GLAA urges passage of Safe Marriage Amendment Act without amendments
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GLAA urges passage of Safe Marriage Amendment Act without amendments

From:Richard J. Rosendall
Sent:Thursday, May 29, 2008 11:03 PM
Subject:Please support the "Safe Marriage Amendment Act of 2008" without amendments

Dear Councilmember:

We urge your support for the “Safe Marriage Amendment Act of 2008,” Bill 17-0533, which is scheduled for first reading on Tuesday, June 3. We also urge your opposition to any amendment designed to preserve the District’s requirement of pre-marital blood testing for syphilis or expand it to HIV.

Intuitively, it might make sense to require such testing as a means of informing people of the diseases to which their prospective spouses would expose them. However, this breaks down upon investigation. First, it is hardly productive under current social circumstances to pretend that people are postponing sex until marriage. Even the much-touted abstinence-until-marriage pledges have been found not to work. Second, pre-marital testing is cost-ineffective because it targets a low-risk population. Third, the only state still requiring such testing is Mississippi. States including Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York and Oklahoma have abandoned such testing because it detected few infections despite its considerable expense.

Councilmember Yvette Alexander has expressed unhappiness with the bill as reported out of committee, due to the removal of her original provision to continue pre-marital syphilis testing and add HIV testing. We appreciate the diligence of Councilmember Mendelson and his committee in removing that counterproductive provision. The bill as revised and marked up is well written and useful in cleaning up archaic provisions in the marriage law, such as Victorian-era terms that do not reflect the modern understanding of mental disability.

Of course we are, and have long been, concerned about sexually transmitted diseases. It remains crucial for the government to fund strong, well-targeted programs for treatment and prevention—and to monitor their effectiveness and revise them as necessary. We emphasize that term, "well-targeted," which state after state has determined not to be the case with pre-marital testing.

Please vote against Councilmember Alexander’s efforts to preserve and expand pre-marital blood testing.

Thank you for your attention.


Richard J. Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

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