Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Councilmember

Sharon Ambrose

Democrat, Ward 6

Ward 6 DC Councilmember
Winner of Special Election: April 29, 1997
Term expires 1998

Response to GLAA 1997 Questionnaire
for Ward 6 DC Council Candidates

1. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between persons of the same sex?

Yes. My husband Mike and I have been married for 34 years. We chose to declare a life long commitment to each other. I believe that all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should have the right to declare their mutual bonds of love, support and companionship, within the context of the larger community. These public commitments also testify to an acknowledgment that such relationships contribute economically and socially to a more stable community.

2. Will you oppose efforts by Congress or other parties to stop the District of Columbia from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in Hawaii or other places?

Yes. I believe that Congress does not have any right to interfere with a state's right to recognize same-sex marriage.

3. Do you oppose efforts by Congress or other parties to outlaw or restrict adoptions by unmarried couples in the District of Columbia?

The Department of Human Services and the Corporation Counsel hold that current law allows both single gay men and lesbians to adopt children. In 1996, a court decision ruled that unmarried couples may jointly adopt children in the District. I share these positions. This is clearly in the best interests of the child -- who would benefit from having legal and financially responsible parents. I do not believe that any new legislation (which could prove to be nearly impossible for the 105th Congress to pass) is necessary. If needed, I would introduce legislation to end discrimination against single heterosexuals, gay men or lesbians. I will be in the forefront to actively oppose any effort in Congress, or elsewhere, to discriminate against gay men or lesbians on adoption or foster care. There are too many children in DC who need caring parents, to discourage people who want to provide that care.

4. If Congress ever repeals the D.C. Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 that established the registration of domestic partnerships, will you vote to reenact the same law?

Yes. While on the staff of Betty Ann Kane, I worked with Christine Riddiough, Judy Nedrow and others in the Gay & Lesbian Community to create the Domestic Partnership Commission which crafted the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act that was passed by the City Council in 1992. This act provides for the registration of domestic partners, along with certain benefits, in the District. To date, Congress has not funded the Act. If the 1 05th Congress should repeal this Act, I will be aggressive in sponsoring a bill for the City Council to reenact it.

5. As a member of the Committee on Government Operations, you would have oversight responsibilities for enforcement of the D.C. Human Rights Law of 1977. Do you support the reestablishment of the Office of Human Rights as an independent, adequately-staffed, Cabinet-level agency whose Director has direct access to the Mayor?

The Office of Human Rights must be separated from the Office of Minority Business Development. OHR must seek, especially in light of the City's dire financial condition, all federal funds that are available to process cases. These funds would allow the City to hire needed investigators who can process back-logged cases. I believe that mandatory mediation at OHR must be implemented before an investigation is launched into a complaint. I also strongly believe that the current policy needs to be amended so that an automatic priority is granted to complaints involving allegations of HIV/AIDS related discrimination.

6. Do you agree that the Boy Scouts of America is violating the D.C. Human Rights Law's ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by excluding gays from participating either as scouts or as leaders?

Yes. The DC Human Rights Act of 1977 sets higher standards vis-a-vis discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation than most other municipal jurisdictions in the country. To the extent that the Boy Scouts of America use the DC Schools, recreation and other municipal facilities, they must obey our laws.

7. Will you vote to repeal the Armstrong Amendment, which allows religiously-affiliated private educational institutions in the District to discriminate against student clubs that promote equal rights for lesbians and gay men?

While this is a moot question given the make-up of the 105th Congress (any repeal effort would be doomed to failure), I would vote to repeal. Since Georgetown University settled out of court with the gay student group, I believe that Congress should accept the fact that we as a citizenry do not need Congressional intervention on this as well as a myriad of matters.

8. Will you oppose efforts by Congress or other parties to abolish or restrict the right of our public school students to form clubs that promote greater understanding between gays and others?

Yes. When I watch Congress attempt to amend the Constitution on subjects such as Term Limits, a Balanced Budget, Abortion, among others, I think back to the very first Amendment -- the right of every citizen to free speech and public assemblies. This includes all Americans -- even high school teenagers. Just as we have seen that the earlier the dialogue is begun between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics, the greater is the potential to eliminate bigotry, so too if we begin a dialogue between gays and straights.

9. Do you agree that our own elected officials, past and present, bear much of the responsibility for the District's current financial plight because of their reluctance to make tough budgetary decisions, to establish priorities, and to demand maximum efficiency and productivity (rather than political loyalty) from all District government gencies and workers?

