Arline Isaacson, prominent gay-rights activist, endorses Walsh

A prominent activist who led the fight for gay marriage on Beacon Hill has endorsed state Representative Martin J. Walsh for mayor, calling him an “exceptional” friend in the fight for same-sex marriage.

Arline Isaacson, who did not back a candidate in the preliminary election, said that although both Walsh and City Councilor John R. Connolly are supportive of gay rights, Walsh was a standout in the contentious marriage debate.

“You can differentiate them in part by factoring in this: When you were in the war, who jumped into the trench to fight with you by your side?” Isaacson, cochair of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, said today. “And Marty jumped in and won a medal of honor fighting with us in the trenches. He did it at significant cost to his political base.”

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Calling Walsh a “workhorse, not a show horse,” Isaacson said that Walsh never claimed much credit for the behind-the-scenes work he did in the House, blocking an initiative in 2007 that would have prevented gay marriage and lobbying his more conservative legislators to stand with gay-rights advocates. At the same time, she said, the Dorchester Democrat was besieged by constituents who opposed gay marriage and he was criticized from the altar at church.

“When you’re an elected official from Dorchester, you don’t want the priest saying anything bad about you in church,” Isaacson said. “That was a very gutsy thing to do.”

As a result, Isaacson said, she wants voters to know “how exceptional a friend Marty Walsh was to the LGBT community when he didn’t have to be and when he paid a severe price for it. That’s the measure of a man.”

Walsh was also endorsed in the primary by state Representative Elizabeth A. Malia, a Jamaica Plain Democrat who is openly gay, and who also cited his work on the legislative Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

For his part, Connolly also picked up an endorsement today from a local gay publication—the Rainbow Times—which noted that his campaign makes a case for diversity and inclusivity, that he championed a bid to bring the Gay Games to Boston, and that his focus on Boston schools includes a focus on ensuring that the children of gay couples are welcomed there.

In the preliminary election, Connolly won the endorsement of the South End News. Its sister publication, Bay Windows, the largest publication in New England geared to gay readers, previously endorsed City Councilor Mike Ross, who was defeated in the preliminary.

Co-publisher Sue O’Connell said today that both publications will reconsider endorsements before the final election Nov. 5.

“They both have compelling stories for us,” she said of the candidates, but added, “The voters have to pick one, so we should, too.”