Mayor affirms non-discrimination policy for religious liaison
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DC Human Rights Law

GLAA on Human Rights

Mayor affirms non-discrimination policy for religious liaison

[On Tuesday evening, March 6, a meeting was held between 21 representatives of DC's GLBT faith community and Rev. Donald Robinson, the Mayor's Special Assistant for Religious Affairs. The meeting had been organized by Philip Pannell, the Mayor's Special Assistant for GLBT affairs, as part of his effort to ensure that our community is represented on a broad range of city boards and commissions rather than being "ghettoized." The meeting was also attended by a reporter for the Washington Blade.

GLAA learned on Wednesday that at the meeting, Rev. Robinson had compared homosexuality to a "withered hand" (a reference to the Gospel, Matthew 12: 9-14; Mark 3: 1-6; Luke 6: 6-11), and said that including GLBT representatives on the Mayor's Faith Advisory Committee would be too controversial, as would their participation in the Mayor's annual prayer breakfast. GLAA believed that this position by an employee and representative of the Mayor, in addition to being offensive, was a violation of the First Amendment and the DC Human Rights Act. We immediately contacted the Mayor's office to seek a retraction by Rev. Robinson and a reaffirmation by Mayor Williams of his commitment to non-discrimination.

We are very pleased at the Mayor's fast response to our concerns. Below is the Mayor's official statement on the matter, followed by a letter of apology from Rev. Robinson. We appreciate this commitment to non-discrimination and to respect for the diversity of the District community.]


Government of the District of Columbia
Executive Office of the Mayor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 7, 2001

CONTACT: Peggy Armstrong
(202) 727-5011

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR ANTHONY WILLIAMS REGARDING THE ANNUAL PRAYER BREAKFAST AND THE FAITH ADVISORY COMMITTEE

"One of the greatest gifts of the District of Columbia is its diversity. I am committed to reflecting this diversity in everything we do. I invite and encourage members of the faith community who minister to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community to play an active part in the preparation of the Mayor's annual prayer breakfast and my Faith Advisory Committee."

###


Government of the District of Columbia
Executive Office
Washington, DC 20001

March 7, 2001

Dear Friends,

Let me use this occasion to greet you in the spirit of love, peace and friendship. Let me also use this occasion to register my heart-felt apology if I have offended you in any way. On last evening, I hosted a meeting with Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Faith Community leaders. I felt the meeting was a groundbreaking occasion, whereby a sense of dialogue, fellowship and collaboration regarding critical issues of our time could begin. I was encouraged to facilitate a process whereby members of the GLBT Community could be integrated into the Mayor's Faith Advisory Council.

Truly, as the Mayor's Faith Community Representative I want to state for the record, the Mayor's Faith Advisory Council meetings are open to all people, of all creeds, colors, sexual orientation, races or genders. On behalf of the administration I invite and encourage clergy who minister to the GLBT community to actively participate in the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast and the Mayor's Faith Advisory Council. My intentions were to do something meaningful and good. I facilitated a meeting, to listen to different opinions, but the ignorance of not knowing all of the words, phrases and analogies were harmful to you. I'm sorry, I just did not know the gravity of my words. However, these unfortunate experiences are serving as opportunities for me to learn and be more sensitized to the issues, words and concerns which are of great importance to the GLBT Community.

Often when servants of God reflect upon their stewardship on these terrestrial shores, the question is asked after all is said and done what was the purpose and meaning of his life? I've always believed, people who really know me would say " there lies Donald Robinson a servant of God who had a great love of God, a great love of life and a great love of people." In my naivete, I've always had a congenial personality and felt it radiated warmth, love and openness to all people. I'm saddened to know, on yesterday warmth, love and openness wasn't effectively radiated.

In conclusion, I am reminded, perhaps I have some more loving, some more growing and some more understanding to do. Again, please accept my profound apology, I meant well. Please be patient with me I am still "a work in process". God bless you, God keep you, God peace be upon you.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Rev. Donald Robinson
Director, Office of Religious Affairs


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