My answer is "Yes". I spent 16 years on the DC City Council Staff-- 12 with Betty Ann Kane and 4 with John Ray. I could not have worked for 2 more dedicated, more conscientious people. If we had had 13 members with the integrity and intelligence of Betty Ann & John, we would have a different city. Too many of our elected of ficials-both former and present, have been reluctant to move decisively on needed budgetary restraints. Rather than worry about what was or is best for all the citizens of DC, too many of our elected of finials concern themselves only with the next election. Because of my legislative and fiscal expertise, I know that this is not the time for on-thejob training. As soon as I am elected I am prepared to require the City Administrator to eliminate regulatory red tape and replace incompetent administrators. I am committed to legislative oversight, oversight, oversight.

10. As a member of the Committee on Human Services, you would have oversight responsibilities in the public health struggles against AIDS and breast cancer. It has recently been revealed that the District failed to spend $1 million of its own appropriated funds to combat AIDS in the last fiscal year, jeopardizing our city's federal funding from the Ryan White Act and contributing to the District's failure to award a contract for an effective needle exchange program. What will you do to safeguard against such bureaucratic bumbling by our health agencies?

It is unconscionable that HIV/AIDS providers have closed their doors over the last several years because of this City's inability to pay its bills in a timely fashion. Our failed financial management system affects DC appropriated funds as well as Federal funds (HOPWA, Ryan White, etc.). An independent, third party fiscal agent, which was decreed by the Control Board last year, must be put in place immediately. I personally feel that this should have been implemented at least three years ago. This will assure that federal money flows into the District from HHS and other departments will be paid to DC AIDS service providers directly. AHA will continue to certify accurately submitted vouchers and those that are eligible for payment. This will result in swifter payments to the AIDS service providers. If the District continues to drag out on-time payment of its current commitments, a third party fiscal agent for locally appropriated dollars must also be implemented.

11. Do you support the legalization of the medical use of marijuana when a patient's doctor recommends it as a means to combat the effects of AIDS, cancer, and other diseases when more conventional treatments for alleviating symptoms fail?

Legal access to marijuana for medical uses can be of tremendous benefit to improving the quality of life for some very ill people. It is, however, a concept that needs to be thoroughly aired in community meetings throughout this city in order to determine how best to craft careful legislation. The reality in DC is that in too many communities, the involvement of very young children in the sale of marijuana is a building block of the drug trade, and many neighborhood leaders vehemently oppose any movement toward weakening regulation of marijuana.

12. Do you support the condom availability programs that have been established in the District's public schools and prisons?

Yes. Condom distribution helps to reduce the spread of HIV infection and AIDS as well as other STDs. It also helps to reduce the high incidence of teen pregnancy. HIV infection (as well as TB and other diseases) is running rampant through Lorton and other prison facilities that house DC residents. It is a sad commentary on life that these inmates, having served their sentences, will return to their families and community, sentenced to death.

13. In 1995, the Council summarily abolished the Civilian Complaint Review Board, thereby allowing the Metropolitan Police Depoartment to handle all public complaints about excessive use of force or abusive language by the police. Last year the Council failed to enact the Police Conduct Review Board Act of 1995, to establish an improved system for civilian review of such complaints against the police; the Council claimed there were no funds for establishing the new board. Will you vote to establish and fund the Police Conduct Review Board for FY 1998?

In 1996, the City Council dismantled the Civilian Complaint Review Board. This was done for two reasons -- it was a budget item that the majority of the Council felt was easy to eliminate, but more importantly, the Council knew that the Board, as structured, was ineffective. No one among us can deny the importance of effective civilian participation in the police review process. Nor can any among us deny the need that in this diverse city of ours, gays and lesbians must be included. While I will actively work with GLAA and others to see to the creation of an effective CCRB, it must be done in a cost effective way -- either offset by an increase in revenue or more likely, by a decrease in unnecessary programs. I will work with Chief Soulsby and his newly reconstituted team of Deputy Chiefs to seek out potential federal funds and will encourage public-private partnerships to establish a truly effective Civilian Complaint Review Board.

14. Do you support sensitivity and community relations training for all elements of our public safety system (police, fire department, etc.) that includes strong recognition of gay and lesbian community concerns, so that the District will never again tolerate the kind of insensitivity and incompetence reflected in the Fire Department's handling of the Tyra Hunter case and similar incidents?

Yes. We can see, only too plainly, how important is such training. I have been most impressed with the work of Gays & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) in providing such training to the MPD and look forward to working with GLOV, GLAA, Chief Latin and DC Firefighters' Local 36 to insure that similar sensitivity training programs are implemented in the DCFD.

15. Will you support legislation to authorize and regulate the issuance of liquor licenses to establishments (in designated nonresidential commercial districts) that want to offer nude dancing as entertainment?

Yes. I will introduce legislation to provide a mechanism through which the Council can demand more accountability and sensitivity from the ABC Board members, and will be willing to work with the community on adjustments to current ABC licensing categories that meet appropriateness standards in respect to the location of the licensed establishment.


Sharon Ambrose

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