GLAA to Frelinghuysen: oppose social riders to DC Approps bill
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GLAA to Chairman Frelinghuysen: Please oppose
social riders to DC Appropriations bill

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, D.C. 20013
(202) 667-5139

July 6, 2003


The Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen, Chairman
Subcommittee on the District of Columbia
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives
H-147, United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen:

As you prepare to consider the FY 2004 District of Columbia Appropriations bill, we want to thank you for your past record as a friend of the citizens of the District and urge your continued support.

As you know, the D.C. Council passed the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act in 1992. This local law allows two people in a "familial relationship characterized by mutual caring" and sharing a residence to be recognized as domestic partners. This Act allows District employees to purchase health insurance at their own expense for their domestic partners, and to make medical decisions for them when necessary. These modest provisions fall considerably short of the protections afforded domestic partners by a growing number of other states and municipalities as well as Fortune 500 firms.

Since the decade-long federal ban on using local funds to implement this Act was finally lifted in FY 2002, many couples have gained protections that other couples take for granted. As of May 29, 2003, there have been 207 registrations under the Act, 195 of them by same-sex couples. We appreciated your previous vote to permit the District's Domestic Partnership Registry, and urge you to oppose any amendments that would reverse the current position. Such social riders are not mere symbolic gestures, but cause real harm to actual families.

We urge you to stand up to those who would target the District of Columbia's modest Domestic Partnership Registry in a bizarre attempt to blame gay people for problems in heterosexual marriages. Such efforts are really aimed not at defending marriage, but at denying same-sex couples the blessings of liberty taken for granted by other Americans. Voting to deny our existence does not make us disappear, helps no one, and serves no legitimate public purpose.

Legislation banning the use of locally raised funds for needle exchange in the District violates local control and harms HIV prevention efforts. Despite overwhelming scientific evidence showing that needle exchange is an effective HIV prevention tool, Congress has continued to prohibit the District's locally raised funds from being spent on needle exchange programs, letting itself be held hostage to the anti-scientific hysteria of a relative few.

The evidence demonstrates that needle exchange programs reduce HIV transmission without encouraging illegal drug use. We strongly urge you to oppose any legislative language preventing local funds from being used for needle exchange programs in the District. Again, real lives are affected by such anti-democratic and counterproductive prohibitions.

The District of Columbia no longer receives a general federal payment. Rather, the District now receives limited federal funding for specific activities and funds the vast majority of its budget with local funds. We are hard-working, taxpaying Americans entitled to set our own policies barring a compelling federal interest. We do not deserve to be used for cheap point-scoring to impress faraway constituencies. Please encourage your colleagues to allow issues properly decided at the state and local level to be decided by the citizens and elected leaders of the District, just as they are in the rest of the country.


Sincerely,

Kevin Davis
President


cc: Rep. Chaka Fattah
Rep. Ed Pastor
Rep. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer, Jr.
Rep. C.W. Bill Young
Rep. David R. Obey
Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton


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