Responses of Phil Mendelson 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?
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?
In a word, no. But the issue is whether off-duty cops, in uniform, should be bouncers at alcohol-licensed establishments. The IBEX incident - the fatal shooting of an officer outside a notorious bar - is why I and I believe all my colleagues voted to prohibit this kind of moonlighting. The IBEX was not a sexually oriented business. The problem was alcohol. Off duty cops have a conflict of interest: they are supposed to protect the establishment they work for, and will be disinclined to shut it down. This does not matter regarding most types of businesses; there is rarely a need for most businesses to be shut down. But it's very different with bars, particularly those with rowdy clientele where security it important. In these cases there is a likelihood that illegal activity is present coupled with drunk/aggressive patrons, and bar bouncers who are off-duty cops are unlikely to shut down their employer. The IBEX should have been shut down years before the shooting, but no off-duty cop on its payroll would do that. It is believed that the cop shot outside the IBEX was targeted by a disgruntled patron bounced by the off-duty cop in side. It was not my intention, nor is it my position, that moonlighting of cops in uniform should be prohibited solely because a business is sexually oriented, and if this is on the books I would consider repeal.
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. I was very much on the side of GLAA in the debate over the District's sex offender legislation. I believe the scarlet letter is a 17th century approach to morality. However, sex offender legislation is a political reality. It should be limited to those classes of crimes that are dangerous and predatory, and where there is a likelihood that the offender will repeat that type of crime.
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?
I will press for an annual performance oversight hearing on the HIV/AIDS Administration at the Department of Health. Oversight is the only tool a legislature has to force an agency to respond to criticism and provide better services.
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?
I agree it is problematic that the Deputy DOH Director is also the Director of an administration (HAA) that he supervises. I do not understand why this dual management role, residing in one individual, persists and I will support efforts to secure a full-time HAA 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?
Bill 14-326 is my bill. I authored it as a result of discussion with GLAA Board members - an example of my willingness to work with GLAA to identify and pursue solutions to problems. The next step with 14-326 is for us to strategize how to obtain a hearing and move the bill; it has the support of at least seven Councilmembers.
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 pledge to continue providing the funds OHR needs to end its backlog and otherwise enhance enforcement of our Human Rights Act.
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?
I will seriously consider and probably support it. As stated in answer 7, I support efforts to eliminate the backlog; cases should be resolved promptly. It makes sense, though, that priority should be given to complaints where the alleged victim may die before OHR can act on their case. I would like to discuss this with you further.
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 voted for Mr. Pierpont Mobley's reappointment to the Commission on Human Rights because I had the impression that objections had been resolved. I will vote against the confirmation of nominees to the Human Rights Commission who disply a lack of commitment to enforcement of the DC 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?
Defending Our Families
11. Will you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. This has been my position since my first campaign. I will support legalization of same-sex marriages and do support GLAA's strategy of incremental steps that include protecting existing DC law that recognizes all marriages performed in other states.
12. Will you support legislation in the District similar to Vermont's civil unions law?
Yes, I will support legislation in the District similar to Vermont's civil union law - making all the provisions of marriage available without regard to the sex of the couple entering into civil marriage.
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. In fact I have already written Mayor Williams asking that the regulations be amended to recognize the registrations "lost" in 1999.
14. Will you support amending the domestic partnership regulations to recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions established in other jurisdictions?
Yes. Just as our law requires that we recognize marriages performed in other states, our domestic partnership regulations should recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions established in other jurisdictions - to protect visitors in case of injury or illness while in DC and for other reasons.
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?
I don't think the bill has been reported out of committee, so I don't know it's final form, but I expect I will be voting for Bill 14-636, the "Elimination of Outdated Crimes Amendment Act of 2002." I have a progressive record on civil rights issues and criminal justice 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 voted for the original version of the ABC reform bill which permitted existing clubs that offer sexually oriented entertainment to once again sell or transfer their license, or relocate within certain areas. This legislation, as you know, got caught up in a moral debate and several subsequent compromises were required to the transfer/relocation provision. I was supportive of GLAA's position throughout this debate.
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 do not know. However, I did not co-sponsor Bill 14-719, "The Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs Act of 2002," because I was aware of GLAA's concern. It does not necessarily follow that creation of the proposed office would "ghettoize" GLBT concerns into one office. On the other hand, I tend to agree that this is a solution in search of a problem.
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.
Over the past four years I have shown myself to be a legislator who is accessible and thoughtful. I have a progressive record on civil rights and criminal justice issues. I am committed to protecting and expanding the rights of the GLBT community - and I hope GLAA has found me to be a friend.