for equal rights
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. is the oldest continuously active gay organization in the United States. Founded on April 20, 1971, as the Gay Activists Alliance, the group dedicated itself to securing the "full rights and privileges" of citizenship for the gay community through "peaceful participation in the political process." Formed in response to the first popular election in modern times in the District of Columbia, GLAA has been a powerful, nonpartisan advocate within the District's political community from its inception.
In late 1970, four years before it granted the District of Columbia Home Rule, Congress permitted the District to elect a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives. Unimpressed by the announced candidates' attention to gay issues, a small group of Washington gay activists decided in early 1971 to offer their own candidate. With help from the Gay Activists Alliance of New York (GAA/NY), volunteers blanketed the city, acquiring over 7,000 signatures and securing a place for Frank Kameny on the March ballot.
"Kameny for Congress" was the first campaign by an openly gay person for a national office. The founder of the gay liberation movement in Washington, Frank Kameny worked as an astronomer with the federal government before he was fired in 1957 because of his sexual orientation. When he filed as an independent candidate with the DC Board of Elections, Kameny declared, "This campaign represents the first organized effort by the homosexual community to enter the political arena firsthand, in our own behalf," and promised that it would be "a formidable group to be reckoned with."
In March 1971 Kameny came in fourth in the six-way race, garnering nearly 1,900 votes. Buoyed by the amount of publicity generated, Kameny's campaign workers decided to form a permanent organization patterned after GAA/NY which had assisted in the signature drive. Named GAA/DC, the group differentiated itself from counter cultural groups such as the Gay Liberation Front formed after the Stonewall Riots in 1969. GAA/DC established a traditional structure with officers and committees, restricted its focus to issues germane to gays and lesbians, and disavowed the use of violence. Though its aim was liberation, its strategy was to act within the existing order.
GAA was incorporated in the District of Columbia in 1974 and later granted tax-exempt status by the IRS. Seeking to represent the interests of a diverse community, GLAA has remained independent and nonpartisan.
During its first year GLAA held a forum for candidates in the fall election for DC School Board and rated individual candidates on their support of gay rights. This interaction with the candidates and subsequent lobbying resulted in the School Board's enactment of a resolution prohibiting discrimination within the school system based on sexual orientation, the first such resolution by a school board in the United States. With the advent of Home Rule in 1974, GLAA expanded its candidate forums and ratings process to include mayoral and council races. By this time it had already been successful at persuading the appointed city council to pass a human rights law, making DC the first major city in the country to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In addition to rating candidates for office and lobbying elected officials, GLAA has, since its inception, worked on a variety of projects, including police relations, media relations, education, and health issues. The following chronology is offered to highlight significant projects and accomplishments of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance. An historical sketch of the city's oldest gay organization, it chronicles much of the history of the Washington gay community.
prepared by David K. Johnson
GAA holds the first of many candidate forums for the DC School Board election and rates the candidates.
GAA rents a warehouse on 13th and M Streets, NW, which functions as a Gay Community Center throughout 1972.
The DC School Board passes a resolution prohibiting discrimination within the school system based on sexual orientation, the nation's first such resolution by a school board.
With DC Council passage of Title 34, DC becomes the first major American city to outlaw discrimination against gays in housing, employment, and public accommodations. GAA involvement ensured that this extensive human rights law included protections for gays and lesbians.
GAA initiates Project Gaycare, a staff awareness training program in the DC schools.
GAA sponsors a voter registration drive and holds its firs mayoral and council candidate forums in preparation for the upcoming elections, the first in the District under Home Rule.
GAA representatives meet with Mayor Walter Washington and express that their first priority is the appointment of a gay person to the DC Human Rights Commission.
Mayor Walter Washington names Frank Kameny to the city's Human Rights Commission, the first openly gay city appointee.
GAA sponsors a Bicentennial Conference on "Gays and the Federal Government," one of the first national gatherings of the gay political movement.
GAA sponsors Freedom of Expression Day, a demonstration at the District Building, to protest recent raids of gay movie houses.
As part of Project Awareness, GAA gets area radio stations to broadcast a public service announcement instructing that discrimination against gay people is illegal in Washington.
Nine men die in one of the worst fires in DC history at the Cinema Follies. GAA responds by demanding that the fire department inspect gay establishments for possible safety code violations.
GAA establishes a suburban outreach program to rate candidates for the fall elections in suburban Maryland and Virginia.
