About Councilmember Navarro

I serve as the Council Vice-President and the Montgomery County Councilmember representing District 4. I am the chair of the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee and also serve on the Health and Human Services Committee.

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November 19, 2009

A Rebuttal to the Gazette's Editorial Opposing My Equal Benefits Bill

Earlier this month, I introduced a bill to require contractors doing business with Montgomery County to provide to same-sex domestic partners the same benefits they provide to married couples. Seven of my colleagues and the County Executive have joined me in supporting this legislation, but the Gazette drafted an editorial opposing the bill, entitled "Equal rights bill needs work." The piece stated several incorrect assumptions about the impact of the legislation, which have been addressed in a rebuttal piece by David Fishback, advocacy chairman of the Metro D.C. chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. More importantly, it misses the point of the legislation -- which is simply that this is a civil rights issue.

That's why it is critical that supporters of equality come testify in favor of the bill at the public hearing. You can read Mr. Fishback's letter to the editor below, or at: http://gazette.net/stories/11182009/montlet174625_32524.shtml

Equal Benefits Bill Public Hearing

Where: Montgomery County Council Building
100 Maryland Ave, Rockville, MD

When: Tuesday, December 1st at 1:30 pm

Note: if many people sign-up to testify, the hearing may be held at 7:30 pm

Sign-Up to Testify by Calling:
(240) 777-7803 (Please mention Bill 37-09).

You can read the text of Bill 37-09: [HERE]

Editorial on benefits equality missed mark

Your Nov. 4 editorial, "Equal rights bill needs work," questions the fiscal wisdom of County Council member [Nancy] Navarro's bill that would require county contractors to offer their gay employees with domestic partners whatever benefits they offer their straight employees with spouses. Since only a small percentage of people in our community are gay, the fiscal impact on a given contractor would be negligible; and in this competitive environment, contractors' bids are not going to be higher because a small percentage of their workforce would be able to avail themselves of benefits already offered to their colleagues.

More to the point, however, is that if a particular religious or ethnic group was discriminated against regarding work benefits, I doubt that The Gazette would argue that the council should refrain from making non-discrimination a prerequisite to holding a county contract because of the supposed potential cost or, as your editorial put it, the danger of "government interference in the private sector." And that is really the crux of the matter: The county would not contract with a company that engaged in religious or racial discrimination; nor should use the public's tax money to contract with a company that discriminates based on sexual orientation.

David S. Fishback, Olney

The writer is advocacy chairman of the Metro D.C. chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.


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