turner is executive director of the District of Columbia Republican Party and former president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at robert.turner@dcgop.com or @RobertTurnerDC.

10 Comments
  • Yes, the facts speak for themselves. Sensing a potential opportunity to advance his career by getting an appointment in a Romney administration, Mara abandoned his supposedly "strong" support for gay rights and cheered the nomination of an anti-gay bigot in Tampa. Since no new career opportunity in a Romney administration has materialized, Mara now wants to return to being a "strong" supporter of gay rights to seek a different career opportunity. His conduct over the last year, however, has now made clear that he is unreliable and untrustworthy. He will espouse support for gay rights when he thinks it helps him get what he wants, and he will cheer an anti-gay bigot when he thinks that will help him get what he wants. It would appear that if he were a councilmemeber, all it would take is a promise of some personal advancement from the Republican Party to get him to once again betray the gay community. His supposedly "strong" support for gay rights has been unmasked as situational lip service of convenience.

    Many of us advised the Log Cabin Republicans not to endorse a man who led an effort of massive resistance against gay equality in Massachusetts, who signed a comically anti-gay candidate pledge in the Republican primaries, and who even retreated from John McCain's 2008 opposition to the federal marriage amendment. Drunk with fantasies of opportunities in a Romney administration, Log Cabin Republicans sold out the rest of the gay community. If Mara and Log Cabin Republicans had gotten their wish in 2012, we would now be awaiting President Romney's inevitable creation of a vehemently anti-gay majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. It is unclear why Log Cabin Republicans, who pushed to bring about that result, imagine that they retain any credibility to speak for gay rights just a few months later. They willingly chose to become party-first ideologues, damn the consequences for the rest of us. Let us hear no more empty words from them on gay rights.

  • P.S. It should not be necessary to point out to Mr. Turner that Marion Barry has never been in a position to reshape the federal judiciary in the mold of Antonin Scalia, make life once again untenable for gay servicemembers as the commander in chief, repeal hard-won executive orders advancing gay equality, aggressively deport foreign gay spouses, direct the Justice Department to defend anti-gay legislation, sign further anti-gay federal legislation, veto gay-inclusive federal legislation, such as the recently signed Violence Against Women Act, or use the national bully pulpit of the presidency to defame the integrity of gay couples.

  • P.S. It should not be necessary to point out to Mr. Turner that Marion Barry has never been in a position to reshape the federal judiciary in the mold of Antonin Scalia, make life once again untenable for gay servicemembers as the commander in chief, repeal hard-won executive orders advancing gay equality, aggressively deport foreign gay spouses, direct the Justice Department to defend anti-gay legislation, sign further anti-gay federal legislation, veto gay-inclusive federal legislation, such as the recently signed Violence Against Women Act, or use the national bully pulpit of the presidency to defame the integrity of gay couples.

  • I don't give a hoot what "party" someone belongs to if they'll do great things for the city. I'm tired of progressive Washingtonians splitting our votes (for various reasons) to elect another Vince Orange/Michael Brown-type to our city's council. So, show me you're competent, not a crook, compassionate, reasonable, and can balance a budget. Then I'm sold.

  • peter rosenstein

    “Instead of entertaining Rosenstein’s arbitrary and unreasonable standard for casting your vote, consider Mara’s stance on just two major local issues that affect LGBT voters in their daily lives”

    I wouldn’t consider it an unreasonable standard to cast a vote based on who the candidate stands with and endorses. Pandering to a community and telling them you support them and then working for a candidate-whichever party she or he is in- who will work against everything you say you support is clearly a reason to vote against them and it isn’t unreasonable. Also my decision wasn’t arbitrary. At one time in the past I did support Mara hoping he would stop supporting candidates who totally disagree with his views. That didn’t happen.

