Schwartz appeals to Senators on domestic partnership, needle exchange
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Schwartz appeals to Senators on domestic partnership, needle exchange

Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 105
Washington, D.C. 20004

Thursday, November 1, 2001

[Sent to all U.S. Senators]

Dear Senator _____ :

I am writing to urge you to oppose inclusion of language in the 2002 District of Columbia Appropriations Act that would continue to prohibit the District of Columbia from enforcing its domestic partnership law, and to oppose the inclusion of language that would prevent the District from spending its own taxpayer-raised money on a needle exchange program to help stem the spread of AIDS in our city.

The District enacted the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act in 1992, extending domestic partnership benefits to District government employees. Since then, at least 90 U.S. cities, 25 counties and 12 states have adopted some form of domestic partnership benefits for their government employees. In addition to the many states and localities that have enacted domestic partnership laws, dozens of well-respected corporations have decided that it is in their best business interests to provide domestic partnership benefits to their employees. These include such mainstays of American industry as AT&T, Eastman Kodak Co., J.P. Morgan and Co., Marriott International, General Mills and many other Fortune 500 companies. Hundreds of smaller businesses also provide domestic partnership benefits, as do many law firms, medical practices, accounting firms, colleges and universities.

I am also frustrated that obstacles keep getting thrown in the path of the District's efforts to aggressively address the critical public health issue of AIDS in our nation's capital, while a vast majority of your states have needle exchange programs. I believe strongly, as do many in the medical and scientific communities, that such programs which educate people about HIV/AIDS and encourage drug treatment are essential components in the fight against AIDS. I shudder to think of how many new HIV infections might have been prevented in the District had interference not caused gaps and delays in the distribution of clean needles, all paid for by D.C. -- not federal -- taxpayer dollars.

In a representative democracy, lawmakers act on what they view as being in the best interests of their constituencies. The difference between the District and all other jurisdictions, however, is that Congress can and does prevent D.C. from enforcing some of its laws and implementing some of its policies through the insertion of prohibitive language in our Appropriations Act. In fairness to the District of Columbia and its nearly 600,000 residents, may that please end this year.


Carol Schwartz D.C. Councilmember, At-Large