January 3, 2017 at 10:07 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
‘Bracing for the worst’ in D.C. as Trump era nears
Trump Administration, gay news, Washington Blade

‘I think it’s going to be an interesting challenge for us,’ said Council member Vince Gray of working with the Trump administration. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Questions surrounding the possible impact of the Trump administration on the residents of the District of Columbia loomed over an otherwise festive ceremony on Monday in which six LGBT supportive members of the D.C. Council who won election in November took the oath of office at the Walter Washington Convention Center.

Among the incoming Council members was former Mayor Vincent Gray, one of the city’s strongest LGBT community allies, who won election to the Ward 7 Council seat he held before becoming mayor.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting challenge for us,” Gray told the Washington Blade, in referring to how the city will fare over the next four years under a Trump administration.

“This is obviously not a city that supported him,” he said. “I don’t know – well I probably do know – where he stands on LGBT rights. But I have absolutely no reservations about telling him where we stand and invite him to be a part of what we’re trying to do,” Gray said.

Gray joined at least two of his Council colleagues and Mayor Muriel Bowser in saying he plans to reach out to President-elect Trump and his administration in the spirit of cooperation to ensure the city and all of its residents are fairly represented by the federal government.

Newly elected Council member Robert White (D-At-Large) said that while he, too, wants the city to work amicably with the Trump administration he is concerned that the Republican-controlled Congress, emboldened by Trump’s election, will attempt to interfere with local D.C. affairs.

White has worked in the past for D.C. Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-At-Large). He said he’s especially concerned that hostile members of Congress will try to attach amendments to the city’s budget seeking to repeal various D.C. laws or impose new laws on the city, including laws hostile to the LGBT community. Under the city’s home rule charter, Congress has the final say on the city’s budget.

“I think we are bracing for the worst,” he told the Blade. “I feel pretty certain that they’re going to try to attach every rider they can think of to D.C.’s budget. So everything from guns to cancelling needle exchange to pulling back on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization,” he said.

“I think we’re about to see it all. So we have to be prepared and ready to act,” White said.

Asked if he thought Congress or members of the Trump administration might target LGBT rights protections in D.C., Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), who won re-election in November, said the targeting of LGBT issues is a possibility.

“I wouldn’t be surprised about what they target,” he said. “But I think that the mayor and the Council will stand firm in a loud, clear message,” Todd told the Blade.

“I feel very hopeful as it relates to the conversation that Mayor Bowser had with President-elect Trump a few weeks ago – really making sure that he knows what D.C.’s priorities are,” Todd said. “And certainly LGBTQ issues are right up there at the top of our priorities and to make sure we protect all of our communities in the city.”

The other Council members sworn in on Monday were David Grosso (I-At-Large), Trayon White (D-Ward 8) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2).

In addition to the six members of the D.C. Council, more than 300 members of the city’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissions who won election in November were sworn in at the Convention Center ceremony on Monday. Among them were at least 24 openly gay or lesbian ANC members.

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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