Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • 2012 Highlights

    As we kick off 2013, we want to take a few moments to reflect upon the last year of progress towards dignity, justice, and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

    December 13: US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People Abroad
    Samantha Power, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights at the National Security Council, describes the Obama Administration’s commitment to human rights and human dignity for LGBT people abroad.

    November 20: Transgender Day of Remembrance
    The White House marks Transgender Day of Remembrance by meeting with a small group of community advocates.

    October 19: Going Purple for Spirit Day
    The White House honors Spirit Day to support young people who have been victims of bullying.

    Dr Biden/VPOTUS Young LGBT Leaders

    September 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden speak at a reception with emerging young leaders of the LGBT community at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann))

    September 21: Celebrating the Next Generation of LGBT Leaders
    The Vice President and Dr. Biden welcome young LGBT leaders from around the country – students and community organizers, advocates and artists, and veterans – to a reception at the Vice President’s Residence.

    September 20: Marking One Year Since the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
    Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, meets with a small group of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, together with several of their partners and spouses, to celebrate the one year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    July 26: Dr. Jill Biden Views the AIDS Memorial Quilt
    Dr. Jill Biden views some panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt during the week of the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.

    July 18: The White House Celebrates LGBT Champions of Change
    The White House honors six ordinary Americans as LGBT Champions of Change because of their extraordinary work across the country to ensure safety, dignity, and equality for the LGBT community.

     
    DOD's LGBT Pride Month Event

    June 26, 2012. (by Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton, far right, speaks during a panel at DoD’s LGBT Pride Month event at the Pentagon, June 26, 2012. (Photo courtesy of DoD, by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley))

    June 28: Defense Department Hosts First Ever LGBT Pride Month Event
    The Department of Defense holds its first-ever LGBT Pride Month event at the Pentagon, commending the service and sacrifice of gay and lesbian servicemembers and LGBT civilian personnel.

    June 19: The Obama Administration Honors LGBT Pride Month
    Throughout the month of June, the Obama Administration honors LGBT Pride Month with video messages, statements by senior officials, events, and even a Presidential Proclamation.

    Robin Roberts and POTUS Interview

    May 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC's Good Morning America, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, May 9, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza))

    May 10: President Obama Supports Same-Sex Marriage
    During an interview with ABC News, the President expresses his personal support for marriage equality.

    May 10: Reactions to President Obama’s Support for Marriage Equality
    Following the President’s statement in support of marriage equality, individuals and organizations across the country – including labor unions, environmental groups, social justice and civil rights advocates, and organizations advocating for equal rights for LGBT people – express their support for the President.

    April 20: Ending Bullying in Our Schools & Communities
    Valerie Jarrett describes the White House screening of the movie BULLY, describes the Obama Administration’s efforts to address and prevent bullying, and announces the President’s endorsement of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA).

    April 11: LGBT Families at the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll
    The White House welcomes thousands of families for the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll – including LGBT families from as far away as Utah and as nearby as Maryland.

    Valerie Jarrett at Legal Defense Network

    March 3, 2012. (by Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett delivers keynote remarks at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network 20th National Dinner in Washington, D.C., Saturday, March 3, 2012 (Photo by Chris Burch/SLDN).)

     March 4: Celebrating Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” at the SLDN National Dinner

    Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett delivers keynote remarks before over 1,000 gay and lesbian service members, veterans, and military families at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network national dinner in Washington, D.C.

    February 23: On the Road in Philadelphia: Focus on LGBT Health
    The White House Office of Public Engagement kicks off the White House LGBT Conference series with a day-long conference on LGBT Health in Philadelphia, PA, featuring keynote remarks by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

    February 6: On the Road in Peoria: Combating Hate, One Community at a Time
    The Department of Justice continues to enforce and implement the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

    January 30: Ending Housing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans
    At the 24th national Gay and Lesbian Task Force “Creating Change” Conference, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan announces the publication of a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose.

    January 25: A Special Message on National Gay-Straight Alliance Day
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan records a video message to students across the country in honor of the first-ever National Gay Straight Alliance Day.

    POTUS at LGBT Pride Month Reception

    June 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the LGBT Pride Month Reception in the East Room of the White House, June 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy))

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

  • We Want to Hear from You

    As we commemorated World AIDS Day earlier this month, the importance of addressing the needs of women and girls as part of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy was clear. While we have made tremendous progress in learning how to prevent and treat HIV, including among women and girls, much work remains.  Of the approximately 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States, about 290,000 are women and women account for 23 percent of new HIV infections.  

    This Administration has made combating the HIV/AIDS epidemic a priority. For women, that includes addressing gender-based violence and gender related health disparities.  This violence can increase the risks women and girls face of acquiring HIV while decreasing their ability to seek prevention, treatment, and health services.

    As directed by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, federal agencies are collaborating and coordinating in an unprecedented manner to decrease new HIV/AIDS infections, improve HIV-related outcomes, and reduce HIV-related disparities.  To continue this collaborative approach, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum in March 2012, establishing an interagency working group on the intersection of HIV/AIDS, violence against women and girls, and gender-related health disparities. 

    The working group includes representatives from the Departments of Justice, Interior, Health and Human Services, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and the Office of Management and Budget. We are also tapping into the wealth of expertise and experience of members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS as well as our global Federal partners from the Department of State, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Gender Technical Working Group from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). 

  • US Leadership to Advance Equality for LGBT People Abroad

    During Human Rights Week, we reaffirm our commitment to upholding human rights and human dignity at home and abroad, and we recognize the need to build a world in which everyone can pursue their dreams free from violence and discrimination.

