May 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Gray enjoys LGBT support amid controversy

Mayor Vincent Gray delivering a proclamation at the D.C. Black Pride opening reception (Washington Blade photo by Blake Bergen)

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.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • The truth is Mayor Gray’s grade when it comes to LGBT public safety is still a ‘D’ — maybe even a D minus.

    The LGBT community and many LGBT activists in DC have wisely lost TRUST in Mayor Gray’s police department (MPD) to protect LGBT residents and visitors from hate crimes. Many believe MPD is simply lying to them when it comes to the hate crimes MPD is not accurately reporting. See Blade story…

    In multiple public appearances last February, Mayor Gray’s Chief of Police, Cathy Lanier, took openly hostile stances to DC’s transgender victims of hate crimes. At one of those appearances (before CM Mendelson’s Judiciary Committee) Lanier also expressed her contempt for DC’s LGBT community complaints regarding MPD’s lack of enforcement of DC’s hate crimes law and its increasingly unbelievable hate crimes reporting stats. Gray’s Chief of Police revealed her apparent exasperation with LGBT policing needs, strongly implying MPD was spending too much of its resources on LGBT-related crimes and public safety.

    Just last week Lanier’s PR machine peddled a fantasy response, to the Blade apparently, that MPD “continues” to protect DC for LGBT residents and LGBT visitors from hate crimes because it closed the IHOP shooting case.

    However, the IHOP case was a case that even casual observers could see was EASY for MPD to close. It occurred at a well-known, public restaurant location. It had multiple witnesses, including a MPD police officer– on the scene trying to break up the fracas. Its participants were easily ID’d. Yet MPD’s chiefs tout their closure of this case as a piece of exceptional MPD policing?

    What about the many hate crimes MPD has NOT solved? Lanier’s MPD PR team is just grasping at straws again. I euphemistically refer to this kind of MPD response as ‘MPD SPIN’. But others recognize it as LYING– from the highest levels of Mayor Gray’s Metropolitan Police Department.

    REAL LGBT residents have been violently killed, shot, stabbed and violently assaulted in violation of DC’s hate crimes law. The victims and/or their loved ones– and DC’s LGBT community– await justice from MPD. But MPD’s chiefs and PR/ SPINNERS peddle these lies, instead.

    A seat at the table and/or high appointive offices doesn’t do anything for the LGBT crime victims and LGBT community awaiting justice and public safety from MPD. Richardson and Corado ought to remember that.

    However, the buck stops with the mayor of the city. Mayor Gray is ultimately responsible for MPD’s lies– and the growing lack of trust by LGBT residents in their Metropolitan Police Department .

  • I have to say I struggle with this, because I like Mayor Gray and everyone in the administration personally, and while it would be easy (and less stressful) to mutually pat each other on the back and say we’re all doing a good job, that is not necessarily the case. We all like each other, and we all have good intentions.

    I think perhaps, though, we need to distinguish between likability / good intentions and actual, measurable progress.

    I suspect that if the long overdue citywide annual report on Hate Crimes (required by law but not yet released) is ever publicly released, it will show that their has been little to know ACTUAL improvement in the safety of LGBT residents or reduction in anti-LGBT hate crimes under this administration.

    I suspect that if the long overdue citywide annual report on LGBT Health is ever publicly released, it will show that there has been little measurable improvement in addressing health disparities LGBT people face under this administration.

    And I know that if you compare the 2012 YRBS data to previous years, it is pretty clear that there has been no measurable improvement in the health, wellbeing, or safety of LGBT Youth in DC Public Schools.

    There has also been no progress in implementing the Human Rights law as it pertains to transgender folks and gender-neutral restrooms. This is particularly frustrating to me.

    And finally, we still only have 8 SAFE beds where we can refer homeless LGBT Youth, and on most nights there is a 20 person waiting list. We need 20 more beds for homeless LGBT Youth in DC.

    Things to take into consideration.

  • He is an embarrasment to people of color, people of DC and just plain people, period. I, as a gay person, cannot support him.

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