GAA holds a voter registration drive and candidate forum in preparation for the fall elections GAA distributes 20,000 leaflets publicizing its ratings of the candidates.
With a GAA rating of "10" and the endorsement of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Marion Barry wins an upset victory in a three-way Democratic primary for mayor, ensuring his election. Pro-gay council member Arrington Dixon defeats anti-gay candidate Douglas Moore for Council Chairman.
GAA's Violence Against Gays Project distributes leaflets to increase awareness and reporting of bias-related crime.
GAA gets a gay activist appointed to the 1st District Police Citizens Advisory Council.
In response to Anita Bryant -sponsored anti-gay referenda in other cities, the DC Council bans initiatives and referenda which could restrict the DC Human Rights Law.
GAA wins a court battle with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, allowing it to place educational posters in Metro buses with the message "Someone in Your Life is Gay."
In a Memorial Day observance, GAA, after a bitter fight with the U.S. Army, sponsors the first annual wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery to honor all those who have died in the military service of the United States, including gay men and lesbians.
As a nominated candidate for Vice President of the United States, GAA president Mel Boozer promotes gay rights in nationally televised speech before the Democratic National Convention.
The Mayor establishes the Civilian Complaint Review Board to monitor police behavior and mentions GAA in his statement as one of the prime movers behind the legislation.
A GAA-prepared slide show on gay issues becomes part of the regular training program at the DC police academy.
DC Council unanimously passes the Sexual Assault Reform Act which decriminalizes sodomy and repeals solicitation laws for consenting adults. Exercising its oversight power for only the second time, Congress overturns the Act under pressure from the Moral Majority.
GAA convinces the DC Council to broaden the Housing Purchase Assistance Program to include single persons and domestic partners.
GAA initiates an Employment Protection Project to persuade large employers explicitly to include sexual orientation in their Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) statements.
DC Council allocates emergency funds to combat the spread of AIDS.
GAA sponsors a demonstration and news conference at Bolling Air Force Base to protest a recent anti-gay witch hunt at the base and the military's continuing policy of discriminating against gay men and lesbians.
GAA begins its Police Training Project which provides gay-run training sessions as part of the regular curriculum for police recruits.
In conjunction with other groups, GAA forms the DC Committee on AIDS Issues, an inter organizational council to establish a unified front in fighting the AIDS crisis. The City increases AIDS funding to nearly $1 million.
GAA changes its name to the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC (GLAA).
Gay students at Georgetown University win the right to "tangible benefits" from the University. GLAA publicly criticizes Mayor Barry for failure to oppose the Armstrong Amendment passed by Congress which effectively overturns the court victory.
City's AIDS funding increases to $6 million, but gay groups criticize the city for failure to begin media education program and services.
GLAA protests Council actions gutting the city's AIDS insurance law and approving tax-exempt bonds for Georgetown University without an anti-discrimination clause.
A coalition of gay groups persuades the Council to block the Mayor from decreasing AIDS funding under budget deficit pressures.
Woodward & Lothrop agrees to change its employee spouse discount benefit policy to include unmarried domestic partners.
GLAA protests local anti-gay violence by the Marine Corps, leading to the expulsion of one soldier and penalties for several others.
GLAA participates on regional Ryan White Planning Council from its inception, helping to determine priorities and distribution of federal funds for fighting HIV and AIDS.
GLAA leads effort, in coalition with Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) and other groups, to launch first annual Walk Without Fear, a community rally, march, and candlelight vigil against anti-gay and -lesbian violence.
GLAA, with the collaboration of the Gay and Lesbian Education Fund, produces a dramatic 60-second public awareness radio spot, which it runs on stations WMZQ and WPGC, describing the consequences of homophobia and calling for the listener to speak out against bigotry.
GLAA participates in first annual political forum during Lesbian and Gay Freedom Festival on the state of the local gay and lesbian movement.
GLAA files amicus brief in lawsuit against proposed DC School Prayer Initiative, which is ruled "patently unconstitutional" in April 1996 and kept off the ballot.
GLAA joins in protest and pressure against DC Fire Department in response to the death of transgendered citizen Tyra Hunter following the withholding of proper emergency treatment from her after a traffic accident; pressure is kept on Fire Chief Otis Latin when the department's investigation into the incident is bungled.
