Former D.C. Council member Douglas E. Moore, a Methodist minister who in 1977 referred to gay activists as “fascist faggots” and who emerged as an outspoken opponent of a bill to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination, died Aug. 2 at a hospital in Clinton, Md. He was 91.
His wife, Doris Hughes-Moore, told the Washington Post the cause of death was complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease and pneumonia.
Moore won election to an at-large D.C. Council seat in 1974 during the city’s first election under its home rule government approved by Congress in the early 1970s. Similar to several other D.C. Council members elected that year, Moore had been an active participant in the African-American civil rights movement in the 1960s.
However, unlike nearly all of his Council colleagues during the first four years of the city’s home rule government who were strong supporters of the gay community, Moore emerged as an outspoken opponent of gay rights, including gay rights legislation pending before the Council.
In 1977, when the D.C. Human Rights Act was being considered by the Council, Moore led a campaign to delete the category of sexual orientation from the legislation. His opposition to including that category, which was defined as covering gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, came shortly after singer Anita Bryant led a widely publicized campaign in Dade County, Fla., to repeal by voter referendum an existing gay rights law in that jurisdiction, which succeeded in securing repeal of the law.
In D.C., the Council approved its Human Rights Act in 1977 with the sexual orientation protection included by a wide margin, with Moore and just one other Council member voting no.
Moore’s talk about organizing a possible referendum to repeal the gay rights provision similar to the Dade County vote prompted LGBT activists to help pass an amendment to the D.C. City Charter that bans initiative or referendum votes on laws that protect the human rights of D.C. residents.
A little over 30 years later, that D.C. charter provision was used to successfully prevent anti-LGBT advocates from placing D.C.’s same-sex marriage law on the ballot in 2009.
Meanwhile, to the surprise of LGBT activists, Moore didn’t immediately speak out against a 1976 resolution approved unanimously by the D.C. Council declaring Gay Pride Day on the same day as Father’s Day.
But in September 1977, when asked by Washington Post columnist Milton Coleman about how he was on record of voting with his fellow Council members for the Gay Pride resolution, Moore said it was a mistake and he didn’t intentionally support the resolution. Coleman said Moore vowed to block such a resolution from passing again.
“Unless they pass it when I’m dead, cripple or paralyzed, there won’t be no more Gay Pride Days in Washington, D.C.,” Coleman quoted him as saying.
The next year, in 1978, Moore ran for the position of D.C. Council chair while continuing to express his opposition to what he called the “three G’s – gays, gambling and grass (marijuana),” as Coleman quoted him as saying.
To the strong relief of LGBT activists, then D.C. Council member Arrington Dixon (D-Ward 4), a strong LGBT rights supporter, beat Moore in the race for Council chair by a wide margin.
“Dixon’s decisive victory over Moore ended overt homophobia as a viable political tactic in D.C. elections,” said Craig Howell, former president of the D.C. Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.
Moore ran and lost three subsequent bids for D.C. Council seats after his loss to Dixon in 1978. He ran and lost his race for mayor in 2002.
Longtime D.C. and Ward 8 community activist Phil Pannell said Moore had a change of heart in his years out of politics when he came to support the right of LGBT people to be free from discrimination.