Responses of David Catania to GLAA 2002 Questionnaire
for DC Council Candidates
1. Will you support funding for mandatory gay male, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sensitivity and diversity training including gay and transgender community representatives as a continuing part of the training for all members of the Metropolitan Police Department and the Fire/EMS Department?
Yes. Obviously, the incident involving Tyra Hunter illustrates the importance of this training. As part of the Budget Support Act for Fiscal Year 2001, I authored the "District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department Tyra Hunter Investigation and Report Act of 2000." The legislation required the Fire and EMS Department to produce a report which included the following: 1) the names of all the employees who withheld care at the scene of the incident; 2) the reasons why disciplinary action was not taken against the employees who withheld care; 3) the individual(s) responsible for failing to initiate disciplinary action; 4) the steps being taken to avoid similar incidents in the future; and 5) the actions that would be taken were such an incident to occur in the future. This report was presented to the Council on February 14, 2001. Following the issuance of the report, Chief Few made a commitment to me that he would institute mandatory sensitivity and diversity training.
2. Metropolitan Police Officers are barred from moonlighting only at bars and sexually oriented establishments. Officers are not barred from working at any other establishments. Will you support legislation that will reverse the Council's ban on moonlighting at bars and sexually oriented establishments?
This policy was adopted with the strong recommendation of Chief Charles Ramsey who testified that permitting police officers to moonlight in these establishments put them in compromising positions. Specifically, these officers, according to the Chief, were put in a position of having to look the other way when illegal activity was occurring in order to keep their moonlighting positions.
I was unaware that this policy was having a negative impact on the quality or quantity of security offered at these establishments. I would welcome an opportunity to review this situation. Moreover, if evidence exists that indicates that the safety of our residents is being compromised by this policy, I would be more than willing to reconsider it.
3. 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?
Yes. In light of the Court's decision in John Doe v. Anthony Williams, Civil Action No. 01-00407, I would consider legislative language, which would permit a case-by-case examination of these cases.
Public Health & AIDS
4. The rate of HIV infections in DC is the highest in the United States, rivaling levels in sub-Saharan Africa. The last time that The DC Council held an oversight hearing on the HIV/AIDS Administration was June 18, 1998. If elected or re-elected to the Council, will you ensure that the Council holds an annual performance oversight hearing on the HIV/AIDS Administration?
Yes. As part of the Council's annual performance oversight hearings in February, and budget hearings in March, the Committee on Human Services reviews the operations of the HIV/AIDS Administration. We have used these hearings to address certain pressing issues. For example, as part of the FY 2000, GLAA testified about the District's failure to meet our "maintenance of effort" obligation under federal grant programs. Because of this hearing, the District was able to address this issue.
Notwithstanding the fact that certain issues are addressed in other hearings, I would strongly support annual performance oversight hearings dedicated exclusively to the HIV/AIDS Administration.
5. The Director of the HIV/AIDS Administration, Ron Lewis, is his own boss, also serving as a deputy Health Director. Will you demand that the HIV/AIDS Administration have a full-time Director?
Yes. I support a full-time Director for the HIV/AIDS Administration. While Members of the Council can and do make their positions felt with the Office of the Mayor, our ability to force a personnel decision like the one requested is limited.
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. The HIV Unique Identifier System Amendment Act of 2001, B14-0326, would eliminate the partial social security system. Will you vote for the bill and seek a speedy passage?
Yes. I am a co-author of the "HIV Unique Identifier System Amendment Act of 2001." I am eager to have a comprehensive hearing on this legislation in order to receive testimony on the proposed legislation as well as the efficacy of the current unique identifier plan. At this point, I am committed to the legislation as introduced.
Since February 1999, I have been on the public record as stating that the Council, not the Department of Health, should make the final decision on an appropriate HIV tracking system. During the debate on this subject in early 1999, I weighed in forcefully, along with several GLAA members, against the Department of Health's proposal for a names reporting system. I argued that the recently released recommendations on HIV tracking from the CDC did not mandate a names reporting system as some had stated. I further argued that we would not jeopardize funding for our surveillance programs if selected a unique identifier system. I believed then, as I do now, that a names reporting system would discourage individuals from being tested.
7. Recognizing the significant improvements made in the operations of the Office of Human Rights under then-Director Charles Holman, the Williams Administration granted OHR a significant addition to its FY 2003 budget to increase the number of investigators and other staff so that the case backlog will continue to drop. Will you support such increases in funding for future years as well until complaints are routinely processed within 120 days?
