Letter to Hilda Mason: Time to Retire
17th Street, NW, Apt. 711
Washington, DC 20036
Wednesday, December 2, 1992
Hon. Hilda Mason
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Dear Councilmember Mason:
I am angered and saddened by the dishonesty and viciousness of your remarks at the
Council session on December 1 regarding the Sodomy Law repeal effort led by Jack Evans.
For you to wrap yourself in the civil rights mantle in one breath and vote against the
civil rights of Gay men and Lesbians in the next, was astonishingly self-serving and
hypocritical. Surely Joe Rauh, whose memory and legacy you so rightfully honored earlier
in the day, would have been ashamed to witness such a spectacle. He understood that when
one groups human rights are infringed, all are diminished.
Your repeated statement, "We all know that Congress will overturn it," was
wrong on a number of counts. First of all, we do not know any such thing. As long
as the present colonial mockery of "home rule" remains in effect, Congressional
interference is always a possibility especially with a controversial measure like
Gay rights. But you have never allowed Congressional opposition to deter you from doing
the right thing in seeking Statehood, and neither should you in this case. As your
colleague Frank Smith so eloquently stated, "There is never a good time for defending
peoples rights." Instead of second-guessing the reaction of those in Congress,
you should be attending to your own responsibilities as someone elected to serve the
citizens of the District of Columbia.
Do you really believe that the Congressional veto of the Sexual Assault Reform Act eleven
years ago should deter the D.C. Council from taking action now? If so, what happened
to your convictions and your courage? Are you aware that the Supreme Court ruled that the
one-house legislative veto (which was used in 1981) was unconstitutional? A legislative
veto is now much more difficult, because it requires a vote by both houses of Congress and
a presidential signature (or Congressional override). Speaking of which, are you aware
that we have just elected a pro-Gay, Democratic President? The times have changed, and you
are woefully out of step with them.
Your statement that you couldnt understand why the timing would be so propitious,
observing that "Congress isnt even in session," was incredibly
disingenuous. Everyone in the Council chambers was well aware of that fact. Evans made it
clear in straightforward English that his aim was to have the legislation reach Capitol
Hill to begin its Congressional review period on the first day of the new session. Now,
because you have capriciously violated your own commitment to human rights, it will be
March at the earliest before a re-introduced sodomy law repeal bill can reach the Hill.
You, like Councilmembers Ray, Crawford, and the others who betrayed the cause of
decency in this case, have stated by your action that procedure is an end in itself, and
that relations and protocol among members of the Council matter more to you than our basic
For you to suggest that the Gay community is selfish and has not supported you on
Statehood was the most outrageous and insulting lie of all. How dare you dismiss all of
our mutual efforts for Statehood over so many years with a wave of your hand merely to
score a cheap debating point? That was dishonorable, Hilda, and a disservice to the cause
you claim to serve.
For some time now I have witnessed your deteriorating performance as a councilmember.
Since the advent of cable television, people all over the District have watched your
cranky behavior, your sniping comments to witnesses, and your frequent confusion about
what is going on and what others have said. Your latest performance was merely the
crowning blow. It is past time for you to retire, Hilda, and your despicable behavior at
Tuesdays session will motivate many of your former friends and allies to work to
hasten that day.
If I am mistaken in anything that I say, I am eager to learn the reasons. If I have
wronged you, then I beg your forgiveness. The evidence, however, indicates that it is you
who have wronged every Gay man and Lesbian in the District. If you are still capable of
placing principle above personal interest, then you can prove it by strongly supporting
the sodomy law repeal bill when it is re-introduced in January. It is better late than
never. At the moment, however, I am deeply offended as a Gay man and a native
Washingtonian by your dereliction as my elected representative in this case.
Richard J. Rosendall
cc: J. Coudriet
The Washington Blade
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