    Last week at the Human Rights First summit, I described how advancing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world is central to, not separate from, our comprehensive human rights agenda. With LGBT people facing death, violence, persecution, and discrimination around the world, the stakes could not be higher. Seventy-eight countries have laws that criminalize consensual same-sex acts between adults, resulting in unchecked human rights abuses and exploitation by police, security officials and private citizens. In at least 5 countries, the death penalty can be applied for being gay. Even where being LGBT is not a crime, violence by state and non-state actors alike often goes unpunished and LGBT communities live in fear and isolation.

    As President Obama has said, “no one should be harmed because of who they are or who they love”. To ensure a comprehensive U.S. response to these threats, one year ago, President Obama issued the first ever Presidential Memorandum to advance the human rights of LGBT persons, requiring all U.S. agencies engaged abroad to “ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” and to report annually on their progress.

    We are continuing to lead a government-wide effort to oversee implementation of the Presidential Memorandum and ensure effective coordination across different agencies and offices. Highlights from progress made across the U.S. Government include:

    Strengthening U.S. Government capacity:

    • Departments and agencies are establishing new coordination mechanisms, strengthening training of key personnel, and raising internal awareness among staff and partners about LGBT issues. Secretary of State Clinton and USAID Administrator Shah have instructed U.S. embassies and USAID missions to meet regularly with the LGBT community in their host countries. The Department of State has also established a taskforce that meets monthly to oversee the implementation of its LGBT strategy, created and distributed a resource toolkit to all embassies, and established a rapid response mechanism to address emerging crises in different countries. USAID has established a new LGBT senior coordinator position and internal task force, developed e-tools including an LGBT resource page and internal listserv, and directed all USAID missions to appoint a focal point to follow LGBT issues.
    • The Peace Corps is implementing LGBT training sessions for Volunteers and staff to raise awareness about the unique challenges faced by local LGBT populations as well as LGBT Peace Corps Volunteers in the field. In 2012, the Peace Corps also facilitated a regional workshop to help overseas posts foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBT Volunteers and staff.

  • Safety and Justice for All Americans

    Editor's note: The following post appears courtesy of Roy L. Austin Jr., the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. This is cross-posted from the DOJ blog.

    Last week, I attended the Ninth Anniversary of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., and delivered remarks about the Obama Administration’s commitment to safety and justice for all Americans, including transgender Americans.

    LGBT equality has been a top priority of the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder. As President Barack Obama said in October 2011:

    “Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition.”

    The Justice Department has a number of tools at our disposal to meet this important goal. In the Civil Rights Division, one way we do this is by ensuring that law enforcement officials treat everyone equally and are not violating the constitutional rights of the people they serve. The vast majority of police departments around the country work tirelessly to protect the civil and constitutional rights of the communities they serve. But when systematic problems emerge in a police department, the Civil Rights Division uses its statutory authority to hold them accountable, and to galvanize and institutionalize meaningful reform. 

  • Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Earlier today, a group of transgender community advocates met with White House staff to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and discuss ways in which we can work together to ensure dignity, equality, and justice for all people.

    Throughout America and around the world, many transgender people face bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence.  Far too often, we hear shocking and tragic stories about transgender people who have been assaulted and even killed because of their gender identity or expression.  The Obama Administration is committed to preventing violence against all people, including all members of the LGBT community, and this meeting was an important opportunity to explore ways to make our communities and neighborhoods safer.

    At the meeting, community leaders highlighted a range of issues and concerns of importance to transgender people.  In the months and years ahead, we look forward to working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all transgender people.

    As we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and reflect upon the lives that have been lost to violence and injustice, let us all recommit ourselves to ensuring dignity, equality, and justice for all people.

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

  • Going Purple for Spirit Day

    Spirit Day -- the celebration to honor and support young people who have been victims of bullying -- is now three years old.

    It has become a day when people the world over rally for LGBT community and speak out against the bullying of LGBT teens.

    And this year, the White House is once again going purple online. You can check out our Twitter feed or our Facebook page to see how we're marking the day -- and take part by making your social networking icon purple or adding a statement of support.

    To learn more about what you can do to support kids and stop bullying, check out stopbullying.gov/.

  • Helping Understand and Treat HIV Through Community-Based Leadership

    The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community have helped bring about much of the tremendous progress in understanding and treating HIV, ranging from increasing HIV awareness, to fighting HIV-related discrimination, to volunteering for cutting-edge research. This legacy of community-based leadership is one to note on this 5th Annual National Gay Men’s HIV/Awareness Day.

    In 2010, President Obama released the nation’s first comprehensive National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which called for aligning resources where HIV is most concentrated, and implementing evidence-based, high-impact interventions to reduce new HIV infections, improving HIV-related health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related disparities. The Strategy has focused Federal, State, and local efforts on a combination prevention approach for gay men and other populations at high risk, including increasing HIV testing and HIV treatment, because studies demonstrate that increasing diagnosis rates and reducing viral loads will significantly reduce new HIV infections in disproportionately affected communities.

    The National HIV/AIDS Strategy also calls for addressing stigma and discrimination as part of a comprehensive response to the HIV epidemic. In keeping with the goals of the Strategy, the Department of Justice has taken steps to enforce civil rights laws that protect the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and has launched a website dedicated to fighting discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS. 

  • Celebrating the Next Generation of LGBT Leaders

    On Wednesday, the Vice President and Dr. Biden hosted an “End of Summer BBQ” at the Vice President’s Residence with emerging young leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. They were joined by senior Obama Administration officials, leaders of national LGBT organizations, and campus and community leaders from all over the country.

    Guests at the event represented tremendous diversity and talent within the LGBT community. They included students and community organizers, advocates and artists, and veterans – all committed to the pursuit of equality, justice, and dignity for LGBT people. 

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden speak at a reception with emerging young leaders

    Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden speak at a reception with emerging young leaders of the LGBT community at the Naval Observatory Residence in Washington, D.C., September 19, 2012. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)