Rosendall presents award to Colbert I. King
Colby King accepts award from Rick Rosendall
Colby King accepts award from Rick Rosendall.
Photo by Metro Weekly.

Distinguished Service Award to Colbert I. King

Presented by GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs Richard J. Rosendall

GLAA 34th Anniversary Reception
Radisson Barcelo Hotel
Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Some might think it presumptuous or foolhardy of us to give our humble award to a man who has already won the Pulitzer Prize, but I know our next honoree does not see it that way. For one thing, he is proud of his roots as a Washingtonian. If you judge a man by how he treats the last and least among us, few of us would win higher marks than Colby King. Not only has he consistently spoken up on behalf of the hungry, the fallen, the mistreated, the ill-cared-for, the scarred, the murdered, and those left behind in our city, he has consistently done the legwork to back it up. This is not a man who practices drive-by journalism.

A longtime op-ed columnist for The Washington Post and a member of its editorial board, Colby King has eloquently defended the rights and dignity of gay citizens and their families in such columns as "When the Archbishop Calls," "Fix It, Brother," "A Test for Tolerance," and "Marriage in the March of Time." As deputy editorial page editor, he has also helped prepare a series of strongly pro-gay unsigned editorials, including -- just in 2004 -- "Gay Marriage Games," "What's the Problem?" "An Insulting Waste," "Kill This Amendment," "Until Courts Do Us Part," and "A Vote for Inequality." (In fact, he's written a few more since I wrote this speech.)

In opposing a proposed anti-gay ballot initiative, Colby questioned "whether D.C. voters want to get in bed with forces at loose in America that want to exploit religious and cultural differences for their own narrow, selfish, political interests." In opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment, he wrote, "The combination of this proposal's radicalism and its consideration in the middle of an election year commands a strong rebuke from those members who retain enough shame to oppose a constitutional amendment whose express purpose is to deny equal treatment to U.S. citizens."

In his column of August 16, 2003, Colby contrasted Anglican leaders' intolerance towards homosexuality with their more tolerant policy towards African polygamy. Here is my favorite passage:

"Recognizing that they couldn't stop the practice -- and not wanting to lose converts to the growing African church -- the primates of the Anglican Communion bought the argument, posited by Africa's polygamy proponents, that it would be unkind for new converts to Christianity to discard their extra wives; that putting away the extras would cause social deprivation and be regarded as rejection of African culture. I can imagine trying out that argument on Gwen, my wife of 42 years."

In that same summer of 2003, on June 28, Colby appeared on Gordon Peterson's "Inside Washington" the week the Supreme Court issued its decision in Lawrence v. Texas, in which state anti-sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional. There was a lively discussion among the panelists. As the last word on the subject, after Charles Krauthammer said how appalled he was over the ruling, Colby said, "It's a good decision, Charles, and we won." When our society as a whole gets to that "we," GLAA can close up shop.

It is my great pleasure and privilege to present GLAA's Distinguished Service Award to the fortunate and devoted husband of Gwendolyn Stewart King, Colbert I. King of The Washington Post.