Responses of Kwame Brown to GLAA 2004 Questionnaire
for D.C. Council Candidates
1. Will you support an annual budget for the Office of Citizen Complaint Review big enough to prevent the development of a backlog of citizen allegations of police misconduct?
Yes. The Office of Citizen Complaint Review (OCCR) is an important tool in holding the Metropolitan Police Department accountable. The very purpose of the OCCR would be defeated if the City Council allowed a backlog to develop in the OCCR similar to the backlog that has developed in the Office of Human Rights.
2. 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. It is important that our emergency response personnel are sensitive to and able to interact with all communities regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation in the District of Columbia.
Public Health & AIDS
3. Will you lobby your colleagues and Council Chairman Linda Cropp to create a new Committee on Health, split out from the current Committee on Human Services, that will be chaired by someone committed to vigorous oversight of the Department of Health?
Yes. The jurisdiction of the current Committee on Human Services is far too wide ranging for it to be able to effectively perform its oversight responsibilities of the agencies under its purview. One of the fundamental principles of my campaign is to be a full-time, fully engaged Councilmember in order to hold the District Government accountable to the citizens of the District.
4. The rate of HIV infections in DC is the highest in the United States, rivaling levels in sub-Saharan Africa. Problems of rampant corruption, illegal activities, and demoralized staff at the HIV/AIDS Administration (HAA) have been well documented. Yet there has not been an oversight hearing on HAA for more than a year. The previous oversight hearing was five years earlier. If elected or re-elected to the Council, will you ensure that the Council holds an annual performance oversight hearing on HAA?
Yes. The alarming growth rate of HIV/AIDS in the District and the performance of the District Government in dealing with the emerging public health crisis merit the focused attention of the City Council.
5. Will you ask the D.C. Inspector General for a full audit of the HIV/AIDS Administration and its contractors?
Yes. If elected I will be a full time, fully engaged Councilmember in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent in an effective and efficient manner.
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. Will you support and vote for legislation that will eliminate the partial Social Security Number from the unique identifier system?
Yes. I support the legislation introduced by Councilmembers Mendelson, Ambrose, Catania, Chavous, Evans, Graham, and Fenty. I would add my name as a co-sponsor of the bill if elected.
7. Only one insurance company operating in D.C. offers domestic partner coverage to small businesses that wish to offer the benefit. Will you vote in favor of legislation requiring insurance carriers to make domestic partner coverage available for small businesses that want to offer this health care benefit to their employees?
I would not only vote in favor of legislation requiring insurance carriers to make domestic partner coverage available to small businesses that request it, I would co-sponsor it. As discussed below, providing all District residents with equal access to rights and opportunities is one of my core values.
8. Despite significant improvements made in the operations of the Office of Human Rights (OHR) in the past several years, the OHR FY 2005 budget was not increased to hire additional investigators and other staff so that the case backlog will continue to drop. Will you support maintaining funding levels and aggressive oversight to ensure that the OHR case backlog continues to drop?
Yes. Fighting for and protecting the human rights of people regardless of their race, gender, age or sexual orientation is a core value that was instilled by my family throughout my life. My father marched in the Civil Rights Movement and was an active member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. I firmly believe that my own ability to enjoy equal protection under the law is fully dependant upon all District residents enjoying equal protection under the law.
9. Will you block ceremonial resolutions and otherwise decline to honor individuals or organizations that promote any sort of bigotry, including but not limited to the Salvation Army, Assemblies of God and the Boy Scouts of America?
First, I will never vote to confirm any nominee to the Human Rights Commission or any other District Board or Commission that does not believe that ALL District residents deserve equal rights under the law, including the right to be free of discrimination and the right to civil unions. As a Councilmember, I will always fight to protect the ability of ALL District residents to enjoy these rights.
As a citizen, however, I do respect the First Amendment right of any organization or individual to have and voice their own opinions. I will not automatically shun individuals or organizations that contribute positively to the community but disagree with my own personal and/or political positions.
Defending Our Families
10. Will you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Similar to John Kerry, I support civil unions. Like many in the GLBT community, I am hesitant to move too quickly on this issue for fear of provoking a response from Congressional Republicans and thereby losing some of the rights already achieved. My deeply religious beliefs lead me to personally believe that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. As a Councilmember, however, I will fight for the rights of every resident, regardless of sexual orientation, to enjoy the rights and privileges of every other city resident under the law.
11. Will you support legislation in the District to expand the domestic partner program to include all of the relevant rights and responsibilities of marriage in D.C. law?
Yes. No couple should be discriminated against in the eyes of the law because of their sexual orientation. Domestic partners should have all 212 rights and privileges associated with marriage.
12. Will you support the legislative and/or regulatory changes necessary to ensure that the District recognizes marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships established in other jurisdictions?
I believe in the rights established under the Constitution of the United States. I personally believe that the District should honor the full faith and credit of legal documents issued by the other fifty states, including marriage licenses, civil unions, and domestic partnerships. I simply can not see the legal justification for recognizing a Massachusetts driver's license but not a Massachusetts marriage license.
Public Education and Youth
13. Will you oppose both federally and locally funded voucher programs that place students in religious schools and outside the protections of the D.C. Human Rights Act?
I am a graduate of D.C. Public Schools and my wife was a public school teacher. I realize the fundamental importance of the quality of public education to the future of the District. I am campaigning upon a platform of returning true Democratic values to the At-Large Council seat. Opposition to school vouchers is a core value that I firmly believe in.
14. Will you oppose the use of either federal or District taxpayer funds to promote so-called "abstinence-only-until-marriage" sex education that undermines safer-sex programs by discouraging the use of condoms and that tells gay and lesbian students that they must be celibate forever because they may not legally marry?
Yes. No public funds should ever be used to teach, imply, or otherwise communicate a message to GLBT students that they are "weird", "sinners", or "abnormal" because of their sexual orientation. Our schools need to be teaching acceptance of all forms of diversity.
Modernizing the Criminal Code
15. Will you vote to repeal the use of undefined and unspecified common law crimes and to repeal the laws criminalizing verbal solicitations of legal sexual activity?
Yes. Sexual relations between consenting adults in private is not a matter of public concern. Government has no right to regulate activities that occur between consenting adults in private.
Your record is part of your rating. Please list any actions that you have taken that may help illustrate your record on behalf of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.