Carol Schwartz responds to GLAA 2002 questionnaire

Responses of Carol Schwartz to GLAA 2002 Questionnaire
for DC Mayoral Candidates

GLAA 2002 Rating for Carol Schwartz (Possible range: +/- 10 points total)
Yes/No Substance Record Championship Total
1.5 3 3 1 8.5

Public Safety

1. Will you direct the Chiefs of the Police and Fire/EMS Departments to include openly gay and transgender community representatives in mandatory sensitivity and diversity training programs for all members of their departments?

Yes. I have insisted that sensitivity and diversity training be mandatory for all members of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Fire/EMS Department. I was sickened by the appalling treatment of Tyra Hunter by EMS personnel. As I noted when I ran for re-election to the DC Council in 2000, I wrote to then-acting Fire Chief Thomas Tippett and also met with him in my office that year, and told him in no uncertain terms that I wanted all personnel under his command to receive the necessary sensitivity training, and that the training should include representatives from our diverse communities. I also expressed to him my strong objection to the promotion of an emergency worker who refused to treat Hunter after the worker discovered that she was transgendered. I made these same feelings known to Tippett's successor, Ronnie Few, and will demand this of whomever I appoint to succeed him.

In addition, I believe continued public participation in the hiring process of department heads -- as members of the gay and lesbian community were in the selection of the police chief, for example -- as well as sensitivity training will improve relations between agency heads and all segments of our city, including the gay and lesbian community. As Mayor I would set an example for the rest of the government to follow. My long-standing and well-known support for the gay and lesbian community and my close relationship with community leaders would help set the clear tone that discrimination will not be tolerated. You can be assured that I will speak adamantly against any and all forms of discrimination, and take the necessary disciplinary actions to punish those who discriminate. Also, while I support routine and mandatory sensitivity training in all the public safety agencies, additional communication between the gay and lesbian community and the various agencies should be institutionalized. The periodic meetings that Police Chief Ramsey has been holding are an example that other agencies should emulate.

2. Will you order the incoming Fire Chief to issue a new grooming policy which is in compliance with both the First Amendment and the DC Human Rights Act?

I believe we can have a grooming policy which respects individual differences among members of our force, while providing proper attention to safety standards, equipment fits, etc. Should the matter of a new Fire Chief nominee come before the Council before I take office as Mayor, I will insist on an appropriate answer on this and other matters prior to confirming them. Should the position remain vacant until I take office, I will, of course, put forth a nominee who is sensitive to this issue and agrees with my view, as the head of the administration, that the grooming policy be based solely on safety needs.

3. Will you order the Corporation Counsel to cease appealing the judgment against the city related to the Fire Department's grooming policy and settle the suits by rehiring firefighters and paying back wages?

I do not like the use of the term "order." But, unlike the Williams Administration, I do believe the Corporation Counsel is my employee, and not the other way around. I will expect the Corporation Counsel to follow the policy directions that I set, and on this matter as outlined in the answer to question 2.

4. A few years ago the District enacted a version of Megan's Law that refuses to allow sex offenders to keep themselves off the public registry of sex offenders by demonstrating that they are no longer a danger to the community. A federal judge struck down this provision of the D.C. law as unconstitutional last September. Similar provisions have been struck down by many other federal courts. Will you support a change in Megan's Law to ensure that the registry of sex offenders only includes those who are still dangerous?

During the debate on this legislation, I did my best to ensure that the concerns expressed to me by the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, and others, were addressed. The District should have a Sexual Offenders Registry, and I made my feelings about this known to the GLAA during our meetings. However, I do understand that civil liberties and the legitimate needs of public safety need not be in conflict with each other. In view of the judgment of the courts, I would support amending the law to allow offenders to petition the court for removal from the list, with sufficient safeguards consistent with the constitution to ensure that the process by which individuals are deemed rehabilitated does not eviscerate the good the law tries to accomplish.

Public Health and AIDS

5. The Director of the HIV/AIDS Administration, Ron Lewis, is his own boss, also serving as a deputy Health Director. Will you hire a full-time Director of the HIV/AIDS Administration?

Yes. The government's best estimates show that the District has the highest AIDS rate in the country and that HIV infections are increasing. In such an environment, the District's HIV/AIDS Administration can only function effectively with a full-time director, and the gay and lesbian and HIV/AIDS communities must be involved in the selection process. Given the lack of effective management, accountability, and oversight of the HIV/AIDS Administration, it is not surprising that the Administration is operating ineffectively. This potentially seriously jeopardizes our federal funding in the face of likely audits by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. While the immediate cost will be measured in dollars, ultimately the cost will be measured in lives. This cannot be permitted.

