In related news, our fab Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton stirs the pot:
Republicans: Follow principles in your new budget, support DC home rule. http://t.co/iH4rE3pRfi— Eleanor H. Norton (@EleanorNorton) March 17, 2015
In related news, our fab Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton stirs the pot:
Republicans: Follow principles in your new budget, support DC home rule. http://t.co/iH4rE3pRfi— Eleanor H. Norton (@EleanorNorton) March 17, 2015
Here are news stories about GLAA's candidate ratings for the April 28 special election in D.C.:
There are a few candidates who still promise to give us their questionnaire responses. We will rate them as promptly as we can and issue an update as necessary.
Ward 8 D.C. Council candidate Sheila Bunn, who has served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former mayor Vincent C. Gray and Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, dominated the field in the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) candidate ratings for the April 28 special election, earning a score of +9. She has the highest rating of any candidate in this election cycle. The top-rated candidate in the Ward 4 race is Dwayne M. Toliver, who earned a +7. No candidate earned GLAA's hard-to-get championship point in this election.
One response common among many candidates was their hedging on the "Death with Dignity Act of 2015," introduced by Councilmember Mary Cheh and endorsed by GLAA. There were virtually no other issues of controversy in the questionnaire, judging by the responses.
The following are explanations of individual ratings. Note: Ratings marked with an asterisk (*) indicate a candidate who did not return a questionnaire and provided no information regarding his or her record on LGBT issues.
Ward 4 Councilmember
Democratic candidate Dwayne M. Toliver (+7) has a strong questionnaire and a good record on LGBT issues as an attorney for the Department of Human Resources. In his answer to GLAA's first question, Toliver showed a strong grasp of the issues surrounding the District's repeal of the congressionally-imposed Armstrong Amendment, which repeal GLAA had urged.
Democratic candidate Edwin W. Powell (+6.5) turned in a strong questionnaire, including a good discussion on healthcare, and documented a pro-LGBT record.
Democratic candidate Brandon Todd (+5.5) turned in a solid questionnaire but showed little by way of a record on LGBT issues.
Democratic candidate Acqunetta Anderson (+3) agrees with GLAA on most of the issues but offered little substance and no record on LGBT issues.
Democratic candidate Renee L. Bowser (+2.5) agrees with GLAA on the issues but offered little substance and showed no LGBT-specific record.
Democratic candidate Leon T. Andrews, Jr. (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Democratic candidate Ron Austin (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Democratic candidate Gwenellen Corley-Bowman (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on her record.
Democratic candidate Judi Jones (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on her record.
Socialist Workers Party candidate Glova Scott (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on her record.
Democratic candidate Douglass Sloan (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Democratic candidate Bobvala Tengen (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Ward 8 Councilmember
Democratic candidate Sheila Bunn (+9) has a strong questionnaire and a solid record on LGBT issues as a senior staffer to both Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and former mayor Vincent C. Gray.
Democratic candidate Marion C. Barry (+4.5) agrees with GLAA on all the issues and provided some substance, but has a limited record on LGBT issues.
Democratic candidate "S.S." Sandra Seegars (+4.5) agrees with GLAA on most issues but provided limited substance. She has a record of supporting LGBT issues.
Democratic candidate LaRuby May (+4) agrees with GLAA on all the issues but provided limited substance. She documented no LGBT-specific record.
Democratic candidate Eugene D. Kinlow (+3.5) agrees with GLAA on the issues but offered almost no substance. He has been an ally on LGBT issues.
Independent candidate Keita Vanterpool (+3.5) agrees with GLAA on the issues but provided little substance or LGBT-related record.
Democratic candidate Stuart Anderson (+3) agrees with GLAA on the issues but provided little substance or LGBT-related record.
Democratic candidate Jauhar Abraham (+2) agrees with GLAA on the issues but offered no substance or LGBT-related record.
Democratic candidate Greta Fuller (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on her record.
Democratic candidate Anthony Muhammad (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Democratic candidate Leonard Watson, Sr. (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Democratic candidate Trayon "WardEight" White (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on his record.
Democratic candidate Natalie Williams (0*) did not return a questionnaire and provided no information on her record.
Today, 77 rights organizations sent a letter to Democratic Leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to thank them for opposing the use of religion to discriminate. GLAA is proud to be among them. The letter was coordinated by the Inter-Coalition Religious Refusals Working Group of the National Women’s Law Center. The text is as follows:
Dear Minority Leader Pelosi and Minority Leader Reid:
The undersigned organizations have come together to thank you for your strong stand protecting people from those who would misuse religion to harm others. Your continued leadership is critical to stopping any new legislative initiatives in this area in the 114th Congress. In fact, Congress has begun to consider these issues already, with a House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee for the Constitution and Civil Justice Hearing on “Oversight of the Religious Freedom Restoration Action and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act” on February 13, 2015.
