GLAA replies to DCBCI on abstinence-only education grants
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GLAA replies to DCBCI on abstinence-only education grants

From: Richard J. Rosendall
To: Rev. Anthony Evans, President
DC Black Church Initiative
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 8:21 PM
Subject: Reply to DCBCI on abstinence-only education grants

Dear Rev. Evans:

My colleagues and I have read your letter on the abstinence-only grant that GLAA opposes.

Your professions of love and respect for gay people are unconvincing when accompanied by strong disapproval of homosexuality. Our same-sex love is as constitutive a part of our being as your opposite-sex love is for you. It is not a mere "lifestyle" as you characterized it in our phone conversation on Monday. Until you understand and accept this, your HIV "education" efforts are bound to do more harm to gay people than good.

You claim that you would never discriminate against us, after having told me your discriminatory position regarding marriage rights. As I noted over the phone, our legislative victories on domestic partners in 1992 and sodomy law repeal in 1993 were achieved over loud opposition from many Christian ministers in the District. I am happy to say that there were gay-affirming ministers on our side.

GLAA, however, is concerned not with religion but with public policy. Teaching "abstinence only until marriage" is a counterproductive approach to HIV/AIDS education due to its anti-sex, head-in-the-sand perspective. It is religious indoctrination disguised as sex education. Furthermore, using government funds to teach it violates the DC Human Rights Act on the basis of both marital status and sexual orientation.

You refer in your letter to "the abstinence-only grant that the DOH is obligated to implement in this community." There is no such obligation. Your comparison of the federal grant rules to the rules regarding non-profit status is not persuasive, because the latter rules are not blatantly discriminatory as the former ones are.

My colleague Frank Kameny raises a good issue about what is to be done with a thoughtful young person who listens to your arguments and considers them but ultimately disagrees with them, decides not to abstain from sexual activity until marriage, but knows nothing about contraception and prophylaxis and requests instruction in them. What is to be done with such a person? To abandon him would be unconscionable, yet the federal definition of "abstinence education" provided in the Social Security law, SEC. 510. [42 U.S.C. 710], allows for nothing else. This is a refusal to face the real world, with deadly consequences -- and it is contrary to District policy and law.

In your letter, you state, "We would like to invite you to discuss this matter at length over breakfast, and to talk about the content of both of our arguments as laid out in the enclosed document." There was no other document enclosed with the letter you emailed to me; if there is such a document laying out your arguments, we would like to see it.

Our differences over the abstinence-only grant are fundamental, and are therefore unlikely to be resolved. Nonetheless, my colleagues and I would be happy to meet you if you feel that such a meeting would be valuable. However, an evening meeting (either over dinner or just cocktails) would be more convenient for most of us. We would want to invite some colleagues to such a meeting as appropriate, including allies in the religious and health care communities, as well as Councilmembers Catania and Graham. Feel free to call me to discuss the details of where and when.

In preparation for such a meeting, we would appreciate it if you would send us: (1) a draft copy of the document (I think it was a brochure) that you said in our phone conversation you were planning to mail to over 500,000 people in the District, and which you said was being held up because of the grant being blocked; (2) a copy of the proposal that you mentioned you are working on with Our Brothers' Keepers; and (3) a draft of the compromise language you have in mind.

Thank you for your attention to this.


Richard J. Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC

cc: Councilmember David Catania
Councilmember Jim Graham
Bishop Kwabena Rainey Cheeks
Rev. Candace R. Shultis
Dr. Patricia Hawkins
Leah Stevralia
Carl Schmid
Wayne Turner
Art Spitzer
Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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