Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Nearly three weeks ago, Washington, DC’s former mayor, Marion Barry, spoke at the first citywide rally that said “No” to same sex reciprocity in DC. It was at this rally on April 28th that the former mayor declared for the first time that he was against same-sex marriage. The next week, true to his word, Barry voted against the DC measure, which is still in a 30-day review by Congress prior to becoming law.

Last Friday, gay activists began a series of local Democratic ward meetings seeking to pave the way for gay marriage. These last minute meetings, often held at inconvenient times for residents, are designed to feign grassroots support. Not surprisingly, the gay activist group, which organized the 12-to-1 council vote for same sex marriage reciprocity, started its efforts with Barry’s ward in southeast DC. They hoped to embarrass him and cast him in the role of an out-of-touch, over-the-hill politician.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Marion Barry is perhaps the quintessential grassroots politician. He is someone who was so in touch with the pulse of his community that he could emerge from a prison cell and get re-elected in his beloved city. If anyone has proven his heart and his connection with the least, the last, and the lost of DC, Marion Barry has. Therefore, his public statements that the voice of the people has not been heard undoubtedly have some merit. In fact the only way to refute Barry’s claim is to bring the matter to the people for a public vote. There is no other way to know the will of the people than to submit such things to popular vote.

Everyone knows that straw vote campaigns are a part of political “sleight of hand.” The side that needs the most credibility buses in many voters from other parts of the city to attempt to drum up support for their side. It’s amazing the “academy award winning performances” that people will put on when buses, stipends, and professional organizers are paid for. In DC’s case the same group that has given campaign donations to “swing vote” council members are behind these new efforts. As you might expect, they have also promised to retaliate against Barry and others. They have even gone so far as to call Barry, the civil rights warhorse, a “bigot.”

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.