Annapolis' new mayor said yesterday he has warned an all-white, all-male political club of which he is an inactive member that if it does not end its discriminatory policies in the next two weeks, "We're going to come down on them with everything we have."
"They have a bunch of dinosaurs there. They're an embarrassment to all of us," said Mayor Dennis Callahan. "They're out of step with the times."
Callahan began pressuring the Eastport Democratic Club after the Maryland Democratic Party asked him to make a renewed effort at getting club officials to end discriminatory practices.
"To not admit blacks or women to a Democratic club violates the very principles upon which our party is founded," Howard J. Thomas, state party chairman, wrote in a letter to the mayor.
Callahan said he stopped attending the club's meetings three years ago when his proposal to lift membership restrictions was defeated. The mayor, however, said he would not resign from the club.
"As long as the word 'Democratic' is tacked onto their name, I'll be working for a change from within," he said.
Controversy over the club began during the mayoral campaign last summer between Callahan and then-Mayor Richard L. Hillman, who criticized his opponent for belonging to the organization.
The club deleted language from its bylaws two years ago that said that only whites were eligible for membership, Callahan said. But the organization kept a "two-blackball" rule that, the mayor said, enables members to continue to bar membership to blacks and others they do not want.