|Meeting with LGBT leaders in San Francisco to discuss a hearing examining discrimination against transgender Americans in the workplace.|
The Democratic-led Congress is working to ensure the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. Unlike under previous Republican-controlled Congresses, malicious measures intended to divide the American people or to undermine the rights of the LGBT community are off the table. Speaker Pelosi’s efforts include repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ for military service, ending discrimination against same-sex couples in federal immigration laws, and ensuring that a fully-inclusive Hate Crimes Prevention and Employment Non-Discrimination Act become law.
Speaker Pelosi Statement on San Francisco’s 39th Annual LBGT Pride Celebration - 6/26/09
Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement in recognition of San Francisco’s 39th LGBT Pride Celebration:
Greetings to everyone gathered to celebrate San Francisco LGBT Pride this weekend. This year’s theme, 'To Form a More Perfect Union,' is derived from the Preamble to our Constitution. The promise of our Constitution, and of America, is that that all men and women are created equal. Together, we will work to redeem this promise and ensure equality for the LGBT Community and for all Americans.
In Washington this week, Chairman Barney Frank, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, and Congressman Jared Polis introduced an inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act. I thank them for their leadership and commitment to this critical legislation. ENDA has long been a priority for me and for Chairman George Miller who is fighting tirelessly to get it passed.
America is a great and wealthy country, but we cannot afford to squander the talents of any of our citizens, nor should we. We all benefit if everyone gets a chance to work hard and support their families. Yet today, in more than 30 states, you can be fired for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Federal action is needed to right this wrong and it is long overdue. We will be working hard to get this historic bill considered and passed this fall so we can get it to President Obama’s desk as soon as possible.
In April, the House proudly passed inclusive Hate Crimes prevention legislation. All Americans have a fundamental right to feel safe in their communities. This legislation will help protect Americans against violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, gender, national origin, or disability. Two weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he will seek to pass hate crimes prevention legislation in the Senate by the end of July. We look forward to working with the Senate to send it to President Obama’s desk for his signature into law.
Last week, President Obama took a first step on allowing some benefits for federal employees. I know we all would have preferred essential benefits such as health care to have been included. I was pleased that the President endorsed Congresswoman Baldwin’s legislation, The Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act. This legislation will be a priority for this Congress.
In light of the security threats facing our country, the strain that two wars have put on our military, and in the name of basic fairness, we cannot afford any policies that prevent the best and the brightest from serving in uniform. We are working toward a repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell’ to acknowledge the tens of thousands of lesbian, gay and bisexual service members who serve honorably in our military, and to allow them to do so openly.
Across the country, progress is being made on marriage equality. It finally became a reality in Iowa, Vermont, and New Hampshire. I very much wish California remained a state that embraced marriage equality and we were not impeded by Proposition 8. However, with your help, California will restore marriage equality for all of our citizens and their families.
While I remain proud of the progress we have made, there are many challenges that remain unmet in our fight to ensure that LGBT Americans achieve true equality. You have many allies—and all our voices must be united for change."
Preventing Hate Crimes
Hate crimes have no place in America. This Congress is committed preventing bias-motivated violence based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin, or disability.
On April 29th, 2009, the House passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which focuses on providing new resources to help state and local law enforcement agencies prevent and prosecute hate crimes.This bill extends the protections of current federal hate crime laws to help combat hate crimes committed because of a person’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The current federal hate crimes law authorizes federal aid in cases of hate crimes committed because of a person’s race, color, religion, or national origin.
There has been a federal hate crimes law since 1968 because Americans recognize that bias-motivated crimes of violence harm all of society, in addition to the crime victim. Americans understand that hate crimes have no place in America. All Americans have a right to feel safe in their community. We all remember the brutal murders of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming and James Byrd in Texas because we know that these bias-motivated murders impacted us all. Yet, hate crimes continue to be widespread and persistent: More than 113,000 hate crimes have been documented by the FBI since 1991. In 2005 alone, there were 7,163 reported hate crimes.
On the bill's passage in the House, Speaker Pelosi said: "Congress has been debating federal hate crimes legislation for 17 years. It was more than ten years ago that Mathew Shepard was brutally murdered. The time for debate is long over. I am so proud that today the House has acted and in so doing, honored this nation’s commitment to the ideals of justice, equality and opportunity."
Ending Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) legislation is an historic advancement for gays and lesbians and their families that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. The House passed this critical bill in November 2007. In 30 states, it is currently legal to fire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation. This bill would prohibit employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an individual’s sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation. The bill extends federal employment protections to gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers similar to those already provided to a person based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
Learn more about the legislation>>
The House Debates ENDA>>
Watch Speaker Pelosi speak in support of the bill>>
Speaker Pelosi takes great pride in California Supreme Court decision that provides for equal treatment of gay and lesbian couples. It is a significant milestone towards equality for the LGBT community in California and across the nation.
