I am proud to live in a city with the most progressive laws and policies related to LGBT equality, fairness and inclusion in the United States. We have marriage equality, hate crimes protections and anti-discrimination statutes. But I know we can go even further, and with a new energy and ethical leadership on the Council, we will.
Our laws are meaningless without enforcement. It is incumbent upon our elected officials to hold the Office of Human Rights accountable for addressing every last human rights violation and complaint brought before it.
We must also ensure that insurance companies fully comply with non-discrimination sections of the Affordable Care Act. This includes ensuring that insurance policies cover the full range of transgender healthcare needs, without exclusion or unnecessary denials.
The District of Columbia should lead the nation in implementing the ACA’s mental health parity requirement. LGBT youth are more likely to attempt suicide. LGBT adults are more likely to experience psychological distress, which requires medication and access to mental health services. I will fight to increase funding for adult mental health services, as well as expand access to mental health services for our youth. This includes increasing availability of school counselors and psychologists, and expanding access to public mental health services for transitioning homeless LGBT youth and seniors.
Our outdated qualifying conditions for medical marijuana services must also be repealed. Medical marijuana usage is proven to provide relief for a wide range of conditions including mental health ailments like post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression and others.
We need more LGBT representation on our government boards and commissions. Working with the mayor’s office, the LGBT community, and my Council colleagues, I pledge to identify and promote the nominations of qualified LGBT individuals to serve on our government boards and commissions. I am especially committed to ensuring transgender representation.
Overall reported instances of hate crime violence fell by 14 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. However violence based on gender identity or expression increased by 33 percent. Between the years 2007-2013, violence based on sexual orientation increased 58 percent while gender identity-based violence increased by 71 percent. Even more appalling is that 61 percent of all bias-related crimes in the District are targeted toward sexual minorities. Unfortunately, Ward 1 is home to the highest percentage of these crimes.
One of my top priorities is to reduce this senseless violence and address the cultural and structural problems underlying bias-related crime, including anti-bullying initiatives in our public schools, sensitivity training in the workplace and rebuilding the highly effective Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. The GLLU was severely cut under the Fenty administration, languishes under our current mayor, and has been forgotten by Ward 1’s current Council member.
I have a proven record fighting for LGBT equality, fairness and inclusion, both through my work with Jews United for Justice on marriage equality, and through my role as an ANC commissioner. My record is a reflection of my core beliefs and an indication of how I plan to govern as the Ward 1 representative on the Council of the District of Columbia. I plan to use my power as the Ward 1 Council member to exercise effective oversight, not interference. With me as your Council member you will have an ethical voice whose focus is on the issues, not on managing the latest scandal.
Together, we will ensure that Ward 1, and District of Columbia are safe, inclusive, and welcoming communities for LGBT individuals from across the country and around the world. Early voting begins March 17, and I hope you will join our movement and support me with your vote in the April 1 Democratic primary.
Brianne K. Nadeau is a candidate for D.C. Council in Ward 1, who received a majority vote at the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club endorsement forum. She has served as an advisory neighborhood commissioner and a board member of Jews United for Justice. Reach her via briannefordc.com.