Clarke enlists gay community in drive against Beilenson

September 11, 1991|By Ginger Thompson

As Baltimore's primary campaign draws to a close, City Council President Mary Pat Clarke has begun a behind-the-scenes effort in the city's gay community to defeat an independent candidate for the City Council in the 2nd District, Peter Beilenson.

Mrs. Clarke, whose political home base is the center-city 2nd District, has been making calls to leaders of gay and lesbian groups urging them to support her chosen candidates: incumbents Anthony J. Ambridge, Carl Stokes and challenger Paula Johnson Branch instead of Dr. Beilenson.

"He hasn't paid his dues in the community," Mrs. Clarke says of Dr. Beilenson. She also has made no secret of the fact she would like the next City Council to have in its more faces friendly to her than are in the current council.

Mrs. Clarke is apparently focusing her anti-Beilenson efforts on the 2nd District's large gay community because that is where Dr. Beilenson, a Johns Hopkins University physician, has considerable support through his work with AIDS patients.

But Dr. Beilenson is not without his defenders. Recently he got some support from a leading gay politician, U.S. Representative Barney Frank, D-Mass.

Mr. Frank said he called several friends in Baltimore urging them to support Dr. Beilenson, who is the son of Representative Anthony C. Beilenson, D.-Calif., a colleague and friend of Mr. Frank.

"There is no erosion in Beilenson's support, even though Mary Pat has out all her guns against him," said John Stuban, head of ACT UP Baltimore, an AIDS advocacy group. "The current council people have had 10 years to educate themselves on AIDS and AIDS services, and Peter Beilenson speaks to those issues. We can trust him to support us when necessary."

Dr. Beilenson says that through his work with AIDS patients and pregnant teen-agers, he has paid more dues to the community than any current member of the City Council -- including Mrs. Clarke.

"Obviously Mary Pat Clarke is scared to death that her control over the district is going to be lost," he said. "She has found someone who cannot be manipulated, and she's scared to death."

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