Responses of Jack Evans to GLAA 2008 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 Metropolitan Police Department and the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department?
Yes. I have always supported such training and if we need to move in the direction of a specific line item in these budgets for this important function, than so be it. I will, of course, work with the Mayor and Councilmember Mendelson, who Chairs the Committee on Judiciary, on which I serve, to meet this need. Additionally, I strongly supported the creation of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit at MPD, which I helped create working with then Chief Ramsey. Last year when Chief Lanier threatened to eliminate the special liaison units, I actively fought for their retention, personally discussed the matter with the Chief, and helped urge a further dialogue between the Chief and community members to retain that as a specific entity, now within the Special Liaison Unit. In training and liaison efforts, I further believe specific attention should be paid to the needs and concerns of the transgendered community, who have been profiled by police particularly with respect to accusations of prostitution. This is an issue I have actively worked on with the late Wanda Alston and Brett Parsons.
2. Will you support a budget for the Office of Police Complaints large enough to continue to avoid developing a backlog of cases?
Yes. I very much admire the work of the office, which I helped reestablish, and was to pleased they received one of GLAA’s distinguished service awards this year. I would happily support giving Phil Eure and his staff whatever resources they need. I am also glad a member of the LGBT community serves as the Chair of that Board. I have reviewed their FY 2007 annual report from earlier this year and it reveals a rather impressive and coherent program of activities by the agency and Board. As my ward historically has seen the highest percentage of complaints of any ward, this function of government will remain important to me.
3. Given MPD's controversial Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative (which set up checkpoints and barricades in the Trinidad neighborhood) and Safe Homes initiative (to knock on doors and ask to conduct warrantless gun searches), will you support efforts to rein in police officials who respond to legitimate crime concerns with short-term fixes and public relations gestures that infringe upon Fourth Amendment and other constitutionally protected civil liberties?
Yes. In my service on the Council I have focused on and urged other approaches. I believe increasing the number of officers, particularly on active patrol in neighborhoods, which I have fought for as part of the budget process, as well as employing better technology, such as the ShotSpotter technology which is now deployed in Shaw and much of Logan Circle, are better investments of police resources. In areas where there are dire problems, such as we face with gang activity in Shaw, I have proactively brought parties together with mediation groups such as Peaceaholics and the Alliance of Concerned Men to help forge gang truces. I think we should reject short-term efforts and focus on the long-term and more importantly many of the underlying causes of crime, particularly violent crime.
4. Given that the Department of Corrections continues to violate the D.C. Human Rights Act by using genitalia as a basis for gender identification rather than an individual’s gender identity or expression, will you support the Council directly adopting a rulemaking to make it unmistakably clear that DOC must stop discriminating against transgender inmates and detainees?
Yes. As you know, I have written to the Office of Human Rights on this very issue (attached), and it is disturbing the very agency empowered to breathe life into our Human Rights Act, which is among the best in the nation, has instead actively sought to weaken protections for transgendered persons. The Council has taken multiple actions to make it absolutely clear the Human Rights Act covers gender expression and identity. It is not the job of OHR to essentially give a free pass to a dysfunctional agency. I surely think we can do better.
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?
Yes. In fact, I have long believed it is difficult to get people into testing if we cannot offer them a reasonable course of treatment. The District’s health care safety net has come a long way over the past few years, particularly under the able leadership of my colleague, David Catania. I strongly supported passage of the Healthy DC Act, under which we have expanded health care coverage tremendously. According to the Kaiser Family Health Foundation, the District now ranks #1 in the country with providing health insurance assistance to the uninsured. We have greatly expanded coverage of prescription drugs as well. As you know, I actively supported creating separate committees for Health and Human Services, and this has proven to be a wise decision.
6. Are you committed to continuing and expanding the District’s condom distribution program to include water-based lubricant and improved tracking of their distribution to specified locations?
Yes. As you know, I worked hard to help initiate this program and would be happy to specifically ask Chancellor Rhee for an update on our efforts in the schools. As always, please keep me informed as to specific actions we should be taking in this area. I have been an active champion of other harm-reduction programs, most notably the clean needle exchange program. I was, of course, thrilled when the Congressional ban on the use of District funds for this program was lifted.
7. The District has been 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?
Yes, and I would be happy to introduce such legislation. GLAA is correct that a names-based reporting system does in essence create a life-time registry. Given the stigma that still persists regarding HIV/AIDS, I do believe the strongest legal protections should exist to protect the privacy of patients.
8. Will you support a budget for the Office of Human Rights large enough to allow it to keep the discrimination complaint backlog at or below 70 cases and keep at or below 210 days the average time it takes after the filing of a complaint to issue a finding of probable cause?
Yes. OHR has made strides in reducing its case backlog and time to issue a finding of probable cause, and we have to continue to make such progress. With our expansions of the Human Rights Act over the past few years – including gender expression and identity as well as marital status – we will have additional areas of concern, which makes it important we support the work of the Office adequately. I also will continue to demand the Office work to enforce the Council’s intent to extend every protection to our transgendered citizens.
9. Will you block ceremonial resolutions and otherwise decline to honor individuals or organizations that promote any sort of bigotry?
Yes. I think it is important also to promote resolutions that recognize and celebrate the many wonderful organizations and accomplishments in the LGBT community in order to truly appreciate the diversity of our city.
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?
Yes. Given the current circumstances regarding the Corrections regulations, if you think it would be helpful for me to set up a meeting with OHR Director Velasquez and stakeholders from the transgendered community to initiate a dialog I would be happy to help.
11. Do you agree that the Director of the Office of Human Rights should be required to have professional training and experience in civil rights law enforcement?
