November 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm EDT | by Barbara Helmick
When Congress meddles in D.C.’s affairs
United States Capitol Building, dome, gay news, Washington Blade

(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Thank you for the excellent front page story in last week’s Blade, “D.C. statehood called important for LGBT rights.” The story left out two examples of Congress’s egregious actions overturning the will of the people of D.C.

In the 80’s when AIDS was ravaging our community, the D.C. Council moved to provide free, clean needles to stem the spread of what was then a fatal disease among drug users (some desperately awaiting treatment). Congress banned D.C. from doing this, and until the ban was lifted in 2008, people needlessly suffered, many died. (In the two years following the end of the ban, a study showed the average monthly infection rate of new HIV infections among drug users in D.C. dropped by close to 70 percent.)

Congress forced its will on us when our Council passed domestic partner legislation in the early 90’s. Expanding the definition of family to include the LGBT community, as well as grandparents raising grandchildren, conservatives in Congress forbade D.C. government employees from implementing this progressive pro-family legislation. Please vote yes on the statehood referendum – it sends a powerful message to Congress we want full democracy, equality with every other person in every other state.

And paper ballot voters: be sure to flip your ballot over – the referendum is on the back.

 

Barbara Helmick lives in D.C.

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