September 20, 2017 at 12:49 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
College Park’s gay mayor criticized for backing non-citizen voting measure
Wojahn, gay news, Washington Blade

College Park Mayor Patrick Wojahn (Photo courtesy Wojahn)

College Park, Md., Mayor Patrick Wojahn and City Council member P.J. Brennan, both of whom are gay, were among the suburban city’s leaders who came under fire last week for backing a controversial proposal to allow non-citizen residents to vote in local elections.

Wojahn presided over a contentious City Council meeting on Sept. 12 in which several dozen residents spoke for or against the proposal, which called for adopting a city charter amendment to give non-citizens the right to vote.

Wojahn infuriated many of the residents who spoke out against the proposal by casting the deciding vote to kill a proposed resolution to place the issue before the voters in a referendum in November rather than let the City Council decide the matter.

The eight-member Council then voted 4 to 3 with one abstention to approve the non-citizen voting rights charter amendment, prompting Wojahn and the Council members backing the measure to declare it had passed.

But four days later, Wojahn and the Council issued a joint statement saying they had overlooked a recently approved city charter revision that required a six-person majority vote on the Council to approve charter amendments. Thus the noncitizen voting measure did not pass, Wojahn and the Council members said in their joint statement, which added, “It is with considerable embarrassment and regret that we acknowledge our oversight.”

P.J. Brennan, the gay Council member who joined Wojahn in voting against the voter referendum proposal and for the non-citizen voting rights measure, said he was troubled by the sometimes acrimonious rhetoric by people on both sides of the issue.

“No doubt, as gay men, Patrick and I have been the targets of some unfortunate statements attacking our sexuality and making us feel unsafe,” he told the Washington Blade. “These attacks have allowed a perfectly reasonable community debate to devolve into name calling and lies,” he said.

Brennan said he commended those on both sides of the debate, especially the opponents, who spoke out against personal attacks and “hateful rhetoric.”

Supporters of giving non-citizen residents the right to vote in College Park’s local municipal elections noted that other Maryland municipalities, including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier, and Takoma Park approved non-citizen voting rights measures in recent years and have not encountered any problems.

“Our residents who are non-citizens are taxpayers and receive city services,” Brennan told the Blade. “They should have a say in voting for the elected body, the mayor and Council, who spend our tax dollars and set the priorities for city services,” he said.

Opponents argued at the Sept. 12 Council meeting that voting should be limited to citizens, including immigrants who become naturalized citizens.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou


    what??? This is absurd-recall now!

  • Kemwit Tall Tree

    Non-Citizens voting in our elections? Oh no, this guy has got to go.

    • lnm3921

      Has to go like your fake POTUS!

  • gabrielwinebrenner

    Good article. Pat Wojahn, seems to be following a centrist neoliberal agenda… He’s no Bernie, that’s for sure. Sad, I wanted to like the guy… But to quote Bernie, “a country without borders is a Koch Brothers idea.” Wojahn and PJ of the establishment, have tried to make this a “civil rights issue,” when it is not.

  • EastCoastJ

    A good reminder not to elect gays as mayors.

    • lnm3921

      If you aren’t gay then WTF are you here for commenting. If someone as crooked as the Fake POTUS can be in office, then who are you to judge gay politicians?

      • EastCoastJ

        I’m gay but I can see how gays are incapable of running certain offices. Look at Seattle too.

        • lnm3921

          Stop stereotyping! All politicians have their flaws, gay and straight! You sound like that Pedophile Miss Milo who claims all gay men are bad workers! Everyone is bad except for him, right? If you take his view, then you shouldn’t have a job either!

          • EastCoastJ

            Some gays are good workers, but they’re proving to be incapable in places of authority. Can you imagine the insanity of akllowing non-citizens to vote ?? Like I should expect to vote for mayors in France, Mexico, Japan…?

          • lnm3921

            Why not? Russians are trying to control our elections and those in other countries. We should get a vote when Putin goes up next time!

            Oh, and doesn’t Trump want to depose the President of Venezuela?

            I know many gays in positions of authority and they are great workers and leaders. Again, stop stereotyping. Some people have the temperament to manage and others don’t!

            Harvey Milk for example was a great leader!

          • EastCoastJ

            Yawn. Harvey Milk was an underaged boy-lover. Gays have been awful leaders since Nero.

          • lnm3921

            You’re self-hating and defeat yourself with that attitude! Miss Milo the poster gurl of the right-wing queer movement advocates for pedophiles!

            Obviously the people who liked your post are incompetent and unable to lead themselves! I’m sure if they were conservative you’d say they were good.

          • EastCoastJ

            Don’t care about Milo, but I’m tired of reactionaries holding up Harvey Milk as such an admirable and significant figure. I’ll stick with Turing as my gay hero.

          • lnm3921

            It’s not reactionary to reconize someone who fought for gay rights despite his flaws as opposed to milo who does nothing but undermine them!

            Turing is certainly someone to take pride in and shatters stereotypes in regards to what gay men can do! He is also an example of how a gay man can lead and manage successfully!!

          • EastCoastJ

            No, Turing is one example of a gay man whose brain created something that changed the world. Like Solon, like DaVinci, like…etc. Stop belittling him.

          • lnm3921

            it’s you who need to stop belittling gay men and assuming they can’t succeed or lead!

            My doctor and dentist are gay and have run succ ssful businesses for decades! You just can’t stand to admit you are wrong!

          • EastCoastJ

            Probably about as trustworthy as gay Dr. Richard Boggs.

          • Kemwit Tall Tree

            This gay mayor in College Park is a disgrace.

          • lnm3921

            You’re a bigger disgrace!

    • BigGaySteve

      I wonder how many ordinances passed in San Fran are just to attack ex boyfriends, like the one that said you couldn’t have a glass blowing shop in your garage

  • LesbianTippingHabits

    Of course, the real issue re Patrick Wojahn is, how does he tip?

    Remember, tips are good karma. And karma never lies.

    And only the wait staff knows for sure. Thank you.

    • lnm3921

      Take out is cheaper and avoids the need to tip!

      • LesbianTippingHabits

        True, though a coin in the tip jar is, of course, greatly appreciated. Thank you.

        • lnm3921

          Well, if you agree with miss milo, missy hatchett and east coast that gay and lesbian workers can’t manage well and make bad workers then it is a false premise that you are capable of providing good service!

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