Responses of Adrian Fenty to GLAA 2006 Questionnaire
for DC Mayoral Candidates
1. Will you support funding for mandatory gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) sensitivity and diversity training for all members of the Fire/EMS Department, starting with the first budget you submit to the Council?
Yes. While I believe we need citywide sensitivity training I know that this is a continuing and urgent problem in the Fire/EMS Department. It is a problem that has been highlighted by the continued abuse of transgendered men and women by members of the department. The issue of what has been called transphobia- dates back in the Fire Department to the case of Tyra Hunter in August 1995.
Chief Thompson has shown no propensity to do real training in the Fire/EMS. It is for this reason among many others that I have called for the Mayor to relieve Chief Thompson and bring in a new Chief. I will ask the DC Council Judiciary Committee to insert specific language in the FY 2007 budget ordering Fire/EMS to develop and implement a training program specifically teaching all Fire/EMS staffers how to deal with members of the District’s GLBT community and earmark funds for this training.
Further, I will insist that the Department use proven safety standards rather than using safety concerns as a cover for discrimination with regard to grooming policy.
2. Will you appoint a new Fire/EMS Department Chief who is committed to rooting out the Department’s deeply entrenched homophobia and transphobia?
Yes. This is an issue which concerns me a great deal. I intend to appoint a new Fire/EMS Department Chief and one of the criteria for their appointment will be their commitment to working from day one to diligently root out the Department’s entrenched homophobia and transphobia. We have a diverse population in our City and everyone must feel completely assured that they will receive an appropriate response from our Fire/EMS services.
3. Will you include representatives of the GLBT community in the search process when you appoint a new Police Chief and a new Fire/EMS Chief?
Yes. I will include members of the GLBT community in the search process when I appoint a new Police Chief and new Fire/EMS Chief. I am committed to have all my search teams include qualified members of the community in each area that we will be doing searches for new commissioners and directors of agencies. I will be asking the GLBT community to recommend people with expertise in every area of government to join my transition team and to join my search committees and to recommend people that will themselves available to serve in my administration.
I will insist that my new Fire/EMS Chief is committed to immediately dealing with cultural insensitivity in the Department. I will also insist that my police chief is committed to sustaining and capitalizing on the gains we have achieved in the MPD and continue its community diversity and sensitivity training programs for both new recruits and lateral transfers. We need to make sure that the trainers are qualified members of the GLBT community and they receive the support they need to be effective from the leaders of the Police Academy and the Chief. Though the MPD has made great strides in this area of training we need to expand it to veteran MPD officers and need a stronger focus on the issue of transphobia. We need to protect our transgendered citizens and we must train the MPD to be in the forefront of doing that.
4. Are you committed to continuing the Gay & Lesbian Liaison Unit within the Metropolitan Police Department?
Yes. I am committed to continuing the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit within the MPD and to expanding it efforts. There are unacceptable incidents occurring every day with members of the GLBT community facing insults and threats. We will not tolerate that in this City when I am Mayor. I have publicly stated that I believe the head of the GLLU Unit, Sergeant Brett Parson is one of the finest examples of a police officer that we have in the District. He is an example of what I believe real community policing is all about.
5. Will you submit a budget request for the Office of Police Complaints that will be large enough to continue to avoid developing a backlog of cases?
Yes. Since the establishment of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) and the Police Complaints Board (PCB), the MPD has been more accountable to the community. I supported the expansion of the staff in the FY 2005 budget for the OPC when four additional investigators were hired. I will continue to support this staffing level and will continually monitor the agency and will recommend additional staff as needed to ensure that the Office will continually have enough investigators and staff to make sure that we facilitate speedy justice for both civilian complaints and accused officers. I will ask for additional funds as the number of FOIA requests increases and as we add members to the MPD I know the work of the OPC will increase as well.
As Mayor, I will present plans and budgets that are comprehensive. When I recommend an increase in the number of police in the Department, I will include funding not only for their salaries and training but for new equipment needs and for ancillary costs such as an increase in the OPC budget.
6. Will you ensure that the Department of Corrections enforces the District’s Human Rights Act against contractors who discriminate against transgender visitors to correctional facilities?
Yes. The District’s human rights law regulates the Department of Corrections as it does all other city agencies. I will mandate that my agency directors and commissioners enforce the law fully including insisting that the Department of Corrections informs all contractors that they cannot discriminate against transgender visitors to correctional facilities.
