Gertrude Stein Club's Gray Pride

City's largest gay political group backs Gray over Fenty

By P.J. Orvetti
|  Thursday, Jun 17, 2010  |  Updated 7:00 AM EDT
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Gertrude Stein Club's Gray Pride

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A sign over Peoria's Elbo Room reads, "We Are Not A Gay Bar."

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Mayor Adrian Fenty didn’t get much love from the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club earlier this week. D.C.’s largest gay political organization voted 2 to 1 to endorse Vincent Gray for mayor -- a blow to Fenty, who actually signed the District’s gay marriage bill into law just six months ago.

Fenty and Gray are both outspoken advocates of gay rights, and the Stein Club endorsement has less to do with gay issues than with the state of the campaign. Tim Craig of the Washington Post says the nod “is another sign that much of the establishment of the local Democratic Party is starting to rally behind Gray instead of the incumbent.”

This could be read as a bad turn for Fenty, who seemed likely to triumph over a field of little-known candidates until Gray reluctantly entered the race. The challenger now has the wind at his back and momentum on his side, as the incumbent flails.

But don’t start saying “Mayor Gray” just yet. As DCist’s Kriston Capps notes, the mayor has irked the District’s gay community in recent weeks, with his office’s accidental commendation of anti-gay group PFOX and the mysterious exit of HIV/AIDS chief Shannon Hader.

And as Craig writes in another item, some of the Stein Club crowd may have just been bugged by Fenty’s reliance on crib sheets. During the candidate forum before the endorsement vote, Fenty continued his “heavy reliance on notes and briefing books.” Craig writes that “Fenty has referred to written notes while he debated his opponent, even reading word for word from talking points as he attacks Gray's record.”

Fenty’s attacks on Gray’s HIV/AIDS record as head of the Department of Human Services under Mayor Sharon Pratt -- certainly fair game -- were obscured by the fact that he had to read them off the page. After Fenty made his case, Gray coolly replied, “Just so you know, Mr. Mayor, I don't have any notes. It is not necessary for me to read every word off a piece of paper.”

The crowd loved it. And, it seems, the crowd loved Gray -- enough to hand Fenty his walking papers via the straw poll.

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