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Gray, Wells, Evans Get High Marks From LGBT Activists

DC’s mayoral candidates get ranked on their support for gay rights.

Mayor Vince Gray and Council members Tommy Wells and Jack Evans are the best on gay rights among DC’s mayoral candidates, according to a review of all the contenders by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, with Gray getting a perfect 10 out of 10 points. Wells scored 9.5, while Evans trailed with 8 points.

The ratings were calculated based on the candidates’ records and responses to an elaborate questionnaire on issues ranging from transgender rights to HIV/AIDS prevention to liquor license requirements.

“Gray’s questionnaire was very solid and thorough,” says GLAA president Rick Rosendall. A press release accompanying the ratings states that while the incumbent has a few disagreements with Rosendall’s group, they were “were swamped by his total record of accomplishment.”

Gray is receiving praise especially for transgender access to Project Empowerment, a Department of Employment Services job-training program. Wells also received high marks on transgender issues, including his support for a law adopted last year that protects the identity of individuals who undergo gender transitions.

But while Evans was noted for having the most extensive record of support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, the 22-year Council member missed the “championship point,” which is awarded on the basis of recent initiatives.

“This is about what you’ve done in the last cycle,” Rosendall. “What have you done for us lately? Everything [Evans] has done for us over the last 20 years goes to his record.”

Council member Muriel Bowser, who is running closest to Gray in most polls, only got a 5.5, losing several points because of disagreements with GLAA on some issues, and a limited explanation of her positions on the questionnaire. GLAA would like the city to eliminate the ability of ad hoc groups to hold up the establishment of new bars and restaurants by protesting their liquor licenses, a tactic that could be used by NIMBY types who want to keep gay bars out of their neighborhoods; Bowser wrote that she believes those groups “lend value to the process.”

“Muriel has been a solid vote, but there’s six total points on the questionnaire and she felt short there,” Rosendall says.

Busboys and Poets owner Andy Shallal scored a 6.5 and is credited for his involvement with gay-rights organizations, though he did not get the “championship point.” Council member Vincent Orange received a 3, but his answers were limited to “yes” or “no” on the 12-question survey.

“It’s not a beauty contest,” he says. And even though Gray got a perfect score, Rosendall says GLAA will not make a formal endorsement in the April 1 Democratic primary.

Council member David Catania, an independent who plans to run for mayor in the general election, did not get a questionnaire, though Rosendall says he will once he enters the race.

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.