The groups that have signed onto this letter include those working on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities; women; communities of color; youth; reproductive health; individuals facing issues around aging and end of life concerns; health care; people of faith and religious communities; secular beliefs; religious liberty; civil rights; labor; those affected by domestic violence; those living with HIV/AIDS; and a variety of other issues. Together, we represent many millions of Americans across this country.
Our nation’s laws have long protected the freedom of religion and belief – but not the right to impose those beliefs on others. The American people agree; 83 percent of adults believe that “people are entitled to their religious beliefs, but this does not give them the right to harm other people.”
The 77 organizations that have signed this letter, despite our different missions, hold in common the core principle that religion should not be used to discriminate. We thank you for doing the same. We, and the many millions of people we represent, stand with you in opposing any efforts to pass legislation that would allow religion to be misused in this way.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., is pleased to announce its 2015 Distinguished Service Award recipients. GLAA presents awards to local individuals and organizations that have served the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the national capital area. The awards will be presented at GLAA’s 44th Anniversary Reception on Thursday, April 23 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Policy Restaurant and Lounge at 1904 14th Street, NW (at T Street). Tickets are $55 and can be purchased at http://www.glaa.org/anniversary/ or calling (202) 667-5139; a range of donor levels is also available.
GLAA’s 2015 Distinguished Service Award recipients are:
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Contact: Rick Rosendall 202-328-6278
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., today launched its 2015 Election Project as the group Heritage Action called on Congress to overturn District bills that protect reproductive health decisions and LGBT students.
GLAA President Rick Rosendall stated, "We thank Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for her strong statement today that included this: 'Just as my colleagues insist that the laws of their constituents be respected by Washington, you better bet that we will insist on the same American principle and will target members who dare disrespect the people of the District of Columbia by trying to overturn our local laws.'"
Rosendall continued, "The Congresswoman is right. As the District prepares for a special election on April 28, we should not have to look over our shoulders for fear that congressional overseers will substitute their judgment for that of D.C. voters by blocking our local enactments."
This week, GLAA released its LGBT policy brief, "Building on Victory," and its questionnaire for candidates in the April 28 special election to fill D.C. Council vacancies in Wards 4 and 8. The deadline for receipt of candidate responses is March 5, after which GLAA will assign ratings to the candidates (on a scale of -10 to +10) based on their questionnaire responses and their records on LGBT issues. GLAA does not endorse candidates in partisan elections.
I stopped by GLAA's post office box today to check our mail for the first time since the holidays, in advance of our January 13 monthly meeting. In it I found a moving surprise: a $500 check for GLAA from the Robert N. Alfandre Foundation. In the accompanying letter, dated December 23, the foundation's administrative director, Nicole Alfandre Halbreiner, wrote:
Enclosed please find a donation from the Robert N. Alfandre Foundation. Mr. Alfandre was a supporter of GLAA for many years. Sadly, he passed away in June of this year. We will be continuing his support in his memory.
A longtime supporter, indeed. I met Bob more than three decades ago, shortly after I joined GLAA. His generosity was matched by his graciousness. He always seemed to be in good cheer, and it was infectious. We noted his passing last June here at GLAA Forum. His funeral at All Souls Episcopal Church was something of a reunion for longtime community members and supporters. It was such an event, a mayoral candidate was handing out flyers outside afterwards. The reminiscences and spirit among his friends in the church that day made Bob and his positive energy feel very much present.
Thanks so much to Ms. Halbreiner (who is one of Bob's daughters) and the Foundation for their generous support. Already this year we have discussed legislation with D.C. Council members (including three new members), and talked over congressional matters with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. We are also starting to plan for our 44th anniversary awards reception in late April, and are finalizing our candidate questionnaire and policy brief in anticipation of our ratings process for the special election to fill Council vacancies in Wards 4 and 8 on April 28.
GLAA is all-volunteer and gets a lot of work donated, but we do have expenses, including advertising and website maintenance. The Robert N. Alfandre Foundation's generous donation helps start our year on a promising footing. We are humbled and gratified by this show of confidence, and will do our best to continue earning it.
In January, the District will swear in a new Mayor and three new D.C. Council members — with a fourth new Council member to be chosen in a special election in the spring. Council committee chairs will also be reshuffled, and there will be new agency heads.
Change is the order of the day! GLAA's focus is on policy, and our success has relied upon building relationships with D.C.'s legislative and executive branches. The rest of this year and the early part of 2015 will thus be an important time to get acquainted with the District's new leaders and public servants, as well as the new staffers they will bring on board. It is a time to touch base with our coalition partners among other advocacy groups to discuss LGBT priorities for Council Session 21 and to offer our help and input to the incoming Bowser administration. It is in everyone's interest for the Council and Mayor to be successful.
