It may well be that the support of Baltimore's gay community pushed Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to his narrow primary victory four years ago. Against that background, it is ironic that the Baltimore Alternative, one of the city's two gay newspapers, has endorsed former mayor Clarence H. "Du" Burns, who has been perceived as less friendly toward the gay community than Mr. Schmoke.
What often used to be a politically monolithic gay community in Baltimore now appears to be fracturing. Several activists have endorsed Mr. Schmoke. In the Second District, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke's past ability to rally the gay community around council candidates she supports is being severely tested. This was strikingly illustrated Wednesday at a forum sponsored by 12 gay organizations. Two challengers -- Dr. Peter Beilenson and Bea Gaddy -- got a better reception than one of Ms. Clarke's allies, Councilman Carl Stokes. In particular, Mr. Stokes was harshly questioned about his performance as chairman of the council's subcommittee on health.
As AIDS spreads, it is not surprising that many activists are becoming increasingly impatient about bureaucratic red tape that keeps the local government from responding as aggressively as it should. Although a gay rights ordinance was passed nearly four years ago, activists feel incumbents have failed to address other concerns, including police insensitivity.