The Emissary: Michael Crawford

In a city that is more than 50% African-American, Michael Crawford has been leading the charge on an issue often used to exploit racial tensions: marriage equality.

Crawford, a former associate field director for HRC, is the founder and cochair of DC for Marriage, which helped engineer the October introduction of a marriage equality bill that garnered 10 cosponsors from the 13-member Council of the District of Columbia. The bill will likely have sailed through the council by the time this magazine hits stands, and the only hurdle left will be the U.S. Congress, which approves all D.C. laws.

Crawford has purposely recruited a large number of African-American leaders to help advance same-sex marriage. Of the 10 leaders involved in DC for Marriage, six are black, and a large number of the district’s more than 200 clergy members who support marriage equality are people of color. The composition of his coalition is deliberate, and serves a dual purpose of evangelizing outside and within the African-American population. “What we see is that the mainstream media pretty much ignores that there’s a black LGBT community, even in D.C.,” he says.

Crawford and Co. has also targeted much of its face-to-face community outreach at predominantly African-American wards in the city. “It’s part of a much-needed conversation in the African-American community about gay people and homophobia,” Crawford says. “When we win marriage equality here in D.C., this will be the first majority-minority place in the country where [same-sex] marriage has been legalized.”

It will also be the first place south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Tags: People