We are eager to get your input as we prepare for another year of advancing public policy on behalf of the LGBT community. Feel free to join us at this evening's meeting (7 pm, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 PA Ave. NW, Room 120). If you cannot attend, feel free to share your ideas by email (equal at glaa dot org) or phone. At GLAA we are all volunteers, and we are here to defend the rights of all in the LGBT community, as we have for 43 years.
Today I will testify on behalf of GLAA at an oversight hearing of the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on the Metropolitan Police Department's stop and contact policies and procedures. In it I cite findings and recommendations by our allies in the ACLU and NAACP. Here is my conclusion:
In looking at citizen complaints of police practices, we keep coming back to disparities by geography, race, and class. This is unacceptable. As I wrote in 2012, "It is easier to make excuses for stopping and frisking if you are never targeted by police based on your skin color."
Not only police but citizens in all eight wards must face the inequities around us with open eyes. When the law is not enforced in a fair and equitable manner, we undermine respect for the law. The standard carved above the entrance to the Supreme Court, "Equal Justice Under Law," is more a mockery than a reality for all too many. Dr. King issued the challenge the day before he was struck down: "All we say to America is be true to what you said on paper." If his words continue to sting, perhaps it is because love of country is all too often an excuse for self-congratulation instead of a call to self-correction.
October 11 was National Coming Out Day. It was also the third anniversary of the death of our colleague and friend, gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny. Here is a link to my blog post on the night of Frank's death in 2011. Frank's voice remains with us, exhorting us, as he did in 1969, to assert our full rights as gay people:
It is time to open the closet door and let in the fresh air and the sunshine.
It is time to doff and to discard the secrecy, the disguise, and the camouflage.
It is time to hold up your heads and to look the world squarely in the eye as the homosexuals that you are, confident of your equality, confident in the knowledge that as objects of prejudice and victims of discrimination YOU are right and they are wrong, and confident of the rightness of what you are and of the goodness of what you do.
It is time to live your homosexuality fully, joyously, openly, and proudly, assured that morally, socially, physically, psychologically, emotionally, and in every other way: Gay is good.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance has considered new information provided by several D.C. Council candidates in the November 4 general election, and adjusted the rating of each, as shown below. GLAA has a longstanding policy of reserving the right to re-rate candidates based on new information received during the campaign. GLAA ratings are on a scale of -10 to +10. GLAA does not make endorsements in partisan races.
Anita Bonds (Democratic At-Large incumbent, original rating +6, revised rating +7.5) added substance to her questionnaire and provided additional record information. Her recent LGBT-related record includes supporting Council member Cheh's successful effort to obtain nearly $1 million in additional funding for homeless LGBT youth; working with the Dept. of Corrections to institute a program offering voluntary HIV/AIDS/STD testing upon release from DC Jail; supporting legislation that expands the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana; working with Health Committee Chair Alexander to give authority to the Dept. of Health to administer $1.5 million in grants for HIV prevention and intervention programs in FY15; and supporting repeal of Prostitution Free Zones in the Judiciary Committee.
Kishan Putta (Independent At-Large candidate, original rating 0, revised rating +6) agrees with GLAA on nearly all the issues, and offered some substance. His record includes working in planning and executing DC Health Link outreach and enrollment; working to lift the outdated liquor license moratorium on 17th Street, NW; and testifying for the Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act.
GLAA, while not rating candidates in the race for D.C. Attorney General, invited candidates to submit statements on LGBT issues. The first to respond is Lorie Masters.
We will post statements by the other AG candidates, both here and at GLAA's main website at glaa.org, as we receive them.
Kris Hammond, Republican candidate for D.C. Council Chairman, posted comments below both stories. Here's his comment to City Paper:
In fairness to the many candidates who "didn't return the questionnaires at all," most of us never received the questionnaire. Many of the independent candidates and all of the major party candidates who were appointed after the April 1 primary never had an opportunity. My understanding is that GLAA is giving such candidates an opportunity to contribute after the fact, but this news cycle will be past.
As an aside, Democrat Phil Mendelson and I agree on LGBTQ issues-- I wish this bipartisan consensus existed at the national level.
Here is my reply:
Kris Hammond is incorrect in saying that “many of the independent candidates” never received a GLAA questionnaire. We sent questionnaires to all independent candidates listed by the Board of Elections. Most responded to us. In our ratings meeting for the general election cycle, we focused on independent candidates, having dealt with the major party candidates (Democratic, Libertarian, Statehood-Green, Republican) in the primary. Muriel Bowser, as the Democratic nominee for Mayor, chose to submit a new response, so we evaluated that as well.
