Rev. Willie Wilson endorses Clark Ray
If the above video from the Benning Road Denny's Restaurant were all you knew of Rev. Willie Wilson, how moved and impressed you might be by the inspiring demonstration it presents of people building bridges between disparate parts of our city to advance the common good. But as Bob Summersgill points out in an earlier blog post, and as GLAA President Mitch Wood (a Ward 5 resident) points out in comments below that post, Rev. Wilson has a long history of bigoted and incendiary statements for which he has shown no sincere remorse. The love-fest between him and Clark Ray today, at least judging by Ray's campaign video of the event provided above, entirely glossed over this disturbing history, including outrageously homophobic remarks made by Wilson from his own pulpit at Union Temple Baptist Church.
Joel Lawson (a Ray supporter) commented below the earlier post, "If you want to protect and advance the gains we've made as LGBT residents of this city, you can't do it by sitting comfortably in NW." Gee, really, Joel? What a cynical statement this is, coming from someone who knows full well GLAA's extensive history of coalition work. I myself have represented GLAA on the NAACP-DC Police Task Force; led the successful petition drive seeking justice for the late Tyra Hunter; joined civil rights activists in the Trinidad neighborhood to protest civil rights abuses by police; met with community leaders in Marshall Heights about drive-by shootings that had taken the lives of transgender teens (in addition to participating in vigils at the murder site); and attended community meetings in Ward 8, including in Rev. Wilson's church.
GLAA worked in a broad-based coalition to pass the marriage equality bill, and that effort included gay couples from Ward 8 whose existence their councilmember Mr. Barry brazenly and pathetically denied. The notion that criticizing the notoriously divisive Willie Wilson marks Bob or me as people enjoying insular comfort in Northwest is truly cynical and unworthy of the good man I know Joel to be. It is a pity that partisan campaigns sometimes bring out the worst in people. I am told by one of my friends from Southeast that unhappiness is already brewing in the black gay community over the Wilson endorsement. That will not be chased away by self-righteous and patronizing snark.
Update: It should be unnecessary to point this out, but given the insinuation of partisan bias that was made earlier against Bob (whose openly acknowledged preference for Phil Mendelson does not change the facts he cites about Rev. Wilson), I wish to point out that GLAA has a long, well-documented history of giving fair, non-partisan ratings to candidates based on our issues. We are determined to maintain that tradition, which of course means that we do not put our fingers on the scale either to favor or to disfavor any candidate. Both Mr. Mendelson and Mr. Ray will get the ratings they have earned, notwithstanding our individual preferences, based on GLAA's well-established process which is explained in our questionnaire packets. When we issue our ratings (which for the primary cycle will be late in August), we publish candidates' full questionnaire responses and any documentation they provide us concerning their relevant record. We actually consider it a blessing and a sign of progress when multiple friends of the LGBT community run for the same office. All of which being said, this blog is by its nature a forum in which the contributing authors can let our hair down and give our personal views in a way that would be inappropriate in a formal issuance from GLAA. If that distinction is going to be snidely discounted, so be it. We have backed up our claims, and we also believe that honest readers will see through the fog of others' campaign rhetoric.