Remarks by Stephen M. Block
GLAA 29th Anniversary Reception
Accepting GLAA Distinguished Service Award
Doyle Washington Hotel
Thursday, April 27, 2000
Whatever success we had in protecting civil liberties in the fight over the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) would not have been possible without GLAA. Members of the District Council pay attention when GLAA speaks, and GLAA spoke loud and clear in opposition to this legislation that trampled civil liberties.
Craig Howell and Rick Rosendall challenged the bill with inspired passion.
I also want to publicly express our appreciation to Councilmember Graham. Jim courageously took the lead in the Council in beating back the worst features of the bill.
We also thank Jack Evans for introducing amendments to the bill and Carol Schwartz for her invaluable work as a mediator between the opposing sides.
Certain aspects of the SORA bill were especially harmful to the interests of the gay community. For example, gay men are frequently entrapped by undercover police officers and charged with the misdemeanor offense of unwanted sexual touching. We were successful in excluding all misdemeanor offenses committed against adults from the statute.
But GLAA did not limit its challenge to SORA to those elements that particularly threatened the civil liberties of the gay community. To its great credit, GLAA joined with the Public Defender Service and the ACLU in working to make SORA less destructive of civil liberties regardless of who would suffer.
Many ask, "Why worry about the rights of child molesters and violent sexual offenders?" Don't we have better things to concern ourselves with than what happens to such depraved persons?
The answer is simple.
The civil liberties and rights of all of us are defined by what happens in the extreme, most difficult cases. Denying due process to a child molester threatens the rights of everyone else.
GLAA understands what really is at stake when the civil liberties of others are undermined. Truly, liberty is indivisible.
On the occasion of my being honored by GLAA, it is my privilege to salute GLAA and its leaders. Thank you.