April 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Anti-gay consultant working for Bowser mayoral campaign
Muriel Bowser, Ward 4, Washington D.C., D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A political consultant who was paid by an anti-gay group to lead the effort to place D.C.’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum in 2010 is serving on a fundraising committee for D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser’s campaign for mayor.

Robert “Bob” King, a Ward 5 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, is listed as one of more than 100 people serving on the host committee for a May 2 “kickoff celebration and fundraiser” for Bowser’s bid to win the Democratic nomination for mayor next year.

Bowser, a Democrat from Ward 4, is a strong supporter of LGBT rights and voted for the city’s same-sex marriage law when it came before the D.C. Council in 2009. The Council passed the law by a vote of 11-2. Then Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the measure less than a week later.

King emerged as one of the top lieutenants of Bishop Harry Jackson, the Beltsville, Md., minister who came to D.C. to lead the campaign to overturn the marriage law.

King told the Blade this week that he has never taken a public position for or against the gay marriage law. He said he was retained as a consultant by the National Organization for Marriage — which opposes same-sex marriage — to coordinate a campaign to place the D.C. marriage law on the ballot in a voter referendum.

“My position was to give the people the right to vote on the issue,” he said. “My personal view is not the issue. The issue was democracy and whether the people should be given the right to vote.”

In a brief interview with the Blade Tuesday night at the election victory party for Council member Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), Bowser said she had yet to hear from anyone who objected to King being on the host committee for her campaign kickoff event.

When asked how King was selected to be on the committee, Bowser said, “Well, we certainly invite people who want to support my candidacy for mayor all across the city. And certainly Bob King is a fixture in this community,” she said. “But he won’t change my views.”

Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, said King and others who clearly oppose marriage equality seek to “hide behind the ‘let the people vote’ mantra’ in their efforts to kill same-sex marriage laws.

“The fact is that no other people’s rights are put to a plebiscite,” he said.

“People have a right to support whatever candidate they like, of course,” Rosendall added. “But for a candidate to welcome the support of a documented organizer for bigotry, and even to welcome such a person on their host committee, is at the very least a significant act of disrespect for the LGBT community.”

Among others serving on the Bowser campaign host committee are gay activists Christopher Dyer, who served as director of the D.C. Office of GLBT Affairs under the Fenty administration; and gay activist and businessman Everett Hamilton.

King said he has been an advocate for D.C. residents, including senior citizens, for more than 30 years in his role as a civic activist and ANC commissioner. He said he’s supporting Bowser because he believes she is highly qualified to be mayor and would move the city forward.

“That issue has been decided,” he said of the D.C. marriage law. “We move on now to other issues.”

Records from the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance show that the National Organization for Marriage paid King $60,900 to, among other things, distribute fliers during the 2010 City Council election to urge voters to vote against Council members up for re-election who voted for the marriage equality law.

Bob King, National Organization for Marriage, NOM, gay news, Washington Blade

Bob King speaking at a National Organization for Marriage rally in 2010. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

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

  • ain't nothing sadder than a bigoted black…

  • Bob King’s intentional appeal to bigoted, anti-gay voters in Ward 5 in 2010 is well-remembered by the voters of Ward 5– both LGBT and straight. After all, it’s only been a little over two years since King, for fun and profit, distributed his hateful, stereotype-filled literature to Ward 5 voters.

    King went way out of his way to demonize LGBT residents and families in Ward 5 with his NOM-financed literature on behalf of the anti-gay candidate, Delano Hunter. That anti-gay history remained an issue when Hunter then ran against our current council member, Kenyan McDuffie in a 2011 special election.

    Hunter’s transparently phony flip-flop on marriage equality was soundly defeated by Ward 5 voters, in part, due to the memory of his NOM-sponsored, Bob King-produced bigoted mailings.

    GLAA is right to raise the red flag on this tin-ear outrage perpetrated by the Bowser campaign.

    Why would any DC candidate want to provide a place of honor for anyone with such a record of unapologetic homophobic political activism? It is an extraordinary, stinging rebuke to LGBT households all across our city.

    Hateful political associations matter. Whatever her past record, CM Bowser would do well to remove homophobe Bob King from her campaign promptly– or rightfully face the hurt and wrath of the city’s LGBT voters in defense of their own families’ PRIDE and self-respect.

