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DC activists look to issues beyond marriage | Hunter of Justice

DC activists look to issues beyond marriage

by on June 19, 2010  •  In States

Last week's Capital Pride celebration led the DC Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance to outline its agenda for legal change, now that marriage equality has been achieved in DC. No folding up the tents for GLAA. From a Washington Post summary:

Number one is keeping gay marriage legal, says Rick Rosendall, the group's longtime political director — that means keeping the courts and present and future Congresses at bay.

But the GLAA identifies several other issues that they'd like lawmakers and public executives to address. Toward the top of the list are protections for transgender residents, who are covered under the city's human rights act. But, Rosendall says, "enforcement leaves something to be desired," and they are subject to discrimination in employment, housing, heath care, and in the justice system.

Other top issues include curtailing school bullying and maintaining the police department's widely acclaimed Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit as a standalone entity. Police chief Cathy Lanier has proposed scaling back the unit, historically based in Dupont Circle, and instead training officers in each of the city's seven police districts to handle gay-related issues — mirroring the spread of openly gay Washingtonians into other parts of the city.

The "Agenda" also includes a number of more ambitious items.

Like this one: "Prostitution: Legalize It, Regulate It, Zone It, Tax It." It reads, in part:

"As advocates of the legalization of prostitution, we think it needs neither sanitizing nor glorifying. It is not a profession filled exclusively with people who freely chose it from a host of other options. No doubt there are some in that category, like the college student turning tricks for extra cash. But too many turn to it by necessity. These include gay teenagers who have been thrown out of the house by their parents, and transgender people whom discrimination has left with few options."

Those folks, Rosendall says, are engaging in "survival sex." And what they need, he says, is not to get arrested, but to get "wraparound services," such as job programs, substance abuse treatment, health care, and housing. And, oh yeah, get rid of the street trade, and you get rid of the accompanying trash, loitering, and noise problems.

Needless to say, no city lawmaker has yet gone to bat for the idea.

Rosendall says that, while legal prostitution may be at the bottom of the GLAA's list of priorities, that doesn't mean it doesn't deserve to be debated. "There should be someone making an intelligent, reasonable, coherent case laying out all the arguments," he says. "We're aware of the political reality, but someone needs to start the discussion." He adds: "Most of the public officials we talk to agree with us privately."

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