Marion Barry opposes marriage equality at anti-gay rally
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Marion Barry opposes marriage equality at anti-gay rally

From:Rick Rosendall
Sent:Tuesday, April 28, 2009 11:07 PM (Updated April 29 at 8:50 AM)
To:GLAA Members
Subject:Marion Barry opposes marriage equality at anti-gay rally


I went down to the District Building this morning to watch Bishop Harry Jackson's promised 10 a.m. anti-gay-marriage rally. Several gay folk and our allies showed up to observe, including Bob Summersgill, Charlie Watson, Peter Rosenstein, Jeff Richardson, Mark Levine from WPFW, Yusef Najafi of Metro Weekly, and a guy from HRC. The wonderful Rabbi Bob Saks of DC's gay Congregation Bet Mishpachah, who was just honored by GLAA last week, was there, distributing 100 copies of his gay-affirming sermon on who is a Sodomite (he goes back to the original text to show that the import of the story is different than the homophobes suppose). You can find the full text online at:

Several observers estimated the turnout at 150. I did not take a survey, so I do not know how many of them were from outside the District, but Mike DeBonis of the City Paper's Loose Lips column reports talking to ten people at the rally and none of them was a current DC resident. Jackson's remarks were the usual mix of denouncing society's drift away from biblical standards and portraying himself as a martyr.

I gave an interview to a WaPo reporter, as did Peter Rosenstein and Jeff Richardson. I said that Jackson is a tool of anti-gay white evangelicals (which is no more than other black ministers have told me), and that I was heartened by the paucity of his turnout (he promised a thousand people), because it showed the narrowness of his support.

I was about to leave when I saw Marion Barry ambling across Pennsylvania Avenue toward the rally, so I stayed to see if he would speak. There was a lot of gospel music, and some woman led the crowd in singing "We Shall Overcome." After Bishop Jackson spoke, another preacher spoke. Then they brought Marion Barry forward, and he spoke. He said he was recovering from his surgery on April 6 (they all seemed to think the last Council meeting was on April 6, when in fact it was April 7), but that if he had been present he would have voted no to marriage recognition.

Barry said that Bishop Jackson and his followers were the voice of morality. I would like to know how a man with four failed marriages who has behaved swinishly his entire life has the gall to invoke morality to deny me the right to marry once.

BTW, Bishop Jackson kept referring to the DP Judicial Determination of Parentage Act as if that were the vehicle for the marriage recognition, which is incorrect. We put the marriage recognition in a different bill.

Barry led the crowd in a chant, "No to same-sex marriage." He urged them to pack the Council chamber on May 5. After he was done, I walked around to the sidewalk where he would be crossing the street back to the District Building, and when he finished talking to the reporters I said, "Shame on you, Marion." He replied, "I support you on everything else." I said, "You've talked out of both sides of your mouth. Shame on you, Marion." Then he walked back across the street.

Incidentally, Rev. Anthony Motley, who has said he will run as an independent for an At-Large D.C. Council seat in 2010, was in attendance.


Rick Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

PS: A good friend asks a fine question about Councilmember Barry in light of his comments at the rally: “Then why did he sign on to the amendment a couple of weeks ago?” Here is Marion Barry’s email address, in case you’d like to drop him a note:

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