GLOV Report Targets DC Fire Chief
Otis Latin (photo courtesy The Washington Blade)

GLOV Report Targets Chief Latin

At 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 28, 1996, Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) held a press conference to release its report, Homophobia in the District of Columbia Fire Department, covering the period from August 1, 1995 to August 1, 1996. Several groups have worked in coalition with GLOV to address gay and lesbian community concerns about the D.C. Fire Department. These groups include GLAA; the D.C. Coalition of Black Lesbians, Gay Men and Bisexuals; the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); Transgender Nation; the American Civil Liberties Union; and others.

The following individuals spoke at the press conference. Where the text of a speaker's remarks is available, you can go to their remarks by clicking on their name below.

Tracey Conaty, Co-Chair, Gay Men and Lesbians Opposing Violence

Darryl Cooper, GLOV Legal Counsel and Steering Committee Member

Jessica Xavier, Transgender Nation

Rick Rosendall, President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC

Text of report: Homophobia in the District of Columbia Fire Department

Statement by Rick Rosendall, President, GLAA
At GLOV Press Conference, August 28, 1996

Good morning.

Today marks the thirty-third anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Two of Dr. King's closest advisors, and key organizers of the march, were A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and a black gay man named Bayard Rustin. I am lifted up by their example, and I honor their memory this morning.

A community as diverse as Washington poses a special challenge to those who would protect it: to treat everyone equally. But it isn't just a challenge, it's part of the job. In this case, just as Emergency Medical Technicians need to be properly trained and equipped before they leave the station, they need to deal with any problems they may have over different gender identities before they are cutting open a bloody garment at the scene of an accident.

We have a right as taxpayers and citizens, not to mention human beings, to expect better than we have gotten from Chief Latin's Fire Department. In turn, we have accepted our responsibility as representatives of part of Washington's diversity to do our share. This impressive report from GLOV is only the latest contribution that unpaid, dedicated community volunteers have offered to help make this a better city. Time and again we have brought our expertise and our commitment to our public officials in a spirit of cooperation and service of the common good. When we are met in a similar spirit, AIDS services are improved, hate crimes are better enforced, youth at risk are reached before they fall through the cracks.

Unfortunately, some in government respond to the efforts of community groups like ours by throwing up walls of resistance, avoidance, and contempt. Our city cannot afford to waste its human resources in this way. We cannot afford the arrogance of public servants who don't think they should have to listen or respond to the citizens they are sworn to serve. We come forward as proud citizens eager to help our city address and resolve its problems. We would prefer to encounter a constructive spirit, rather than reflexive adversarialism. But we will be heard. Enough is enough. Lives are at stake. Professionalism and leadership are required. If Chief Latin won't do his job, it's time for the Mayor to replace him with someone who will.