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Mayoral candidates court gay voters

Candidate John F. Barros (standing at the forum), a former Boston School Committee member, has pledged to install or strengthen gay-straight alliances in all city schools.
Candidate John F. Barros (standing at the forum), a former Boston School Committee member, has pledged to install or strengthen gay-straight alliances in all city schools.Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

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On the patio of a Dorchester restaurant last week, the candidates for mayor stood in near unanimity, pledging their allegiance to the rainbow flag. One said he would bring the Gay Games to Boston. Another spoke of his experience growing up with a lesbian mother.

DotOut, the gay rights group hosting the forum, didn't even bother with an endorsement vote. With nine of the 12 candidates facing the packed crowd, it would be impossible for one candidate to win a majority vote, said an organizer.

In a city known for its liberal leanings and as the birthplace of gay marriage, the candidates for mayor are outspokenly, proactively and almost universally supportive of gay issues. Candidates aren’t distinguishing themselves on their support for gay marriage; instead, they’re competing over who has been the most demonstrative, waged the most unlikely battle, or been a friend the longest to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.

“You want to run for mayor of the city of Boston, you have to be pro-GLBT,” said Arline Isaacson, cochair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. “It’s only a matter of two things—the degree to which you are pro-GLBT and, very importantly, what’s your track record? In this area, there are a couple of people who have top-notch track records.”

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