Today the Boston City Council adopted a redistricting plan proposed by South Boston’s Bill Linehan that dilutes the voting strength of the city’s growing minority communities. http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2012/08/22/vote-districts-for-boston-city-council-changed-despite-fear-minority-voters-will-lose-clout/5L7iOMOYQpe9kYI05D5FHK/story.html?event=event12 As a gay activist, I’m concerned that the LGBT community of the South End and Bay Village remain part of District 2, dominated by the old guard of South Boston. While former District 2 Councilor Jimmy Kelly was an avowed homophobe, Linehan’s idea of representing his LGBT constituents is a drop-by at Pride Week while he continues to march in the exclusionary South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade–gays not welcome. At the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast earlier this year, Linehan insinuated that openly gay Rep. Barney Frank would not be well-received in South Boston should he try to campaign there, for Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren.
The crucial 7th vote for the Linehan plan came from supposedly progressive Jamaica Plain Councilor Matt O’Malley, a former Deputy Director of Mass Equality ironically enough. The Chinese Progressive Association is already mulling a lawsuit challenging the Linehan plan, which should draw support from the African American and Hispanic communities. LGBT activists are concerned about the disempowerment of communities of color and considering ways to assist the challenge to a plan passed entirely on the votes of straight white men.