GLAA rebukes AG Nickles, urges markup of DP parentage bill
From: Rick Rosendall Sent: Friday, February 20, 2009 2:20 PM To: Phil Mendelson; Valerie Scott; Brian Moore; Laurie Ensworth; Wayne Witkowski; Tonya Sapp; Benidia Rice; Christopher Dyer; Shomari Wade; Rudolf Schreiber; Nancy Polikoff; Shannon Minter; Liz Seaton; Bob Summersgill Subject: RE: Bill 18-66, Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act 2009
Dear Councilmember Mendelson,
Peter Nickles' letter repeats arguments that were raised in a long series of meetings and correspondence with those of us supporting Bill 18-66. As Brian Moore of your staff knows, Nancy Polikoff and Liz Seaton--experts in the field--have gone to considerable trouble to address OAG's concerns. You have that extensive correspondence as armature against OAG's resolute hand-wringing. Incidentally, regarding Mr. Nickles recommendation "that the Council exercise caution in proceeding with this legislation," surely months of examination cannot fairly be characterized otherwise.
That being said, there are political considerations in addition to legal ones, as even Laurie Ensworth of OAG acknowledged to me in one meeting. More than a dozen domestic-partnership-related bills have passed in the D.C. Council since 2002, most if not all by unanimous votes, were signed into law by the Mayor, and emerged unscathed from the congressional review process. So we are in a well-established area of District policy here: a policy of equity for domestic partners and their families vis-a-vis married couples and their families. As has been noted repeatedly, the seven states that have adopted similar laws have not encountered any problems with federal authorities of the sort hypothesized by Mr. Nickles. If the federal government under the gay-hostile Bush Administration did not go after these states in the past eight years, it is even less likely that the gay-friendly Obama Administration will do so. Indeed, President Obama supports federal civil union legislation.
Aside from the fact that Mr. Nickles made it clear at his confirmation hearing that he serves the Mayor rather than all the people of the District of Columbia, and the recent evidence (well rebuked by you) that he is inclined to disregard laws that he doesn't like, there is no point in having our own legislature if we are going to wait subserviently outside our federal masters' door for permission to enact our own public policy. If any conflict of laws is asserted by federal authorities in the future, we will have excellent company in the several states that have adopted similar policies. Should corrective legislation be necessary, I expect the Council will still be around at that time.
Please proceed promptly to mark up Bill 18-66, the "Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act of 2009."
Richard J. Rosendall
Vice President for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance