Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • A Civil Rights Breakthrough

    Ed. note: this blog was originally published on the Office of Personnel Management's Blog. See the original post here

    I love delivering good news. Last week, I had the honor of recapping the Administration’s civil rights accomplishments to the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

    The chamber’s annual meeting was sold out. I stopped in to talk to them about what a great week we had just had. It had started with President Obama signing the Executive Order that makes clear that Federal employees and Federal contractors can come to work each and every day without fear of discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

    The week ended with the release of OPM’s update of the Title V discrimination regulations. These new rules make it crystal clear that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is a form of sex discrimination and is against the law.

    I think about how far we’ve come. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed. We ended the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act.  The Supreme Court ruled in United States vs. Windsor that the Federal government must recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples. The President signed historic hate crimes legislation into law. The Affordable Care Act has expanded access to health coverage, and in the process we addressed LGBT health care disparities.

    But this conversation is about more than policy fixes and court decisions and legislation. What we are witnessing is a sea change in the way the United States of America treats lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

    This is personal. This year we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1965. What we have done under this President is a defining civil rights accomplishment of this generation.

    As director of OPM, I am so proud of the work that our employees do every day to make sure that our LGBT brothers and sisters are not denied access to health, retirement or life insurance benefits or the Family and Medical Leave Act simply because of who they are and who they love.

    I know we have more work to do. As the President said in his proclamation declaring June LGBT Pride Month:  “We celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains." But we sure have made a great start!

    Katherine Archuleta is the Director of the Office of Personnel Management.

  • Best Practices in Engaging the LGBT Community on the Affordable Care Act

    Across America, the Affordable Care Act is having a tremendous, positive impact on the health, wellbeing, and economic security of millions of Americans, including LGBT people and their families. Many members of the LGBT community face limited access to health care and insurance, and are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy. The Affordable Care Act directly addresses some of these needs. That’s why, during the first open enrollment period -- from October 1, 2013 to March 30, 2014 -- LGBT leaders and organizations at the national, state, and local level worked hard to raise awareness of the Affordable Care Act and get members of their communities covered. (Need examples? Click here.)

    But our work is not yet done. November 15, 2014 marks the start of a second open enrollment period – another critically important 3-month period to get LGBT people access to quality, affordable health care. And in the meantime, some members of the community (including young people who were #Bornin88) can still sign up for coverage through Special Enrollment Periods.

    To prepare for this important work, last week, the White House Office of Public Engagement and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services hosted a briefing for LGBT, HIV/AIDS, and health advocates to discuss best practices, innovative strategies, and new resources to help LGBT communities get covered. The briefing also included the release of a new report from the Out2Enroll campaign, which looked in-depth at LGBT community engagement efforts from the first open enrollment period. The report assesses promising practices, identifies remaining concerns, and offers concrete recommendations to help the marketplaces and other stakeholders effectively connect LGBT people with their new coverage options. Click here to read Out2Enroll’s report.

    Further Resources:

  • Join a Tumblr Q&A on the President's New Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers & Expanding Opportunity for the LGBT Community

    This week, President Obama signed an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. From the repeal of “Don't Ask, Don’t Tell” to ending the legal defense of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, the Obama administration has made advancing equality and leveling the playing field for the LGBT community a priority.

    On Friday, you're invited to join a conversation on the new Executive Order and steps the Administration has taken to expand opportunity for the LGBT community. Join Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, for a Tumblr Q&A this Friday, July 25 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Here’s how it works:

    The White House uses platforms like Tumblr to connect with people around the country on the issues they care the most about. Last month, the President joined his first-ever Tumblr Q&A live from the White House focused on education. We’re excited to continue the White House Tumblr Q&A series this week, so ask away!

  • Pride and Opportunity

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.

    President Obama signs an executive order on further amendments to EO 11478

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks before he signs an executive order regarding further amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246, Equal Employment Opportunity, to protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination, in the East Room of the White House, July 21, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

    A few weeks ago during Pride Month, I wrote about my belief that the nation and the workforce are strongest when we fully embrace diversity. Everyone, no matter whom they love, should have the opportunity to achieve their highest and best dreams. And the idea that you could be fired for no other reason than your sexual orientation does violence to our values.

    That’s what President Obama believes. So today, he signed an executive order extending workplace protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors and of the federal government.

