February 11, 2014 | by guest columnist
Why I support Jack Evans for mayor
Jack Evans, Washington Blade, gay news

D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

By DENNIS BASS

Twenty-five years ago, elected officials weren’t talking about gay rights. But Jack Evans was.  He led the fight for domestic partnerships, civil unions and gay marriage, and helped repeal laws that discriminated against gays and lesbians.

Long before it was popular, Jack championed equality regardless of sexual orientation. He didn’t do it because it was politically correct. He did it because it was right. He was there at the start of the gay rights movement in D.C. and he has been an ally of our community and its most skillful advocate over the last two decades.

When he first ran for Council in 1991, there were some who said Jack would not have the same commitment to gay issues as an LGBT candidate. Council member Evans has certainly proven those people wrong. Today, Jack has undisputedly the strongest record of any candidate on the issues that matter not only to our community, but also to the entire District.

When Jack was first elected, gay people were routinely harassed and arrested for committing sodomy. In his first year on the Council, Jack led the fight to abolish the repressive anti-sodomy law, after years of failed attempts.

In 1998, Jack became the first elected D.C. official to publicly support same-sex marriage, and year after year Jack has sponsored successful legislation to guarantee LGBT people the rights of straight married couples in areas such as adoption, health care, inheritance, and domestic partnership, until the Council finally adopted full marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

But Jack’s efforts didn’t stop with marriage equality. He has relentlessly waged battles to enact medical marijuana, condom availability, needle exchange programs, reporting of bias-related hate crimes, and LGBT sensitivity training for Metropolitan police, fire, and EMT personnel –overcoming the often-hostile objections of some fellow Council members and opposition in Congress.

In recognition of all he has done for the LGBT community, Jack Evans was awarded the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance Distinguished Service Award.

When you combine Jack’s record on LGBT issues with his other achievements in fiscal management by balancing the District’s budget; bringing to D.C. the convention center, baseball stadium and Verizon Center, along with other job-creating projects; and supporting education reform that is beginning to show benefits in D.C.’s schools, I can’t see how the choice could be any clearer.

Yes, “the District is doing pretty darn good,” as one of Mayor Gray’s supporters said, but much of the credit for what’s happening now goes to Jack Evans’ efforts, who, as the long-time chair of the Council’s Finance and Revenue committee, laid the groundwork for much of the prosperity and progress that we’re seeing today.

What kind of an LGBT advocate will he be as mayor? Jack says that, even in a city like Washington where much has been accomplished, the fight for LGBT rights is far from over.  As mayor, Jack Evans will continue his advocacy on LGBT issues by increasing funding for health initiatives focused on LGBT people and youth, increasing workplace protections for transgender people, ensuring that same-sex married partners are treated equally under Medicaid, initiating LGBT sensitivity training for all District government employees, and including gender-orientation curriculum in the sex-education programs of the D.C. public schools.

For these reasons, Jack Evans is the right choice for mayor.

Dennis Bass was deputy executive director of Center for Science in the Public Interest from 1981 until he retired in 2012. He served on the Dupont Circle ANC from 1986 until 1995 and volunteered on every Jack Evans campaign since he first ran for Council in 1991.

5 Comments
  • I was one of the gay voters recruited in 1991 to work as a volunteer on Jack Evans’ campaign. (Amusingly I invited my then single best gal pal, a straight woman, to a fundraiser for Jack at Ellen Ratner’s Georgetown home, hoping to play yenta and introduce her to Mr. Evans. He assumed she was gay and kept referring to “her community,” though Ms. Ratner shared the assumption.). I don’t dispute Jack’s solidity on gay issues, though he did not support gay marriage in 1991. No Democrats did until years later. But I do wonder why someone like Jack Evans did not help expose the endemic corruption among elected Democrats and their bureaucracies in government that has so tarnished DC’s image across the country, why outsiders and nonDemocrats like Tim Day had to do this. I’m also trying to recall, now that he is finally willing to leave the city council on his own terms, whether he was one of the city council members who voted to nullify the term limits law passed by voters in a 1994 referendum by a 66% margin.

  • So Jack Evans is finally ready to leave office after having led the "nullification" of the term limits DC voters passed in 1994 by a 66% margin. That's irony. L'Etat, C'est Moi!

  • http://www.dcwatch.com/issues/termdefault.htm Jack Evans led the repeal of the 1994 term limits initiative passed by 66% of DC voters.

  • The writer does not grasp the fact that out-of-control federal spending is what has fueled all the expansion in the District. Every twentysomething in town will tell you that they "do strategy for a government contractor." And why does the District's CFO, Mr. Ghandi, still have his job after those women in the tax office walked off with millions of dollars, stolen in broad daylight over many years, right under his nose?

  • The writer does not grasp the fact that out-of-control federal spending is what has fueled all the expansion in the District. Every twentysomething in town will tell you that they "do strategy for a government contractor." And why does the District's CFO, Mr. Ghandi, still have his job after those women in the tax office walked off with millions of dollars, stolen in broad daylight over many years, right under his nose?

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