The fact that some party candidates were recruited after the primary was something we initially overlooked. We have since reached out to everyone on the ballot that we haven’t heard from for whatever reason and invited them to respond. As to the news cycle being over, there are plenty more news cycles. We will announce our new ratings to the same member list and the same press list, as well as post the ratings on our website and include them in our planned ratings ad (which is still a month away). The handful of candidates being rated late have a better chance of receiving bloggers’ attention than had they gotten lost in the crowd of the first story. And I will tweet a link to each new questionnaire as we receive it. Surely this is more than fair on the part of volunteer activists.
Regarding At-Large Republican candidate Marc Morgan, I tried more than once to reach him during the primary season, and sent him the same email I sent other primary candidates. He recently told me that he intentionally waited for the general election. We await his submission. As for Independent At-Large candidates Khalid Pitts and Kishan Putta, we sent them the same invitation we sent other independent candidates. We have since received a response from Pitts, which we are evaluating. We would welcome a response from Putta as well, which we have communicated by (another) email.
GLAA is non-partisan and does not make endorsements in partisan races. We rate candidates based on their records and answers on our issues. Our questions are drawn from our policy brief, which was published in two formats on our website at glaa dot org on January 3, and which was provided to candidates along with the questionnaire–thus making the questionnaire an open-book test. We go through this process for the purpose of educating both candidates and the public, as well as being a resource for reporters, legislative staff, opinion makers, and other activists on LGBT issues. We appreciate the interest.
Here is the agenda for GLAA's DC general election candidate ratings meeting, set for Tuesday, September 16 at 7 pm in Room 120 of the Wilson Building. This is for independent and minor party candidates, plus any primary winners who choose to submit revised questionnaire responses.
This will be a working meeting. Only GLAA members can vote on ratings. We go carefully through each candidate's LGBT-related record and questionnaire answers. And we do ratings (on a scale of –10 to +10), NOT endorsements.
Due to the number of candidates we have to rate, we need to use our time efficiently. Please take the time to study the questionnaire responses beforehand if you plan to attend. You can find them online at:
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C.
The dispute between Truth Wins Out and GLAA over the right of a privately funded Bible museum to open two blocks from the National Mall was highlighted on July 23 by Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis.
And reporter Tom Sherwood at NBC Washington wrote in his notebook on July 23:
Hobby Lobby high-five? Well, kinda. The owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores won national attention when they won their Supreme Court battle to limit contraception insurance coverage for their employees because of the owners’ religious beliefs.
That recently prompted Wayne Bensen of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out to “strongly urge” District officials to make it as difficult as possible for Hobby Lobby to get all the permits it needs to build a private National Bible Museum in Southwest D.C. (the old site of the Washington Design Center).
Bensen wrote that the project near the National Mall “would make a mockery of surrounding museums, which are based on research, history and scholarship.”
Well, throwing up administrative hurdles didn’t go over so well with local activist Rick Rosendall, who is president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.
“There is no legitimate basis to block it,” Rosendall wrote this week in the Daily Chose. “GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents’ First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground. ... We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us.”
Goodness, we better not let that kind of high-mindedness catch on. Maybe even the warring members of Congress might start working together. And then, what would the mean ol’ media report?
Don't worry, Tom. You'll always turn up something. Besides, high-mindedness is about as likely to catch on in Washington as a coherent thought in Rep. Louie Gohmert. Oh, dear, that didn't sound terribly high-minded, did it?
I want to draw your attention to an article that I have just published on the Daily Kos blog:
This concerns plans by the owner of Hobby Lobby to create a Bible museum a few blocks from the National Mall, and the response by Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out to the news. Besen, who has done invaluable work in exposing anti-gay junk science and religious extremism, has called for D.C. Government officials to somehow prevent the planned museum from opening. But since the museum is to be privately funded and located on private property, there is no legitimate basis to block it.
As my article discusses, GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents' First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground, and has won us praise, including from Washington Post columnist Colby King. We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us. Our longtime allies at the American Civil Liberties Union stand with us on this.
The Blade reports:
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, D.C.’s leading non-partisan LGBT advocacy group, voted at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night to declare its opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA.
GLAA becomes one of the first prominent local LGBT groups to join a growing number of national LGBT advocacy organizations that have announced their opposition to ENDA within the past two weeks.
.@GLAADC: "We must b clear: we will NOT tolerate redlining of justice in our city! This is intolerable 4 anyone who loves our city" Cosigned— WashLaw4CR (@WashLaw4CR) July 9, 2014
Our friends at the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs tweeted today during the Judiciary Committee hearing on three bills. I testified for GLAA on two of them, including the bill to repeal Prostitution Free Zones. @WashLaw4CR liked what I had to say, including my statement about redlining during questioning.
Today I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-760, the Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014. I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Full written testimony is here.
Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Saul Cruz, Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.
GLAA strongly supports repeal of Prostitution Free Zones, as we testified in 2012. We therefore thank Councilmembers David Grosso, David Catania, and Mary Cheh for introducing Bill 20-760, the "Repeal of Prostitution Free Zones Amendment Act of 2014."
