Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • Dr. Biden Meets with LGBT Americans Benefiting from the Affordable Care Act

    Dr. Jill Biden Meets with Members of the LGBT community about ACA

    Dr. Jill Biden meets with members of the LGBT community who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 26, 2014.

    An important deadline is coming up for all Americans, including the LGBT community: March 31 is the end of the open enrollment period for individuals to sign up for health care in the state and federal Marketplaces. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to get health insurance again until next year.

    The Affordable Care Act has the potential to improve the health and well-being of the LGBT community for generations to come. (Here’s how.) Many LGBT individuals across the country have signed up for coverage — and they’re already seeing the benefits.

  • What They’re Saying: Douglas M. Brooks as the New Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy

    After President Obama announced yesterday that Douglas M. Brooks, MSW, would lead the Office of National AIDS Policy, HIV/AIDS organizations from around the country announced their support. They echoed the President’s words when he said, “Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.” Brooks, an openly gay African American man living with HIV, is a respected expert in the community whose distinct experiences will help further our goals of achieving an AIDS-free generation and improving the health of people living with HIV in the United States.

    Here’s what some HIV/AIDS organizations said about the President’s announcement:

    amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research (New York, NY)
    “We are eager to see strong leadership carry out the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s renewed focus on evidence-based policy and effective programming, especially with respect to populations hardest hit by AIDS in America, including gay men and other men who have sex with men, and African American and Latino men and women.”

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation (San Francisco, CA)
    “Douglas is the right person at the right time to step into this role. As new infections increasingly concentrate in the African-American community, and especially among Black gay men, it is more important than ever that our young people see a future for themselves in the face of someone like Douglas so that they can harness their innate resilience to create healthy and successful lives.”

    AIDS United (Washington, DC)
    “We have the opportunity to finally end the epidemic. I’ve been fortunate to work directly with Douglas, and have great confidence that he knows how to convene the right public and private partners to engage in the right conversations that will result in real progress.”

    National Minority AIDS Council (Washington, DC)
    “As the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that Black gay men – especially those living with HIV – are represented at the highest levels of our government’s response to the epidemic.”

    Lifelong AIDS Alliance (Seattle, WA)
    “His tireless work to support the communities most greatly affected by HIV is steeped in compassion and personal commitment supported by epidemiological data. This appointment will help drive our common objective to end AIDS today and subsequently put a dent in HIV incidence within the United States and worldwide.”

    The AIDS Institute (Washington, DC)
    “Achieving these goals in an environment of constrained budget resources and within the changing landscape of the Affordable Care Act provides unique opportunities and challenges. We are confident Brooks possesses the leadership and passion to guide the White House through the next few years as we together aim to fulfill the President’s desire to realize an AIDS-free generation.”

    Gautam Raghavan is Associate Director with the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • Standing Up for LGBT Rights Around the World

    Vice President Joe Biden gives the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Los Angeles, Calif., March 22, 2014.

    Vice President Joe Biden gives the keynote address at the Human Rights Campaign gala in Los Angeles, Calif., March 22, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

    “The rights of LGBT people [are] an inseparable part of America’s promotion of human rights around the world,” Vice President Joe Biden declared to a packed audience at the Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles gala on Saturday night.

    In a world where homosexuality is a crime in almost 80 countries — punishable by death in 7 — the Vice President reasserted America’s unwavering commitment to LGBT rights in every corner of the world. “Hate,” he explained, “can never, never be defended because it’s a so-called cultural norm.”

  • Reflecting on India: Challenges and Opportunities for the LGBT Community

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    After reflecting on my recent trip  to India, I’m reminded that in many countries around the world, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community continue to face political, social, and cultural hurdles that prevent them from achieving full equality. Some of those challenges cut across borders, while others are shaped in unique ways by the historical and modern  circumstances of each nation. As President and Chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, I have the opportunity to travel  to many of these countries—and I make a point of trying to meet with local LGBT communities to hear directly from them about their challenges, goals, and achievements.
     
    As I often do after these meetings, I’ve reflected many times on the stories I heard from members of the Indian LGBT community, and on the particular challenges they’re facing now. In December 2013, India’s Supreme Court upheld Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a 150-year-old law that effectively criminalizes homosexuality. This decision was highly controversial and drew significant criticism from a range of sectors, including from the Indian government—and it was a devastating blow to the equality and dignity of gay and lesbian Indians.
     
    I had the opportunity to meet with  some of the leaders in the Indian LGBT community during my visit and discuss some of the challenges confronting them. I gained insight on the lives of LGBT Indians from GaysiFamily, an organization working to create a safe space for LGBT communities and promote awareness of LGBT rights. I also had the chance to meet Prince  Manvendra—an openly gay member of one of India’s royal families—who shared his insights with me on the difficulties of coming out and the obstacles to equality that remain in India.
     
    Despite the challenges and  uncertainties that many LGBT Indians face, there’s reason for hope—and that reason is the courage, passion, and steadfast commitment of LGBT advocates and allies like the individuals I met, as well as organizations in Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and across the country. From pride parades to Bollywood films, awareness of LGBT issues in India is rising quickly. As long as these advocates and allies continue to work for reform, I remain optimistic that  meaningful progress will soon be within their grasp—and that we in America will do our part to support their courageous work for equality.
     