    To see samples of Bob King’s NOM-financed anti-gay literature in 2010, just google…
    “right wing watch NOM’s Capital Chutzpah”


  • Rick Rosendall and Bob Summersgill and the whole GLAA need to get off their high-horse. I did not see them tell their candidate Elissa Silverman to return the $250.00 from Sinclair “Grahamzilla” Skinner, known homophobe. They need to look in the mirror and check their hypocrisy. I’m glad young blood took over Stein. Now can they please put these old fools to pasture.

    • Someone please remind me but weren’t the “young folks” who “took over” Stein 20 somethings who beat sitting and running candidates who mostly were 30 somethings? Not such a dramitic generational shift to tout. A philosophical shift perhaps, a downgrade in insitutional knowledge of our city very likely.

    • You should be aware the Stein leaders you speak of not only supported Elissa Silverman. But Lso worked hard to get her the endorsement over a CM Bonds who has been a Stein meme dr since 1978! So you might want to rethink! You might want to vote in different leadership for Stein come Novemeber

  • I will not support her. Never. Would she accept the assistance of an avowed racist? I doubt it. I hope the GLBTA groups will protest this event. She has asked the community to tell her their opinion on this. If someone knows of a protest, can they post the details here? We need to let Bowser and all future Mayoral candidates know this is NOT acceptable.

  • Lord Muriel please get rid of this guy. The White voters will hold it against you. Many of them already want Blacks out of DC so they can grab power and really run us out. Pssst that will never happen though. But you see how they know you’re an ally but because of him now you’re not. Muriel you’re like a faucet to them. They turn their likes of Blacks Off and on! and right now they want to turn you off!

    SMDH! D.C

  • “I’m glad young blood took over Stein. Now can they please put these old fools to pasture.”
    –DC Gay
    Beyond bigoted name-calling, *DC Gay’s* point is…. WHAT???

    *DC Gay* thinks ‘young blood’ at Stein Dems will turn a blind eye to the virulent anti-gay PR work of Bob King –AND– will engage in bigoted AGE discrimination, too? Just because Stein Dems has young leaders? Stein DEMOCRATS? Seriously???

    Is *DC Gay* really another NOM or Bob King campaign dirty tricks operative?

    I’ve always thought pretty highly of CM Bowser. But now, adding Jean-Jacques’ comments above to that of *DC Gay’s*, I guess we can thank a dubious Bowser Campaign for bringing even more bigots out of the woodwork to attack DC LGBTs, LGBT families– and their ages. Not good.

  • sounds fishy to me…and I don't like it.

  • If Marion Barry can return as mayor after the ultimate disgrace (jail!), so can Fenty. Let’s draft him.

  • Voting on these rights is a sham. Should we put interracial marriage to vote? She wouldn't even be here! Ridiculous!

  • A few points in response to comments: Bob Summersgill and I are different people. I did not publicly endorse anyone in the April 23 election. I did criticize Elissa Silverman for not returning the check from Mr. Skinner, though I don’t recall a reporter asking me about it as in this case.

    Of course it would be wrong to refuse forgiveness to someone who has repented of his earlier bigotry. Bob King helped lead the anti-gay effort on marriage in D.C., and has shown no sign of contrition as far as I am aware. Mr. Skinner, I should note, has been quite cordial to me.

    As for the young folks who recently “took over” the Stein Club, I supported them.

  • Additional points in response to comments: As Rick Rosendall points out, we are different people. I am not an officer in GLAA, and I haven’t been for many years. Unlike Rick, I was not quoted in the article, and I did not criticize Muriel Bowser for having Bob King on her host committee. When contacted by Lou Chibbaro on this issue, I praised Muriel Bowser for holding positions very much opposed to King. I told Lou that we are blessed by having three good friends running for mayor: Bowser, Evans, and Wells. Four if Mayor Gray runs for re-election, and five if David Catania gets into the race. The outcome will likely be for reasons other than gay rights if the mayoral contest is between these candidates as they are all very good on our issues.

    Unlike Rick, I did not criticize Elissa Silverman for accepting the donation from Sinclair Skinner, nor did I criticize Mayor Fenty for standing behind his friend at the time. I looked at the infamous “Grahamzilla” flier when it first circulated and while it was clearly anti-Graham, it was not obviously anti-gay or anti-white. Other people may feel differently, but I saw it as a childish drawing and ad hominem attack that backfired. Frankly, we have more important issues to deal with.

