Victory: Gay Victims of Entrapment Won't Be Forced to Register as Sex Offenders
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Victory: Gay Victims of Entrapment Won't Be Forced to Register as Sex Offenders

December 7, 1999

Dear Friends:

I am relieved and gratified to report that the D.C. City Council has amended the proposed Sexual Offenders Registration Act (Bill 13-350) (a.k.a. "Megan's Law") so that gay men convicted in police entrapment operations won't have to register as sex offenders.

The amendment was proposed from the Council dais by the bill's sponsor, Judiciary Committee Chairman Harold Brazil, and was accepted without debate. Had he not done so, Councilmembers Jim Graham and Jack Evans were prepared to offer such an amendment. It was clear from our intensive lobbying over the last several days that we had the votes to secure this vital reform.

Specifically, the now-amended bill provides that those convicted of sexual misdemeanor charges will not have to register as sex offenders unless the victim of their crimes was a minor or the convicted person agrees to accept registration as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. Here in the District, gay men arrested in sting operations by the U.S. Park Police in the P Street Beach area have typically been charged with "misdemeanor sexual abuse." Gays entrapped in other jurisdictions are charged with similar misdemeanors. These men, already victimized once by law enforcement abuses, will not have to endure the further abuse of having to be registered as though they were pedophiles or violent sexual offenders.

Other issues of concern with Bill 13-350 are still being negotiated. Steve Block of the ACLU/National Capital Area is doing an outstanding job of representing our interests in his dealings with the U.S. Attorney's Office and others on these remaining issues. We hope a deal can be struck in time for the Council's next legislative session in two weeks. As with other legislative compromises, we may not be entirely happy or satisfied with the outcome of these deliberations. We will be in touch with you if further lobbying efforts are warranted.

I want to thank all of you who took the time and trouble to contact your Councilmembers to voice your support for our efforts. I also want to thank Councilmembers Jim Graham and Jack Evans for their willingness to carry the ball for us in the Council. Our Public Safety Director, Rick Rosendall, provided valuable assistance in developing strategy and lobbying the Council in person with me. Special thanks have also been earned by Steve Block of the ACLU and Jeffrey Berman of the Public Defender Service; their legal expertise has proven invaluable over and over again.

Craig Howell
Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance

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