As a newish resident of Ward 5, in Washington DC, I’ve been loosely following the race for our Councilmember as the September, 14th voting date comes closer. I’ve seen the number of street signs increase on lawns on my runs around the neighborhood. Months ago I became curious about Kenyan McDuffie and his stance on marriage equality and the recently passed approval of gay marriage in DC. I tweeted a question at him and after some back and forth due to technical issues, received a confirmation that he does indeed support same sex marriage (SSM). As I already knew that Harry Thomas had been an advocate of SSM this year when it counted, I knew that I had another candidate to at least consider. Recently I’ve been seeing signs for Delano Hunter. A little bit of digging revealed that he did not support SSM in any way and even went to far as to take money from NOM. Being a frequent user of Twitter, a few tweets revealed that he seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth, stating via his Twitter feed that
“There is much room in the SSM conversation for mutual respect and genuine open mindedness. What I’ve noticed at times is advocates on all sides that promote positions that do not take into account the complexity of this issue. There are ways in which we can provide equality and respect religious convictions and traditions. It’s just gonna take honest dialogue, openness, and compromise.”
As NOM’s sole purpose is to campaign against gay marriage, guess who’s supposed to compromise? Delano Hunter says that he won’t move to overturn gay marriage in Washington, DC but clearly thinks that we’ve reached an adequate state of compromise. I find this curious as being married in the district still affords married, same sex couples little or no federal protections including social security spousal or survivor benefits, hospital visitation outside of the district, tax-free rollover for a non-spousal beneficiary for 401K retirement plans, etc., which are just a few of the examples of why localized SSM marriage laws are still not enough.
So based on this, you can imagine my surprise this morning upon waking to discover that the Washington Post has chosen to endorse Delano Hunter of the four candidates running for Ward 5 Councilmember. The article states,
“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.“
It is this type of statement that truly drives home my second class status. I feel as if I am expected to respond by saying “Thanks for letting me live in this neighborhood with you fine, straight folks!” or be pleased that he’s going to be upset if someone tries to burn down my house because I’m gay. The message is really, it’s not okay to hate gay people, but it is okay to bar gay people from something that straight people don’t even have to think about. It is as if it is expected that I hate myself just enough to be grateful that I’m “welcome” and not question that an individual can represent my interests but not respect my right to love, to build a home, to raise a family and have that investment protected like any other couple. To know that if something happens to me I will be able to be seen in the hospital by the person I share that home with and I will be able to put provisions in place that protect that family in my absence.
Look, I don’t know anyone who enjoys mere toleration. Gay people live in Ward 5. There are three other candidates for Ward 5 Councilmember. Harry Thomas, Kenyan McDuffie, and Tracy Turner all support marriage equality – pick one.