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Monday, January 21, 2008

Terri Bonoff's Stonewall DFL Questionaire

Terri Bonoff for Congress: Stonewall DFL Questionnaire

Candidate’s Name: Terri Bonoff

Office you are seeking: Minnesota’s Third Congressional District

1. Do you plan on abiding by the DFL endorsement if there is one for your race.

I will abide by the DFL endorsement. It is important that we coalesce behind the nominee and begin the process of defeating our Republican opponent as quickly as possible.

2. If endorsed by Stonewall DFL, how will you display that endorsement in campaign materials?

I would be truly honored to earn the Stonewall endorsement. As such, I would be proud to prominently display that information in any endorsement list or other list of supporters, whether on my website, campaign literature or otherwise.

3. How is the LGBT community currently involved in your campaign?

My campaign actively engages all members of the 3rd district community. State Senator Scott Dibble sits on my finance committee, is a key advisor, and was first amongst my fellow legislators to voice support for my campaign. My brother, a member of the LGBT community, served as campaign chair for my most recent State Senate campaign and is active in my Congressional campaign. Many other prominent LGBT activists and community members are involved with the campaign in a variety of capacities. Milo Pinkerton, an active member of the LGBT, is a member of my finance committee as well.

4. How will you actively encourage LGBT constituents to contact or become involved in the political process?

The only way for Democrats to continue to lead this nation is to fully engage all constituent groups in the process. As open leaders and honest servants to our constituents we owe it to them to actively engage them in the process of governing. Through targeted contacts and community events, I will ensure that all of my constituents and all voters are involved in the process. Furthermore, it is important to make every effort to engage the LGBT community. Some people in the political process seek to undermine and disenfranchise any number of our citizens for their own political gain. When that happens, it is important to make every effort to ensure that this attempt does not succeed and that these groups are included in the political process. That is why I attend LGBT gatherings and community events on a regular basis. I feel that this helps to create the relationships necessary to keep an open door policy.

5. What experience do you have with LGBT issues and the LGBT community?

First and foremost, my victory in the 2005 special election was instrumental in keeping the “Defense of Marriage” amendment off the ballot. Also, having a member of the LGBT community in my immediate family has afforded me an intimate understanding of the needs and issues unique to this community, and my voting record on relevant issues clearly conveys my commitment to their needs.

6. LGBT men and women of color are often victims of multiple layers of discrimination. How would you use your office to identify and address these problems?

Leadership in our nation's capitol must make it clear that no level of discrimination or bigotry is acceptable. It is incumbent on any office holder to work with their community to address these issues. As a member of Congress I will do all that I can to engage both the LGBT community and communities of color. LGBT women and men of color face unique challenges. Generations of cultural biases cannot be overcome overnight. Only through real leadership in every segment of our society can we foster the understanding that we need to address the multiple levels of discrimination that LGBT people of color face.

7. Public awareness of Lesbians and Gays has increased in the last 20 years; however there remain some unique and misunderstood issues faced by Bisexual and Transgender communities. Please identify a specific issue(s) and how you would use your elected office to support these communities.

Even more systematically than lesbians, gay men, and bisexual people, transgendered people are routinely targeted for work place discrimination. The omission of transgendered people in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act sends the dangerous message that transgendered people do not need or deserve protection. As a member of Congress I will support the inclusion of transgendered people in ENDA.

8. What legal recognitions should be available to GLBT people in committed relationships and how would you use your office to advance these equality issues; specifically do you favor Domestic Partnerships, Civil Unions, Marriage, or Other?

I believe that two people in a committed, loving relationship should be given all the rights and legal protections necessary to foster stability and ensure that our nation fulfills its promise to treat all of our citizens equally with the dignity and respect they deserve. This is a very personal issue for me. I am in a happy and fulfilling marriage and it is unconscionable that my brother can not experience the same thing. I certainly want him to have the same rights that I have enjoyed.

Every year Republicans try to use this as a wedge issue. I will state my views on it unequivocally, but I will not let them drag it out as a cudgel in this campaign. It is not the place of our government to legislate beliefs or morality to any person or institution. I have and will continue to work aggressively against any attempt to write bigotry and discrimination in to our constitution or laws at any level.

