In his last act in office before his resignation took effect on Jan. 17, D.C. Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) introduced a bill to support the city’s Capital Pride celebration and related events by waiving all city service fees for the Capital Pride Alliance in 2021 and all future years.
The bill, the Capital Pride Grant and Equitable Forgiveness Amendment Act of 2020, also calls for reimbursing Capital Pride Alliance, which organizes D.C. Pride events each year, of the more than $300,000 in fees it paid the city for the 2019 Capital Pride events.
In addition, the bill calls for creating a $400,000 grant to be used for expenses related to the 2020 Capital Pride celebration and related Pride events in D.C.
“The Pride Parade is when the District proudly and loudly celebrates the diversity and inclusivity of our city and residents,” Evans said in a statement. “The future of the parade and the weeklong Capital Pride Celebration, much of which is free and accessible to the public, should not be burdened because of fees of government services for the event,” Evans said.
Evans noted in his statement that need for city services, especially the D.C. police, became apparent during the 2019 Capital Pride Parade when a man with a BB gun standing in Dupont Circle created a panic and caused parade spectators and participants to “stampede” away from Dupont Circle.
“We appreciate everything emergency services (Metropolitan Police Department, District Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department) do for the city to keep us safe,” Evans said. “However, the First Amendment rights and safety of residents should not be hindered because of a costly price tag,” he said. “Constitutional protections, public safety, and other services should be the responsibility of the government.”
Capital Pride officials have said over a half million people from the region and abroad attend D.C.’s Pride events each year. Evans points out in his statement that this brings tax dollars to the city government.
“Capital Pride appreciates the assistance that we received from the city and the support of Council member Evans,” said Ashley Smith, president of the Capital Pride Alliance Board. “Escalating municipal fees make it challenging to raise sufficient funds to cover both these expanding costs and provide a variety of free and low-cost services to the LGBTQ+ community,” Smith said.
Evans’s statement says his bill calls for forgiving the remaining D.C. police invoice of $121,056.76 for the 2019 parade and festival and would require that any payments and fees already made be refunded.
Earlier this month Evans announced he would resign from the Council effective Jan. 17 following a unanimous preliminary vote last year by all 12 of his Council colleagues to expel him on grounds that he violated multiple ethics and conflict of interest rules involving work on behalf of private companies doing business with or that had an interest in business with the city.
LGBTQ activists have called Evans one of the Council’s strongest supporters of the LGBTQ community during his close to 29 years on the Council.
Joe Florio, Evans’s director of communications, said Evans expects his Council colleagues will take steps to advance the Capital Pride bill in Evans’s absence.