In 2000 the Mayor issued a Mayoral Order mandating explicit recognition of every class protected under the DCHRA in all D.C. governmental agency discrimination statements. I will reissue that order and ask my agencies including the Department of Corrections to ask contractors to abide by the DC Human Rights laws both in hiring and other areas to ensure that we end discrimination.
7. Will you oppose legislation creating so-called “prostitution-free zones,” which would give the police, who routinely assume that every transgendered person is a prostitute until proven otherwise, virtually unlimited power to harass our transgendered residents?
Yes. We know from history that we can not eradicate prostitution by declaring “prostitution-free zones” and that all one does is not solve a problem by moving it around. We need to make sure that our streets are safe for everyone and do so in a legal way that defends everyone’s civil and human rights. We have laws on the books now about soliciting and we should enforce those laws. We must also find ways to help those who are on the streets for various reasons find work and housing that will enable them to lead productive lives. We don’t need “prostitution-free zones”; we need workforce development programs, health programs, affordable housing and other social service programs across the District to deal with the issue of prostitution.
However we deal with this issue it must be done in a humane way and we must assure that the MPD has the cultural and sensitivity training they need to deal with transgendered persons so they understand that they are all not prostitutes.
AIDS and Public Health
8. Will you ensure that the drive to make HIV testing routine among District residents includes funding for counseling and referrals to treatment facilities for those who test positive?
Yes. There is no more crucial issue in the health community than fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There are many steps we must take to do this and my administration will attack this epidemic on many fronts. I have released a major statement on what will be my program as Mayor to deal with the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia (See http://www.fenty06.com/pdf/Fenty%20HIV-AIDS%20position.pdf). It will include routine testing in accessible locations across the District and funding for the necessary counseling and referrals that those who test positive will need. It is one thing to test, but unless we go the second step to provide counseling and treatment we will not stem the tide of HIV/AIDS. I have committed to making this a major priority in my Administration and I will speak out at every occasion an every venue including to the faith community about this crisis in the District.
DC currently has the highest AIDS rate in the US. We have rates comparable to rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. With reported rate for AIDS in the District in 2002 of 162.4 per 100,000 compared to the 14.8per 100,000 in the US we are way behind in how we deal with this epidemic. And we don’t even know for sure about our rate of HIV because we have no reliable statistics on HIV infections despite six years of efforts by AHPP or its predecessor HAA.
It is only recently that the District has begun to treat HIV/AIDS as a serious problem. I support the work of Dr. Marsha Martin who is the current Director of AHPP for the tremendous steps she has taken in the short time she has lead this office.
My administration will continue to support GW University running the HIV epidemiological surveillance system for DC. And although I have always opposed using a names reporting system I believe we are now forced to use one because the Federal Government Ryan White reauthorization Act will require it and base allocation of funds on reported cases of both HIV and AIDS cases. Were we not to adopt this names reporting system DC could lose $5 million annually and with the epidemic proportions of HIV/AIDS in the District we can’t afford to lose any money that will help us deal with this health crisis. What I will insist on with this names reporting system is that we make doubly sure that we have stronger protections of privacy than we currently have and that the penalties for anyone breaching this privacy are strong enough to act as the deterrent they need to be.
I will instruct the Department of Health to review a sero-postive survey in parallel to the one recommended by the National Academy of Sciences ‘ Institute of Medicine Report which recommends that DCD create such a system to identify new HIV infections which will enable public health officials to track changes in the epidemic.
We will also review all our educational programs to see which ones are effective and which are not in our efforts to prevent new cases of HIV. We need to know what works and why if we are if we are ever to get a real handle on this epidemic. We need to provide the public with more information and this includes making information more accessible. That would include updating the AHPP website and make it more interactive. It should contain the most current information on HIV/AIDS and programs and services available to people in the District of Columbia. We also need to find ways to get this information out to members of our community who are not regularly on computers in ways in which they can access it.
My administration will continue the new testing program for HIV/AIDS. It will include testing in the DC Jail and investigating the legality and appropriateness of potentially moving HIV positive inmates into a separate ward. I believe that inmates need to be tested on admission and on departure to allow us to make sure that they enter programs that will work to prevent in jail transmission and serve them when they are back in the community.
I will look at what tests we require when we issue marriage licenses. The current mandated syphilis tests date back to pre- World War II days. We must look at the legality and efficacy of requiring tests for HIV, Hepatitis B and C, and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
My administration will work with the DC Hospital Association and the Department of Health to look at potentially providing Post Exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV at all DC emergency rooms and urgent care centers and health clinics. We need to educate people know about PEP and that would include information being given in student health classes.
