A political consultant who was paid by an anti-gay group to lead the effort to place D.C.’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum in 2010 is serving on a fundraising committee for D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser’s campaign for mayor.
Robert “Bob” King, a Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, is listed as one of more than 100 people serving on the host committee for a May 2 “kickoff celebration and fundraiser” for Bowser’s bid to win the Democratic nomination for mayor next year.
Bowser, a Democrat from Ward 4, is a strong supporter of LGBT rights and voted for the city’s same-sex marriage law when it came before the D.C. Council in 2009. The Council passed the law by a vote of 11-2. Then Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the measure less than a week later.
King emerged as one of the top lieutenants of Bishop Harry Jackson, the Beltsville, Md., minister who came to D.C. to lead the campaign to overturn the marriage law.
King told the Blade this week that he has never taken a public position for or against the gay marriage law. He said he was retained as a consultant by the National Organization for Marriage — which opposes same-sex marriage — to coordinate a campaign to place the D.C. marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum.
“My position was to give the people the right to vote on the issue,” he said. “My personal view is not the issue. The issue was democracy and whether the people should be given the right to vote.”
In a brief interview with the Blade Tuesday night at the election victory party for Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), Bowser said she had yet to hear from anyone who objected to King being on the host committee for her campaign kickoff event.
When asked how King was selected to be on the committee, Bowser said, “Well, we certainly invite people who want to support my candidacy for mayor all across the city. And certainly Bob King is a fixture in this community,” she said. “But he won’t change my views.”
Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said King and others who clearly oppose marriage equality seek to “hide behind the ‘let the people vote’ mantra’ in their efforts to kill same-sex marriage laws.
“The fact is that no other people’s rights are put to a plebiscite,” he said.
“People have a right to support whatever candidate they like, of course,” Rosendall added. “But for a candidate to welcome the support of a documented organizer for bigotry, and even to welcome such a person on their host committee, is at the very least a significant act of disrespect for the LGBT community.”
Among others serving on the Bowser campaign host committee are gay activists Christopher Dyer, who served as director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs under the Fenty administration; and gay activist and businessman Everett Hamilton.
King said he has been an advocate for D.C. residents, including senior citizens, for more than 30 years in his role as a civic activist and ANC commissioner. He said he’s supporting Bowser because he believes she is highly qualified to be mayor and would move the city forward.
“That issue has been decided,” he said of the D.C. marriage law. “We move on now to other issues.”
Records from the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance show that the National Organization for Marriage paid King $60,900 to, among other things, distribute fliers during the 2010 City Council election to urge voters to vote against Council members up for re-election who voted for the marriage equality law.