Talking Points in Defense of a Clean D.C. Appropriations Bill
[Note: These talking points were developed early in 1999 as a resource for congressional lobbying efforts, and were first used during the Equality Begins at Home lobbying days during the last week of March 1999. They were drafted by the D.C. Appropriations Working Group, an ad hoc coalition that works to keep the D.C. Appropriations bill free of various (mostly anti-gay) social riders. The Working Group is composed of representatives of the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, GLAA, Whitman Walker Clinic, ACT UP Washington, staffers for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and several other congressional allies, and others. The group has coordinated its efforts with the office of Mayor Anthony Williams and D.C. Councilmembers.]
Congress: Respect D.C. citizensí democratic rights! This year, we urge the Congress to expeditiously pass the District of Columbia FY 2000 Appropriations bill free of these anti-democracy riders.
Congress: Respect D.C. citizensí democratic rights!
This year, we urge the Congress to expeditiously pass the District of Columbia FY 2000 Appropriations bill free of these anti-democracy riders.
- Americans believe , and family courts affirm, that the issue of adoption is best decided on a case-by-case basis by parents and trained professionals Ė not by politicians or the government.
- The best interest of the child should always be the deciding factor in placing children in safe and loving homes.
- Many lesbian and gay Americans are already raising happy and healthy children. Unfortunately, there are some who want to restrict adoption options by categorically declaring whole classes of people to be unfit for parenting simply for who they are.
- The American Psychological Association reports that studies comparing groups of children raised by gay and non-gay parents find no developmental differences between the two groups of children. In almost all of the states and the District of Columbia, lesbian and gay people can adopt according to equal standards of parental fitness applied to heterosexuals.
- Just this past spring, the State of New Hampshire repealed (with substantial bi-partisan support) its ban on gay and lesbian adoption, leaving Florida as the only state with a statutory ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
- For the past four years, riders have been offered to the D.C. Appropriations bill that would prohibit joint adoptions in the District of Columbia by unmarried couples. The riders have been strongly opposed by groups such as the Child Welfare League of America, the Childrenís Defense Fund, Kids Project, the National Association of Social Workers, Family Service America, and the Adoption Exchange Association. Fortunately, each of these adoption-limiting provisions has been stricken from the final versions of the DC Appropriations bill.
- Having two legal parents is in the best interest of the child because it provides children greater financial security and legal protections and ensures that the adopted child can receive health and other benefits from both parents.
- Currently, there are 3,100 children in the D.C. foster care system waiting to be adopted. It would be an outrage to make children languish in institutions at great cost to taxpayers when they can have caring and loving homes.
- The act also establishes visitation rights for registered domestic partners at nursing homes and hospitals.
- In an increasingly competitive workplace, it is getting harder and harder for employers to find talented and qualified employees. Comprehensive benefits packages are highly enticing in the hiring process, and benefits packages that do not address the full range of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families exclude many qualified applicants.
- The fair and open recognition of diversity in the workplace contributes to employee satisfaction and performance: an employee who is able to be open about his/her sexual orientation and family life will be more productive at work and better able to participate in team projects.
- Hundreds of cities, municipalities, private and public colleges and universities, and over 700 private employers, both large and small, around the country have established domestic partnership programs. They understand the benefits of offering domestic partnership programs in todayís competitive work environment.
- Cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York all have domestic partnership programs in place. Congress has not chosen to target the programs in these cities, but has rather singled out DC for discrimination in this area.
- Congress should allow the District to implement its program. The cost of this program is negligible and could easily be recouped through registration fees.
- Intravenous drug use is the District's second most prevalent mode of HIV transmission. In 1998, 37 percent of all new AIDS cases were related to intravenous drug use, compared to 24 percent in 1993.
- In 1997, the District of Columbia, using its own funds, established a local needle exchange program as an important tool in the city's fight against the spread of HIV and an important bridge to drug treatment services. The program, which was administered by the Whitman-Walker Clinic, reached an estimated 2,000 injection drug users, and reduced needle sharing among participants by two-thirds. Drug users were provided free HIV tests.
- Needle exchange programs are supported by the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Bar Association, the US Conference of Mayors and the US Dept. of Heath and Human Services.
- Exhaustive scientific studies conducted by the NIH, the CDC, and the Kaiser Family Foundation and others have all concluded that needle exchange programs reduce HIV infections and do not increase drug use.
- The District's Chief of Police, Charles Ramsey, who has been tough on illegal drug use, supports a needle exchange program for the District as a way to reduce the spread of HIV.
- Last year, Congress singled out the District's needle exchange program by prohibiting the District from spending its own funds on Needle Exchange Programs. Once again, politicians have relied on heated rhetoric and misinformation to interfere with sound public health policies based on scientific evidence.
- The current Congressional prohibition not only prohibits local District funding of a needle exchange program, but forces any private entity which carries out such a program with its own funds to lose all of its Federal funding.
- Without a needle exchange program, the spread of HIV will continue to spread unchecked and intravenous drug users will lose an important gateway to drug treatment programs.
- The measure has wide support among the AIDS community and D.C. city officials. Public health organizations such as AIDS Action, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Student Association, the American Preventive Medical Association, and the American Public Health Association support access to marijuana for medicinal purposes.
- Last year, U.S. Representative Bob Barr successfully introduced an amendment to the D.C. funding bill to prohibit the official certification of the election results by the D.C. Board of Elections. There was no roll call vote on this anti-democracy amendment.
- Though the citizens of D.C. voted on this initiative in November and exit polls showed that the initiative won by a substantial majority, the results can not be counted and certified.
- In the spring of 1999, the Institute of Medicine released a study on medicinal marijuana commissioned by the Office of National Drug Control Policy that found that marijuana has limited but definite value for people with AIDS. The study recommended further study into non-smoking delivery methods of medical marijuana.
- The District of Columbia has joined with the ACLU in bringing suit against Congress to ask a federal judge to allow the ballots to be counted. The suit alleges congressional denial of D.C. citizensí First Amendment rights. The case is still pending.
This year, we call on Congress to expeditiously pass the FY 2000 Appropriations bill free of these negative riders.