Gay rights leaders unsatisfied with Fenty apology
Local gay rights leaders are not satisfied with the apology Mayor Adrian M. Fenty issued after it was discovered he awarded a certificate of appreciation honoring the leader of the "ex-gay" movement, which believes homosexuals can be "rehabilitated.
Earlier today, Fenty (D) blamed a "staff-level error" for his decision to issue the honor to Regina Griggs, executive director of the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays.
But the issue has quickly escalated into one of the first political tempests of the 2010 mayoral race. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), Fenty's chief rival in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary, has issued a statement accusing the mayor of embarrassing the city.
"For the mayor to issue a certificate of appreciation honoring an organization that has done so much to alienate so many is not only an insult to the LGBT community, it is yet another example of the insensitivity of his administration." Gray said. "It is an embarrassment to our city that he would make such an offensive mistake. It was the Mayor's signature on the certificate, not a staff member's, and I hope the Mayor will personally take responsibility."
Earlier today, Fenty spokeswoman Mafara Hobson told The Washington Post that the certificate was mistakenly issued "contrary to the mayor's vision of a more open and inclusive city."
"The mayor is proud of his ardent support of the LGBT community," said Hobson, noting that Fenty was a vocal supporter of the city's new same-sex marriage law.
But the leaders of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington are calling on Fenty to denounce the ex-gay movement and further explain the process in which Griggs was selected for the honor.
"Stating it was a staff error doesn't cut it," Bob Summersgill, a longtime local gay rights leader, posted on the GLAA blog. "How was the error even possible? What vetting process does an honorary certificate go through? Who initiated the certificate, who approved it, who processed it? Why was this not flagged for possible political impact and given a higher level of review?
Rick Rosendall, GLAA's vice-president for public affairs, wrote Hobson this afternoon demanding that Fenty respond to the questions outlined by Summersgill. Hobson responded that "the proper process wasn't followed" but "beyond that" she can't comment because it's a "personnel issue," according to an e-mail posted on the GLAA Web site.
Rosendall then accused Fenty of "stonewalling."
"The Mayor is not helping himself by this response," he wrote to Hobson.
Peter Rosenstein, another gay rights activists aligned with the Campaign for All DC Families, is also unhappy with Fenty's apology.
"He doesn't take responsibility for it and he also doesn't denounce PFOX, which he should be doing," Rosenstein said. "This is more than a simple error."
Although the controversy may not penetrate into the broader electorate, political strategists say gay men and lesbians account for as much as 15 percent of the electorate in a Democratic primary. With Fenty and Gray both supportive of gay rights and same-sex marriage, activists say the gay community is up for grabs in the election.
-- Tim Craig
Washington Post Editors
April 29, 2010; 2:38 PM ET
Categories: 2010 District Election , City Life , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray | Tags: Gay Lesbian and Bisexual, Gay community, Homosexuality, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, Same-sex marriage, adrian fenty, apology for certificate, gay rights
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