On Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 1) the Death with Dignity Act passed first reading at the DC Council by a vote of 11-2. (Dissenting were CMs Alexander and Nadeau.) Most advocates on both sides (I have testified and lobbied in favor on behalf of GLAA) have been civil toward one another during the process leading up to today's vote. Health Committee Chair Yvette Alexander, for example, held a committee markup on the bill despite her personal opposition.
But one opponent was quite exercised as today's meeting was about to begin, threatening to defeat every Councilmember who supported the bill. (Good luck with that, lady, since most Washingtonians disagree with you.) She even gave a dressing down to bill supporter Romaine Thomas, a beloved local figure who is widow and mother of past council members and a longtime public servant in her own right. The angry woman refused even to shake Romaine's hand; I, as usual, had embraced Mrs. Thomas, asked after her family (her grandson is in college), and said I was glad we were on the same side.
The D.C. Council Committee on Health and Human Services held a markup of Bill 21-38, the Death with Dignity Act, on Wednesday, October 5 at 2 pm. I was there with fellow supporters of the bill.
Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), the committee chair, spoke against the bill. She insisted that the matter should be decided by voter initiative. No. We elect representatives to deal with difficult matters. But to give her due credit, she did bring the bill up for a vote, keeping her word. That was honorable.
Committee members David Grosso (I-At-Large) and LaRuby May (D-Ward 8) spoke in support, as did the bill's author, Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) joined Alexander in speaking against. The bill was then passed by the committee without amendments. It is expected to get its first reading by the full Council at an additional legislative meeting later in October.
After the vote, one woman who opposed the bill, gave a dressing down to May, saying that she had no right to vote for the bill, she had overstepped her authority, and that such a controversial measure should be put before the voters. May, the duly elected legislator representing Ward 8 (though she was defeated in the June 14 primary by Trayon White), stood her ground. She had said that poor residents of her ward could not afford to move to Oregon to take advantage of that state's Death with Dignity statute, which was passed twenty years ago and was the model for the District bill.
The same demand for a plebiscite was made in 2009 and 2010 by opponents of civil marriage equality. They lost before the Board of Elections and Ethics, in the Court of Appeals, and were denied cert by the Supreme Court. If B21-38 passes, opponents can try to do a referendum. Such a course is unlikely to succeed. The opponents inadvertently helped the bill by making eye-stretching arguments. Stating that council members had no right to vote for the bill, preposterous as it was, nicely demonstrated the failure by opponents to grasp the separation of church and state.
Thanks to Councilmembers Cheh, Grosso, and May for voting for the bill, and to committee chair Alexander for bringing it up for a vote.
When you or I cough, it's allergy season. When it's Hillary, people lose their minds.
Congressional Republicans are holding funding to fight the Zika virus hostage to their other pet priorities, like gutting the Affordable Care Act and fighting Planned Parenthood. The moral treason of these cynical people becomes ever more evident.
BREAKING: Marion Christopher Barry, son of former mayor, has died from a drug overdose, according to family.https://t.co/Kd9bn2YwjU— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) August 14, 2016
I learned this awful, shocking news early Sunday morning from my friend Ronald King, who recently worked with Christopher on community outreach in Ward 8. Like so many others, I was rooting for this young man's healing. I met him last year during the special election, and found him very affable, though I was concerned that those who pushed him to run were exploiting him and not helping him. May he rest in peace. Condolences to his family and friends, and to all who did try to help him, who will be especially hurting today. It is so hard to free others of their demons. As Ronald wrote, may we redouble our efforts against the scourge of drug addiction in our communities. What a sad day. There was so much life ahead for him.
Wayne Grudem, a Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona, writes at the conservative website Townhall.com about why he supports Donald Trump. His article, "Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice," acknowledges several of Trump's character and behavioral flaws and then says it doesn't matter if the alternative is worse. He goes into a long list of issues on which he claims that Trump is better than Hillary Clinton.
I could not disagree more with Professor Grudem, so here I will respond to several of them. Given the enormous gulf between the candidates with regard to experience and qualifications, this election should not be close. The fact that the race is close should be a stark reminder not to treat the frightening prospect of a Trump presidency as something to dismiss lightly. Perhaps you may find some of my arguments useful in making the case to friends and family members who are sticking with Trump despite his almost daily barrage of appalling statements. Here goes, for what it's worth.
Abortion. I am sick of the religious bullying on this issue. The utter contempt for people making different choices in this area is very disturbing. I am personally troubled by abortion, and think that the ideal situation is for unwanted pregnancies to be prevented through contraception. But the question of whether to continue or end a pregnancy is not my decision. It is up to the woman. You can say a thousand times that this makes me pro-abortion, but that is not true. Respecting people's right to make a different choice than mine does not mean I agree with that choice. The point is that IT IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
As for contraception, the Catholic Church, in which I was raised, is stoutly opposed to it. A leading anti-choicer, former senator Rick Santorum, has made it clear that he does not just want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but also Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized contraception for married couples, and Eisenstadt v. Baird, which did the same for single women. I find it stunning that people in this day and age are willing, much less determined, to mind their neighbors' business in such an intrusive way. The constitutional separation of church and state protects everyone by prohibiting us from imposing our religious dictates on one another.
Chelsea Manning violated the Espionage Act. She released vast numbers of documents in a reckless fashion. That being said, it does not justify abuse of a prisoner. Those who say that appropriate transgender healthcare should be withheld as punishment are damnably wrong. I hope that Manning will get the care that any prisoner deserves, as well as respect for her gender identity. Healthcare is a right; its denial is not a legitimate part of punishment.
Please join us at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, June 1 in the Martin Luther King Library for a community discussion on LGBTQ social justice and rights. It is an interesting panel of participants. GLAA President Rick Rosendall will moderate.
Bernie Sanders cancels meeting with HIV activists https://t.co/PiamyXtjl8— Washington Blade (@WashBlade) May 9, 2016
Our friend Ernest Hopkins, Director of Legislative Affairs at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, writes:
I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. The group pulling this set of meetings together went out of their way to accommodate Senator Sanders such was the interest in presenting our recommendations to him and his staff. Advocates even relented to a demand that only Sanders supporters be invited to the meeting. To my knowledge, no such bizarre demand was made by the Clinton campaign and now, there is no Sanders meeting. When you cut yourself off from the expertise on an issue, and predicate your engagement to the degree supporters can make the case, you come off as very thin skinned, a bit petty, and 'political' to the extreme. The Clinton meeting is Thursday in NYC, and I will report back.
Sanders diminishes himself the more he behaves like this. Meanwhile, Jane Sanders urges the FBI to speed up its investigation of Hillary's email scandal. Bernie's issue-driven campaign is sinking more and more into desperation and meanness.