Clearly one of the proven ways to combat HIV/AIDS is to have strong needle exchange programs. I will continue to fight Congress on the annual budget rider preventing use of government funding for needle exchange. The organization set up in DC, Prevention Works, has been operating effectively for seven years but is clearly not enough to deal with this problem. My administration will immediately provide addition funds for needle exchange as soon as we can get the rider lifted.
Education, which is the number one priority of my administration, also includes educating the community about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. We will do this beginning with our children in school by supporting age appropriate sex education that is includes not just abstinence education but education about safe sex practices. We must begin to teach our children at an early age to accept and understand the diversity of our population, respect for each other, and how to live safe and healthy lives.
9. Are you committed to continuing and strengthening the District’s condom distribution program?
Yes. I believe that we must educate people that using condoms is really the only way to stop transmission of HIV when engaging in sex. I will support condom distribution programs and will work with organizations such as the Great American Condom Campaign to strengthen our education programs in the District. I will ask the Department of Health and AHPP to review all the programs that now exist in the District and to develop a comprehensive plan, which will make sure that we are reaching everyone with these education and distribution programs. We need only look at the Appleseed report to see that we have to do more than we have. While we had a goal of distributing 600,000 condoms in 2004 we only distributed 125,000 in 2005. The final plan needs to include distribution sites such as public health centers, nightclubs and bars, hospitals and even hair salons and barber shops.
10. The District is being forced by the federal government to switch from a unique identifier system to a names reporting system for people testing positive for HIV. Will you support legislation to strengthen our medical privacy laws, such as by creating a private right of action for those whose confidentiality is violated by District government employees or contractors?
Yes. I reluctantly support names reporting and will move to strengthen our laws on medical privacy to guarantee that there are severe penalties for anyone violating confidentiality. I will also support legislation the will give individuals whose rights may have been violated a private right of action.
11. Will you submit a budget for the Office of Human Rights (OHR) large enough to allow it to reduce to 270 days the average gap between the time that a discrimination complaint is filed and the time OHR issues a finding of probable cause?
Yes. I will always review the work of each agency as I prepare my annual budgets and ensure that the funding we are giving to each agency will allow them to accomplish their mission. I believe that a 270 day or nine month time frame between the time a discrimination complaint is filed and OHR issues a finding of probable cause is a reasonable time frame on which to base staffing requests and funding.
I believe that OHR is making great strides in reducing its caseload and I will work with my director to make sure that this trend continues. I will also instruct my Director of OHR to work with the law schools in the District of Columbia where feasible and legal to get additional assistance in reducing the caseload.
I have seen the work that GLAA has done in the area of human rights and appreciate its effectiveness. I will ask that GLAA participate in any screening committee that is set up if we hire a new director for OHR.
12. Will you refuse to issue proclamations and otherwise decline to honor individuals or organizations that promote any sort of bigotry?
Yes. I will not issue proclamations or honor individuals or organizations that promote bigotry or discrimination. We must move forward as one society and we can’t do that unless we finally stand up and say in every way and at every opportunity that discrimination and bigotry is unacceptable in all its forms.
13. Will you refuse to appoint to your Interfaith Council ministers such as Bishop Owens and Rev. Willie Wilson who have publicly hurled vile language against members of the District’s GLBT community?
Yes. I have spoken out against the remarks of both individuals you mention in the strongest terms. It will be the policy of my administration to appoint only persons to any agency or commission or to any job who understand that discrimination and bigotry are unacceptable in the District of Columbia.
14. Will you invite representatives of GLAA to participate in the search process when you appoint a new Director of the Office of Human Rights, as Mayor Williams did in 2003?
Yes. I respect the work that GLAA has done in the areas of human and civil rights and I will invite a representative of GLAA to join representatives of other groups when and if I appoint a new director for the Office of Human Rights.
15. Are you committed to enforcing the provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression?
Yes. I am fully committed to enforcing all the provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act. I will reissue a Mayoral order that was first issued in 2000 by Mayor Anthony Williams that mandates explicit recognition of every class protected under the DCHRA in all D.C. government agencies anti-discrimination statements and I will hold my agency managers and commissioners accountable, including the Fire/EMS Chief, for obey the law. It is clear that the DCHRA prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression. My administration will enforce that law.
Marriage and Family
16. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. I support full civil marriage between partners of the same sex. My position has not changed since I ran for my first term as Ward 4 councilmember: same sex marriage is a question of fairness and equality.