Speaker Pelosi on the California Supreme Court’s decision today to strike the state ban on gay marriage>>
Speaker Pelosi's Statement on San Francisco’s 38th Annual LBGT Pride Celebration>>
|Volunteering at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco|
Since her first day in office, Speaker Pelosi has been committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS across the nation and around the world. One of Speaker Pelosi’s first legislative victories was the creation of the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program.
She has worked to accelerate development of an HIV vaccine, to expand access to Medicaid for people living with HIV, and to increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative and other programs vital for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. She was instrumental in passing legislation in 1996 which designated the San Francisco AIDS Grove as the country’s first National AIDS Memorial. She commemorated her 20 years of service in congress at the National AIDS Memorial in 2007 where she said, “The National AIDS Memorial Grove stands as a monument to all that we have lost, but also all that we have held onto – our hope, our optimism, our steadfastness and determination to fight against this disease and for the people who have it.”
Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, 20 million men, women, and children have died from the disease. Thirty-three million around the globe are HIV-positive. Each and every day, another 7,000 people become infected with HIV. There is a moral imperative to combat this epidemic. The need for stronger U.S. leadership and a sustained commitment from the international community is clear. This year, Congress passed America's largest commitment ever to fighting the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
The legislation builds on the landmark HIV/AIDS legislation passed in 2003, reauthorizing and improving that program – authorizing $48 billion over the next five years. This is $18 billion more than the $30 billion President Bush originally requested. By 2013, this bill works to prevent 12 million new HIV infections; provide medical and nonmedical care for 12 million people (including 5 million orphans); and train 140,000 new health care workers.
In the first five years of the U.S. response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, U.S. policy was driven by the urgency of an emergency response. Under this bill, the U.S. will develop and implement strategies to transition from the emergency phase to long-term sustainability that can be maintained by the host countries. The bill strengthens health care delivery systems in host countries and rebuilds health care workforces to boost host country capacities to reach and provide HIV/AIDS services to populations that are difficult to reach.
Speaker Pelosi on Global HIV/AIDS Bill: 'There Is a Moral Imperative to Combat This Epidemic'>>
Hearings and Oversight
Armed Services Hearing on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
The Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee held a hearing, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Review.” The hearing included testimony from military veterans on the effects of the policy. Former Naval intelligence officer Captain Joan E. Darrah, USN, (Ret.) testified: "There was always that fear in the back of my mind that somehow I had been outed, and that the Admiral was calling me in to tell me that I was fired. The constant fear of being outed and fired, even though your perfomance is exceptional, is hard to quantify. ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discourages thousands of talented and patriotic citizens from joining the military, because rightly so, they refuse to live a lie. This is a tremendous loss for our military.”
Rep. Patrick Murphy, the only Iraq veteran in Congress, challenged the witnesses in opposition to repealing the policy. He said, “You’re basically asserting that straight men and women in our military aren’t professional enough to serve openly with gay troops while completing their military missions. You know as a former Army officer I can tell you I think that’s an insult to me and to many of the soldiers. To answer your question, Mr. Jones, it was 24 countries that allow military personnel to serve openly without any detrimental impact on unit cohesion.” Watch>>
Oversight Hearing on Abstinence-Only Programs
The Oversight Committee held a hearing, “Domestic Abstinence-Only Programs: Assessing the Evidence” Federally-funded abstinence-only programs require the exclusive teaching of abstinence until marriage and prohibit teaching about condoms or other contraceptives — other than to discuss failure rates. These programs have received over $1.3 billion in federal funding over the past decade. Medical and scientific experts, as well as youth educators, will testify regarding the public health evidence of the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs and of more comprehensive programs.
Max Siegel, a Policy Associate at the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, and Families, testified on his experience with abstinence-only programs as a gay youth: “I experienced abstinence-only-until-marriage education taught by my junior high school gym teacher. In his class, he told me and my male classmates that sex is dangerous and that we should think more seriously about it when we “grow up and marry.” He made it clear that sex was something only for married people. He was visibly uncomfortable, and he conveyed to us that sexuality was not to be discussed extensively in an educational setting. Even if it were, my gym teacher made it clear that only one kind of sexuality—heterosexuality ending in marriage—was acceptable to talk about. Already aware of my sexual orientation, I found no value in his speech. It did not speak to me and my life. It might as well not have happened.” Watch>>