Yes. There is certainly some merit to that idea, so long as it doesn’t prohibit a talented non-traditional candidate from holding the position. Conceivably a law professor or other such person who hasn’t specifically been in an enforcement position could be a great Director as well.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
12. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. I am very proud to have been the first elected official in the District to come out in favor of equal marriage rights for same sex partners. I am also glad most everyone else has caught up with me – and am willing to work on my colleagues who are not there with us yet on this issue. When we decide strategically to move forward, I would be honored to author the legislation. Ideally as part of such a strategy I would pursue getting all of my colleagues to vote in favor as I believe a united front would be tremendously beneficial on the Hill. There has been bipartisan hostility to the notion of equal marriage rights in Congress and we all have to pursue this goal realistically with a well thought out strategy. I will actively oppose any effort by Congress to preempt the District’s rights in this realm and actively campaign against any ballot initiative or referendum in the District which seeks to prohibit equal marriage rights.
13. Will you support the legislative and/or regulatory changes necessary to ensure that the District recognizes marriages legally established in other jurisdictions?
Yes. The District should extend full faith and credit to such marriages. Again, I would be happy to introduce such legislation. DC enjoys visitors, as well as people stationed here for work, from across the nation and the world. It would be horrible for a married couple to visit here and have some sort of problem and fall into legal limbo, unable to make health care decisions or exercise various rights inherent in marriage. I believe we should do whatever is necessary to clarify our recognition of such legal marriages and partnerships from other jurisdictions.
14. Do you agree that private contractors doing business with the District should be required to provide domestic partner benefits including health insurance?
Yes, provided of course that they provide any benefits to any of their employees. In all instances domestic partners should be treated equally as other family members where benefits are concerned. Our strategy, which I helped champion on the Council, of adding domestic partner benefits, to the point that we virtually have a civil unions legal regime here in the District, has been a fruitful one. However, we must do whatever we can to ensure that these benefits are tangible for our residents who are employed in the private sector as well.
PUBLIC EDUCATION AND YOUTH
15. 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. Public funds should be used for public schools, both traditional and charter.
16. Will 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?
Yes. There are certainly places where abstinence education is desirable, but it is clearly not appropriate for certain populations, particularly gay and lesbian youth. I have met with and support Metro TeenAIDs and am impressed by their outreach and prevention efforts. There is no substitute for sexual health education that is thorough, frank and age appropriate and which provides scientifically accurate information regarding safer-sex practices, harm reduction strategies, and human sexuality.
CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES
17. Do you support the right of adults in the District to choose adult-oriented entertainment for themselves, and the right of appropriately licensed and zoned businesses to provide it?
Yes. I’ve always believed consenting adults can decide what is best and appropriate for themselves.
18. Will you support legislation to curb abuses by NIMBYs who are now allowed to file an endless series of baseless complaints to harass or extort bars and restaurants?
Yes. I believe the ABC regulatory process has improved tremendously over the past several years, however, one complaint that I, in fact, hear from both residents and from businesses is the great length of time the ABC Board takes to make decisions. I think this needs to be a more decisive process because both sides deserve to have their concerns addressed and their rights protected. Dragging out some of these cases months and months really can be very unfair to everyone and unnecessarily divisive. I believe the law also should foster more constructive conflict resolution.
19. What are your thoughts regarding GLAA’s proposal, as explained in Agenda: 2008, to mitigate the problems associated with prostitution by legalizing, regulating, zoning and taxing it?
I greatly appreciate GLAA’s agenda examination of this issue. I was particularly impressed by your thoughts on the plight of people, particularly gay and lesbian youth, who may turn to prostitution in order to survive. Clearly this is an area where the government can and should intervene. For this reason I am committed to working with my colleague Tommy Wells, who Chairs the Committee on Human Services, and who is an expert on issues related to at-risk youth. There is a full panoply of wrap around services which we could potentially apply to serve these youth, particularly in terms of housing/shelter, job training, counseling, substance abuse and other problems. The recent opening of the Wanda Alston house, for homeless LGBT youth, which was funded by a grant from the Department of Human Services, is such a positive step in the right direction, and I will work to support further such efforts.
Please provide the URL for your campaign website, if you have one. We will include it on our candidate links page.
My website is www.evans2008.org
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.
[from cover letter]
It is my pleasure to respond to your 2008 candidates’ questionnaire. I have always enjoyed working with GLAA and together we have made a tremendous difference in the lives of LGBT residents of the District of Columbia.
I have been proud to champion many issues of concern to the LGBT community. I have always included LGBT staff on both my Council and campaign staffs, highlight my support for the community and issues in my literature, etc., and I was likewise very pleased to have received the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club earlier this year. In short, I will run an inclusive campaign as I have in the past.
Among the issues I have championed:
- Equal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples;
- Reform of the District’s sodomy laws;
- Creation and expansion of the domestic partnership program;
- HIV/AIDS -- condom availability, clean needle exchange, better funding and oversight, including audits, of the HIV/AIDS programs, confidentiality protections;
- Public Safety – creation of Gay and Lesbian liaison unit, sensitivity training, reestablishment of the Office of Police Complaints, numerous other efforts with MPD and FEMS, updating the criminal code;
- Human Rights – expansion of Human Rights Act to include gender expression and identity, funding for OHR activities and caseload;
- Honoring the LGBT Community – participation in community activities, celebrations, fundraisers, and the Pride Parade;
I am probably leaving a few things out, but I have truly been grateful to have GLAA as my partner in advancing the LGBT agenda. Thank you for your consideration of my responses, and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have about my record or my campaign.