December 6, 2016 at 6:19 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bowser meets Trump; no word on whether LGBT issues came up
Bowser meets Trump, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser met with President-elect Trump in New York on Tuesday. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A spokesperson for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser didn’t immediately respond to a question from the Washington Blade about whether Bowser asked President-elect Donald Trump if he would oppose an attempt by Congress to weaken LGBT rights protections in the District.

At Bowser’s request, Trump arranged for the two to meet on Tuesday at the Trump Tower in New York City, which Trump’s presidential transition team has been using as its headquarters.

“Today, I met with the President-elect to lay out the concerns and hopes of District residents and to start a dialogue with the new administration as it is forming,” Bowser said in a statement after the meeting.

“I want to thank the President-elect for hearing about our priorities like education, transportation and statehood and showing a willingness to work together to reach common ground,” Bowser said.

In an email on Monday to Bowser press spokesperson LaToya Foster and the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs Director Sheila Alexander Reid, the Blade asked whether the mayor might raise the issue of congressional intrusion into D.C. affairs in an attempt to curtail LGBT equality.

Would President Trump next year defend home rule for D.C. by opposing any attempt by Congress to attach a rider to an appropriations bill to curtail LGBT rights in the District, including a possible anti-transgender “bathroom” bill similar to those passed in several states?

Several members of the House of Representatives proposed amendments in recent years to repeal a section of the D.C. Human Rights Act that would allow city schools and colleges to ban students from forming officially recognized LGBT groups. Those measures died in committee or were abandoned based on the assumption that President Obama would veto such a measure.

With Trump set to take office on Jan. 20, some LGBT activists are concerned that the new president, who has expressed some support for LGBT rights, might not speak out or try to stop anti-LGBT bills or amendments targeting D.C.

“The mayor should urge Trump to oppose any and all social riders on District appropriations bills, including anti-LGBT ones,” said Rick Rosendall, president of the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“Congress has more than enough on its plate without meddling in D.C. affairs, and he could simply say so,” Rosendall said. “I don’t expect him to do anything for us, but that is what the mayor should say.”

 Lesbian activist and longtime D.C. congressional voting rights and statehood advocate Barbara Helmick said Bowser should be cautious and strategic in what and how she asks of Trump given his reputation for being unpredictable.

“There are many issues that are critically important to many of us under threat of the new administration and Congress,” Helmick said.

Among them, she said, are “civil rights for our trans community, or using Medicaid for abortions, or taxing cannabis, or allowing a commuter tax, or preventing Congress from reintroducing a ban on clean needles, or weakening labor or environmental regulations to fix our infrastructure, or denying our sanctuary city status.”

Earl Fowlkes, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest local LGBT political group; and transgender activist Ruby Corado, founder and director of the D.C. LGBT services center Casa Ruby, did not include LGBT issues in response to a Blade question of what they would like Bowser to say to Trump in their meeting on Tuesday.

“Ask for Trump’s support for D.C. statehood,” said Fowlkes, who added, “Request more federal dollars for infrastructure and improvements.”

Corado said Bowser “should not necessarily ask President-elect Trump what he thinks of issues that he might not be familiar with.”

But she said Bowser “should relate to him that Washington, D.C. is not North Carolina or the Deep South in many social respects and she should remind him that the federal workforce makes D.C. its home. And shaking up the federal work environment will not be helpful to his administration.”

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

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