Mayor Vincent Gray continues to enjoy LGBT support amid the ongoing federal investigation into his 2010 mayoral campaign that threatens to overshadow his administration.
“He has proven with actions that our issues are a priority under his administration,” said transgender activist Ruby Corado.
She spoke with the Blade a week after former Gray aides Howard Brooks and Thomas Gore pleaded guilty to federal charges that stem from allegations over the use of campaign funds to pay Sulaimon Brown to verbally attack then-Mayor Adrian Fenty ahead of the 2010 Democratic primary. Gray has not publicly commented on the guilty pleas or the ongoing investigation, but he received a warm reception at D.C. Black Pride’s opening reception on Friday night.
Jeffrey Richardson, director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs, declined to specifically comment to the Blade on the allegations. He stressed the response to concerns over public safety, the development of employment initiatives for transgender Washingtonians and the implementation of diversity trainings in District government are proof of what he described as the administration’s continued commitment to the city’s LGBT residents.
“I hope the community remains aware of so much of the work that has happened over the last year from the mayor’s office,” said Richardson. “Our focus has not shifted in any way, shape or form.”
The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsed Gray in the 2010 Democratic primary, while the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance gave the former D.C. Council chair an 8.5 out of 10 rating.
“We worked really hard to promote his campaign,” said Corado. “He was good on his word. When Fenty was in office, we did the same thing. And when he went into office it was hard to talk to him.”
Gay Democratic activist Lane Hudson, who backed Fenty in 2006, helped Gray raise money from LGBT donors. He further applauded the mayor for nominating transgender activists Earline Budd and Alexandra Beninda to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights in April.
“He has a lifelong commitment on LGBT equality, going back at least to trailblazing the fair treatment of transgender youth when he was executive director of Covenant House,” said Hudson. “There is no danger of his legacy on LGBT issues.”
While Gray supporters are quick to point out that they feel he is the most LGBT-friendly mayor in the city’s history, they continue to await the outcome of the investigation.
“The mayor is doing a great job running the District,” said gay Democratic activist Peter Rosenstein, who endorsed Gray in 2010. “I am amazed at the stupidity of what was done in the campaign, but am waiting for the U.S. Attorney to finish his investigation before I am willing to think that the mayor himself was involved. Anyone proven to be guilty, and that would include the mayor if he is, should be punished.”
Corado added she remains worried about whether Gray’s successor would respond as well to LGBT Washingtonians’ concerns if he were to leave office.
“As members of the LGBT community, I hope that we continue to support the mayor,” she said.