The use of PFZs facilitates discriminatory profiling of transgender people. As our colleagues in the DC Trans Coalition note:
- The Attorney General has determined that PFZs cannot be defended in court and are likely unconstitutional.
- MPD suspended PFZ implementation and said it was working to rescind its PFZ general order.
- Eliminating PFZs is a step toward reducing violence against sex workers.
- PFZ repeal makes sense from a public health perspective.
In our written testimony we quote extensively from 2005 testimony by Stephen M. Block, then legislative counsel for ACLU of the Nation's Capital. I will not read those passages. I will just note that we include his many case law citations to emphasize that PFZs are not only ineffective and harmful, but unconstitutional.
Earlier today, I presented testimony for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-793, the "Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Clarification Amendment Act of 2014." I filled in for GLAA Secretary Saul Cruz, who was out sick. Below is my reading text. Official copy is here.
Good morning, Chairman Wells. I am Rick Rosendall, President of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which was founded in 1971.
Bill 20-793, the "Civil Marriage Dissolution Equality Clarification Amendment Act of 2014," amends the D.C. Code to clarify that the mechanism for the dissolution of marriage includes divorce and legal separation. We thank Chairman Mendelson for introducing it. We support the bill with a recommended change.
We agree with Professor Nancy Polikoff that the bill should be amended to make it clear that the court can decide matters of property division and spousal support. As she explained in an email on May 7, "[F]or a same-sex couple married in DC but domiciled in a non-recognition state, there is no other place that will determine a division of property and an award of spousal support if appropriate because those laws apply only to married couples and the state of domicile does not consider them married."
If District judges think they cannot divide property or award spousal support in such cases, it is best to be explicit. We will leave the amendatory language to Professor Polikoff. We thank her for lending her expertise, which has been invaluable in helping the District navigate its journey to equality for same-sex couples and their families. The greatest challenge, as in this case, has stemmed from the confusion and gaps in legal protection caused by differences in family law from state to state. We cannot be governed by speculation as to when the U.S. Supreme Court may end all such confusion by establishing marriage equality nationwide. So let us clarify our law this year.
July 8, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA) voted at its monthly meeting on July 8 to adopt the following statement. It may be attributed to GLAA President Rick Rosendall.
GLAA joins the growing list of LGBT rights organizations that oppose the present version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In its current form, sweeping religious exemptions in ENDA could enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law by allowing far more organizations to bypass civil rights protections than are permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furthermore, provisions added by Senator Rob Portman through amendment seek, in his words, "to ensure that government cannot penalize a religious employer because it qualifies as exempt from the non-discrimination requirements of ENDA." These assurances could weaken existing state and city non-discrimination protections resulting in a step backwards in protecting the LGBT community.
On July 2, I testified for GLAA before the D.C. Council Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013." Here is a portion:
We support Bill 20-63 with a requested change. The Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013 would, as the summary says, "give the Office of Police Complaints access to information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies to improve the monitoring and evaluation activities of the Police Complaints Board."
This proposed reform has been kicking around the Council for several years. We thank Chairman Mendelson and Councilmembers Cheh and Bowser for re-introducing it. However, when they introduced similar legislation in 2009, the City Paper reported that the bill specified that the board "shall have unfettered access to all information and supporting documentation of the covered law enforcement agencies...."
By contrast, the current bill refers to "reasonable access." The difference between "unfettered access" and "reasonable access" is the difference between real access and mere rhetoric about access. "Reasonable access" is a vague and slippery term that can mean anything and nothing. If our intent with the present bill is to enhance police accountability by granting OPC statutory access to information, that access should be clearly stated and not conveyed by ambiguous wording that effectively turns it from a requirement into a suggestion. We urge that you restore the bill's teeth by changing "reasonable" back to "unfettered."
Read the whole thing here. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is strongly opposed to the bill, which she hyperbolically said would endanger the public safety. Once again the Bad Cathy comes roaring back! I am sorry, but OPC needs unfettered access to the data in question to do its job. Chief Lanier is wrong. The Council should pass the bill.
Thanks to Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, the new Executive Director at ACLU of the Nation's Capital, who agrees with GLAA on this and who presented excellent testimony.
Please pardon my lack of blogging in recent days. It's been a busy time, with last Friday's long hearing on the bill to prohibit conversion therapy for minors; writing my upcoming column over the weekend (which is about that hearing), in addition to some social obligations; and preparing testimony for this morning's hearing before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee on Bill 20-63, the "Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2013" (which I'll post later).
So I'll try to catch up. Needless to say, we are not happy with the Hobby Lobby decision.
A video from the Mayor's office on GLAA's 43rd anniversary reception, held April 30. When they arrived to tape the event, they had no idea we would be honoring Mayor Gray for his service to the LGBT community. That was a surprise.
