June 7, 2012 at 8:09 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
D.C. Mayor Gray calls Catania remarks ‘nonsense’

Mayor Vincent Gray spoke at the Pride week LGBT town hall on Thursday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray took a shot at gay Council member David Catania during a Pride town hall event Thursday.

A day earlier, Catania said in a televised interview that Gray should resign if he fails to tell all he knows about allegations of improprieties in his 2010 mayoral campaign.

He told Fox 5 news, “The time has come … for the mayor to provide answers to the questions that people have regarding his campaign or return as a private citizen and address those issues,” said Catania.

“I don’t want to respond to that kind of nonsense,” the mayor said when asked by the Blade’s Lou Chibbaro Jr. about Catania’s remarks. “David Catania makes comments at times that are ridiculous.”

The reception and town hall, which took place at the Charles Sumner School in Washington, D.C., also saw the swearing in of members of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Committee. The event was sponsored by Capital Pride, the Washington Blade, the Victory Fund and the Crew Club.

“We want to get them sworn in tonight,” Mayor Gray said in announcing the new members of the committee after an introduction by the mayor’s GLBT liaison, Jeffrey Richardson. “Because we want them to take this seriously. This is serious work.”

“People can step back for a minute,” the mayor said in response to a question about the resignation and indictment of City Council Chair Kwame Brown. “The city is doing extremely well.”

The mayor said he was shocked and saddened by the resignation but said the scandal would not impact city services. He rattled off a list of accomplishments during his tenure as mayor, including posting a budget surplus, lower unemployment and a reduced number of homicides.

“We are a resilient city,” the mayor said, saying the District is adding 1,000 new residents each month. “Our city is in great shape.”

“I was stunned and I was sad to learn what was revealed,” the mayor said of the resignation of his longtime friend, but assured residents the city was on the right track.

The mayor also answered questions from the Blade about President Obama’s support of marriage equality as well as the impending Maryland referendum on same-sex marriage.

The mayor also spoke extensively of his pride over the District playing host to the International AIDS Conference, being held in the United States for the first time in two decades. He also said he was not prepared to make any statements about running for mayor again in 2014.

“We will be able to showcase what we are doing in the District of Columbia itself,” the mayor said, saying the conference will be an opportunity for AIDS/HIV researchers and advocates to advance the science of HIV prevention and care. “We are doing a lot.”

The comments came after a line of questioning about the rising HIV rates among gay men in the District of Columbia.

During an audience question and answer session immediately following the interview, trans advocate Ruby Corado thanked the mayor for his support.

“Since you’ve been mayor a lot of LGBT activists can sleep a little better,” said Corado, whose Casa Ruby recently opened catering to the Latino LGBT community. “As a trans activist, I certainly sleep a lot better.”

The members of the committee sworn in Thursday night are:

  • Andrew Barnett – Executive Director Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League
  • Gregory A. Cendana – Executive Director of Asian American Labor Alliance
  • Wesley D. Thomas – Dentist, U.S. Department of Defense & board member, Whitman-Walker Health
  • Brittany E. Walsh – Program Manager, LIFT-DC
  • Ryan C. Wilson – Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
  • Lester Johnson – President, Team DC Executive Council
  • Kareem Murphy – Partner, Ferguson Group & Member, Metropolitan Community Church Public Policy Team
  • Megan Wallace – Principal, Wallace Law, LLC,
  • Matthew Leblanc – Program Coordinator, LGBTQ Resource Center, Georgetown University
  • Savanna Wanzer – Founder of Capital Trans Pride 2007 & Board member Whitman Walker Health
  • Iden McCollum – Founder and Executive Director of the Ida Mae Campbell Foundation
  • Ronald L. Swanda – Aging Advocate
  • Dr. Imani Woody – Chair, SAGE Metro DC
  • Khadijah Tribble – Director of Operations for the Not-for-Profit Hospital Corporation’s Infectious Diseases Care Center & Principal, of Trifecta Consulting Group
  • Julius Agers – Two-Spirited American Indian and Transgender Advocate
  • Courtney Snowden – Principal, Raben Group
  • David Perez – President, Board of the Latino GLBT History Project & Director of Development for the League of United Latin American Citizens
  • June Crenshaw – Chair of the Board of Rainbow Response Coalition (RRC)
  • Barbara Ann Helmick – Deputy Chief of Staff for Citizen Outreach for The Public Interest Network (appointed as Vice Chair of Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee)
  • Earl Fowlkes – President/CEO of the International Federation of Black Prides (IFBP) – Appointed as Chair of Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)


  • The homicide rate is lower? Doubt it. Maybe Lanier has doctored the data like they do with rapes to make it APPEAR that homicides are down, but there are no fewer homicides. As far Grey’s campaign activities, they weren’t any different than anyone before him. Kwame Brown was a close friend and associate but who knows if that means Grey was acting in concert. At least he isn’t Marion Barry!

  • I attended this event. Gray arrived extremely late, keeping us waiting for an extended length of time, but he failed to apologize. He offered no concrete measures to combat DC’s extremely high HIV infection rate and seemed only vaguely concerned. He ingenuously claimed to be ‘stunned’ by Kwame Brown’s crimes. When asked about the extension of bar hours, he dismissed the concerns of law-abiding citizens who will be adversely affected by drunks pouring out of the bars into the streets in the middle of the night. In general, Gray came across as self-aggrandizing, smug and sleazy — the kind of politician who tarnishes DC’s image within and outside the District and who prevents DC from becoming first-class.

  • To some people, it means nothing that Mayor Gray has done more for the GLBT community in DC than almost any other mayor in the country. They scream about “how late he arrives” and how “he looks” but fail to appreciate his long list of accomplishments, including spearheading Marriage Equality (something people erroneously give Fenty credit for) when he was Council Chair, as well as his very strong efforts to help the Transgender community, much of which will continue to save lives.
    A dis-service to the great advocate that is Mayor Gray.

  • What a good example of democratic engagement through a town hall forum. The HRC leaders might follow this example and start holding open forums with the community. Why is HRC so afraid of town hall meetings?

  • Wow, Julius. That’s just flatly false. RU competing with Mitt Romney for tallest tale of the day???

    All-in-all, Gray’s record– **excepting LGBT public safety**– averages out as merely OK re. LGBT issues. The best we can say is that is a “mixed bag” of accomplishments and failures. But the same can be said of former CM Harry Thomas, Jr.– and now, former CM Kwame Brown.

    Mayor Gray started out his administration by outrageously breaking his campaign promise to the LGBT community to consult with LGBT activists regarding his selection of Chief of Police. Now, Chief Lanier’s recent hostile stance to the LGBT community has only been tempered by MPD’s not-credible, periodic PR efforts and photo-ops. It is clear that MPD’s ACTUAL policies and practices continues to be a critical FAILURE of Mayor Gray’s administration.

    Justice for LGBT victims of homicides and violent assaults on DC’s mean streets continues to be ignored in Mayor Gray’s Washington. Nothing focuses the mind of LGBT residents and visitors to DC, than the prospect that they, their friends or their loved ones will be violently assaulted or killed, merely because they are LGBT.

    Accordingly, most DC LGBT residents don’t give a fig what Mayor Gray’s LGBT record is compared to other mayors across the nation. You (and Jeff Richardson) ought stop making such lame, self-serving comparisons.

    And, BTW, David Catania was WAAAY ahead of everyone on marriage equality. Likewise, Phil Mendelson, Jim Graham and … and yes, Mayor Fenty.

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