Responses of Tommy Wells to GLAA 2006 Questionnaire
for DC Council Candidates
1. Will you support funding for mandatory gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) sensitivity and diversity training for all members of the Fire/EMS Department?
Yes – sensitivity training on GLBT issues is important at every level of our government. I believe our city is improving but we still have a way to go.
2. Will you call on the new Mayor to appoint a new Fire/EMS Department Chief who is committed to rooting out the Department’s deeply entrenched homophobia and transphobia?
Of course we need to root out and protect against homophobia and transphobia in our city government. I have additional concerns about the leadership of the Fire/Ems leadership, including but not limited to their insensitivity to the GLBT community.
3. Will you support a budget for the Office of Police Complaints large enough to continue to avoid developing a backlog of cases?
I believe the most important investment is in training the police to treat and protect gay, lesbian, and transgendered persons with respect and sensitivity. I have little confidence in the ability of the Citizens Complaint Office to end hurtful and disrespectful practices.
4. Will you oppose legislation creating so-called “prostitution-free zones,” which would give the police, who routinely assume that every transgendered person is a prostitute until proven otherwise, virtually unlimited power to harass our transgendered residents?
I will not tolerate harassment of transgendered persons in any form or in any area of our city by any government employee, including our police.
AIDS and Public Health
5. Do you agree that the drive to make HIV testing routine among District residents should include funding for counseling and referrals to treatment facilities for those testing positive?
As the executive director of a provider of counseling services for families affected by HIV/AIDS through the Consortium for Child Welfare’s Family Ties Project, I will support counseling and referrals for inviduals who test positive through the new initiative.
6. Are you committed to continuing and expanding the District’s condom distribution program?
I believe the condom distribution program is an important piece of the strategy to prevent transmittable sex related diseases and I will support and encourage its expansion.
7. The District is being forced by the federal government to switch from a unique identifier system to a names reporting system for people testing positive for HIV. Will you support legislation to strengthen our medical privacy laws, such as by creating a private right of action for those whose confidentiality is violated by District government employees or contractors?
I am very interested in protecting the medical privacy rights of all individuals including those testing positive for HIV. I am particularly interested in learning what protections will be helpful that are not covered by the Federal HIPPA laws.
8. Will you support a budget for the Office of Human Rights (OHR) large enough to allow it to reduce to 270 days the average gap between the time that a discrimination complaint is filed and the time OHR issues a finding of probable cause?
I support an effective Office of Human rights and I will help ensure adequate funding to reduce the time it takes to hear complaints from the current 270 days.
9. Will you block ceremonial resolutions and otherwise decline to honor individuals or organizations that promote any sort of bigotry?
I will not support bigotry—least of all in government.
10. Are you committed to publicizing and enforcing the provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Act forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression?
I will be happy to support efforts to publicize and enforce the provisions of the DC human Rights Act forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Marriage and Family
11. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
I support and will fight for full legal recognition of marriages by partners of the same sex.
12. Will you support legislation in the District to continue expanding the existing domestic partnership program to include all relevant rights and responsibilities of marriage in D.C. law?
I support granting every right assured to married couples to domestic partners who are prevented from marrying due to being the same sex.
13. Will you support the legislative and/or regulatory changes necessary to ensure that the District recognizes civil unions, domestic partnerships and similar legal relationships established in other jurisdictions?
I will actively support full recognition by the DC government of same sex relationships granted a legal status by another jurisdiction.
Public Education and Youth
14. Do you oppose both federal and local voucher programs that fund students in religious schools that are beyond the protections of the D.C. Human Rights Act?
Yes, I do oppose public funding for discriminatory institutions, including religious schools.
15. Do you oppose the use of either federal or District taxpayer funds to promote “abstinence only until marriage” sex education that undermines safer-sex programs by discouraging the use of condoms and that effectively tells gay and lesbian students that they must remain celibate forever because they may not legally marry?
I support advocating abstinence for young people – especially outside of a committed, mature relationship – but not as substitute for safer-sex programs. I oppose discouraging the use of condoms for anyone sexually active at any age. I support everyone having the legal opportunity to marry.
Consumers and Businesses
16. Do you support the relocation of the many gay bars and businesses that were displaced by the new ballpark, even if local NIMBYs and homophobes oppose them?
While I support the relocation of the establishments displaced by the baseball stadium, I believe in local community participation in siting establishments that need liquor licenses and zoning approval.
17. Will you support legislation to curb the abuses of NIMBYs who are now allowed to file an endless series of baseless complaints to harass or extort bars and restaurants?
I do not believe an establishment serving gay, lesbian and transgendered clientele should be treated differently from similar establishments catering to heterosexual customers.
18. Do you oppose the Youth Protection from Obscene Video Games Act (B16-0125), a clone of other laws that have consistently been struck down by the courts on constitutional grounds?
While I do not support promulgating unconstitutional laws, I appreciate efforts to protect youth, including limiting their access to pornographic and violent material.
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 a member of the DC Board of Education, I initiated the successful adoption of one of the strongest student anti-harassment rules in the country and used my leadership on the board to ensure a safe and supportive environment for gay and lesbian students and teachers.
I also have advanced gay and lesbian issues in my role as director of the DC Consortium for Child Welfare. My organization actively advocated for the ability of gay, lesbian, and transgendered persons to adopt children in the DC foster care system and recruited qualified applicants. I led the creation of a federal demonstration project to assist families affected by HIV/AIDS. And I have provided full health benefits for gay partners to the employees of the Consortium for Child Welfare.