    “The first is marriage equality, which is settled law in the District of Columbia thanks in part to Mara’s efforts. When the Council had public hearings on the matter, nearly 300 people signed up to testify. Then, as a board member of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, I testified. But as a regular citizen – a straight one at that – so did Patrick Mara. He even took the additional step of lobbying conservative members of Congress not to oppose the District’s efforts.”

    The fact that Mara was one of 300 people to sign up and speak for marriage-equality was nice but clearly didn’t make him unusual. What did make him unusual was that then he turned around and is a delegate for and supports and votes for candidates who not only oppose marriage-equaltiy, but if they win will have he ability to see that it gets ruled unconstitutional by the judges they would appoint to the Supreme Court. As I said in my column that is total hypocrisy. The same can be said for his positions on women and minorities. As to Marion Barry, and I am not a supporter, the interesting thing about Barry is that it is because of his working on the DC Human Rights Act back in the 1970′s that the people who joined with Mara in supporting Romney/Ryan in the last election couldn’t overturn the Council’s vote for marriage-equality by taking it to court. So Mara’s lobbying Congressman on the issue had nothing to do with its success but Marion Barry’s work year’s ago did have a great impact. Then Mara claims to support voting rights for the District but did endorse and work for the election of George Bush who threatened a veto if a bill granting that ever came to his desk.

    Today Mara is campaigning on returning money to taxpayers- such a typical Republican position -which in the District one can conside pandering since there is no great clamor by residents for that. Instead many want to see it spenton education, doing something about homelessness and building more affordable housing among other pressing issues. Then Mara supports school vouchers. In the District 96% are used in parochial schools which can and do discriminate against LGBT teachers, parents and students. How does that equate with support of the LGBT community or even his being on the State Board of Education where he should be fighting for every dollar of public money to go to public education to improve our public schools.

    I have endorsed no candidate in this race. People can agree or disagree with my views. But from my vantage point I see that many of the candidates running have a better record of accomplishment and consistancy on a host of issues that matter to the people of the district than does Mara.

  • I am more persuaded by Peter’s argument now than I was a few weeks ago. Or perhaps my Democratic Party homing instincts are kicking in the closer we get to this election.

    Stephen’s apocalyptic ‘visual aids’– reminding us again, in this LGBT-historic month of March, the relevance of Mara’s support for Mittens just months ago.

    Imagine what a DOJ under President Romney would be arguing to the Supreme Court next week.

    Fact is, the District of Columbia already has a very capable Member of the Council occupying that Council seat right now. Anita Bonds has been a steadfast supporter of LGBT rights and marriage equality. And I am sure she cares about our public safety, too.

    But Bonds is also a natural-born conciliator and brick-by-brick consensus-builder. Whether we identify as Democrats, Republicans, Statehood/Green or Independents it’s important to have experienced leaders with such skill sets in our government.

    Bonds also enjoys the respect and support of thoughtful Republicans like Tim Day.
    http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/01/23/tim-day-endorses-anita-bonds/

  • As a lifelong progressive, reform Democrat, and out gay man, I am proud to be supporting Pat Mara for at-large DC Council in the Tuesday, April 23rd Special Election.

    I think very highly of Elissa Silverman, and Matt Frumin’s running a good race. But Pat Mara offers a *combination of three things that they don’t: Winnability, Independence to thwart cronyism and Commitment to progressive values.

    I don’t like one bit that Pat supported Romney. And it has zero impact on my decision to support him for Council. Pat has made headway with Republicans in the U.S. of Representatives on DC sovereignty issues that nobody else has even tried. Pat’s independence to thwart local cronyism and progressive values matter more to me than the great level of influence he had on the presidential election. That election was already decided. We can keep bringing it up, or we can talk about how to move the District of Columbia forward in a way that we are proud.

    As for Stephen Clark’s above fallacious comments, Pat Mara didn’t have to “return” to being pro-gay because he never left being pro-gay while he was supporting Romney. Fabricating by implication the notion that Mara had “detoured” from being pro-gay does not make it true, Professor.

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