Responses of Jim Graham to GLAA 2002 Questionnaire
for DC Council Candidates
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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?
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?
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?
I led the fight against various objectionable aspects of he original Megan’s Law proposal. That included the effort to include the element of whether an offender was likely to re-commit the same offense in the future. We were not successful in that regard (although I did manage to have several amendments passed). But we were vindicated by the courts. Thus I would continue to support that point of view.
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. An oversight hearing on HIV/AIDS is long overdue.
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 am concerned about the degree to which the current HAA Administrator is able to devote to his important duties. We need a fulltime director.
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?
I am the co-author of this bill. Thus I will surely support its passage. In my former role at Whitman Walker, I fought for the greatest possible access to HIV testing and treatment. For years, I argued against any reporting system that was self-defeating, in that it discouraged persons from being testing out of fear of their status being disclosed. I believe in anonymous testing. I established one of the first operating anonymous HIV testing sites in the United States. Indeed I am proud to say I was test number one at that site.
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?
The Williams Administration granted the OHR funding increase to which this question refers because I made it one of funding priorities for FY 03. That occurred during a meeting with the Mayor early on in the budget process. This is an agency for which I have oversight responsibility. I have conducted numerous hearings, which have constructively illustrated the need for greater funding in order to eliminate the backlog in cases. I will continue to support enhanced funding for this Office.
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?
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?
I am not sure its accurate to state that Mr. Mobley displayed a "lack of support or understanding of the Commission’s policy of excluding gay men from participating either as Scouts or leaders." I chaired this hearing, and I took especial care to ascertain Mr. Mobley’s views on this issue. I would have opposed his confirmation had there been any question on this. Mr. Mobley’s responses were sufficiently clear that he supported all the various protected categories of the Human Rights Act. The specific question raised by GLAA concerned whether he had been a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts. Mr. Mobley testified that he had made two specific donations, in honor of a person who was a longtime friend and member of the Boy Scouts, and that was the extent of his support. I accepted that testimony. In fairness, his resume had suggested a more extensive role in fundraising, which he in effect contradicted. But all of this was the subject of lengthy questioning following the testimony of GLAA. GLAA President Summersgill complimented me on the thoroughness of that questioning after the hearing. I would oppose any Human Rights Commission nominee who did not support the Human Rights Act.
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?
Ceremonial resolutions are now considered without discussion under the Council’s consent calendar. If GLAA or anyone else brought such resolutions to my attention, I would consider such action on a case by case basis.
Defending Our Families
11. Will you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
12. Will you support legislation in the District similar to Vermont's civil unions law?
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 raised this issue in the hearing on the domestic partners rules. It is patently unfair to compel new applications with new fees for these individuals. The documents appear to have been lost due to DC Government inefficiency.
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 pleased that Councilmember Patterson has taken this initiative. It is long overdue, and gives us the opportunity to clean out our criminal code of such offenses.
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?
I was supportive of the GLAA position on this issue when it came up early in my term of office. I am satisfied with the current approach to this question. I am also mindful that, in Ward One, there is a single nude dancing establishment. I certainly do not want any others in the neighborhoods.
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 am the author of this legislation. I developed this bill in order to strengthen our community’s advocacy within the administration. At present we have but a single staff member who operates without even administrative support. We have many issues which would be better served if more resources were committed. This is particularly true in terms of "minorities" within our community. I do not intend this to be a substitute for gay advocacy generally in other agencies. Nor is it a replacement for strong community based advocacy, such as that provided by GLAA. The bill has been the subject of extensive discussion within our community, much of which has even predated its introduction. And that has been very helpful. The bill has been modified to reflect those discussions. It has been endorsed by the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and was favorably received by the legislative subcommittee of the Mayor’s GLBT Advisory Committee. I recognize that there are those (including GLAA) within our community who oppose it. I have scheduled a public hearing on this bill (which has been referred to my subcommittee) for the fall. It will give an opportunity for full public discussion. I will certainly be influenced by the outcome of that hearing.
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.
I am the first and only openly gay Democrat on the Council of the District of Columbia. Prior to my election, I was deeply engaged in working for the welfare of our community. For more than 17 years, either as Whitman Walker Clinic President or Executive Director, I worked to insure quality health care for our community. From the earliest days of the HIV epidemic in this area, I worked to build a comprehensive, community based response for people living with HIV/AIDS. The results are well known and widely respected. In the process, Whitman Walker Clinic became America’s most comprehensive, community based response to the epidemic, and one of the largest local nonprofits in the DC area.
Since being elected to the Council, I have continued my engagement with our community, while also doing all I could to represent all the divergent elements of Ward One.
I have taken a civil liberties approach on issues such as Megan’s Law. I have steered through my subcommittee and the Council the bill making harassment an element of discrimination in the District of Columbia. I have been strong on the right of choice for women and others in terms of contraceptives and birth control being available under private insurance.