Responses of Kathy Patterson 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?
Yes. There is a history of tragic and unfortunate events Ė such as the death of Tyra Hunter in 1995 Ė that make this kind of sensitivity and diversity training essential. The discovery last year of hundreds of racist, homophobic, and vulgar e-mails sent by members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is yet another distressing example of why this training is needed.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people deserve to know that the Districtís police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians will respond to their needs with utmost professionalism. As Chair of the Councilís Judiciary Committee, which oversees MPD and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (Fire/EMS), I have taken up concerns of the gay and lesbian community with the police chief and the fire chief in the past, and I will not hesitate to do so in the future.
I believe that representatives of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered community should participate in the design and the delivery of this training. When a new fire chief is nominated and comes before the Judiciary Committee for his or her confirmation hearing, I will be certain to ask about his or her plans for 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?
No. But as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, I have worked hard to ensure that police officers are vigorously engaged in community policing and visible throughout the city so that businesses have the police protection that they need. This will remain one of my top priorities.
For the MPD to be able to deploy appropriately in the vicinity of bars and sexually oriented establishments means having the department at full strength. I have taken several steps as Judiciary Chair to improve manpower availability, including protecting funding for the full authorized strength of 3,800 officers, legislation to address issues that keep officers off the street, including proposals to prevent abuse of limited duty and sick leave, and pressing for a much more robust police reserve officers program. There has been some success in each of these areas.
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 believe we need to be very careful in devising the procedures and standards for determining that sex offenders are no longer dangerous. I would like to work with GLAA and other interested parties to devise an appropriate means to meet this goal. One important step toward this goal will be a review of the best practices adopted in other jurisdictions.
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?
The Councilís annual performance review, which I proposed in 1997, means that each committee holds an oversight hearing on each agency in its purview prior to the mayorís budget submission. Having two series of budget hearings, the first geared to performance, is one of the Councilís most important reforms. To that extent, then, the HIV/AIDS Administration should be subject to a performance hearing already, though likely as part of the hearing devoted to the Department of Health.
I commit to pressing the chair of the Human Services Committee to set aside a significant portion of the annual performance hearing specifically to explore the work of the HIV/AIDS Administration, and to hold additional hearings on the HIV/AIDS administration as necessary.
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 will request and support such a designation. With an annual budget of $68 million and the urgent mission of combating the extremely high rate of HIV infection in the District, the HIV/AIDS administration is simply too large, too complex, and too important not to have a director dedicated exclusively to running the office. In the past, the HIV/AIDS administration has had difficulty expending federal grants on a timely basis, and we need hands-on management to make sure this doesnít happen in the future.
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. More than 20 years of experience with the HIV epidemic has clearly shown that the stigma often associated with HIV infection is a barrier to testing, treatment, and efforts to prevent the further spread of the virus. Surveillance systems should be designed to protect privacy and ease peopleís fears about getting 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?
I have in the past, and I will in the future! As Chair of the Government Operations Committee from 1997 through 2001, I protected OHR from budget cuts during the fiscal crisis and increased OHRís funding during the cityís recovery. During that four-year period, I added more than $500,000 to OHRís budget -- for example, I redirected $200,000 in the FY 2001 budget to start a backlog reduction initiative at OHR. My commitment to supporting OHRís vital mission has been strong and unwavering.
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 essential to give priority to these cases.
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 will oppose the confirmation of anyone who demonstrates a 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?
Defending Our Families
11. Will you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. I believe in equal rights for gay and lesbian partners, and I do not see any legitimate basis for any civil authority to question a personal decision made by two consenting adults.
12. Will you support legislation in the District similar to Vermont's civil unions law?
Yes. I also support expanding the benefits available to domestic partners as an interim step on the path to civil unions. For example, the District should pay health insurance premiums to domestic partners of city employees on the same basis as it does for family coverage.
Iím also drafting legislation to include domestic partners in the Districtís Health Care Decisions Act. The purpose of the change is to allow domestic partners to make medical treatment decisions in case of a partnerís incapacity. I know that gay and lesbian partners lack the protections that many heterosexual partners take for granted, and I will continue working to make sure that gay and lesbian partners share in these protections.
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. One of my main principles as an elected official has been that the government must fulfill its obligations to the residents, just as it expects residents to fulfill their obligations to the government. In this case, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is at fault because it failed to preserve and protect the registrations of domestic partners who registered between September 30, 1992, and the present. The D.C. government must make these residents whole for its failure. Anyone presenting a notarized form with the return receipt of his or her domestic partner registration should be recorded as a domestic partner, and the D.C. government should waive the registration fee for those residents.
14. Will you support amending the domestic partnership regulations to recognize domestic partnerships and civil unions established in other jurisdictions?
Yes. Itís important that visitors to the District should retain the hospital visitation and medical determination rights provided by domestic partnership and civil union programs where they live Ė just as we would want other jurisdictions to provide that kind of recognition to our residents.
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 introduced this important legislation and will move it to passage as Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Iím pleased to say that I have the co-sponsorship of eight of my colleagues for this bill, so I am confident about its prospects for passage.
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 -- and I have done so in the past when the Council considered comprehensive ABC legislation.
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?
Probably -- but I would like an opportunity to hear from the supporters of the legislation before making a definitive commitment. The most important priority for me is to ensure high-quality service and equal treatment to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered residents across the board -- by all D.C. agencies.
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 have a very strong record of advocacy and accomplishment for lesbians and gay men. Iíd like to describe four accomplishments of which I am particularly proud.
First, I wrote and secured passage of the 1999 law that established the Office of Human Rights as a separate, independent agency. As GLAA had long argued, OHR had suffered from its merger with the Office of Local Business Development into one department Ė the two functions were wholly unrelated, if not incompatible, and human rights enforcement languished as a result. My action to separate Human Rights and Local Business Development led to the first appointment of a civil rights professional to lead the human rights agency in more than a decade. The results of this separation have been very positive in terms of a reduced case backlog and the sharp growth in mediation settlements.
Second, as I noted in my response to question #7, I have been the leader in protecting the Office of Human Rights against budget cuts during the fiscal crisis, and in adding needed funds during the cityís financial recovery. When I chaired the Government Operations Committee, I added more than $500,000 to OHRís budget over four years. I have consistently stated that our landmark human rights law needs to be backed up by effective enforcement, and I have acted to ensure that the law is more than an empty promise to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered residents, and to members of other protected classes.
Third, during 1997-1998, I pushed OHR to prepare the statutory and policy changes needed to regain certification from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a "substantially equivalent agency" eligible for HUD enforcement grants. In June 1998, I introduced legislation to strengthen the Districtís fair-housing law and bring the District into compliance with HUD requirements. I shepherded this legislation to enactment by December 1998 and OHR has now qualified for HUD grant funding of $115,000 annually. This action has revived fair-housing education and enforcement in the District after a long period in which there was no such activity.
Fourth, during calendar year 2000, I worked closely with GLAA to persuade Mayor Williams to re-issue an executive order requiring District agencies to reflect the D.C. Human Rights Act and all of its protected classes in all non-discrimination notices. GLAA had pointed out numerous instances in which D.C. agencies had failed to incorporate the provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act in their official policies and statements. I wrote to Mayor Williams on April 5, 2000, urging him to re-issue the executive order; on August 21, 2000, the Mayor did just that.