    As to the Stein leadership, my comment on the Blade story at https://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/12/13/stein-club-election-challenged-by-losing-faction/ shows my position in favor of the current leaders. I was also quoted from the meeting to uphold the election:
    “Gay Democratic activist and longtime Stein Club member Bob Summersgill said no one presented any evidence or valid rationale for disqualifying any of the new members.
    “‘There is nothing in the bylaws that says anything about where you have to live,’ he said. ‘There is nothing in the bylaws to define low income.’” https://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/12/20/stein-club-special-meeting-upholds-election-of-new-officers/

    I am not sure what high horse the anonymous “DC Gay” thinks I am on. I assure you that I have no horseback riding skills.

  • “Rick Rosendall and Bob Summersgill and the whole GLAA need to get off their high-horse. I did not see them tell their candidate Elissa Silverman to return the $250.00 from Sinclair “Grahamzilla” Skinner, known homophobe. They need to look in the mirror and check their hypocrisy. I’m glad young blood took over Stein.” – D.C. Gay; Chris co-signed “Thank You”

    You are very ignorant D.C. Gay & Chris. What do Rick & Bob have to do with the former Stein officers and both slates were young. One slate the top 3 officers were in their 20’s. The incumbent slate, the then-current president was in her 30’s with her other top two slate mates being newer folks in their 20’s, who would’ve been first time officers. Just because the winning slate put out a false narrative doesn’t mean it was true.

    Also, being mad at Rick and Bob for being hypocritical about Elissa and being happy “young blood took over Stein” doesn’t make since when the young blood are the strong Elissa supporters and their crony Greg Cendana is one of the main people putting forwarding negative stories about Anita. Former Stein President Lateefah Williams is one of Anita’s most visible LGBT supporters and is pictured in the Blade article on Anita’s victory. Other longtime Stein members like Bill O’Field (also pictured in the article), and former president Kurt Vorndran are also among Anita’s strongest supporters.

    Rick, you’re full of crap. You were telling folks after the election that you supported the incumbents. It’s ok to support the newcomers after the election, as that’s just supporting the org, but don’t try to play both sides of the fence.

    • Rick was quite clear on the Stein elections. Although he and I voted for the losing slate of young people–who we were both more familiar with–we both affirmed support for the outcome of the elections and opposed the attempt to overturn the results. only 3 or 4 people actually sought to overturn those results. Nearly everyone in Stein, without regard for how they voted initially, voted to uphold the election of Martin Garcia, Angela Peoples, and Vincent Paolo Villano.

    • You go Tina the truth is the only path

  • Tina, I don’t know who you are or what your source of information was concerning the Stein election, but I said no such thing. Whatever you may have heard, I did in fact vote for the challengers. Emotions ran high for a few weeks, and I tried to be diplomatic; but lying is something else. At the special meeting in mid-December, at which about 80 people were present, I spoke in opposition to reconsidering the election results and said the new young members were something to be welcomed. It’s interesting, BTW, how brave some people are in hurling charges without properly identifying themselves.

  • for the record I was wrong for publishing the grahamzilla posters 10 years ago. I am only anti political corruption which has no color or sexual orientation. Harry Thomas and Jim Graham are the same, corrupt duplicitous politicians.

  • “Of course it would be wrong to refuse forgiveness to someone who has repented of his earlier bigotry. Bob King helped lead the anti-gay effort on marriage in D.C., and has shown no sign of contrition as far as I am aware.”
    -Rick Rosendall
    “for the record I was wrong for publishing the grahamzilla posters 10 years ago.”
    –Sinclair Skinner
    Rick and Sinclair make essentially the same simple point, CM Catania made regarding CM Graham…

    “Sorry,” whether uttered publicly or in private, is such a simple, but powerful word.

    We’re taught to say it if we step on someones foot in a crowded subway or elevator, by sheer accident. And we do it reflexively by adulthood.

    What a powerful word!

    CM Vincent Orange could write a book on this subject.

    Orange didn’t do anything as repeatedly hurtful to LGBT families as Bob King did. But hurting LGBT residents and families made Vincent Orange pay a serious political price for his off-the-cuff comment in the 2006 Mayoral Primary Campaign.

    That said, V.O. being V.O.– that didn’t stop Vincent Orange from trying to do better by the LGBT communities of Washington.

    We also learn as kids that simple actions can speak louder than very powerful words.

    Both Orange and King share broad support among DC’s elderly populations. Indeed, Vincent Orange could take Bob King to Capital Pride in the company of DC Center’s SAGE volunteers, for example, and, given SAGE’s new report on health disparities faced by LGBT elders of color they would all have an issue in common to talk about …
    …while enjoying one of DC’s great late spring events.

    Yeah, Vince. We get it. Sorry. And thanks.

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