Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • On the Road in Des Moines: Supporting Community Partnerships

    John Berry Participates in Roundtable Events in Des Moines, Iowa

    OPM Director John Berry participates in roundtable events in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, February 3, 2012 (Photo courtesy of Darin Leach, USDA).

    Across America, community and public service partnerships are having a positive impact on our economic recovery.

    I saw this in Iowa last week, when I addressed the First Friday Club, a monthly gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) residents from the Des Moines area.  Over the course of the last year, this community has raised over $25,000 to award as college scholarships to local high school students who are working to combat homophobia in their schools.  

  • Commemorating National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

    On this, the 12th annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I remember my sister-in-law’s fight with the disease. Tragically, she did not win that fight – she left behind a devastated husband and five-year old daughter. But it is in her memory, and the memory of all the friends and loved ones we have lost, that we vow to keep working toward the day when HIV/AIDS is history.

    This past December, on World AIDS Day, President Obama spoke about the United States’ commitment to ending HIV/AIDS. In a speech at George Washington University, he told the audience, “Make no mistake, we are going to win this fight.  But the fight is not over … not by a long shot.” 

    Sadly, this is especially true in the African-American community. Black Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 44 percent of new HIV infections. Among young black gay men alone, infections have increased by nearly 50 percent in just three years, and black women account for the largest share of HIV infections among women. We each must do our part by getting tested regularly, and by educating those in our community about what they can do to help end the epidemic.

    President Obama is committed to doing his part as well. In 2010, he released the nation’s first comprehensive HIV/AIDS plan. Together with Secretary Clinton, he has helped assemble a coalition of governments, healthcare professionals, and service providers. They have set a goal that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago: an AIDS-free generation, in which virtually all children are born HIV-free, and prevention tools help them stay HIV-free throughout their lives.

  • On the Road in Peoria: Combating Hate, One Community at a Time

    In the United States of America, no one should have to live in fear of being physically attacked because of what they look like, where they come from, what they believe, who they are, or who they love.  That’s why President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act into law on October 28, 2009, adding federal protections against violent crimes that are based on the gender, disability, gender identity, or sexual orientation of the victim to the existing protections for hate crimes based on race, color, religion, or national origin.  While 45 states have hate crimes laws, only 12 states and the District of Columbia have laws that cover sexual orientation and gender identity and 31 states have laws that cover only sexual orientation.  This landmark federal legislation – the first federal civil rights law to specify protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity – was first introduced more than a decade ago and fills a critical need. 

  • Announcing the White House LGBT Conference Series

    Later this month, the White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) will launch a series of conferences around the country specifically focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

    Held in partnership with key Departments and Agencies, these White House LGBT Conferences will provide advocates, providers, and community organizations of the public an opportunity to hear directly from the Administration on our efforts to ensure health, dignity, and justice for LGBT Americans.  These conferences will empower participants by connecting them with Federal government information, resources, and opportunities.

    The inaugural event, the White House LGBT Conference on Health, will be held in Philadelphia on February 16th, and will feature remarks by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.  Participants will receive important updates from Administration officials and have the opportunity to learn about Federal government resources and opportunities through workshop sessions on issues such as access to care, aging, cultural competency, and mental health and substance abuse.  This conference will also provide an opportunity to highlight innovative work on LGBT Health already taking place in communities across America.

    These conferences are part of our ongoing education, outreach, and training efforts.  Future conferences will be held around the country and will focus on topics including, but not limited to, Housing & Homelessness, Safe Schools & Communities, and HIV/AIDS Prevention.

    Click here if you are interested in attending the White House LGBT Conference on Health.  Please note that space is limited and registrations will only be accepted until we reach capacity.

    For more information and updates, sign up for White House LGBT Updates.

    Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the Office of Public Engagement.

  • Ending Housing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans

    Ed. Note: This piece is cross-posted from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's official blog.

    On Saturday, I was proud to speak before the 24th National Gay and Lesbian Task Force “Creating Change” Conference, where I announced the publication of a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose.

