Two weeks ago, fellow Washington Blade contributor Peter Rosenstein took to these pages to present his strongest case for why the District’s LGBT community shouldn’t vote for Patrick Mara in the April 23 special election for an At-Large D.C. Council seat: Mara, a socially moderate Republican who’s a strong supporter of gay rights, attended the party’s convention in Tampa and supported Mitt Romney for president.
Consider me underwhelmed.
If Rosenstein wishes to make the case that the gay community can’t support any candidate for office who has supported another candidate that doesn’t support gay rights, he’ll have disqualified anyone in the current field who’s been supportive of Council member Marion Barry.
Instead of entertaining Rosenstein’s arbitrary and unreasonable standard for casting your vote, consider Mara’s stance on just two major local issues that affect LGBT voters in their daily lives.
The first is marriage equality, which is settled law in the District of Columbia thanks in part to Mara’s efforts. When the Council had public hearings on the matter, nearly 300 people signed up to testify. Then, as a board member of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, I testified. But as a regular citizen – a straight one at that – so did Patrick Mara. He even took the additional step of lobbying conservative members of Congress not to oppose the District’s efforts.
All of the candidates running today say that, were they on the Council back in 2009, they would have voted to support bringing marriage equality to the District. That may be true, but only one of them—Pat Mara—took direct action to make it so.
The other issue is home rule. The Home Rule Act requires affirmative congressional action with respect to the entire District budget. So, for instance, if there’s a federal shutdown, that affects the District’s use of its own funds. It also deprives D.C. citizens of full voting rights in Congress, even though we pay federal taxes. Mara has long been a supporter of giving the District budget authority and voting rights, both as a board member of D.C. Vote and as a strong advocate within the party for including congressional representation for the District in the national Republican Party platform.
The facts speak for themselves: Patrick Mara is a moderate Republican with genuine cross-over appeal. The fact that the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club actually met to discuss allowing him to address their membership speaks volumes to that appeal, which surely makes partisans like Rosenstein nervous.
Mara is running an excellent grassroots campaign doing it the old-fashioned way — going door to door and meeting the voters. And he has a vision for education and ethics reform that all voters can get behind.
Robert Turner is executive director of the District of Columbia Republican Party and former president of the D.C. chapter of Log Cabin Republicans. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @RobertTurnerDC.