    Fred P. Hochberg is Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

  • Making Health Care Coverage More Accessible and Equitable for Same-Sex Couples

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of Health and Human Services' health care blog. See the original post here.

    Today, the Department of Health and Human Services took one more step toward making health care coverage more accessible and equitable for married same-sex couples.

    Already, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more than 4.2 million people have signed up for private health insurance plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Marketplace plans cover essential health benefits like emergency services, prescription drugs and mental health and substance use disorder services. And preventive services like flu shots, blood pressure screening and HIV screening are covered at no additional charge.

    Moreover, all health plans sold in the Marketplace have to follow rules that make health care more accessible for everyone. You can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, like HIV/AIDS or cancer, and you can’t be charged more for being a woman.

    Today, we are clarifying that, starting next year, if an insurance company offers coverage to opposite-sex spouses, it cannot choose to deny that coverage to same-sex spouses. In other words, insurance companies will not be permitted to discriminate against married same-sex couples when offering coverage. This will further enhance access to health care for all Americans, including those with same-sex spouses.

  • Ensuring a “Time to Thrive” for LGBTQ Youth

    Last weekend, the Human Rights Campaign, in partnership with the National Education Association and American Counseling Association, hosted the first-ever “Time to Thrive” conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference brought together hundreds of educators, school administrators, coaches, social workers, mental health providers, and other youth development staff for a conversation about promoting safety, inclusion, and well-being among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

    Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have taken significant steps to advance equality for the LGBT community – including addressing and preventing bullying and harassment of LGBT young people in classrooms and communities around the country. That’s why I was proud to moderate a panel discussion with colleagues from the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Agriculture to highlight some of the bullying prevention and youth empowerment resources available across the federal government.

    View video footage of the panel discussion, including a special video message from Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to President Obama.

    If you want to learn more, check out these resources:

    White House Resources

    StopBullying.gov

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    U.S. Department of Education

    U.S. Department of Justice

    U.S. Department of Agriculture

    Gautam Raghavan is an Advisor in the White House Office of Public Engagement.

  • Thank You, Edie Windsor

    On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional. The case was United States v. Windsor, and it was filed by a woman named Edie Windsor who had to pay nearly $400,000 in federal estate taxes after her wife, Thea Spyer, passed away in 2007. While the State of New York recognized their marriage, the federal government did not – because of DOMA. 

    Following the Court’s historic ruling in Windsor, the Administration has moved to implement the decision so that loving, committed, legally married same-sex couples can enjoy the same federal rights, benefits and obligations as other married couples. Just this Monday, the Justice Department issued a new policy memorandum to “formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law.”

    When the Court handed down its decision last June, President Obama called Edie from Air Force One to congratulate her on her victory. And earlier this week, the President invited Edie to the France State Dinner and the Oval Office to thank her in person.

    President Barack Obama meets with Edie Windsor during a drop by in the Oval Office

    President Barack Obama meets with Edie Windsor during a drop by in the Oval Office, Feb. 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The thanks expressed by the President that day have been echoed by millions of Americans, including thousands of legally married couples who can now live their lives with greater justice and dignity – thanks to heroes like Edie Windsor who have been willing to stand up and fight for equality under the law.

    Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

  • Equality in Privileges, Protections and Rights

    Last June, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in United States v. Windsor, a landmark decision that found unconstitutional a provision of law that treated loving, committed and married same-sex couples as a separate and lesser class of people.

    Immediately following the Court’s decision, President Obama directed the Attorney General, Eric Holder, to lead the Administration’s implementation of the Windsor decision to “review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, [was] implemented swiftly and smoothly.” And over the last seven months, the Obama Administration has done just that, extending critically important benefits – from federal tax treatment to military spousal benefits  for legally married same-sex couples, even those living in states that don’t recognize their marriage.

    On Saturday, in remarks delivered at the Human Rights Campaign Greater New York Gala, Attorney General Holder described the importance of the Court’s ruling in Windsor:

    This marked a critical step forward.  And it constituted a resounding victory for committed and loving couples throughout the country who fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents had been denied the recognition that they deserved; and for millions of family, friends, and supporters who wanted to see their loved ones treated fairly, and who worked tirelessly to make that a reality.

    The Attorney General also stressed that we still have work to do, and to that end, announced that today, he is issuing a new policy memorandum that will “formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law.”

    As the Attorney General said:

    This means that, in every courthouse, in every proceeding, and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States – they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections, and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law.  And this policy has important, real-world implications for same-sex married couples that interact with the criminal justice system.

    President Obama said in his Second Inaugural Address, “If we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” Today, thanks to the Court’s historic ruling, the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, and a fundamental commitment to equality that exists across the Obama Administration, we are truly moving towards a more perfect union.

    Read the Attorney General’s remarks as prepared and learn more about the Justice Department’s new policy guidance.

    Valerie Jarrett is Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.