December 2, 2010 | by Staff reports
An open letter to Mayor-elect Vince Gray

By REV. DARLENE NIPPER & PETER ROSENSTEIN

Dear Mayor-elect Gray:

We know that the District of Columbia LGBT community looks forward to working with you to make your vision of “One City” a reality. Many of us supported you because we know you to be a kind and decent human being who cares about all people. We respect your intelligence, creativity and the broad and deep knowledge you have of the District, its government and its people.

We know that to realize your vision — and ours — of  “One City” we will all need to be engaged and committed. We stand ready to work collaboratively with you across lines of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and ethnicity to ensure the realization of your vision.

We understand the necessity of producing a balanced budget for the District and recognize that we face difficult economic times. Yet, the people who are suffering the most during these times are those who are unemployed and often unemployable because of community stigma and disregard. We support your commitment to moving forward aggressively on school reform and creating a continuum of education that includes job readiness for all of our citizens, even those who aren’t likely to attend college.

During the campaign there were a number of issues that you addressed with our community that we believe won’t take new money but rather a personal commitment on your part and on the part of your appointees to move forward. These issues include a visible and concerted effort to address the devastating hatred and violence that our transgender people of color and other LGBT community members experience by:

Appointing a sergeant to the GLLU and ensuring that the unit is at full strength, while at the same time supporting the ongoing training on LGBT issues for the entire MPD.

Developing a working relationship between GLOV and the mayor’s office and ensuring that GLOV has the ongoing access to the MPD needed to do their work in the community to prevent future hate crimes and educate the community on how to protect themselves when crimes occur. When meeting with GLOV you committed to participate in the public discussion and education of the entire community as we battle hate and its devastating impact. This must include public discussion of hate crimes and working to enact real anti-bullying programs in DCPS and Charter Schools.

Moving forward on your proposal to have the Office of the new Deputy Mayor for Public Safety track crime statistics and ensuring they are accurate including statistics collected on hate crimes.

Following up on your suggestion that agencies will be tasked to ensure that grants are made available to smaller not-for-profits that can prove their efficacy but don’t always have the chance to compete with larger ones the way the process currently is set up.

Coordinating the work of the MPD, the health department and other agencies necessary to address the issue of domestic violence in the LGBT community. This was a commitment you made when meeting with the Rainbow Response Coalition.

Instructing the Department of Health to complete on an annual basis its report on the “State of LGBT Health” in the District.

Continuing to support the efforts to include the LGBT business community in the economic future of the District. This could include having the city continue to plan and develop LGBT economic summits of the type that were run by the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs. Your attending such summits would be a way to draw attention to your support for the LGBT business community.

Scheduling your attendance at a range of LGBT events during the year to include not only Pride, Black Pride and the High Heel Race,  but also smaller events hosted by groups like SMYAL, MetroTeen AIDS, CAGLCC, Us Helping Us, AIDS Walk, and the Mautner Project among others.

Ensuring that the LGBT media are on the invitation list to all press conferences and public events.

Naming an individual to head the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs who you and the community have full confidence in and who as a member of your cabinet will be able to honestly share with you what is being said and done in the very diverse LGBT community. Giving that person the support they will need to access other city agencies and ensure that they are always cognizant of the needs of the community and the desire of the community to be a part of building “One City.”

We look forward to the next four years as a time to continue to build our city and to make it a place that is welcoming to all.

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