GLAA launches its world wide web site (www.glaa.org) to facilitate participation by gay and lesbian citizens in the District's political process through online access to GLAA materials such as testimony, position papers, candidate ratings, information on upcoming events, and a directory of DC officials.
With support from The Crew Club and the Gay and Lesbian Business Guild, GLAA launches an advertising campaign in The Washington Blade, City Paper, Metro Weekly, and InTowner, in which GLAA questions the District government's priorities and criticizes the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs for their harassment of gay businesses.
GLAA joins the Metropolitan Police and Criminal Justice Review Task Force established by the DC Branch of the NAACP.
GLAA and GLOV participate in the Mayor's Citizens Advisory Committee on the Selection of the Chief of Police, which plays an active role in the process leading to the confirmation of Charles Ramsey (Chicago's deputy police superintendent, with a strong record in community-based policing) as the new Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. Upon his swearing-in he immediately seeks a meeting with gay leaders, as does the new Commander of the MPD Homicide Division, Ross Swope.
GLAA, in a broad-based coalition including local chapters of ACLU and NAACP, succeeds in pushing legislation through the DC Council re-establishing a Citizen Complaint Review Board to investigate citizen complaints of police abuse.
GLAA and the DC Coalition join the Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Statewide Political Organizations, and begin working with the Federation and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, along with a broad-based coalition of local activists, to plan Equality Begins at Home in DC for the week of March 21-27, 1999.
Mayor Anthony Williams, after aggressive organizing and lobbying efforts by GLAA and others, agrees to seek an out-of-court settlement in the case of Tyra Hunter, a transgendered citizen who died in August 1995 following an automobile accident after emergency medical workers withdrew care and ridiculed her when they discovered her male genitalia. The DC Corporation Counsel continues to drag its feet for several months after the announcement.
The DC Appropriations Working Group a coalition including GLAA, ACT UP Washington, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, congressional staffers, and many others working closely with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton succeeds for the first time in defeating on the House floor an anti-gay amendment that would prohibit adoptions in the District by unmarried couples.
Mayor Anthony Williams, faced with a veto-proof DC Council majority opposed to HIV names reporting, announces that he will keep his campaign promise to GLAA and respect confidentiality concerns by implementing a unique-identifier-based system for tracking cases of HIV infection. GLAA had laid the groundwork for this by lobbying extensively and by obtaining written pledges on the issue from mayoral and council candidates during the 1998 election.
Fulfilling a pledge made by Mayor Williams in 1999, the District agrees to pay Margie Hunter $1.75 million in settlement of her lawsuit against the city for the wrongful death of her transgendered child, Tyra, as a result of discrimination and medical malpractice following an automobile accident in August 1995.
At the request of DC Office of Human Rights Director Charles Holman, members of GLAA and the Intersex Society of North America brief OHR staff on intersexuality and its medical, ethical and legal dimensions.
After a lobbying campaign by a coalition of local and national groups, the DC Appropriations bill for FY 2002 is passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the President without a spending ban on the District's 1992 domestic partnership law the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act finally allowing the law to be implemented.
The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2002 becomes law, amending the DC Human Rights Act to make harassment a form of discrimination under the Act, and to make explicit the right of persons to sue the District government for violations under the Act.
The D.C. Board of Education, complementing the D.C. Council passage of the Human Rights Amendment Act, amends school policies to prohibit harassment and sexual harassment.
The Health Care Decisions Act of 2003 becomes law, amending the DC Code to include domestic partners and close friends among the persons authorized to make health-care decisions for incapacitated individuals.
The Elimination of Outdated Crimes Amendment Act of 2003 becomes law, repealing outdated anti-sex laws including those against adultery and fornication. Thanks to the efforts of GLAA progenitor Frank Kameny, a provision of the new law prevents the government from using the undefined common law to prosecute people for crimes that have been repealed.
The First Amendment Rights and Police Practices Act of 2004, authored by Councilmember Kathy Patterson with strong backing from the ACLU, GLAA and other groups, becomes law, providing additional protections for the exercise of peaceful free speech in the District of Columbia.
The Human Rights Clarification Amendment Act of 2005 becomes law, making explicit the intent of the D.C. Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression.
The Domestic Partnership Equality Act of 2005 becomes law, adding several rights and responsibilities to domestic partners that already apply to spouses.