9. Alcoholism, crystal methamphetamine and other chemical abuse is a public health problem in the LGBT community, which correlates to increased rates of HIV transmission. If elected, how would you use your office to address these problems?

As you know, members of the LGBT community are at much greater risks for depression, addiction, and other mental health problems. As a member of Congress I will support aggressive outreach, education, and prevention programs to ensure that we help all of our citizens begin the road to recovery. Our health care, social service and support systems are often inadequate for addressing the unique issues faced by the LGBT community and it will take strong leadership in Congress to ensure that every American gets the care they deserve.

10. What policies would you support to provide equity for LGBT Minnesotans with respect to both public and private health care benefits and imputed tax implications?

As a member of the Minnesota State Senate I voted in favor of extending employment benefits to domestic partners of public employees. I will work tirelessly to export these Minnesotan ideals of fairness and equity to Washington.

11. The funding for programs such as the Ryan White Act was recently redistributed into rural, less populated (red) states and away from urban populated (blue) states where the majority of AIDS patients are located. What are your thoughts on this funding change?

The Bush administration, in an attempt to address a growing problem with ever decreasing resources, made a decision to shift funding away from the 51 hardest-hit cities within the framework of the Ryan White CARE Act. I feel this was a mistake. Instead of making arbitrary or political decisions about which populations to assist, the President's budget could easily have included additional discretionary spending for the CARE programs. Furthermore, the Bush Administration's prioritization of "core medical services" excludes many important urban functions of the program such as transportation assistance, housing assistance, and legal aid. As a member of Congress I will work to ensure that this vital health care program receives the resources that it needs to provide for all those that need it's assistance.

12. A recent study of urban homeless youth found that in some metropolitan areas over 40% identify as LGBT. A key finding of this study was that homeless LGBT youth are more vulnerable to sexual abuse, substance abuse and mental health struggles. What root causes of this complex issue can you identify and how would you use your office to address these problems?

Many complex factors contribute to the problem of homelessness amongst LGBT youth. LGBT youth most frequently experience homelessness because of family conflict. The problems mount from there though. All too often, young people in the LGBT community experience abuse in the shelter and social service systems. This abuse often leads to depression and drug abuse. LGBT youth are much more likely to be victims of violent crime as well.

Many of the steps necessary to combat this problem apply to all runaway and homeless youth but the need is exacerbated amongst the LGBT community. Homeless youth simply need the basic social services that all people experiencing homelessness deserve. That is why I will fight for key legislation to address youth runaways and homelessness including reauthorization and increased appropriations to the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act. Additionally, I will make every effort to move funds away from those faith-based programs that deny treatment to LGBT youth based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Further, Congress must make every attempt to ensure that all children have access to basic medical services whether they are with a guardian or not.

13. What would you do, if elected, to ensure that lesbian and bisexual women have access to a diversity of reproductive health options, including birth control, in-vitro fertilization, and abortion?

I fully believe that we must ensure that every woman, regardless of sexual orientation or income level, has the right to safe, legal, confidential, and affordable family planning and reproductive health care. This includes opposing waiting periods and physician lectures, opposing restrictions on reproductive health care options within government health care programs, and opposing pharmacist refusal clauses. Further, I feel it is vital that all women have access to comprehensive sex education and affordable contraception.

14. What are your views on the US military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy?

I oppose the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. We must end institutional discrimination in all of it's forms. This policy not only hurts gays and lesbians in the military, it hurts all of our troops. This policy disrupts our military readiness at a time when our armed forces are stretched dangerously thin. This is both a matter of national security and a matter of basic fairness. Service to our country should be based on basic qualification and talent, not arbitrary personal distinctions.

15. Which version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act do you support and why?

I support an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that is fully inclusive of the transgender persons (H.R. 2015). It is unconscionable that federal law would allow any discrimination in the workplace. By choosing to specifically omit certain provisions of the act, Congress is acquiescing to a certain amount of institutional and workplace discrimination. Fully inclusive non-discrimination provisions, including transgender men and women, have been a part of Minnesota state law since 1993.