For Immediate Release: April 30, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) surprised Mayor Vincent Gray on Wednesday evening by giving him its Distinguished Service Award as he was about to issue a proclamation celebrating the group’s 43rd anniversary. The group held its annual reception, a gathering of LGBT activists and public officials, at Policy Restaurant and Lounge at 1904 14th Street, NW.
GLAA President Rick Rosendall used his introduction of the Mayor as a citation for the previously unannounced award:
The Blade reports:
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) hosts its annual reception to present “Distinguished Service Awards” at Policy Restaurant and Lounge (1904 14th St., N.W.) on Wednesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Jerry Clark, Earl Fowlkes and Alison Gill are the three activists being honored. There will be hors d’oeuvres, happy hour bar specials and a complimentary champagne toast.
Tickets are $55 and considered a donation. For more details, visit glaa.org.
Our blogging this week has been particularly thin due to what is called a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack on our blog service, TypePad. I am told that it was not specifically LGBT-targeted. After our site came back up, we still had trouble posting to it. I prepared one entire entry that disappeared without a trace.
So thank you for bearing with us, and please keep checking back. We will be trying to catch up with a number of interesting current items in the next few days.
Dear Friend of GLAA:
We like to celebrate our anniversary by honoring others. Thus at our annual reception on April 30 we’ll present Distinguished Service Awards to three stalwart activists: Jerry Clark, Earl Fowlkes, and Alison Gill. And we’ll clink glasses with many other friends, in and out of public office, who have helped keep D.C. at the forefront of LGBT progress.
We’re sprucing it up this year, moving to Policy Restaurant and Lounge at 14th and T NW on the hottest new “restaurant row” in town. (After all, at GLAA we’re all about policy!) We’ll have a tasty selection of passed hors d’oeuvres, some happy hour bar specials, and a complimentary champagne toast.
This week’s primary election showed how the political landscape and players change. There is still a need for experienced, independent voices, year-in and year-out, to defend our community’s interests in the face of new challenges.
So what still needs doing? We lay it out in our policy brief, Building on Victory, the fruit of consultation with activists from across our community. Building coalitions, developing expertise, and engaging those who make and execute public policy are still the way to wield influence—and to ward off interference by Congress, which often treats the District like a plaything.
GLAA’s voice continues to be heard through the political tumult. With our 2014 Election Project we have obtained answers from D.C. candidates on a range of LGBT issues. With our allies we won transgender healthcare coverage and worked to improve relations with police. We even shared lessons from our marriage equality victory with local students (for example, my oral history taped by students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School). Just today, we and other groups including DC Trans Coalition and GLOV raised our voices for repeal of the District’s unconstitutional so-called Prostitution Free Zones.
Our collective “seat at the table” is about much more than having an LGBT person in an elected post; our community won its respected place over many decades of advocacy and civic involvement.
GLAA’s volunteer, collaborative approach has a solid track record of winning results. But maintaining the policy chops and political savvy to get policies enacted and implemented requires sustained commitment. Your support is a smart investment in forward-looking activism.
On April 30 at Policy (1904 14th Street NW), please join our reception as we renew our commitment to keeping the flame of LGBT equality and justice alive. You can RSVP using our anniversary flyer or make your ticket donation via PayPal at http://glaa.org/anniversary/.
Hope to see you there!
April 3, 2014
|To:||Councilmembers Tommy Wells, Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, Anita Bonds, Muriel Bowser|
|Cc:||Councilmember David Grosso, Council Chair Phil Mendelson|
|Subject:||Please repeal Prostitution Free Zones|
Dear Members of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety:
It has come to our attention that Councilmember David Grosso is preparing to introduce a bill to repeal so-called Prostitution Free Zones. It will likely be referred to your committee.
We strongly support repeal of PFZs, as we have previously testified.
The use of Prostitution Free Zones (or PFZs) facilitates discriminatory police profiling of transgender people. It is also a constitutionally questionable practice. As our colleagues from the DC Trans Coalition note:
We agree with the 2005 testimony of Stephen M. Block, then legislative counsel for ACLU of the Nation's Capital, concerning the bill authorizing temporary PFZs that was then under consideration. I will summarize some of his citations.
Here's GLAA's ratings ad for the April 1 D.C. primary election. It appears in today's issue of Metro Weekly. (Note: if we could afford it, we'd run it in the Blade also. Advertising is relatively expensive.)
Visit our main website to see the full news release on our candidate ratings.
Dear Friend of GLAA:
A bird just landed on my windowsill and sang a spring greeting. Next month, GLAA will turn 43 years old. No LGBT rights group in America has been active longer. Yet one of our founders, Paul Kuntzler, will be at our awards reception on April 30 at Policy Restaurant and Lounge to give the champagne toast.
