The D.C. Democratic State Committee has two battles on its hands this week: one of its own making and involving local leadership, the other national.

First, the national flap.

City leaders are in a stew over a delegate selection rules change that eliminated big-city mayors as automatic unpledged delegates to the party's national convention in Atlanta next July. That means Mayor Marion Barry would have to compete at home for a delegate slot -- as would other big-city mayors such as New York's Ed Koch.

However, local Democrats are scheduled to go before the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee tomorrow to ask that Barry be upgraded to governor status. That would allow Barry an automatic slot but not much else. Local officials argue that the District, with its local, county and state functions, should be given a higher status. Status is what a lot of conventioneering is all about.

Sharon Pratt Dixon, treasurer of the national committee and national committeewoman from the District, led the effort to get the issue before the committee meeting at the Sheraton Carlton Hotel. The national committee has said the matter likely will be referred to the convention rules committee, which wouldn't make a decision until spring. Dixon says she hopes something else can be worked out.

The state committee passed a resolution last month saying its members would boycott the national convention if Barry weren't upgraded. The resolution was recommended by Mark L. Plotkin, often a critic of the mayor but an avid supporter of statehood. "This was done in the name of statehood and beyond personalities . . . ," Plotkin said.

Don't believe that boycott stuff for a minute, though. Some Democrats say the state committee members virtually live for politics and wouldn't dream of missing the convention. Besides, they've already started grumbling about hotel rooms.

A more urgent issue expected to come up at tonight's meeting is the recent appointment of Carl T. Rowan Jr. as counsel to the state committee.

Although he was appointed in September by state chairman James M. Christian, some gay rights activists and others have expressed increasing concern about Rowan, citing his membership on the board of directors of the Big Brothers of the National Capital Area, which refuses to allow openly gay males to participate because as a group they are not considered good role models.

In an interview this week, Rowan declined to say whether the board's rule reflects his personal beliefs -- a key issue for some members of the state committee.

"It's an unanswered question at this point," said Frank Zampatori, an openly gay committee member from Ward 7, who said he has not received a response from Christian on the issue. Some committee members suggested that Rowan may simply withdraw if there are enough complaints.

Rowan is expected to attend the meeting at 7 tonight at the D.C. Council chambers in the District Building.

Rowan, who lives in Ward 3, reportedly offered to quit last week but was dissuaded by Christian, according to Democratic sources. Several Democrats have privately said it would save the party a bitter debate if Rowan were to step aside before tonight's meeting.

In the only major show of support, the Ward 3 Democratic organization gave Rowan an individual vote of confidence recently, but the party officials did not address the central issue of the Big Brothers' policies.

Rowan seems inclined to let the committee decide his fate, although there are no rules that specifically allow the membership to overrule the chairman. "My feeling is, I'll wait and see what the politicians want to do," Rowan said, adding that he has a "personal policy that when I volunteer . . . the people appreciate it. If they don't . . . I've got better things to do."

Christine Riddiough, president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and a state committee member, circulated a letter recently in which she said her predominantly gay organization feels that Rowan "will not fairly and effectively represent" all Democrats because the Big Brothers' policy is counter to Democratic support for the "rights of all people."

The club also circulated a critical memo written last year by Craig Howell of the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance. Howell talked to Rowan last year after club members raised questions about his role with Big Brothers and as a financial cochairman of Democrat Jim Nathanson's campaign for the D.C. Council from Ward 3.

"I think the votes are there to defeat him," said Phil Pannell, a longtime gay and community activist from Ward 8 who was among leaders of the anti-Rowan effort. "Christian's position is that {Rowan} has a First Amendment right," said Pannell, a former member of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights. "If a person supported apartheid, it would never even have to come to a vote."