In addition to hiring a full-time director of the HIV/AIDS Administration, I would support a detailed and public audit of both the HIV/AIDS Administration and its contractors, in order to determine how the Administration's funds are being spent, and to correct wasteful and inappropriate expenditures, if any. Also, I have been very outspoken about the need to closely examine the growth of upper management throughout District agencies over the past four years -- the number of employees paid a salary over $100,000 has grown by over 90%. I think we need to ascertain whether we are getting our money's worth, and that these dollars are directly translating into programs which help people, rather than expand bureaucracy.

6. The current HIV epidemiological surveillance system discourages people -- especially immigrants -- from getting tested by requiring both their partial social security number and their country of origin. This potentially threatens their ability to stay in this country. As Mayor, will you order the Department of Health to issue new regulations to eliminate the partial social security number for the unique identifier code?

Yes. As I have stated in the past, the District needs an HIV reporting system that will give us accurate information on the course of the epidemic. Advances in detection techniques, such as detuned assays, when combined with other strategies, such as population-based studies, will give us a much better portrait of the epidemic. In implementing an HIV reporting system, the ability to better direct resources should not compromise the trust of our citizens, particularly immigrants, in our HIV testing and counselling programs. Therefore, I support a unique identifier system which will protect people's confidentiality. As Mayor, I will insist that the Department of Health issue regulations eliminating the partial social security number for the unique identifier code. Coding the country of origin should be sufficient for population-based studies without adding the partial social security number of those tested. In fact, information from the CDC shows that inclusion of a partial social security number in unique identifier systems has led to such systems' failure in Maryland and Texas, and to insufficient reporting completeness in systems used in Los Angeles and New Jersey. It simply makes no sense to establish a unique identifier system that is compromised and flawed from the outset.

Human Rights

7. Will you further increase funding to the Office of Human Rights to increase the numbers of investigators and support staff and reduce the time required to process claims of discrimination?

I have voted for budget increases for the Office of Human Rights in the past only to find that the backlog does not go down. Each case that remains in a backlog represents a problem not rectified, and therefore is more likely to be repeated. I have raised this issue many, many times in my role as a member of the Council's Committee on Government Operations. I would be willing to support a temporary budget increase for OHR if it would be used specifically to clear its backlog of cases. Budget constraints and indifference should not be allowed to curtail our commitment to human rights for all our citizens.

8. The Council recently confirmed the reappointment of Pierpont Mobley to the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, despite Mr. Mobley's statements during his confirmation hearing indicating a lack of support or understanding of the Commission's ruling against the Boy Scouts' policy of excluding gay men from participating either as Scouts or as leaders. Will you refuse to nominate anyone to the Human Rights Commission who similarly lacks a commitment to enforcing the D.C. Human Rights Law of 1977?

Yes. I have long agreed 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. All of my appointees will share a commitment to the human rights of all District residents, as set forth in the District's law.

9. Will you refrain from issuing proclamations saluting individuals or organizations that promote any sort of bigotry, including but not limited to the Nation of Islam and the Boy Scouts of America?

Yes. As I have said before, I am only intolerant of intolerance. There is no room for bigotry or prejudice anywhere. Through my leadership and action I will personally set the tone of inclusiveness. Those who promote bigotry do not honor our city, nor should they be honored by us.

Defending Our Families

10. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?

Stable relationships characterized by love and mutual support should be legally recognized. In the District, with the many unfair obstacles we must overcome as a result of Congress's veto power over our laws, I feel fairly certain that any attempt we make to legally recognize marriages between partners of the same sex would be swiftly shot down, and that the issue would be used - gleefully and contemptuously - by unsupportive members of Congress to bash the District and curry political favor at home. I worry that congressional interference in this area would create a hurdle that would significantly limit the District's ability to consider this issue in the future. In fact, during the recent negotiations over the District's budget, when once again I was lobbying on the Hill to keep our domestic partnership law intact, a Congressman asked me to try to get the Councilmembers to pledge that they would not vote to legalize marriages between partners of the same sex. I refused. I do not, in my heart, oppose legal recognition of same sex unions and would not stand in the way of my colleagues making their own decisions on this matter. I simply feel, at this time, the most politically astute approach here in the District would be to protect what we finally have and work on strengthening domestic partnership laws as a means of eventually achieving legal recognition of same-sex unions.

