Rosendall presents award to Jack Evans

Distinguished Service Award for Councilmember Jack Evans

Presented by former GLAA President Rick Rosendall

GLAA 30th Anniversary Reception
Jurys Washington Hotel
Thursday, April 19, 2001

Ten years ago, there was a special election in Ward 2 to fill the DC Council seat vacated by John Wilson when he was elected Council Chair. While 1GLAA does ratings and not endorsements, many of us personally supported Ward 2 ombudsman and former GLAA President Jim Zais. It was a tight race, with both candidates wooing gay voters, but perhaps the decisive difference was made when Jack Evans won the support of influential Shaw resident Leroy Thorpe. We invited Leroy to join us this evening, but I'm afraid he got the wrong idea, and he's outside picketing.

Jack hit the ground running, and quickly established himself as our strongest and most consistent ally on the DC Council. Happily, these days he has several competitors for the title of "GLAA's Best Friend" on the Council dais, but Jack has set the standard -- or perhaps I should say he has carried on the distinguished tradition of his predecessor, John Wilson. Time and time again, Jack has been there for us -- introducing legislation, lobbying his colleagues, crafting compromises, circulating letters, planning strategy. To help him, he hired a first-rate staff. His executive assistant, John Ralls, is himself a past winner of our Distinguished Service Award.

Jack worked with GLAA and GLOV to get the police to implement the "Bias-Related Crimes Act of 1989." After a riot by police in 1991 at the Halloween High Heel race on 17th Street, he pushed for a full investigation and for enhancement of MPD's sensitivity training.

With the "Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992" (the Domestic Partners law), Jack was active at every stage of the process, including meeting with unsupportive Councilmembers and with conservative ministers to let them know of his unwavering support for us.

In December 1992, Jack introduced sodomy repeal as a non-germane amendment to another bill. He took heat for this from several colleagues including John Ray, who suddenly declared sacred the process that they themselves violated whenever it suited them, and the amendment lost on a tie vote. A few months later, with Wilhelmina Rolark safely gone, sodomy repeal -- or rather, "The District of Columbia Criminal Code Right to Privacy Amendment Act of 1993" -- passed unanimously.

Jack introduced the "Human Remains Decisions Act of 1995" to allow a designated person not related by blood or marriage to claim a deceased person's remains and make funeral arrangements. That bill's passage added an important protection for gay and lesbian couples.

When we objected to former Chief Soulsby's Zero Tolerance policing methods (which I referred to as "zero intelligence policing"), Jack -- then chair of the Judiciary Committee -- worked with us, our allies, the Control Board and the police to resolve our concerns. He then helped us craft a bill to establish an effective Citizen Complaint Review Board, and steered it through to passage.

When late and non-payments to AIDS service providers threatened the District's Ryan White funding, Jack worked with District officials including then-CFO Anthony Williams to break the logjam. He has consistently fought during the District's budget process to ensure full Medicaid coverage for people with HIV and AIDS. He is a strong defender of confidentiality in HIV testing, and organized his colleagues in support of unique identifiers. He was a founding member of the Condom Availability Coalition, which led to the availability of condoms in public schools and prisons. He strongly supported the District's needle exchange program. When needle exchange was threatened last year by Congress, Jack was handing out flyers to the people in line at Reel Affirmations urging them to support DC Prevention Works. He himself has raised large amounts of money for gay, lesbian, and AIDS-related causes.

Most recently, Jack redeemed himself on one issue of contention between us by working with us and Sharon Ambrose to craft compromise language that allowed greater fairness toward ABC-licensed establishments featuring nude dancing. He did this because I threatened to send male Strip-O-Grams to all of his public appearances until he gave us what we wanted.

Seriously, for ten years, on issue after issue, Jack Evans has been with us as a key ally in the thick of the fight. I am confident, Jack, that our fallen comrade, Jim Zais, and our fallen champion, your predecessor John Wilson, would join us today to say well done. It is my privilege on behalf of GLAA and as a longtime resident of Ward 2 to present this Distinguished Service Award to Councilmember Jack Evans.