Thursday, June 13, 2013

White House LGBT

The White House

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Good morning, and Happy Pride Month!

In this White House LGBT Update, you will learn about the Obama Administration's ongoing efforts to advance equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, and some of our activities to recognize LGBT Pride Month.

Please feel free to share this news with your colleagues and networks, and please encourage them to sign up for updates.

Gautam Raghavan
Office of Public Engagement
The White House 

President Obama Kicks Off LGBT Pride Month

Earlier this month, President Obama released his fifth Presidential Proclamation marking LGBT Pride Month. In his Proclamation, the President paid tribute to the progress we have made and expressed his continued commitment to the work ahead:

We have witnessed real and lasting change, but our work is not complete. I continue to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act. My Administration continues to implement the Affordable Care Act, which beginning in 2014, prohibits insurers from denying coverage to consumers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which addresses the disparate impact of the HIV epidemic among certain LGBT sub-communities. We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.

In case you missed it last year, view the President's Pride Month video message.

Obama Administration Recognizes LGBT Pride Month

A number of departments and agencies across the Obama Administration are also recognizing LGBT Pride Month with statements.

At the State Department, Secretary John Kerry released a statement and a video message marking LGBT Pride Month, focusing on the work the United States is doing abroad to advance human rights for all people, including LGBT individuals. In his statement, Secretary Kerry noted recent events that underscore the need for continued progress:

All over the world, people continue to be killed, arrested, and harassed simply because of who they are, or who they love. There are LGBT people of all ages, all races and all faiths, citizens of every country on Earth. In too many places, LGBT people and their supporters are still attacked if they just attempt to stand up for their rights and participate in peaceful rallies or marches, or simply for being who they are.

The United States condemns this violence and harassment. LGBT persons must be free to exercise their human rights—including freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly and association—without fear of reprisal. Human rights and fundamental freedoms belong to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius released a statement highlighting work at HHS to address health disparities experienced by LGBT Americans. Her statement also emphasized some of the ways in which the Affordable Care Act will improve access to health care for the LGBT community:

  • Insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on health insurance coverage, and annual limits will be phased out in 2014. This is particularly important for people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other chronic diseases requiring comprehensive, long-term care.
  • Starting in 2014, insurers cannot deny coverage or charge higher rates based on a pre-existing condition or because an individual is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
  • Insurers generally must cover such vital preventive services as HIV screening, vaccinations, depression screening, contraception, intimate-partner violence screening, and annual well-woman visits, at no out-of-pocket charge.
  • includes a health plan finder tool that allows consumers shopping for health insurance to filter for plans offering coverage for domestic and same-sex partners.

Finally, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano published a blog post that illustrates some of the ways in which DHS has recently made progress on issues of concern to the LGBT community:

I'm proud of the progress this Department has made to advance LGBT equality. In the past year alone, with the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, DHS extended additional benefits to same-sex domestic partners of U.S. Coast Guard service members and, where applicable, to the children of same-sex domestic partners. Last October, as part of our use of prosecutorial discretion to close removal cases that are outside our priority areas, we included same-sex couples when considering family relationship as one of the factors relevant to the assessment of a person's ties and contributions to the community.  

We have also incorporated LGBT awareness training into basic courses at our Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and we have created the first DHS Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan to help us promote a diverse workforce and foster an inclusive workplace for all DHS employees.  

White House Honors Harvey Milk Champions of Change

Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey Milk and Founder of the Milk Foundation, with seven of the Harvey Milk Champions of Change, May 22, 2013 (photo courtesy of the Office of Public Engagement).

Last month, the White House honored ten openly LGBT elected or appointed officials as "Harvey Milk Champions of Change." The event took place on May 22nd – Harvey Milk's birthday – and was intended to pay tribute to Harvey Milk's life, leadership, and legacy.

In the words of Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, "When President Obama posthumously awarded Harvey Milk the Medal of Freedom in 2009, he praised his leadership and courage in running for office. Today, we honor Harvey Milk's legacy in these ten outstanding public servants, who will surely inspire the next generation of public servants."

The following individuals were honored as Harvey Milk Champions of Change:

Read more about the event and learn more about the Champions of Change program.

Tweet of the Week 

On May 30, 2013, the LGBT Employee Resource Group at NASA's Johnson Space Center released an "It Gets Better" video featuring current and former NASA employees. View the video.

In Case You Missed It 

First Lady Michelle Obama harvests vegetables with students in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, May 28, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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