Brick to Blade: Sustainable Progress, Not Instant Gratification
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Brick to Blade: Sustainable Progress, Not Instant Gratification

[Note: the square-bracketed portion of the sixth paragraph below was cut from the letter by the Blade editor.]

The Washington Blade

November 17, 2006

To the Editors:

The Blade, in reporting on the effect the midterm election results will have on the marriage equality movement in D.C., gives the impression that we will have smooth sailing under a Democratic Congress (“Election results ‘bode well’ for D.C. gays: Fenty,” Nov. 10). In reality, most of us doing the gay rights work here in the District agree with Shadow Senator Paul Strauss that continued caution is called for.

Congressional interference may diminish, but is not likely to end. The new majority is extremely narrow, and the vote totals on marriage will not change much. As Blade Managing Editor Kevin Naff himself wrote in a November 8 blog entry, “Many Democrats coming to Washington ran on conservative platforms and won’t vote in lockstep with the liberal wing of the party.”

The 110th Congress may find us better able to block anti-gay measures, but we still have a long way to go before the District will be safe from congressional meddling. Democratic congresses have shown no greater respect for D.C. Home Rule than Republican ones.

For the same reasons, it is doubtful that Congress will let the District recognize same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts. As we have been saying consistently for years, our fight for civil marriage equality is a marathon and not a sprint.

With this in mind, we would be ill-advised to act before consulting our allies, chief among them Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Let’s get the lay of the land in the new Congress and adjust our strategy accordingly. By the way, the fact that a majority of D.C. Council members supports marriage equality does not mean they agree about timing.

We gain nothing from mere satisfying gestures that will quickly be swatted down. [As Councilmember David Catania wisely told The Advocate last February, “We should be taking important steps forward that are sustainable and that do not generate a response that would eviscerate all our advances.”]

GLAA is always looking for volunteers; our meeting schedule and advocacy materials can be found at To help defend Home Rule, contact DC Vote at


Barrett L. Brick
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.

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