We kicked off this week with the 32nd annual celebration of National Coming Out Day! Each year on October 11, millions of Americans celebrate the power and resilience demonstrated by those who have chosen to love out loud and live life in its most authentic form.
Here in the District, we are proud to be home to the highest number of LGBTQIA+ citizens per capita, and we pride ourselves on being a city that is inclusive and welcoming to all.
I can recall standing outside the Supreme Court's steps when Obergefell was decided and memorialized the freedom to marry for all. Years later, I sat in a law school classroom listening to my professor, Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry, recount the efforts to mobilize a nation to achieve this victory. I continue to be inspired by these moments, and I am compelled to do all that I can as Councilmember to further these great legacies.
However, even with all of the progress that we have made as a nation to advance civil rights, our LGBTQIA+ community faces many threats. In my recent Op-Ed to the Washington Blade, I discussed the ways that our longstanding culture of transphobia and homophobia and a lack of adequate legal protection is harmful to our society and how I intend to help end this social pandemic through legislative action and advocacy.
To those who have come out, thank you. Your courage and example are needed, and you have helped to pave the way for others to do the same. To those who have not come out or who may be on the road to self-discovery, I know that the decision is deeply personal and that there are many reasons that you may fear doing so.
Regardless of your situation, please know that I am incredibly proud of you and will continue to support and stand with you.
Yours in Service,
“D.C. Must Ban Gay and Trans Panic Defense” – In an Opinion Editorial published in the Washington Blade, Councilmember Pinto addressed the need to ban the panic defense legal strategy in a court of law and announced that the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee would move legislation to achieve this before the end of the year. For many years, the panic defense legal strategy has unfairly protected those who attack the LGBTQIA+ community members due to a claimed fear of the victim’s sexual identity or orientation.
“The panic defense must be banned and removed from the legal toolkit for bigots, harassers, and abusers. It is the right thing to do for the victims, past and present, their families, and our broader community. Moreover, it will send a clear message to all that this type of hate will not be tolerated by our society and will not be accepted by a court of law,” wrote Councilmember Pinto.
Councilmember Pinto will work closely with her Council colleagues to ensure that this legislation is passed to honor the memories of Bella Evangelista, Tony Hunter, and many others who have died or have been affected by malicious acts of trans and homophobic violence. Councilmember Pinto will also support efforts “that provide opportunities for community engagement, anti-bias training and education, and other efforts that will help us to change the culture that perpetuates feelings of trans and homophobia.” To read the full Opinion Editorial, click here.
Visiting with the Friends of Montrose Park: This week, Councilmember Pinto joined Georgina Owen, President of the Friends of Montrose Park, and ANC 2E07 Commissioner Elizabeth Miller for a tour of Montrose Park. During their time together, Councilmember Pinto learned about critical renovations needed to improve the park and discussed ways to increase the number of park volunteers available for gardening and provide academic and service opportunities for students.
CVS Health and Golden Triangle Outdoor Flu Shot Clinic Open: The Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID) and CVS Health have partnered to open an outdoor flu shot clinic in Farragut Square. On Wednesday, Councilmember went to visit the clinic and speak with representatives from the BID about the importance of providing this safe and socially distant opportunity to obtain a flu shot amidst current public health challenges. October 20 and 21 are the final two days to receive your vaccine. To book your appointment at the flu shot clinic, visit https://goldentriangledc.com/flu-shots/.
Getting Down to Business on Main Street: Councilmember Pinto also met with representatives of the Georgetown Mainstreet this week to talk about ways that local government can help bring residents and visitors back to Georgetown to dine and shop. On Twitter, Councilmember Pinto wrote, “Thanks @georgetownmain Street for all you to do to keep our small and local business community and residents connected! It was great meeting with you all today, and I look forward to partnering with your organization to help revitalize and strengthen our local economy.”
To follow Councilmember Pinto on Twitter, visit https://twitter.com/CMBrookePinto.
Discussions on Public Safety and Police Reform: The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety convened a public hearing this week to discuss three significant bills: B23-723, the Rioting Modernization Amendment Act of 2020, B23-771, the Internationally Banned Chemical Weapon Prohibition Amendment Act of 2020, and B23-882, the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2020. These bills will ban the use of chemical irritants at First Amendment assemblies, reform policing in the District, and clarify rioting offenses.
“As legislators continue to answer the long overdue call for reform, I am working with my colleagues to ensure the measures that move forward in the Committee serve the residents of the District and respond to the concerns that have been voiced over the last several months," said Councilmember Pinto. "We hear you and we are taking action.”
To watch a recording of the hearing, visit the Council video archives.
Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Reports: In September, the Council Budget Office issued a seven-part series of budget reports highlighting some of the most important enhancements that the Council funded in the FY 2021 Budget and Financial Plan. The reports cover topics such as criminal justice reform, education and health, economic justice, inclusive governance, and revenue and resource reallocation. To view one or more of the reports, visit the Council Budget website here.
The November 3rd General Election Update: The general election is less than 30 days away! To ensure that you do not have any issues casting your ballot, please review the information below.
Tax Rate Changes Have Taken Affect: On October 1, 2020, the tax rate changes enacted in the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 became effective. The new provisions include real property, sales and use, motor vehicle fuel, Stevie Sellows ICF-MR, games of skill, corporate franchise, unincorporated business franchise, estate, and individual income. There is also a tax rate increase on cigarettes. For more information, view this press release from the District Office on Tax and Revenue.
Landlords and Tenants Can Create Their Own One-Year Plan: In a release this week, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) supplied a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) continuing language to help residential tenants impacted by COVID-19 reach a payment plan agreement with their housing provider. Tenants needing assistance with this matter may obtain help by contacting these organizations:
You’re Invited to Taste and Shop Georgetown: You’re invited to participate in Taste and Shop Georgetown. This three-week-long promotional event features deals at over 65 restaurants, shops, and services. For more information, visit https://www.georgetowndc.com/event/taste-of-georgetown/.
Small Business Resiliency Fund Now Open for Applications: The small business resiliency fund is now open for applications. The fund will provide $3 million in emergency operational funding and will be open to small, local businesses in the District of Columbia with 50 or fewer employees and independently owned restaurants without regard to employee-size. Grant monies may be used for: Business model strategy redesigning and pivoting, business continuity plan development, strengthening of digital retail experiences including complimentary e-commerce platforms and/or online shops to bolster brick-and- mortar business, new marketing efforts, and personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or disinfection products. You can learn more about this grant and other grants available to small businesses here.