GLAA Ratings Redux

Ahead of general election, political group rates additional candidates

The local and nonpartisan Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the country’s oldest continuously running LGBT-advocacy organization, last week released candidate ratings for races in D.C.’s general election, Nov. 2.

While most candidates had already been rated ahead of the September primaries, the general election ratings did complete the GLAA’s thorough candidate overview for 2010. Impressively, though not necessarily surprisingly, Councilmember David Catania (I-At-Large) joined the top tier of candidates in this last round of ratings. On a scale of -10 to 10, Catania, who is gay, earned a 10, putting him at the same level as Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who is also gay, and Councilmember Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large).

Although the perfect scores may be conventional in that GLAA has worked closely with these three councilmembers in crafting legislation over the years, making them politically simpatico, the ratings remain impressive given the exhaustive and methodical process – lasting hours – used by GLAA.

Catania, GLAA wrote in part for the group’s Oct. 13 release announcing the ratings, ”submitted the most extensive and detailed questionnaire in GLAA’s nearly 40 years of rating candidates, exceeding Phil Mendelson who set the prior record just two months ago with a similarly extensive effort. Catania’s breadth of knowledge of the issues and support of LGBT people are second to none on the Council.”

Another At-Large candidate – in a field of four, with D.C. voters asked to select two – had the distinction of earning the group’s lowest rating this year, a -3.5. That candidate is Richard Urban, running as an independent.

Although Urban submitted no questionnaire, Rick Rosendall, GLAA’s vice president for public affairs, says the group still had information to work with when evaluating Urban’s candidacy, which is woefully at odds with GLAA’s positions, detailed in ”GLAA’s Agenda: 2010.”

”He was one of the witnesses before the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics (DCBOEE) on marriage equality,” says Rosendall of Urban, who has made his opposition to marriage equality part of his campaign platform. ”[Former GLAA President] Bob [Summersgill] and I attended several DCBOEE hearings, and I remember him being this kind of ‘out there’ witness.”

Rosendall adds that Urban’s advocacy of an abstinence-only sex-education program in D.C. Public Schools – which former DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee ended – further puts Urban at odds with the GLAA, and suggests that submitting a questionnaire probably would not have helped his ratings.

”Presumably,” says Rosendall, ”if he’d responded he would’ve gotten more negatives.”

Faring far better was Marc Morgan, a gay Republican running for Graham’s Ward 1 seat. During the primary ratings, Morgan earned a rating of 3. That relatively low rating led him – along with gay Republican candidate Timothy Day, running for the Ward 5 seat and earning a 1.5 – to post statements online critical of the GLAA rating process.

But Morgan resubmitted the GLAA questionnaire ahead of the general election round of ratings and lifted his rating substantially.

”Morgan now has a 6.5, which is a higher rating than the nominee for council chair, Kwame Brown,” Rosendall points out, adding that Brown’s 5.5 rating is not too shabby. ”It’s higher than David Schwartzman, the [At-Large] Statehood Green candidate. His rating is higher than two incumbents.”

Also earning a higher rating for the general election was Councilmember Mary Cheh, taking her primary rating of 7.5 to an 8.5 with an improved questionnaire. Kathy Henderson, who did not participate in the primary ratings earned a 2 this time around, with pro-LGBT work countered by efforts to block adult entertainment, for which the GLAA has advocated.

GLAA announced after Metro Weekly‘s print deadline that Nancy Shia, the Statehood Green Party nominee in the Ward 1 City Council race earned a 7.5 rating. Her answer’s to the GLAA candidate questionnaire are posted on GLAA’s website.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.

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