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As both major parties get ready for upcoming conventions, District leaders, including mayor Vincent Gray, were hoping to make sure D.C.'s push for statehood gets the attention and respect of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers. But the city isn't off to a good start.
The GOP decided earlier in the week to make opposing D.C. statehood part of its platform; as for the Democrats, the party does not currently have any wording about D.C. statehood in its 2012 platform.
It's not often you see a constitutional scholar celebrate with a two-handed fist pump on C-SPAN TV. But that's how James Bopp, one of Indiana's delegates to the Republican National Convention — and, incidentally, the attorney who first represented Citizens United in its case that ultimately went to the Supreme Court — responded when his amendment opposing D.C. statehood was accepted by the GOP platform committee.
"The District already has representatives," Bopp said in explaining his amendment to the committee. "That is the Democrat [sic] party and the federal government. So they have plenty of representation we should not dilute that."
Another new section of the Republican platform calls for the D.C. Council to relax the city's gun laws. It was added at the request of Tony Perkins the president of the Family Research Council, Politico reports. FRC is the Christian lobbying group whose D.C. headquarters was the scene of a shooting earlier this month.
Mayor Gray said Wednesday he is disappointed by both sections in the GOP platform. He had initially planned to go to Tampa for the Republican Convention to lobby on the District's behalf, but the mayor now says his time and energy are now needed at the Democratic National convention.
That's because the Democrats have so far not included D.C.'s push for statehood in the party platform.
"This only comes around every four years, we should seize every available opportunity before us to advance the cause of the people who live the District of Columbia," Gray said Wednesday, according to the Washington Post. "I will be fighting, and have an absolutely unwavering commitment to this."
D.C. statehood was a part of the Democratic party platform in 2000 but it did not make the cut in 2004 or 2008. Gray is now pushing for the Democratic party to let D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton speak at the convention in Charlotte.