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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia’s Diversion Program includes a list of 45 different locations in D.C. where community service hours may be earned. Of the 45 currently on the list, only one option includes an organization that primarily serves an LGBT purpose: Transgender Health Empowerment.
That’s part of the reason why David Mariner, executive director of The Center, has spent the past three months trying to have the LGBT community center added to the list.
”We submitted to them all the paperwork that they require to document we’re a nonprofit and all of that stuff,” Mariner told Metro Weekly.
”They said once you send this, we’ll add you to the list. We’ve never been added to the list. I feel uncomfortable because there’s only one LGBT group on the list.”
Mariner initially began working toward getting the Center added after hearing from a gay man in USAO-DC’s diversion program, who claims to have been forced to serve his community hours at what Mariner describes an ”anti-gay church.”
”People should be able to complete their court-ordered service without hanging around people who are condemning them to hell,” Mariner says.
While USAO-DC did not comment directly on the matter, it did confirm that the office enforces a number of guidelines for new community service organizations who wish to be added to its list to ensure there is no fraud regarding the community service performed.
Bill Miller, a spokesperson for the USAO-DC, indicated that it is currently updating its documentation and forms, and will begin adding additional organizations shortly.
Mariner says receiving a call from the USAO-DC last week, after months of waiting for a response, is better late than never.
”They said they’re in the process of updating their guidelines for community service organizations, which could take a couple of weeks, and that I will hear from their office after that.”
”I’m skeptical, I feel a little brushed off,” Mariner adds, ”but I’m willing to wait a few weeks to see what will happen.”
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