Responses of Jack Evans 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 Complain Review plays an important role in helping to ensure the Metropolitan Police Department remains accountable to our residents. Historic backlogs over the years have diluted the effectiveness of that mission, and thus I was glad the Mayor submitted and the Council approved a 18.5% increase in their budget for FY 2005.
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. As you know, I continue to believe this is important. We might want to pursue specific funding for these areas as discrete areas in the budgets for these departments so we can keep track of how these monies are spent. There have been continuing concerns over the spending, for example, of funds for diversity training in Fire/EMS. I believe we could better monitor this program if the funds were specifically identified for this function. I believe the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit in the MPD has been very successful and welcomed by the community and think we should explore possible programs of this nature for Fire/EMS as well. I thoroughly agree with GLAA's statement in the 2004 Agenda document that continued training for veteran MPD officers is necessary.
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. I believe the Council should undertake a thorough review of our committee structure, staffing levels, and other issues with a focus on doing the best job we can at monitoring District agencies on spending, service delivery, and performance. I believe that review should include the current structure of the Committee on Human Services, but other committees as well. A large percentage of the District's budget goes to various health and human service programs, and we need to do a much better job at oversight of these functions than we have been. I would also strongly urge GLAA and other advocacy organizations to meet with Council Chair Linda Cropp in the fall to begin this dialogue. She will have a preeminent role in deciding the Council's future committee structure.
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. As you know, I personally asked Councilmember Sandy Allen, the Chair of the Committee on Human Services to hold such an oversight hearing, which she held last year. I share your view such hearings need to be held yearly - the budget for the HIV/AIDS Administration alone is $80+ million in FY 2005, and these are critical programs and services for our residents. There are too many budget and program issues in these agencies for one committee to handle alone.
5. Will you ask the D.C. Inspector General for a full audit of the HIV/AIDS Administration and its contractors?
Yes. I will forward my letter to the Inspector General to you when it has been sent. It is important for us to know that every local and federal dollar is being spent wisely on services to patients and for legitimate administrative expenses. We deserve to know where money is going, how it is being spent, and whether services are being provided for the tax dollars we spend.
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, and I would be happy to introduce and champion such legislation. We need to do everything we can to encourage people to get tested - and having anonymous testing options is an important part of that effort.
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?
Yes. Please let me know how I can make such legislation a reality. While it is good Blue Cross has adopted such a policy, clearly we need more insurance companies to readily offer such coverage as well.
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. Funding for the Office of Human Rights continues to be important, and I was glad we were able to increase their budget by about $600,000 for FY 2005. However, this increase is going largely for administration of the language access program, which is important, but does not address the goal of additional investigators. I will continue to work to find additional funds for these purposes as well.
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?
Yes. I have also been pro-active in promoting resolutions honoring our friends, heroes, cultural luminaries, and allies - from GLAA itself, Pride Day, Youth Pride Day, AIDS Walk, and of course, Ester Goldberg Day.
Defending Our Families
10. Will you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. As you know, I was the first elected official in the District to support marriage rights for same sex couples. I am poised to introduce and champion such legislation whenever it becomes strategically possible, working in consultation with the community, to move forward on such legislation. With respect to efforts at the federal level to alter the Constitution, I led the Council's response with Councilmember Catania to pass R 15-514, the "Sense of the Council on Opposing a Federal Marriage Amendment Resolution of 2004". I was very proud that David and I got all 13 members of the Council to co-introduce this legislation.
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. I was the author and champion of Bill 15-462, the "Deed Recordation Tax and Related Amendments Act of 2004", which would expand various benefits to include domestic partners. I am glad to note this legislation is expected to become law on September 27, 2004. I was also a co-introducer of Bill 15-37, the "Health Care Decisions Act of 2003", which has since become law, as well as Bill 15-756, the "Health Care Benefits Expansion Amendment Act of 2004", which would mandate the District cover its share of the insurance premium, as it does for other families, for District employees who have domestic partners on their health insurance plans.
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?
Yes. The District should extend full faith and credit to legal marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships performed elsewhere. Some elements of this effort will require some strategic thinking on the District's part, given our relationship to the Congress, but we should move ahead nonetheless as appropriate.
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?
Yes, I actively opposed the Mayor's actions to solicit funds from Congress for a District voucher program. I do not believe taxpayer funded programs should be allowed to function outside the umbrella of protections guaranteed by our Human Rights Act.
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. There are places where an abstinence message can be effective and useful. However, it is not, and should not be used as, a substitute for thorough, frank, and age-appropriate human sexuality curriculum, and safer-sex and harm reduction efforts.
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. As you know, I cosponsored Bill 15-79, the "Elimination of Outdated Crimes Amendment Act of 2003", which has since become law. As you have stated clearly in your agenda document, there are several items which remain and I look forward to working with you and introducing and championing future legislation to remove these ancient common law references from our code.
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.
As I stated in my cover letter, I am very proud of my record on GLBT and HIV/AIDS issues, and during my service on the Council I have championed such issues as sodomy law reform, domestic partnership, condom availability, needle exchange programs, and many others. More recently I have led the Council's efforts to expand the range of domestic partnership benefits and look forward to working further in that regard, to express our opposition to a federal constitutional amendment on marriage, and was a strong advocate for the Medicaid 1115 waiver program to expand coverage to HIV+ persons, including fighting to expand the pharmacy contract for DC Medicaid and ADAP to include providers who have distinguished themselves by their specialty in AIDS treatment. I have also strongly advocated on behalf of the Medical Homes DC Project, which I think will help upgrade and improve our public health clinics, including Whitman Walker, in order to provide better health services in neighborhoods throughout our city. This past week I also led 6 of my colleagues, including Chairman Cropp and Committee on Human Services Chair Sandy Allen, in sending a letter to Mayor Williams to ask for his assistance in identifying some transitional funds for groups such as MetroTeenAIDS who have been negatively impacted by changes in federal funding for HIV/AIDS prevention programs targeting youth. I have been and will continue to be a forceful advocate and effective champion of issues and concerns important to the GLBT community, and I thank you for the leadership, guidance, and friendship you have extended to me over the years as we have pursued progress together.