Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • 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)

  • Marking One Year Since the Repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

    Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, together with several of their partners and spouses. We celebrated the one year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

    The servicemembers represented a range of ranks and services. All of them agreed that the most remarkable aspect about their post-repeal service is that, after just one year, serving in the military without DADT feels unremarkable because the transition has been so smooth.

    It should come as no surprise to any of us that the men and women of our armed forces have handled the repeal of DADT with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from the finest fighting force in the world.  As a consequence, our national security has been strengthened.

    As the President said in a statement issued today, “Gay and lesbian Americans now no longer need to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love.  It is a testament to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform that this change was implemented in an orderly manner, preserving unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.”

  • From the Archives: The End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

     

    On this day in 2011, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was finally and formally repealed, allowing gay and lesbian service members to serve openly in our nation’s armed forces.

    In a statement marking the anniversary, President Obama said that repealing the law "upheld the fundamental American values of fairness and equality."

    "The ability of service members to be open and honest about their families and the people they love honors the integrity of the individuals who serve, strengthens the institutions they serve,” he continued, “and is one of the many reasons why our military remains the finest in the world."      

    President Obama signed repeal into law in December of 2010, and in July of 2011 the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that the Department of Defense had taken all the steps needed to prepare the military for repeal. Sixty days after that, at 12:01 a.m. on September 20, 2011, the era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was over.