Here's the Washington Post editorial board in making an endorsement in this year's Ward 5 Council race in DC:
In Ward 5, first-term council member Harry Thomas Jr. is facing challenges from Kenyan McDuffie, Delano Hunter and Tracey D. Turner. With the notable exception of the courage he showed in voting for marriage equality, Mr. Thomas has been a major disappointment. He pretty much defined his role as trying to stop anything -- no matter how sensible -- sought by the mayor. He led the effort to prevent school facilities chief Allen Y. Lew from overseeing park projects and has been the union's main champion in trying to thwart needed reforms in the schools and government workforce. Particularly distasteful was how he allowed racial demagoguery to derail the nomination of Ximena Hartsock as parks director.
Both Mr. Hunter, a community organizer with Brookland Manor, and Mr. McDuffie, a lawyer who worked in the Justice Department civil rights division, are better alternatives. We give the edge to Mr. Hunter, an engaging newcomer who is running a grass-roots campaign. He has an intimate knowledge of the needs of the ward and has smart ideas on how to tackle issues such as truancy and joblessness. Mr. Hunter is not a supporter of marriage equality, but he is not the homophobe his critics make him out to be, but rather someone who thinks there is a way to provide equality for gays while respecting the beliefs of religious groups. He said he would not seek to change the law.
Two things. First, the Post ed board has steadily supported marriage equality in the past. That's why it makes no sense to laud Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. for courage in voting for the marriage bill, then go on to laud Hunter for being "someone who thinks there is a way to provide equality for gays while respecting the beliefs of religious groups." Well gee, doesn't that sound all common-sense, can't we all get along-like.
In truth, if the ed board recalls, the marriage bill itself was titled the Religious Freedom And Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act 2009 for a good reason: it did not require religious institutions to perform marriages in violation of their doctrine. So using their definition of "courage" and their past support of the bill, Hunter should have voted for the damn measure. But we know he wouldn't have, because also in truth, as Chris Geidner documents, Hunter is a fan of, and supported by, the extremely homophobic National Organization for Marriage. If memory serves, he was also the only DC candidate to show up at their rally a few weeks ago at the Capitol, too. Chris:
Hunter attended the National Organization for Marriage's "Summer for Marriage" D.C. final tour stop at the U.S. Capitol grounds on August 15. As noted by Bob Summersgill at the GLAA Forum, NOM then sent a mailer out in support of Hunter. He earlier received NOM support from fliers produced by NOM in opposition to D.C. marriage equality supporters, including Thomas.
Here's one of their mailers talking about "homosexual activists" (h/t Right Wing Watch):
This is the company Hunter keeps- and embraces by going to their rally. Of course, the ed board realizes this and how controversial it is, or they wouldn't have taken pains to try and muddy Hunter's position.
Which brings me to the other point, which is how rapidly the old "I support equality for gays and lesbians because I support civil unions, just don't call it marriage" position, or whatever nonsense is spouted about marriage being a religious institution, is running out of steam. It's running out of steam with traditional organizations like Equality California, whose PAC no longer endorses candidates unless they support marriage equality. It's running out of steam with activists, donors and voters. You can't say "I support equality" and then say you oppose the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and I could go on all day about why. So it's dishonest to pretend like Hunter is just a fair-minded fellow who wants equality for the LGBT community, just as long as no one calls it "marriage"- not only because he doesn't, but because even if he did, he's still not worth going out of anyone's way to support. And that's something, by the way, that I think Obama will find that out in 2012 if he stays where he is.
Update: Jeffrey Richardson of the local Stein club is right. The LGBT community can decide for itself what defines homophobia.