My record of support for domestic partnership rights has been consistent and longstanding. For example, in 2000 I wrote to every member of the House and Senate, urging them to oppose inclusion of language in the 2001 District of Columbia Appropriations Bill that would continue to prohibit the District from enforcing its domestic partnership law. I pointed out to them that since the District enacted the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act in 1992, at least 35 U.S. cities, ten counties and five states, as well as at least 80 Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of smaller businesses, have devised and implemented some form of domestic partnership benefits. Now that the District can, at long last, enforce its domestic partnership statute, I will continue to promote stable relationships by advocating for meaningful partnership laws with all inherent rights and responsibilities.

11. Will you support legislation similar to Vermont's creating Civil Unions -- for same-sex and opposite-sex couples -- having all of the rights and responsibilities of Marriage that are offered by the District?

Legislation in Vermont came about as a result of action from its Supreme Court, which guided the state legislature in its actions. Having the benefit of a judicial ruling would better ensure passage of such legislation in the District. Under such a scenario, I would endorse legislation similar to Vermont's civil unions law. As Mayor, I would look forward to meeting with representatives of the gay and lesbian community to examine the various strategies by which this could move forward.

12. Will you support amending the domestic partnership regulations to recognize the more than 100 couples who registered under Mayor Kelly's September 30, 1992 Directive?

Yes. While I believe that the implementation of the existing domestic partnership regulations has enabled us to implement a basically good law, I support amending the regulations so as to recognize those couples who registered under Mayor Kelly's Directive. They should be amended to allow existing registrants - so long as they are still together in a domestic partnership relationship - to indicate, within a certain amount of time, whether they wish to finalize their registration, and to do so without any additional fees.

13. Will you support amending the domestic partnership regulations to recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions established in other jurisdictions?

Consistent with the principles of full faith and credit, we should recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions established in other jurisdictions, both in the United States and abroad. Current District law accords full faith and credit to marriages contracted in all of the states. And, of course, I will oppose efforts in Congress or elsewhere to force the District to deny full faith and credit to same-sex marriages recognized in any state. Several years ago, the case of Clarke, et al v. USA, to which I was a party, established that when Congress legislates for the District of Columbia, Congress is still bound by constitutional limitations and guidelines. I believe it would be unconstitutional for Congress to attempt to force the District to deny full faith and credit to legal marriages or domestic partnerships from any state.

Other Issues

14. Will you support the "Elimination of Outdated Crimes Amendment Act of 2002," Bill 14-636, which eliminates archaic criminal laws including fornication, adultery, and others?

Yes. In 1998, I introduced the "Opened Alcoholic Beverage Containers Amendment Act of 1998 (a.k.a. the "Chardonnay Lady Bill") before the City Council, and have championed it through the Council from its hearing and Committee vote to its successful final passage. I also voted against the "Arrest Without Warrant by Law Enforcement Officers Amendment Act of 1997," which would have expanded the right of police officers to arrest people for "quality of life" offenses on mere hearsay and without warrants, which helped lead to the bill's defeat. And, of course, I long supported attempts to repeal the District's sodomy law, which ultimately were successful as part of a major revision of the District's laws on sexual offenses. One does not become a champion of adultery by recognizing that the criminal law is not the vehicle by which to solve this or a myriad of other social problems. There is no need for the District's legal code to perpetuate archaic laws which are either unenforceable under the situations of the present or are uniformly disregarded by citizenry and government alike.

15. Will you veto legislation designed to end nude dancing at any establishment holding a D.C. liquor license or prohibiting such establishments from transferring their nude dancing licenses to different establishments or otherwise further limiting nude dancing in ABC-licensed establishments?

Yes. I support these establishments as long as they are in designated non-residential commercial zones. Last year's ABC reform law, on which the Council worked long and hard, permits existing clubs that offer nude dancing once again to sell or transfer their licenses, relocate within the same commercial zoning area, or move to the downtown area. This currently appears to be a workable compromise among all affected interests that maintains our city's cosmopolitan diversity of nightlife.

16. If it is passed by the Council, will you veto "The Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs Act of 2002," Bill 14-719, which would undermine citizen advocacy by creating official gay advocates under the direction of the Mayor?

I am open to discussion on this issue. I do see the merits to GLAA's concerns about the creation of such an office, particularly in the current budgetary climate. While I support having a GLBT liaison in the Mayor's Office to address the many issues facing the GLBT communities, in general this bill may be unnecessary - a solution in search of a problem - particularly given the viability, visibility, diversity, and longstanding influence of the District's gay and lesbian community, of which GLAA is a leading example. As Mayor, I will continue to fight for real progress for the District's GLBT community, as I always have.


Your record is part of your rating. Please list any actions that you have taken that may help illustrate your record on behalf of lesbians and gay men.


Go to GLAA Elections Project Main Page