Yes. I support funding for the Office of Human Rights in a manner generous enough for it to accomplish its mission. I have enthusiastically supported the previous budget increases for the Office. Naturally, I understand that if our human rights' laws are to have real meaning, there must be timely processing of complaints.
8. Will you support legislation that will codify the Office of Human Rights' former practice of giving top priority to discrimination complaints filed by people with AIDS or other major life-threatening diseases?
Yes. It is absolutely essential to give priority to cases in which the individual is facing a life-threatening disease.
9. 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 vote against the confirmation of any other nominee to the Human Rights Commission who displays a similar lack of commitment to enforcement of the D.C. Human Rights Law?
10. Will you block ceremonial resolutions 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?
Historically, I have not paid a great deal of attention to the contents of ceremonial resolutions or to the recipients. Given the amount of substantive work before the Council, I have focused my efforts on other matters. However, I understand the important symbolism associated with a Council resolution. I commit to giving these resolutions more attention in the future and working to prevent the passage of resolutions associated with bigoted individuals or organizations.
Defending Our Families
11. Will you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. I share GLAA's concerns about the consequences of introducing legislation on this subject in the District.
Notwithstanding my support for the legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex, certain religions oppose this position. I believe very strongly in the notion that no religious institution should be required to perform such a service in violation of its views.
12. Will you support legislation in the District similar to Vermont's civil unions law?
Yes. With the recent implementation of the District's Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992, we now have an opportunity to expand the scope of the legislation. I will support legislation similar to Vermont's civil union law. I believe that a single comprehensive expansion of our law will invite Congressional interference, however. I favor an incremental approach that accomplishes this goal. I have already started this process, albeit in a very small way.
As part of the "Fiscal Year 2002 Budget Support Act", I authored a change to the "Funeral Services Regulatory Amendment Act of 2001," which placed domestic partners on equal footing with a surviving spouse for purposes of the Act. Among other things, this Act determines, unless other directions are given by the decedent, the right to control the disposition of the remains of a deceased person, the location and conditions of interment, and arrangements for funeral goods and services.
13. 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. I did not object to the implementation of the existing domestic partnership regulations because I feared that a further delay would jeopardize our ability to implement the legislation. However, I fully support legislation that would recognize those couples who registered under Mayor Kelley's Directive.
14. Will you support amending the domestic partnership regulations to recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions established in other jurisdictions?
15. Will you vote for the "Elimination of Outdated Crimes Amendment Act of 2002," Bill 14-636, which eliminates archaic criminal laws including fornication, adultery and others?
Yes. I am a co-sponsor of the legislation.
16. Will you oppose 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 helped craft, along with Councilmembers Evans and Ambrose, the amendment to the ABC reform legislation, which permits the limited sell and transfer of these licenses.
17. Will you vote against "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 co-sponsored this legislation. My decision to co-sponsor this legislation was based on my understanding that the Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affair would essentially memorialize the existing liaison's position. I did not fully appreciate the view of some that the Office could undermine citizen advocacy. I look forward to the hearing on this legislation. If at the conclusion of the hearing, I believe that the Office will demonstrably diminish citizen advocacy, I will not support it.
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.
Since joining the Council, I have had a steady presence on Capitol Hill on behalf of issues important to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Among other issues, I have fought for the removal of Congressional riders regarding domestic partnership, medical marijuana, needle exchange, Boy Scouts, adoption, and voting representation.
Domestic partnership benefits at WMATA
In October 2000, as a Member of the WMATA Board of Directors, I authored a proposal for a domestic partnership program, which was approved in 2001. This proposal extends domestic partnership benefits, including family leave, to WMATA's 10,000-plus employees.
Women's Health Program Initiative (WHPI)
To address certain inequalities in health care access and treatment, I worked to establish the WHPI within the Department of Health. The purpose of the WHPI is to serve as an advocate for women's health issues, such as: diet, substance abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, and cervical, breast and ovarian cancer prevention, screening and treatment. I made certain that the advisory committee for the initiative had open lesbians on it to help ensure that lesbian health issues were addressed as well.
Citizen Complaint Review Board
In addition to helping secure important federal resources for the CCRB, I have been vigilant in making sure that its subsequent budgets have been adequately funded.
Department of Corrections
I worked to help reverse the Department of Corrections' policy of preventing transgender individuals from visiting Lorton.