Some people ask what there is left to do. The answers are in our policy brief, Building on Victory, the fruit of extensive consultation with activists from across the local community. Building coalitions, developing expertise, and engaging those who make and execute public policy are the best ways to defend LGBT interests—and to ward off interference by Congress, which often treats the District like a plaything.
GLAA’s independent voice continues to be heard through the political tumult. With our 2014 Election Project we have obtained answers from D.C. candidates on a range of LGBT issues. With our allies we won transgender healthcare coverage and worked to improve relations with police. We even shared lessons from our marriage equality victory with local students (for example, my oral history for students at Cesar Chavez Public Charter High School).
In truth, our “seat at the table” is about much more than having an LGBT person in an elected post; our community won and secured that seat in a figurative sense over many decades—not just with advocacy by GLAA and our allies but civic involvement by people like you in neighborhoods all over town.
GLAA’s volunteer approach gives a great return on your activist dollars. Maintaining the policy chops and political savvy to get policies enacted and implemented requires sustained commitment more than money—though we do need support for our expenses. The human element is key; we are eager to reinvigorate it to meet new challenges.
On April 30 at Policy (1904 14th Street NW), please join us for drinks and hors d’oeuvres as we renew our commitment to keeping the flame of LGBT equality and justice alive. We will present Distinguished Service Awards to Jerry Clark, Earl D. Fowlkes, Jr., and Alison Gill. Please RSVP using our anniversary flyer or make your ticket donation via PayPal at http://glaa.org/anniversary/. As Walt Whitman said,
“To Thee, Old Cause!”
Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham has an op-ed in the current issue of the Blade explaining why it's crucial that we keep electing him because he's gay. Or something.
Graham is right that he has not run in the past solely as a gay candidate. That is why I find it peculiar that he is placing such emphasis on the “seat at the table” argument (in this case meaning keeping him in the seat) now that a combination of longevity in office and ethical problems have made him vulnerable. Here he mischaracterizes Mark Lee’s argument in the referenced column, which is something he does a lot. At the Stein Club endorsement forum a few weeks ago, he falsely claimed that GLAA had given him no credit for his long record of service, when in fact we had given him every available record-related point. He also gave the impression that his entire disagreement with GLAA was over ABC reform, a ploy also used by Muriel Bowser at the subsequent Stein mayoral forum. The ploy did not work for either candidate.
Jim does deserve props for his long service. Indeed, GLAA awarded him our hard-to-get championship point for steering to passage the LGBT youth homelessness bill, for which we also gave him a shout-out in our policy brief. But the LGBT community’s seat at the table is about much more than having one of us on the DC Council. It is about hard-earned clout won over decades of smart and sustained advocacy, productive relationships with policy makers, and involvement in our communities all across town. Anti-gay campaigning has been a loser in DC for more than three decades. In race after race here, multiple pro-LGBT candidates are battling for our support, which increasingly hinges on other issues. One such issue in the Ward One race was raised by someone who pointed out that 16 years ago, in his successful first run for the Council, Jim said that incumbent Frank Smith had been in office for 16 years, and that was an awfully long time. Jim is now in his 16th year on the Council. Let him make his best case against his challenger; surely that best case is not that he is gay.
As a voter I care not about who you sleep with, but what you will do on my issues–and Jim disagrees with GLAA on some of our issues. That is his right, but he can hardly blame people for noticing. I note that Brianne Nadeau has a thinner record on LGBT issues, which is reflected in her rating from GLAA being lower than Jim’s. The voters in their wisdom will sort all this out.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
At its March 11 monthly meeting, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance considered new information provided by D.C. mayoral candidate Jack Evans, D.C. Council Chair candidate Calvin Gurley, and Ward 6 D.C. Council candidate Darrel Thompson, all Democrats. GLAA adjusted the rating of each. Evans now has a rating of +9, Gurley has a rating of +1, and Thompson has a rating of +3. GLAA has a longstanding policy of reserving the right to re-rate candidates based on new information received during the campaign. GLAA ratings are on a scale of -10 to +10.
Jack Evans (original rating +8, revised rating +9) had already submitted a strong questionnaire, and had received the maximum record points for his long track record of solid support of LGBT issues. He has the longest record of support of any candidate. The hard-to-get championship point was initially withheld because it is about recent leadership on an LGBT issue, and his initial submission did not document the required extra effort. On February 14, subsequent to GLAA’s initial ratings announcement, Evans provided documentation to show that in the summer of 2013 he drafted and moved legislative language in the Committee on Finance and Revenue, which he chairs, entitled the "Marriage Equality Estate Tax Clarification Act of 2013." As he explained, "This subtitle directs the Chief Financial Officer to make any changes to estate tax forms, instructions and regulations necessary to make it clear that all married couples are eligible for estate tax benefits regardless of whether such marriage is recognized under federal law." GLAA agrees that his action as committee chair merits a full championship point.