Four bills supported by GLAA the Domestic Partnerships Joint Filing Act of 2006, Domestic Partnership Property Equity Act of 2006, Homeless Shelter Monitoring Amendment Act of 2006, and Safe and Stable Homes for Children and Youth Amendment Act of 2007 become law.
D.C. Superior Court Judge Geoffrey M. Alprin finds probable cause against D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services personnel and management in the case of EEO Expert Kenda Kirby, who had charged Fire/EMS with creating a hostile work environment and discriminating based on sex/gender, sexual orientation/gender identity and personal appearance/physical characteristics. GLAA, which provided financial assistance to Ms. Kirby to help cover her legal costs, urges Mayor Fenty to instruct Attorney General Linda Singer to make a prompt and just settlement with Ms. Kirby; the city drags its feet.
The One-Time Relocation of Licensees Displaced by the Ballpark and Skyland Development Project Amendment Act of 2007, introduced by Councilmember Jim Graham, is passed and becomes law after heavy lobbying by GLAA, but it is watered down so heavily due to pressure from Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. that it is doubtful any of the displaced gay clubs will actually be able to relocate.
GLAA and activist Peter Rosenstein lead community mobilization effort to prevent the decentralization of the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. Police Chief Cathy Lanier meets with community leaders and agrees to preserve the core unit while expanding the unit's reach into patrol areas throughout the city.
A broad coalition of transgender equality supporters, including the DC Trans Coalition and GLAA, opposes a proposed rulemaking that would effectively exempt the D.C. Department of Corrections (DOC) from the requirements of the D.C. Human Rights Act (DCHRA) as they protect transgender detainees. The proposed rulemaking is withdrawn, and a new policy is developed which, while still short of the coalition's goal, improves protections by such changes as establishing a Transgender Committee in DOC and allowing detainees access to hormone therapy.
GLAA testifies on the confirmation of Peter Nickles as D.C. Attorney General, noting that instead of confronting the entrenched homophobia and transphobia within the Office of the Attorney General, he has exacerbated the problem during his tenure as Acting AG. GLAA urges the Council not to confirm him unless he stops efforts to weaken the rules enforcing transgender protections under DCHRA; ends OAG’s opposition to the Domestic Partnership Judicial Determination of Parentage Act of 2008; and commits to consulting the GLBT community on legal protections for GLBT people and their families. The Council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary votes not to confirm Nickles, but is overruled by the full Council. Nonetheless, GLAA's efforts lead to a productive series of meetings with Nickles and his staff attorneys on both the transgender protections and the parentage bill.
The Safe Marriage Amendment Act of 2007, supported by GLAA as amended, becomes law. It eliminates archaic provisions voiding marriages between idiots, lunatics, and those physically incapable of entering into the marital state; and repeals the requirement of a premarital blood test, which state after state has determined to be cost-ineffective and counterproductive.
The Domestic Partnership Police and Fire Amendment Act of 2008, supported by GLAA and introduced by Councilmembers Phil Mendelson, Jack Evans, and Carol Schwartz, passes. It gives domestic partners equity in retirement benefits; includes them as survivors for purposes of police and fire retirements; and includes them among the relatives responsible for hospitalization costs of a mentally ill relation. It becomes law March 25, 2009.
The Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009 becomes law, recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions as marriages in the District of Columbia.
Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 (Marriage Equality Act) is passed on 11-2 vote and is signed by Mayor Adrian Fenty.
|Bob Johnson *||1972|
|Bill Bricker *||1972|
|Bob Carpenter *||1973-1974|
|Cade Ware *||1974-1975|
|Jim Zais *||1976-1977|
|Mayo Lee *||1977-1978|
|Mel Boozer *||1979-1981 (2 terms)|
|Steve Smith *||1983-1984|
|Rich Llewellyn||1984-1986 (2 terms)|
|Lorri L. Jean||1986-1988 (2 terms)|
|Roger Doughty||1988-1990 (2 terms)|
|Mindy Daniels||1990-1992 (2 terms)|
|Jeff Coudriet||1992-1995 (3 terms)|
|Rick Rosendall||1996-1999 (3 terms)|
|Craig Howell||1999-2000 (1 term)|
|Bob Summersgill||2000-2003 (3 terms)|
|Kevin Davis||2003-2005 (3 terms)|
|Christopher L. Neff||2006|
|Barrett L. Brick||2006-2009 (3 terms)|
GLAA Distinguished Service Award Recipients