    The need for this rule is clear, particularly when it comes to housing. According to one recent report, not only are 40 percent of homeless youth LGBT, half of them report experiencing homelessness as a result of their gender identity or expression.  Even more troubling, the majority of them report harassment, difficulty, or even sexual assault when trying to access homeless shelters.  That’s not just wrong – it’s not who we are as Americans.  And as the Injustice at Every Turn report put out by the Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality last year found, these challenges are all too common.

    That’s why HUD is working to ensure that our housing programs are open to all – the rule will open access to housing for LGBT individuals and families in four important ways:

  • The State of LGBT Health in Colorado

    Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the blog.

    All of us hope and expect to be provided care and treated well by the health care professionals we rely on every day to keep us healthy.  Unfortunately, far too often, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans are denied care or treated discriminatorily simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

    Last week, I had the opportunity to host a Conversation on LGBT Health in Denver, Colorado, in partnership with the One Colorado Education Fund.  One Colorado recently completed a comprehensive study to discover and document the state of LGBT health and wellness in Colorado.  The study surveyed nearly 1,300 LGBT Coloradans who shared their personal health care stories and experiences.  

    Marguerite Salazar, HHS Regional Director

    Marguerite Salazar, HHS Regional Director (Region VIII), speaks at “A Conversation on LGBT Health”, January 19, 2012 in Denver, CO (photo courtesy of Jess Woodrum/ONE Colorado). January 19, 2012. (by Jess Woodrum/ONE Colorado)

    One participant stated, “A lot of people might not come out to their doctor because it’s very scary.  You don’t know how people will react.”  Another respondent stated, “You can’t be healthy if you have to hide who you are. Or if you think you have to hide who you are because you don’t know if it’s safe.” 

    According to the study:

    • 21 percent of the LGBT respondents and 53 percent of the transgender community were refused care by doctors or other health workers
    • 27 percent of transgender respondents do not have health insurance
    • 74 percent of respondents reported a lack of or limited health insurance
    • 83 percent of transgender respondents reported healthcare expenses to be a barrier to seeking services

  • A Special Message on National Gay-Straight Alliance Day

    Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken many steps to ensure that all students are safe and healthy and can learn in environments free from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

    Bullying is an epidemic that has gone ignored for too long, and far too many of our young people are targeted and harassed based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  But across the country, Gay-Straight Alliances and other similar student groups are taking important steps to address these issues.

    Last year, President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and others welcomed students, parents, and teachers in addition to non-profit leaders, advocates, and policymakers to the White House for a Conference on Bullying Prevention.  Also last year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote a “Dear Colleague” letter to school districts across the country in support of Gay-Straight Alliances.  And today, on the occasion of the first-ever National Gay-Straight Alliance Day, Secretary Duncan has taped a video message to students, teachers, and allies to re-emphasize the Obama Administration’s commitment to safe schools for all students.

  • Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal One Year Later: “Out of Many, We Are One”

    President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010

    President Barack Obama signs the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 during a ceremony at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C., Dec. 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

     For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one.”  We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot.  We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for.  Those are the ideals that we uphold today.  And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law.

     -- President Barack Obama, December 22, 2010.

    One year ago, President Obama signed into law the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act, bringing to an end a discriminatory policy that forced patriotic Americans to serve under a cloud of anxiety and isolation and stood in stark contrast to our shared values of unity and equality.

    One year later, gay and lesbian service members can serve the country they love without hiding who they love – and both our military and country are stronger for it. 

    To commemorate the one year anniversary of President Obama signing the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repeal Act, we asked a few former service members to reflect on the long journey toward repeal and what it was like to watch President Obama sign the Repeal Act into law:

    Zoe Dunning

    Until her retirement in 2007, Retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning was one of the only openly gay service members in the country, having successfully fought an attempted discharge in 1993.  For many of those years, she served on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network as an advocate for the repeal of DADT. 

    Watch Retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning's story here.