Responses of Michael Brown 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 will absolutely support this funding. We must ensure that all of our residents are treated with the respect and dignity that all people deserve and our public officers should help to set that tone within our city. It is especially important that those who are given the responsibility and authority that come with these positions are given the proper diversity training to ensure that they do not consciously or sub-consciously abuse their power in any way. This is not only a human and civil rights issue but also a public safety issue, it is absolutely crucial that all of our residents feel comfortable that our police, fire, and emergency medical personnel are there to serve the public. When distrust of these institutions becomes rampant in any sub-category of the population their ability to provide public safety diminishes for all populations.
2. Will you support a budget for the Office of Police Complaints large enough to continue to avoid developing a backlog of cases?
Yes. As mentioned above ensuring that our police officers are respectful to all residents is both a civil rights issue and is key to effective law enforcement. This must include having an effective mechanism to receive and process complaints in a timely manner as well as dispense appropriate disciplinary actions when the complaint is substantiated.
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. While I understand that the intent of these programs is noble, the philosophy that they are based on is both constitutionally and strategically unsound. Rather than turning the police into an un-welcomed and intimidating occupying force that is inherently unsustainable and un-scalable we should focus our attention on strengthening the relationships between community members and police by increasing our community policing programs, especially in our crime hot spots. I would also argue for the expanded use of crime mapping and other high-tech crime fighting strategies that make sure we can identify trends and respond effectively rather than focusing all our attention on one area which at best forces criminals to move their operations a few miles away.
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. There is little reason to adopt laws if they are not going to be implemented and enforced. Treating laws, such as the DC HRA, as empty rhetoric not only diminishes the sanctity of all laws but it also paves the way for many costly lawsuits against the District. Therefore, I will ensure that all aspects of the DC HRA be fully implemented and enforced.
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. Routine testing is a key element to getting a hold on our city’s HIV epidemic however this testing campaign must only be the beginning. As a city we must be fully prepared to give our support to those who test positive, this should include at minimum funding for counseling and medical treatment. We must also take on the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and strictly enforce anti-discrimination laws for those living with the virus. We must also ensure that those with more debilitating viral loads have access to supportive housing and adequate medical attention.
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. The distribution of condoms and water based lubricants is one of the most effective and financially efficient ways of stemming the transmission of this disease. While I applaud the recent increases in the government provision of condoms it is essential that this distribution actually leads to increased access to free condoms where they are most needed.
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. Someone’s personal medical record needs to remain strictly confidential and when that confidentiality is violated that individual should be afforded a legal course of action.
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. It is unacceptable that discrimination complaints are not handled in a more effective and timely manner and as a councilmember I will be sure to advocate that there is enough funding to make sure these complaints are given the priority they deserve.
9. Will you block ceremonial resolutions and otherwise decline to honor individuals or organizations that promote any sort of bigotry?
Yes. When we honor individuals or organizations, we are holding them up as an example to others. Therefore we must never exemplify individuals or organizations that promote bigotry or intolerance as that would in-turn indicate to others that those attributes are worthy of emulation.
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. I believe that all aspects of the DC HRA must be enforced and we as a city must be sure that it is publicly known that discrimination of any kind will not accepted or condoned.
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. It seems clear that the Director of the Office of Human Rights should have professional experience in civil rights law enforcement.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
12. Do you support legal recognition of marriages between partners of the same sex?
Yes. The right to marry should be afforded to all couples. The legal restriction on same sex marriage is one of the major legislatively backed civil rights violations of our day. That being said, I am aware of the political context of this issue and I look forward to working with GLAA and others on putting forth a strategy that will lead to a genuine and long-term victory on this issue.
13. Will you support the legislative and/or regulatory changes necessary to ensure that the District recognizes marriages legally established in other jurisdictions?
Yes. Voluntary marriages from all jurisdictions should be recognized and respected in the District. Again, this goal must be approached in a strategic manner.
14. Do you agree that private contractors doing business with the District should be required to provide domestic partner benefits including health insurance?
Yes. Much like the local hiring, living wage, and other requirements associated with government contractors, there should also be requirements on domestic partnership benefits.
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. No government funding should be supporting any institutions that are not bound by the DC Human Rights Act.
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. While abstinence can be a part of a sex education curriculum it has been proven that abstinence only programs do not work and in many cases can increase the potential for un-safe sex. Instead, I will work with DCPS, Metro Teen AIDS, and others to make sure that our city’s sex education is scientifically based, up-to-date, age appropriate, and accessible and pertinent to all students regardless of class, race, religion, or sexual orientation.
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 believe the right to establish a local business within the parameters set by the neighborhood specific zoning regulations should not be infringed upon.
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?
No. While not all complaints are substantiated all residents should have the right to voice their complaints through a formal mechanism. That being said, these complaints should be judged on their merits and not on their quantity, therefore if they are found to be baseless, these complaints will be disregarded and the business owners will not be held liable.
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?
While I support more programs that would help sex industry workers transition to healthier lifestyles, I cannot support a policy that would legalize prostitution. Instead, I will focus my attention on increasing access to workforce development, adult-education, and substance abuse treatment which will greatly diminish many of the social factors that contribute to the desperation that leads to prostitution and other criminal behaviors.
Please provide the URL for your campaign website, if you have one. We will include it on our candidate links page.
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.
I have been a long-time advocate of the GLBT community. As a board member of Whitman Walker Clinic I was constantly working to increase supportive programming on issues that affect the GLBT community. I have also received past endorsements from the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club for my dedication to GLBT issues and from DC Fights Back for my focus on HIV/AIDS.