City Council Member Marion Barry was the lone vote against a Washington, D.C. city ordinance to recognize same-sex marriages granted by other jurisdictions (i.e. real states). Barry further warned of a coming “Civil War” over the issue because the black community’s opposition to gay marriage.
From the Washington Post’s DC Wire blog:
“What you’ve got to understand is 98 percent of my constituents are black and we don’t have but a handful of openly gay residents,” Barry said. “Secondly, at least 70 percent of those who express themselves to me about this are opposed to anything dealing with this issue. The ministers think it is a sin, and I have to be sensitive to that.”
Before resorting to the “What is he smoking?” jokes, I’d like to hold this up as another example of the Tip O’Neill Axiom – all politics is, indeed, local. Marion Barry is in office today – after getting caught with drugs, serving time in jail, and multiple charges of tax evasion – because the voters of the Eighth Ward feel like he represents them. If his next campaign finds his messages falling on deaf and distrustful ears, he’d be dragged out of office like he was dragged out of that hotel room (by police who were arresting him for smoking crack).
[Sidebar: do you realize how hard it is to find that video of Marion Barry getting busted on YouTube – or anywhere on the internet?]
Marion Barry may find some folks are alienated by his dissenting vote today, but it likely won’t cost him any votes the next time his name is on a ballot. Perhaps Barry’s own campaign slogan – from when he first ran for city council after getting out of jail for possession – says it best: “He Mot Be Perfect, but He’s Perfect for DC.”