January 17, 2020 at 1:33 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
D.C. Councilman agrees to hold hearing on LGBTQ seniors bill
Brandon Todd, gay news, Washington Blade
D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) ‘looks forward to holding a hearing on this important legislation,’ a spokesperson announced Thursday. (Photo by AnUmNi via Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) announced through a spokesperson on Thursday that he plans to schedule a hearing in February by the Council committee he chairs on a bill calling for anti-discrimination protections and improved services for LGBTQ seniors.

Todd’s announcement through spokesperson Eric Feldman came three days after the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club voted unanimously to urge Todd and members of the Committee on Government Operations, which Todd chairs, to hold a hearing on the Care for LGBTQ Senior and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act.

The resolution notes that the legislation had been stalled in committee for a year, with no word from Todd on whether he planned to schedule a hearing to advance the bill to a full Council vote.

“He looks forward to holding a hearing on this important legislation,” Feldman told the Blade on Thursday.

The bill’s author, Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), said during an appearance before the Stein Club’s meeting on Monday that the bill was needed because the city’s comprehensive Human Rights Act does not include specific nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ seniors or seniors with HIV who are living in long-term care facilities.

“This bill would establish a ‘Bill of Rights’ for seniors living in these facilities, ensuring that they are treated respectfully and appropriately,” Cheh said in a statement. She said the bill, among other things, would require LGBTQ-related competency training for caregivers in long-term care facilities to ensure they have the knowledge to provide appropriate care for LGBTQ seniors.

Although Todd’s committee has yet to act on the bill, Council records show that Todd and the other four members of the committee have all signed on as co-introducers of Cheh’s bill, suggesting that the delay in holding a hearing is not based on objections to the legislation. The others on the committee include Council members David Grosso (I-At-Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), and Trayon White (D-Ward 8).

The Stein Club’s resolution states in part, “Be it resolved that: the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club urges Committee Chairman Brandon Todd and his Council colleagues on the Committee on Government Operations to schedule the necessary hearings on B23—37 [Cheh’s bill], allow public testimony and debate, and ensure that this Bill moves out of committee with a recommendation rather than allowing it to die in committee.”

Feldman said Todd’s committee will announce the specific date for the hearing in February as soon as it’s confirmed and will put out a call for witnesses to testify on the legislation. Todd looks forward to listening to the witness who will weigh in on the legislation to make sure it is the best possible remedy for the LGBT-related issues it’s intended to address, Feldman said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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