Calvin H. Gurley (original rating 0, revised rating +1) submitted a late questionnaire response on February 20; GLAA has re-rated him accordingly. His answers, however, are uninformed, argumentative, and lack substance. He does agree with GLAA on some issues. For that, and for having supported marriage equality against opposition in Ward 5, his original rating of zero has been upgraded to +1.
Darrel Thompson (original rating +2, revised rating +3) was originally rated solely on his questionnaire, which GLAA found weak. On February 26, he submitted information on his record. He was awarded a record point based on his work as a senior staffer to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, and then-Senator Barack Obama on a series of legislative initiatives advancing LGBT concerns.
GLAA President Rick Rosendall stated, "The leading development in this round of mid-campaign adjustments is the revised rating of Democrat Jack Evans (+9), which puts him in a tight cluster with Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray (+10) and fellow Democratic challenger Tommy Wells (+9.5). GLAA does not make endorsements in partisan races."
All three re-rated candidates’ revised submissions are provided on GLAA’s website at the links below.
Jack Evans, Democrat for Mayor
Revised rating: +9
Calvin H. Gurley, Democrat for Council Chair
Revised rating: +1
Darrel Thompson, Democrat for Ward 6 Council
Revised rating: +3
A revised breakdown of the ratings points awarded to each candidate is online at:
Founded in 1971, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington (GLAA) is an all-volunteer, non-partisan, non-profit political organization that defends the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Nation's Capital. GLAA lobbies the D.C. Council, monitors government agencies, educates and rates local candidates, and works in coalitions to defend the safety, health, and equal rights of LGBT families. GLAA remains the nation's oldest continuously active gay and lesbian civil rights organization.
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
Friday, March 7, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
GLAA Announces 2014 Distinguished Service Awards
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., is pleased to announce its 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipients. GLAA presents awards to local individuals and organizations that have served the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in the national capital area. The awards will be presented at GLAA's 43rd Anniversary Reception on Wednesday, April 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Policy Restaurant and Lounge at 1904 14th Street, NW (at T Street). Tickets are $55 and can be purchased at http://www.glaa.org/anniversary/ or calling (202) 667-5139; a range of donor levels is also available.
GLAA's 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipients are:
|Date:||March 10, 2014|
|To:||Tommy Wells, Chair|
Committee on Public Safety and Judiciary
|From:||Rick Rosendall, President|
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
|Subject:||Testimony on Office of Police Complaints|
Please include this as testimony for the record on the Performance Oversight Hearing held by your committee on March 7, 2014.
I am Rick Rosendall, President of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, which has been fighting for LGBT equality in the District since 1971.
The independent Office of Police Complaints (OPC) grew out of the recommendations of a task force in the late 1990s in which I represented GLAA. OPC employs the best practices of citizen oversight of law enforcement, with the goal of improving public confidence in the police. OPC Executive Director Philip K. Eure and his staff have shown expertise, integrity, and a commitment to fairness for all – not just those who file complaints, but those against whom they are filed, and the wider community from which both are drawn.
The Office of Police Complaints (OPC) released its Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2013 on March 4. As it summarized in its news release:
GLAA's candidate ratings for the April 1 primary were released on Thursday. Here are some news reports and reactions.
Washington Post: Mike DeBonis
City Paper: Gray, Wells Top LGBT Activist Rankings
Washingtonian: Gray, Wells, Evans Get High Marks From LGBT Activists
Red State: Right-wing blogger Erick Erickson embraces identity politics, slamming GLAA for rating Libertarian mayoral candidate Bruce Majors based on his positions on our issues rather than giving him high marks just for being gay.
Vincent Gray (Mayoral race)
Nate Bennett-Fleming (At-Large Council race)
Charles Allen (Ward 6 Council race)
Mark Lee's business column in the Blade this week discusses mayoral candidates' responses to GLAA's question on liquor license reform. Here's a portion:
The question, one of 12, is as follows: “Will you support strengthening Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reforms by eliminating license protests filed by citizens associations and ad hoc groups, requiring stakeholders to participate in the community process provided by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission?”
Best Answer: Mayor Vincent Gray. He’s a “YES” and demonstrates his keen understanding of the need for reform while clearly enunciating why: “Frivolous licensing protests filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) stand in the way of businesses operating free of special operating protocols. Protests by ad hoc groups…should not interfere with the issuance of ABC licenses to businesses.”
Great Answer: D.C. Council member Jack Evans. He’s a “YES” and provides a rationale: “I have heard from both residents and businesses that the ABC Board takes too long to make decisions. I think this needs to be a more decisive process…Dragging out some of these cases months and months really can be very unfair to everyone and unnecessarily divisive.”