Gay Activists Upset By Nats Vendor Policy (Washington City Paper) 10/18/07
Gays, trans left out of Nationals' anti-bias policy (Washington Blade) 10/19/07
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
Sunday, October 21, 2007
GLAA aids effort to expand Nationals non-discrimination policy
On September 26, longtime local activist Philip Pannell wrote to Gregory McCarthy, community affairs officer for the Washington Nationals and previously a top policy advisor to former Mayor Anthony Williams, following up on a conversation he had had with McCarthy the previous week. Pannell noted that the anti-discrimination policy that the Nationals had disseminated as part of the Vendor Procurement Program did not include sexual orientation. He urged the Nationals to revise their policy and asked “representatives of the Washington Nationals to have a meeting with DC LGBT leaders and activists apropos the team’s relationship to that community.”
Pannell copied GLAA Vice President Rick Rosendall on that email. McCarthy replied to Pannell and Rosendall that he would forward the request to the team’s new general counsel, and requested “a little more time” to allow the counsel to catch up on a work backload and to familiarize himself with D.C. Code.
Rosendall promptly echoed Pannell’s concerns with the following message to McCarthy:
“Thank you for your response to Philip. As I know I don't have to point out to you, GLAA very much shares his concerns. While I agree that one gay night a year is not enough, having the Gay Men's Chorus sing the national anthem and Cornelius Baker throw out the first pitch are grace notes that suggest someone in the organization gets it. Especially considering that the gay club zone was razed to make room for the new stadium, it will be important for the team's owners to show the right hometown spirit by establishing not only a non-discrimination policy that tracks all the categories in the D.C. Human Rights Act, but also provide domestic partner benefits for their employees on par with those for married couples. To be sure, DCHRA is the law and thus applies one way or the other, but going beyond compliance to fully embrace the spirit of the law will help show that the Nats are fully part of our city's community.
“We understand that the team’s general counsel has a backlog to deal with and needs to familiarize himself with D.C. Code. We are eager to be of any help we can in the months ahead, and look forward to opening day next spring.”
Pannell sent McCarthy a follow-up message on Oct. 9 in which he stated, “My concern is still exigent. The Washington Nationals vendor procurement program is being disseminated throughout the city with an anti-discrimination policy that is incongruous with the DC Human Rights Law. This is extremely troubling and, in my opinion, the printed materials with what you claim is the incomplete anti-discrimination policy should not continue to be circulated. Although I feel that you are sincere in your human rights concerns, I am perplexed at how this incomplete anti-discrimination policy made it into print in the first place.”
Rosendall again reinforced Pannell, and sent McCarthy the statement of intent from DCHRA, which provides the whole list:
D.C. Human Rights Act
Subchapter 1. General Provisions
§ 2-1401.01. Intent of Council.
It is the intent of the Council of the District of Columbia, in enacting this chapter, to secure an end in the District of Columbia to discrimination for any reason other than that of individual merit, including, but not limited to, discrimination by reason of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, and place of residence or business.
A few weeks later, with no sign that the Nationals had taken action, Pannell went to the press. At its meeting on Oct. 15, the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club discussed the matter with At-Large D.C. Councilmember Kwame R. Brown, who promptly contacted the Nationals. Brown issued a news release on Oct. 18 stating: “Today, At-Large Councilmember Kwame R. Brown announced an agreement with the Washington Nationals to clarify its Vendor Procurement Program non-discrimination policy to assure that it adheres to the more specific rules of the DC Human Rights Act (HRA). He called on Major League Baseball to follow the Nationals’ lead and adopt the anti-discrimination policies of the HRA as well.”
At its Oct. 15 meeting, the Stein Club passed a resolution calling on the Nationals to revise the team’s non-discrimination policy to bring it in line with DCHRA. They followed up with a letter to Nationals President Stan Kasten urging the Nationals to revise their policy and distribute it to the public. Stein also praised Pannell for his advocacy on the issue and thanked Councilmember Brown. GLAA seconds both sentiments.
We are still waiting to see a revised policy statement from the Nationals.