House Bans Needle Exchange; Not D.C. Adoptions

July 29, 1999

But in a victory, House defeats proposed ban on same-sex adoption in District

Roberta Sklar, Director of Communications

Today's vote by the House of Representatives to deny federal funding to any District of Columbia organization that offers a needle exchange program is scientifically unsound and will lead to a further loss of life, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Thursday.

Current law bans the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, but allows individual states to fund them with state, local and private funds. More than 30 states have chosen to implement needle exchange programs. The House today approved an amendment to the D.C. appropriations bill that singles out D.C. by denying it the power to enact public health policies that all the states have the right to enact. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-KS.

"D.C. has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the country," said NGLTF Executive Director Kerry Lobel. "AIDS is the third leading cause of death in D.C. and the leading cause of death for people 30 to 44 years of age. Scientific studies have concluded that needle exchange programs reduce HIV infection and do not increase drug use. Therefore, the Tiahrt amendment actually will lead to increased fatalities in the District. TodayÕs vote by the conservative House majority reflects an appalling lack of compassion."

Intravenous drug use is the second highest mode of HIV transmission in D.C. Deaths attributed to AIDS in D.C. are more than seven times the national average.

Another amendment that would have banned same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples in the District of Columbia from adopting children failed by two votes. That amendment was sponsored by Rep. Steve Largent, R-OK. "To defeat a same-sex adoption ban on the floor of the House is a victory for real family values," Lobel said. "With an estimated 3,100 children in D.C. needing loving parents, a majority of Congress recognized that it is public health agencies and not politicians who should decide what is in the best interest of a child."


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movementís premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.