I will be working with DC Vote and other organizations for the freedom to enact our laws based on the needs and desires of the people of the District not the Congress.. I will work closely with GLAA and other GLBT organizations in the District to determine what our legislative strategies will be as we move to full civil marriage right for same sex couples in the District.
17. Will your Administration publicize and enforce the recently enacted laws that have significantly expanded the rights and responsibilities of domestic partners?
Yes. I supported the recently enacted laws that have given our GLBT community more rights and expanded the rights of domestic partners. My administration will make sure that these new laws are publicized and that those living in the District will be made aware of the rights they have if they register as domestic partners. I will hold a press briefing on these new laws and other issues of importance to the GLBT community that will include our community newspapers such as the Washington Blade and Metro Weekly, the InTowner and the Hill Rag among others as well as using the city’s website and every other potential news outlet to get this information out to the community.
I will also make sure that the meetings of the LGBT office and their advisory Board are announced to the community, with proper notice, so that people may find out what that office is doing.
18. Will you support legislation in the District to continue expanding the existing domestic partnership program to include all relevant rights and responsibilities of marriage in D.C. law?
Yes. My administration will work with GLAA and other GLBT groups, as well as the DC Council and particularly the Chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee, to make sure that we continue to expand the rights and responsibilities of our domestic partnership program until we can pass our own same-sex civil marriage law. That must be our long term goal but until that time I will move in tandem with the community to continue to add the rights that those legally married in the District now have to our domestic partner program.
19. Will you support the legislative and/or regulatory changes necessary to ensure that the District recognizes civil unions, domestic partnerships and similar legal relationships established in other jurisdictions?
Yes. We have in the District of Columbia one of the highest percentages of gay families to our total population that any other city in the nation. We have over 5% of couples households in the District that identify as gay or lesbian.
GLAA completed a report that identified 212 rights and responsibilities under the DC marriage laws and the US Government Accountability Office has said there are 1,138 rights, benefits and privileges related to marriage under federal law. I support moving forward with the Community in identifying additional rights and responsibilities that we can add to our domestic partnership program.
I am also supportive of recognizing the rights and responsibilities given to these relationships in other states when those couples move to the District of Columbia. This will make DC a more attractive place to move to and one of our goals is to increase our population and our tax base. Having said this I understand the relationship we have with the Congress and I will not take any actions, without full consultation and the support of the GLBT community in the District, that would provoke a retaliatory response by those in Congress who would spread their rampant homophobia and use their control over the District to do that.
Public Education and Youth
20. Do you oppose both federal and local voucher programs that fund students in religious schools that are beyond the protections of the D.C. Human Rights Act?
Yes. I oppose the DC voucher program because it is not accountable to the people of the District. Our public school students should have the protection of our civil and human rights laws and regulations. Schools receiving public money should be monitored by federal law. However, school participating in the DC voucher program are exempt from the anti-discrimination section protecting GLBT persons from discrimination in the District’s Human Rights Act and from the requirements of the No child Left Behind Act.
21. Do you oppose the use of either federal or District taxpayer funds to promote “abstinence-only-until-marriage” sex education that undermines safer-sex programs by discouraging the use of condoms and that effectively tells gay and lesbian students that they must remain celibate forever because they may not legally marry?
Yes. I believe that age appropriate sex education programs that explains conception, reproduction and contraception must be part of the curriculum in our schools. I support the recommendations of the Task Force that was chaired by School Board Member Dr. Carolyn Graham that concludes that abstinence only until marriage would not be an effective message for all our children. While abstinence is one of many things that can be taught, if it is the only thing taught to students it clearly undermines appropriate safe-sex programs and prevents us from giving students all the information they need to lead safe and healthy lives. Clearly it also tells GLBT students who we as a society have told they may not marry, that in essence they may never have sex.
Consumers and Businesses
22. Do you support the relocation of the many gay bars and businesses that were displaced by the new ballpark, even if local NIMBYs and homophobes oppose them?
Yes. We must find a place for the many gay bars and businesses that were displaced by the new ballpark.
From Ward 1 to Ward 8 my message has been that we must make DC a world-class city like Paris, London or Rome. This includes making sure that we don’t allow homophobia or discrimination to dictate what kind of businesses will be allowed to exist in the District. I believe communities and neighborhoods must have a say in what kind of business they want in a residential neighborhood but we have many business districts and commercial corridors than could accommodate the businesses that were forced to move from “O” street not because they weren’t successful businesses but because the city used the right of eminent domain to close them.
