PDF version of the above document 01/05/99
Howell, Rosendall lobby against "emergency" sex offender legislation
[Note: On the morning of July 6, before a DC Council legislative session, GLAA President Craig Howell and former president Rick Rosendall made the rounds of DC Councilmembers' offices urging them to vote against the emergency bill on sex offender registration being pushed by Judiciary Committee Chairman Harold Brazil.
Below is the one-page summary of GLAA concerns that Howell and Rosendall handed Councilmembers and staffers during their lobbying visits. Thanks to Don Haines of ACLU/NCA for his help in preparing the first draft of this summary sheet.]
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, DC 20013-5265
PLEASE OPPOSE THE "EMERGENCY" MEGAN'S LAW LEGISLATION
GLAA strongly urges all Councilmembers to vote against the emergency declaration for the present sex offenders registration legislation. We also urge you to vote against the emergency, temporary and permanent versions of the bill offered at the July 6th legislative session.
We believe that a bill can be crafted that is free from anti-gay bias and impact. This bill is not it.
The only "emergency" here is the sudden need to avoid losing $200,000 in federal money for the registration program after months of inaction, and the failure of the Corporation Counsel to identify just what specific limited changes are necessary to meet new federal requirements. The July 2nd letter to Councilmembers from the Public Defender Service (PDS) notes that the U.S. Attorney cited just three such changes which could be made through technical amendments. And if this is now an emergency, why did the Council not fund the existing program?
This bill still has the effect of making the District subject to anti-gay laws of other jurisdictions thus undermining our own longstanding policy of non-discrimination.
Although changes have been made in some sections to deal with consensual sodomy, other sections (e.g., sec. 2.(9)(E)) have not been changed.
The changes on consensual sodomy that are included do not solve the problem. The bill places the burden on the individual to prove his conviction was for consensual behavior.
This bill defines minor as under 18 two years older than the District's age of consent. This problem goes beyond statutory rape to all those offenses involving sexual contact with a "minor." The time must be taken to ensure that no crime committed in another jurisdiction is registerable here if it would not be a crime in the District.
The anti-gay elements of the bill go beyond sodomy, because state-sanctioned persecution of gay people has misused such terms as public indecency, lewd conduct, indecent exposure, sexual psychopath, and others all for consensual conduct between adults.
The problems with this bill are not just gay-related. So-called "lewd" offenses such as skinny dipping, "mooning," and urinating behind a bush while on a hike, have all been prosecuted in other jurisdictions as "indecent exposure."
This bill undercuts Home Rule by entrusting the registration process to a federal agency, outside the control of the District and its Human Rights Act.
This is simply too complex either to handle as emergency legislation or to fix from the dais.