D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray said Wednesday that he is lobbying the Democratic National Committee to put a call for D.C. statehood in its party platform before its convention next month in Charlotte, N.C., after Republicans dismissed any talk of greater D.C. voting rights in their platform and urged city lawmakers to relax gun laws in the nation’s capital.
The Democratic Party platform in 2000 said D.C. residents are entitled to “autonomy in the conduct of their civic affairs, full political representation as Americans who are fully taxed, and statehood.” But statehood was not mentioned in the party’s platforms for 2004 and 2008, which instead promoted “equal rights to democratic self-government and congressional representation for the citizens of our nation’s capital.”
“It should be restored in 2012,” Mr. Gray said of the statehood provision. “This only comes around every four years.”
Mr. Gray has been a vocal supporter of D.C. statehood and wants Congress to give the District more latitude in how it spend its local tax dollars. He was among dozens of people arrested on Capitol Hill in early 2011 during a protest over congressional legislative riders that affected abortion rights in the District. Earlier this year, he testified before state legislators in New Hampshire in an unsuccessful bid to gain support for D.C. statehood.
Earlier this month, Mr. Gray and Anita Bonds, chairwoman of the D.C. Democratic Committee, sent a letter to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz asking the party to support giving D.C. votes in Congress and giving Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting member of Congress, a speaking slot at the convention.
For now, Mr. Gray’s spokesman said the administration is “still working out the game plan and what, exactly, our next steps are.”
Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s platform committee on Tuesday shot down talk of expanded voting rights for the District through an amendment by James Bopp Jr., a delegate from Indiana.
“My view is that our party has been clear on this proposition,” Mr. Bopp told the committee. “That we have opposed statehood.”
He said the District did not need more representation on the Hill because it has Mrs. Norton to promote its interest and the Democratic Party “of, by and for the federal government — so they have plenty of representation in Congress.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Gray condemned the move as “undemocratic.”
“It is not consistent with the principles upon which this nation was founded. We all know that,” he said.
The mayor also criticized the Republican platform committee for passing a measure that urges the D.C. Council to make it easier for people to carry guns in the city. Tony Perkins, director of the Family Research Council, pushed the measure after a security guard was shot at the conservative advocacy group’s offices in the District last week. Court papers say the suspect, a 28-year-old Virginian, may have been motivated by his contempt for the FRC’s views.
Mr. Gray said the incident served as “a prima facie case” of why the city should continue its existing policies.
“It’s an indication of why we need gun-control laws and why the District of Columbia ought to be respected in terms of our choices that we make, like other states, around controlling guns in this city,”Mr. Gray said.