    “Thanks to your passion and advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause,” the President said to advocates gathered in the East Room at the White House, “our government – government of the people, by the people and for the people – will become just a little bit fairer.”

  • President Obama Signs a New Executive Order to Protect LGBT Workers

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the White House Blog. See the original post here.

    Watch on YouTube

    "Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming."

    Those were President Obama's words to the audience in the East Room of the White House this morning, before he signed an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

    At the signing, the President explained how, because of their "passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of [their] cause, our government -- government of the people, by the people, and for the people -- will become just a little bit fairer."

  • Moving Forward with USAID's LGBT Vision for Action

    Ed. note: This blog is cross posted on the USAID Blog. See the original post here.

    Rainbow Pride Rally in Kolkata

    India: A gay rights activist holds a rainbow flag during a Rainbow Pride rally in Kolkata on July 15, 2012. More than 500 people from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and supporters participated in the annual event to show solidarity and to create awareness about their basic rights. June 15, 2014. (by Dibyangshu Sarkar)

    With June’s Pride month celebrations behind us, I reflect on the reasons I celebrated.

    Reverberations continue from President Obama’s ground-breaking Memorandum of December 2011, which outlined the U.S. Government’s commitment to the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folks around the world. USAID continues to take a lead among foreign affairs agencies in fulfilling the tenets of the Presidential Memorandum, recently issuing its own document: USAID LGBT Vision for Action.

    USAID’s vision is a world in which the basic and universal human rights of LGBT persons are respected and they are able to live with dignity, free from discrimination, persecution and violence. In this world, LGBT persons are able to participate fully in democratic decision-making in their households, communities and countries; have equal access to sustainable livelihoods, economic assets and resources; are not barred from accessing the basic education, health and other services that are enjoyed by their fellow citizens and that are essential for personal well-being and growth.

    In Colombia, for example, USAID has worked hard to build the skills of LGBT leaders so they can participate fully and effectively in democratic processes. We are supporting a project designed to extend democratic governance and respect for human rights to all Colombians, as well as mainstream LGBT and other vulnerable populations’ rights (e.g. through improving relations with law enforcement and pursuing legal cases to enforce human rights). Our Colombian civil society partners are developing advocacy and policy strategies, improving relations with law enforcement, pursuing legal cases to enforce human rights abuses, and raising awareness to institutionalize a culture of respect for LGBT rights.

    Demonstrator Holding Rainbow Flag in Bratislava

    Slovakia: A demonstrator holds a rainbow flag in Bratislava on June 9, 2012, during the Rainbow Pride Parade, a march for the human rights of non-heterosexual people and the celebration of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) pride in Slovakia. June 9, 2014. (by Samuel Kubani)

    The first Pride celebration I attended, decades ago, was small, apologetic and attended by only a furtive few. My calendar this past June couldn’t possibly have accommodated all the events hosted by the White House and federal agencies across Washington, D.C., let alone the numerous events hosted by USAID missions across the more than 80 countries in which we work. Near the end of June, I co-moderated a session at the first ever White House Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights.

    When I first engaged as an American in the struggle for the human rights of LGBT folks around the world, it was often difficult to identify local LGBT representatives with whom to interface. Today they have bravely and proudly organized in most countries. They guide us, and trust us to join forces with them, shoulder to shoulder, as they live and breathe and move their cultures and countries toward realization of the Martin Luther King Jr. teaching: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

    Participant in LGBT Flashmob in Vietnam

    Vietnam: A participant dances during a flashmob organised by the local LGBT community in Hanoi on September 23, 2012. Two first ever flashmobs by LGBT communities were held at the same time in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’s two largest cities. September 23, 2013. (by Dinh Nam)

    Soon after arriving at USAID, four months ago, I travelled to Uganda to meet with some of these brave, proud individuals. I came away not only bowed by the enormity of their challenges and the urgency and critical importance of supporting them, but also – by virtue, above all, of their brilliance and tenacity – convinced of the inevitability of their success.

    While many of us celebrated this June openly and joyously, others of us were forced to do so behind closed doors, shielding ourselves from hostile environments. In some 80 countries around the world, same-gender consensual relations are criminalized; in a half dozen countries, same-gender consensual relations are punishable by death. In countries like Uganda, Nigeria and Russia, this past year saw backsliding of enormous and tragic proportions.