23. Will you support legislation to curb the abuses of NIMBYs who are now allowed to file an endless series of baseless complaints to harass or extort bars and restaurants?
Yes. I have recently stated publicly that I think the process which often leads to the harassment of businesses trying to get a liquor license in the District is unacceptable. While I strongly support the right of an ANC or community organization to file a challenge to a new business we must clarify that right to that challenge and insure that it cannot be done based on discrimination or homophobia.
We must set clear timetables for challenges and clear timetables for the ABC board or other involved agencies to make their determinations on the challenge. Everyone must know what the timeframes are before the process begins. I will also support legislation that makes it clear as to what constitutes a neighbor with the right to participate in a protest. Too often the looseness of the current description of a neighbor allows for individuals nowhere near a proposed business to protest the business based on things like noise when they couldn’t see or hear or judge the noise from that business from where they live. I will work with community groups and ANCs to look at streamlining this entire process and making it fair to both business and the local community/ neighborhood.
24. Do you oppose the Youth Protection from Obscene Video Games Act (B16-0125), a clone of other laws that have consistently been struck down by the courts on constitutional grounds?
No. I introduced and joined 11 councilmembers in voting for the Youth Protection from Obscene Video Games Act because I believe that parents have a need to protect their children. The Act has been ruled unconstitutional. I have no intention at this time to modify and reintroduce the legislation. I clearly recognize that whatever we do to assist parents in the future must not limit the right of free speech. As a parent, I take responsibility for what video games I allow my children to see and generally how they use the Internet. I also recognize that some parents or guardians have a much more difficult time monitoring their children and we need to offer them some assistance, but that assistance must fully respect the constitution.
Your record is part of your rating. Please list any actions that you have taken that may help illustrate your record on behalf of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
During his two terms on the Council, Adrian Fenty has consistently supported the LGBT community on issues of importance and interest.
Councilmember Fenty has supported (by voting in favor of, cosponsoring, and/or co introducing) the following legislation:
- Domestic Partnership Equality Amendment Act of 2006;
- Human Rights Clarification Amendment Act of 2005;
- Health Care Benefits Expansion Amendment Act of 2005;
- One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark Amendment Act of 2006;
- Health-Care Decisions Act of 2003;
- Domestic Partnership Protection Amendment Act of 2004;
- Renewal of the Home and Community-Based Services Waiver Governing Water Filters for Persons with HIV/AIDS Emergency Approval Resolution of 2004;
- Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Affairs Act of 2005;
- Sense of the Council on Recognition of Same-Sex Marriages Lawfully Performed in Other States Resolution of 2004; and
- HIV Unique Identifier System Amendment Act of 2005.
In addition, Adrian Fenty has consistently supported the LGBT community through a range of nonlegislative actions, including:
- Authoring a Washington Blade column in February 2005 pledging to oppose any ballot initiative that would enshrine discrimination against LGBT individuals or couples in the Home Rule Charter;
- Strongly supporting recognition of the right of same-sex couples to marry in the District of Columbia;
- Condemning divisive rhetorical attacks on the GLBT community from a lead organizer of the Millions More Movement;
- Writing to Chief Ramsey urging an MPD investigation into allegations of a pattern of anti-gay slurs from a Master Patrol Officer in the Department;
- Supporting MPD's outreach efforts in the LGBT community through the LGBT Liaison Unit;
- Supporting sensitivity training for Emergency Medical Technicians and FEMS staff in 2002 and pushing for FEMS to share with the LGBT community materials related to the department's training materials and curricula in 2004;
- Marching repeatedly in the Capital Pride Parade to show his support of the LGBT community;
- Opposing the District's use of eminent domain to take the property of gay-oriented clubs and construct a publicly-financed baseball stadium, and later supporting the right of these businesses to relocate within the District;
- Supporting efforts of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League to provide leadership training and out-of-school-time activities to GLBTQ youth;
- Supporting the efforts of Us Helping Us to secure a grant from the Meyer Foundation for the renovation of a property on Georgia Avenue for use as a community-based center for black gay and bisexual men and transgender individuals;
- Extending his condolences to the family and friends of Wanda Alston, whose tireless work on behalf of the LGBT community was cut short by her tragic death;
- Writing a letter of condolence to the family Sgt. Robert Glenn Schoonover, citing his advocacy for the GLBT community and his professionalism as an officer;
- Publicizing through his weekly newsletter the Mayor's LGBT Citizen Summit in April 2005;
- Attending a community vigil after the murder of a transgender person murdered in Ward 4.