Blog Posts Related to the LGBT Community

  • LGBT Health Awareness Week: The Affordable Care Act Is Working for You

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' blog. See the original post here.

    Every day here at HHS, we work hard to ensure that all Americans have the building blocks to lead healthy and productive lives. That is especially important for groups that have unique health needs or have traditionally been underserved, like the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This week is LGBT Health Awareness Week, and I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the progress we’ve made in our work to ensure LGBT Americans have the same rights and protections as other Americans.

    Over the last few months, we’ve been focused on getting people signed up through the Health Insurance Marketplace. After another successful Open Enrollment period, millions have gained access to health care coverage – some for the very first time. While there is more to be done, the evidence is clear – the Affordable Care Act is working and delivering access, affordability and quality. Since several of the Affordable Care Act’s coverage provisions began to take effect in 2010, about 16.4 million uninsured people have received coverage. That’s the largest reduction of the uninsured in four decades.

    So what does all this mean for those in the LGBT community?

    We know that, on average, LGBT Americans suffer from higher rates of cancer, obesity, tobacco use, HIV/AIDS and mental illness than the rest of the nation. Five years after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, we know we’ve made real progress.

  • National LGBT Elder Housing Summit

    On February 10, the White House Office of Public Engagement welcomed 100 service providers, advocates, community leaders, and Administration officials who are dedicated to supporting the needs of our aging LGBT community members.

    As the number of Americans age 65 and older surges over the next few decades, the number of LGBT older adults is estimated to double to 3 million by 2030. By this year – 2015 – one in two individuals who are HIV-positive in this country will be over age 50. Many struggle to find welcoming and affordable housing.

    The National LGBT Elder Housing Summit was a unique opportunity for the White House to bring together the LGBT community and the aging network to discuss the intersecting challenges communities across the country have faced in providing affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to LGBT older adults and older adults living with HIV/AIDS. Through panel discussions and open dialogue, experts from far and wide talked about some of the most pressing needs for the LGBT aging population, as well as successful, creative programs and services.

  • 3 Days Left for LGBT Americans to #GetCovered

    There are three days left to #GetCovered under the Affordable Care Act. These next three days couldn’t be more important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans across the country.

    Before the Affordable Care Act, an estimated one in three low- and middle-income LGBT Americans were uninsured. LGBT Americans are disproportionately affected by certain types of cancer, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and mental illnesses, which means that for many LGBT Americans, having health care is a matter of life or death.

    But since President Obama signed the ACA into law, we’ve seen drastic improvement in the insured rates of LGBT Americans across the country, especially given that health insurance companies can no longer discriminate against LGBT Americans – because it’s the law. As a reminder, here are five (of the many) Affordable Care Act benefits for the LGBT community:

    • Plans purchased through the Marketplace can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
    • You can’t be charged a higher premium just because you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
    • There's no more denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or mental health diagnoses.
    • Legally married same-sex couples are treated equally for financial assistance when purchasing coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, regardless of where they live.
    • There are no more lifetime limits on coverage for people with chronic diseases like HIV/AIDS.

  • Obama Administration Brings Global LGBTI Community Together to Advance Human Rights and Development

    Last month, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, where I work, co-hosted the third-annual Conference to Advance the Human Rights of and Promote Inclusive Development for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons. The international conference brought together public and private donors, civil society activists, and the private sector.

    While this gathering wasn't the first of its kind -- previous such conferences were held in 2010 in Stockholm and in 2013 in Berlin -- participation in this year’s event grew significantly, including representation from 30 governments from all regions of the world. When combined with advocates from civil society organizations, more than 50 countries were represented, as well as 9 multilateral agencies, including the United Nations and the World Bank.

    More than 25 governments and multilateral organizations signed a joint communiqué affirming their commitment to increased cooperation, coordination, and communication to advance the human rights of and promote inclusive development for LGBTI persons around the world.

  • Keeping Up with the Cabinet: Equality, Fairness, and Opportunity

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

    I’ve been involved in civil rights work for a long time, and I’ve seen a lot of victories and setbacks. But in recent years, the speed of our progress on equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans has been nothing short of astonishing. The Labor Department has played an important role in that progress, and I’m proud to continue it today.

    Today, we are issuing a rule to implement Executive Order 13672, which was signed by President Obama in July, to ensure that federal contractors and subcontractors do not discriminate against employees or applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. As the president put it: “Americans ought to be judged by one thing only in their workplaces: their ability to get their jobs done.”

    The federal government should be a model employer, leading and not lagging on these issues. Today’s announcement confirms that the federal contracting system will no longer subsidize exclusion and discrimination. 

  • Observing National Transgender Day of Remembrance

    Today, November 20th, 2014, we observe National Transgender Day of Remembrance, as a solemn occasion to honor those who have lost their lives or experienced violence because of their gender identity or gender expression. We honor those who continue to experience violence and recommit to changing hearts and minds in order that all people are free from discrimination, hatred, and violence including transgender people.

    Here at the White House, President Obama and the Administration are committed to continuing to support transgender Americans and protecting their rights from harm and oppression. This year marked the five-year anniversary of President Obama signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, critical civil rights legislation that have since expanded federal hate crimes protections to include gender, gender identity, disability, and sexual orientation. 

    At the recognition of the 5th Anniversary of the Shepard Byrd Act, we highlighted the fact that never before had gender identity or gender expression been included under federal protections against hate crimes. More importantly, we recognized the heroic leadership of transgender people across the country who made this federal inclusion possible, and who bravely worked to implement the law through education of communities and law enforcement officials across the country. We recognized Mara Keisling, a prominent leader in the transgender community for her work toward securing equal protection under law for transgender Americans. We also heard from Kylar Broadus on the continuing challenges in the way of preventing hate crimes, and his unique perspective experiencing discrimination based on gender identity plus race, reminding us of the need to address the intersectionality of these issues as we work together to prevent and respond to violent hate crimes more effectively.

    Across President Obama’s Administration, agencies are taking steps to expand equality for transgender Americans:

    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services overturned the exclusion of Medicare for transition-related care
    • The U.S. Department of Education issued guidance clarifying that Title IX’s existing sex discrimination prohibition includes "gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity"
    • The U.S. Department of Justice issued firm implementing guidelines for the first-ever non-discrimination provisions of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, providing clear guidelines prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination under federal law

    The continued commitment by President Obama and the Administration is a reflection of the unwavering and courageous leadership of the transgender community, whose lives are often in jeopardy as they come out or simply live their lives. Today, we stand proud of the work we’ve done as a community, but reaffirm that much work remains so that the countless innocent lives were not lost in vain. Together, we can continue to make that difference.

    Aditi Hardikar is the Associate Director for the Office of Public Engagement

  • 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.

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