    To say that there is a lot of work ahead is to state the obvious. At the same time, more than ever before in my lifetime, I understood and joined in the celebrations of Pride month 2014.  I look forward to Pride month 2015, and celebrating the further achievements of our global community.

    Todd Larson is the Senior Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Coordinator at USAID.

  • Justice and Identity

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.

    As we celebrate Pride Month and approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the Labor Department is reaffirming its commitment to equal opportunity for all. That’s why we are updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to clarify that we provide the full protection of the federal non-discrimination laws that we enforce to transgender individuals.

    These changes reflect current law. In Macy v. Holder, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that discrimination because a person is transgender is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Civil Rights Center, along with the Employment and Training Administration, will issue guidance to make clear that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is discrimination based on sex. While the department has long protected employees from sex-based discrimination, its guidance to workers and employers will explicitly clarify that this includes workers who identify as transgender. The department will continue to examine its programs to identify additional opportunities to extend the law’s full protection against discrimination to transgender workers.

    Our workforce and our entire economy are strongest when we embrace diversity to its fullest, and that means opening doors of opportunity to everyone and recognizing that the American Dream excludes no one.

    Tom Perez is Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor.

  • "Same Struggle, Different Difference" - Opportunities for Togetherness

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor blog. See the original post here.

    ODEP Chief of Staff Dylan Orr Speaking at the Labor Department's Institute on HIV/AIDS and Employment

    ODEP Chief of Staff Dylan Orr speaks at the Labor Department's Institute on HIV/AIDS and Employment.

    Each June, the LGBTQ+ community and allies commemorate Pride Month, promoting self-affirmation, dignity, visibility, inclusion and diversity within the community. In July, the disability community and allies commemorate the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, promoting the same principles in response to a similar history of exclusion and discrimination.

    These periods of commemoration are clearly connected by a matter of days on the calendar, but as communities we don’t always make the connections around our common experiences and goals. I believe the disability and LGBTQ+ communities can find strength in working together. In fact, it is these commonalities and the opportunities they present that led me to serve as chief of staff in the Office of Disability Employment Policy.

    From my earliest thoughts, I knew I was different. I knew because the outside world told me so. When my mom was pregnant with me she thought she was carrying a boy and chose the name Dallas. When I was born with the external indications that I was a girl, she instead named me Lily − as I like to joke, “the most effeminate name in the book.”

    As I grew I didn’t feel like a girl or what that seemed to represent. I also thought there was something wrong with me. I felt shame about what I decided would be my little (or big) secret for the rest of my life. I was teased on the playground and questioned by adults as to “what I was,” and essentially told that I did not look or act the way I was “meant” to. And, I felt camaraderie with individuals with disabilities who, like me, were excluded or made fun of for how they looked or acted. So I stuck up for them and befriended them.

    It would not be for many years that I would first hear the word transgender and eventually embrace that identity, and find love, community, support and pride. Along the way, I have come to recognize the multiple intersections within our communities – from being labeled by society as “other” or somehow different from what is “normal” mentally or physically, to negotiating disclosure, to facing barriers and disparities in critical areas of life like public accommodations, housing, education, employment, the legal system and medical care. These intersections have influenced me along my academic and professional path, and the disability community has become my community.

    This week I was honored to participate in the Forum on LGBT and Disability Issues at the White House, and proud to share how ODEP is building bridges between the disability community and other marginalized populations.

    One of the initiatives we are working on is called Add Us In, designed to identify and develop strategies to increase employment within the small businesses for individuals with disabilities, with an emphasis on ethnic minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, women and veterans. ODEP is also working to support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by improving employment and economic opportunities for people living with HIV, a covered disability under the ADA, which disproportionately impacts the gay, transgender, African American and Latino communities.

    Through my work, I am constantly reminded that, although much remains to be done, significant progress has occurred in just the last generation, for both the LGBTQ+ and the disability communities. Going forward, we must draw strength from each other’s lessons − and remind ourselves that when one person or group is marginalized or discriminated against, we all are.

    I hope to one day live in a world that truly celebrates the wide variation of the human form, condition and experience. To get there, we all have a part to play. Change does not arise from pity, shame, exclusion or low expectations. It arises from empowerment, celebration of difference, and a willingness to take risks as individuals and communities − to take pride in who we are.

    Dylan Orr is chief of staff for the Office of Disability Employment Policy.