Has done more in two years than Bush administration did in eight
By DMITRY RASHNITSOV
It’s no secret that LGBT rights advocates had been pushing President Barack Obama to move forward on equality legislation during the first two years of his presidency. Before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last month, many felt the president was dragging his feet on helping the LGBT cause, but according to Equality Giving, Obama’s administration has accomplished more in 24 months than his predecessors, President George W. Bush, had done in eight years. Here is their list of President Obama’s accomplishments:
FEDERAL LEGISLATION SIGNED INTO LAW
• Signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded existing United States federal hate crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability – the first positive federal LGBT legislation in the nation’s history.
• Signed repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
• Signed the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act.
• Reversed an inexcusable U.S. position by signing the United Nations Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.
• Extended benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees in 2009 and, further, in 2010. • Lifted the HIV Entry Ban effective January 2010.
• Issued diplomatic passports, and provided other benefits, to the partners of same-sex foreign-service employees. • Committed to ensuring that HUD’s core housing programs are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Conceived a National Resource Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Elders – the nation’s first ever – funded by a three-year HHS grant to SAG.
• Banned job discrimination based on gender identity throughout the Federal government (the nation’s largest employer).
• Eliminated the discriminatory Census Bureau policy that kept our relationships from being counted, encouraging couples who consider themselves married to file that way, even if their state of residence does not yet permit legal marriage.
•Instructed HHS to require any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds (virtually all hospitals) to allow LGBT visitation rights.
• Required all grant applicants seeking HUD funding to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals.
• Adopted transgender recommendations on the issuance of gender-appropriate passports that will ease barriers to safe travel and that will provide governmentissued ID that avoids involuntary “outing” in situations requiring ID, like hiring, where a gender-appropriate driver’s license or birth certificate is not available.
• Extended domestic violence protections to LGBT victims.
• Extended the Family and Medical Leave Act to cover employees taking unpaid leave to care for the children of same-sex partners.
• Issued guidance specifically to assist LGBT tenants denied housing on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Issued a National HIV/AIDS Strategy praised as “long-overdue” by the Task Force, Lambda and others.
• Issued guidance to 15,000 local departments of education and 5,000 colleges to support educators in combating bullying.
• Cut back authority to discharge under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from hundreds of generals to just six civilian appointees, effectively ending discharges while working toward a permanent end to the policy.
• Led the fight that reversed a 2010 United Nations vote removing sexual orientation from the list of things people should not be killed for.
RESPECT & INCLUSION
• Endorsed the Baldwin-Lieberman bill, The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, to provide full partnership benefits to federal employees.
• Released the first Presidential PRIDE proclamations since 2000.
• Hosted the first LGBT Pride Month Celebration in White House history.
• Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Harvey Milk and Billie Jean King, joining past recipients such as Rosa Parks.
• Appointed the first-ever transgender DNC member.
• Testified in favor of ENDA, the first time any official of any administration has testified in the Senate on ENDA.
• Hired more openly LGBT officials in its first two years – more than 150, including more than 20 “Senate-confirmables” – than any previous administration hired in four years or eight.
• Swore in Ambassador David Huebner.
• Changed the culture of government everywhere from – among others – HUD and HHS to the Export-Import Bank, the State Department and the Department of Education.
• Appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, instead of conservatives who would have tilted the Supreme Court even further to the right and virtually doomed our rights for a generation.
• Named open transgender appointees (the first president ever to do so).
• Emphasized LGBT inclusion in everything from the president’s historic NAACP address to the first paragraph of his Family Day proclamation; created the chance for an adorable 10-year-old at the White House Easter Egg roll to tell ABC World News how cool it is to have two mommies; included the chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce along with the secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department and the president of Goldman Sachs in the small audience for the President’s economic address at the New York Stock Exchange; and welcomed four gay couples to its first State Dinner.
• Recommitted, in a televised address, to passing ENDA . . . repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” . . . repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
• Spoke out against discrimination at the National Prayer Breakfast.
• Dispatched the secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to call on the Senate to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
• Launched a website to gather public comment on first-ever federal LGBT housing discrimination study.
• Appointed long-time equality champion Chai Feldblum one of the four commissioners of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
• Produced U.S. Census Bureau PSAs featuring gay, lesbian, and transgender spokespersons
• Appointed Retired Col. Margarethe Cammermeyer, an early public champion of open service in the military, to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services.
• Publicly invited the shunned Mississippi high school prom student to the White House.
• Successfully fought for U.N. accreditation of IGLHRC (the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission) – against Republican attempts to block it.
• Convened the first-ever anti-bullying summit to craft a national strategy to reduce bullying in schools.
• Launched a new website, www.bullyinginfo. org, to bring all the federal resources on bullying together in one place for the first time.
• Awarded $13.3 million to the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center to create a model program for LGBTQ youth in the foster care system.
• Tweeted to 5.7 million BarackObama followers and nearly 2 million White House followers the president’s “It Gets Better” video.
• Embraced that campaign with heartfelt messages from, as well, the vice president, the secretary of state, secretary of agriculture (aimed particularly at rural youth), secretaries of education and health & human services, secretary of labor (in English and Spanish), director of OPM and LGBT members of the White House staff.
• Issued a Department of Justice video urging kids to call a Justice Department toll-free number if their school is aware of bullying but taking no action.