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GLAA endorses Domestic Partnership Amendments Act
”Fighting for equal rights since 1971”
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
Bill 17-0135 (revised)
Domestic Partnership Amendments Act of 2007
Delivered before the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
October 19, 2007
Good afternoon, Chairman Mendelson, Councilmember Alexander, and fellow citizens. [Note: Councilmember Bowser, another committee member, joined the hearing late.] I am Rick Rosendall, Vice President for Political Affairs of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington. We are a non-partisan, all-volunteer advocacy group founded in 1971.
We strongly support this bill and its further advances toward equality for same-sex couples and their families in the District of Columbia. We previously submitted testimony on Bills 17-135 and 17-136. Mr. Chairman, you have been a champion of this cause, and we commend the diligence with which you and your staff have addressed the attendant complexities in D.C. Code, as well as the efforts of several other councilmembers.
The leading citizen activist on domestic partnerships in D.C. is Bob Summersgill, whom we are proud to count as a former GLAA President. In light of his more detailed individual testimony, which as always has our complete confidence, we have more general comments.
This bill does several good things, including:
- Increase protections for the adopted children of domestic partners by putting their parents on a footing similar to married couples;
- Respect domestic partners during bereavement while sparing taxpayers the expense of burials properly handled by surviving partners;
- Amend campaign finance law to include domestic partner in the definition of immediate family;
- Amend child abuse law to exclude domestic partner privilege from testimony concerning the welfare of or the removal of parental rights of a neglected child;
- Amend Titles 16 and 19 to include domestic partners in the list of persons who can petition for habeas corpus;
- Amend Title 21 to give domestic partners equal standing to spouses in the treatment of mentally ill partners; and
- Amend Title 47 to treat domestic partners the same as spouses in the administration of D.C. tax law.
- Make sure that gender-specific terms such as “husband,” “wife,” “widow” and “widower” are consistently replaced with “spouse” or “surviving spouse”; and
- Recognize step parent/stepchild relationships between a domestic partner and the children of the other partner, as recommended by Prof. Nancy Polikoff.
We also join Mr. Summersgill in urging passage of a companion emergency bill so that those who are unfairly disadvantaged under current law will not have to wait for the 60-legislative-day congressional review period in order to obtain the new benefits.
We appreciate the considerable work that has gone into this bill. If a few provisions remain to be worked out, there is no great harm in saving them for a later bill. Getting things right is more important than getting them all at once.
This legislation builds on the District’s tradition of upholding equal dignity for all citizens. It will advance the social good of normalizing same-sex relationships by according them rights and responsibilities taken for granted by other couples and society at large. We urge its adoption.
I will be happy to answer any questions.