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More than 60 LGBTQ groups tell Senate that healthcare repeal would ‘harm millions’ of Americans and devastate the health of the LGBTQ community

On June 13, 2017,  the Human Rights Campaign and National Center for Lesbian Rights delivered a letter to the U.S. Senate urging them not to gut access to healthcare. More than 60 LGBTQ organizations, representing millions of LGBTQ people across the country, signed onto this letter sharing deep concerns for the health of our community. The letter notes that the Congressional Budget Office has projected that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would result in 14 million Americans losing health insurance by 2018 and 23 million by 2026. It also spells out dire consequences for the LGBTQ community related to proposed changes to the ban on preexisting conditions, Medicaid, cuts to Planned Parenthood, the elimination of the Public Health and Prevention Fund, and more.

To see the full text of the letter and list of organizations signed on in support, click here.

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In Trump’s budgets, LGBTQ community gets shortchanged

On May 23rd, President Trump released his first full federal budget proposal. While many knew it would be bad, nothing could have prepared us for this. If enacted, this budget would be devastating. It slashes funding for vital programs and services that help struggling individuals and families afford the basics- food, housing, heating, education, and healthcare. At the same time, the budget seeks an additional $54 billion for the defense department and gives corporations and the wealthy massive tax cuts.  This proposed budget would be disastrous for the LGBTQ community. These are just a few of the worst impacts on LGBTQ people:

  • Food Access: The budget proposes to cut SNAP (also known as “food stamps”) funding by $193 billion over 10 years, which is a cut of nearly one-quarter. This would mean more LGBTQ people would go hungry. Currently, more than 1 in 4 LGB adults aged 18-44 (27% or 2.2 million people) participated in SNAP, compared to 20% of non-LGB adults in the same age range.
  • Medicaid: The budget proposes to slash $800 billion from Medicaid. This would mean that countless LGBTQ people and people living with HIV will go without lifesaving healthcare.
  • HIV/AIDS: Trump has proposed cutting $186 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STIs, and TB prevention, including a $150 million reduction that would come from HIV/AIDS prevention domestic programs. The budget also aims for a massive $7.2 billion reduction to the National Institutes of Health, including a $550 million cut in HIV/AIDS research. These cuts will severely impact our ability to fight the HIV epidemic, which disproportionately impacts Black and Latino gay and bisexual men.
  • LGBTQ Non-discrimination: The budget proposes to eliminate the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and transfer its duties to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) while not increasing funding for EEOC. The OFCCP has broad oversight over federal contractors and subcontractors to monitor workplace diversity and equal pay. The EEOC is charged with addressing individual employment discrimination allegations involving employers, including those that are not a federal contractor, with 15 or more employees. This major change in enforcement of nondiscrimination laws would hurt LGBTQ people who rely on these protections, because each of these offices have distinct missions and expertise and the budget would require the EEOC to double the work without doubling the budget of the agency. This change would impede the civil rights protections that employers and workers have relied on for almost fifty years.
  • Legal Services Corporation (LSC): Trump has proposed to eliminate LSC, which is the primary funder of civil legal aid in the country. A number of legal aid providers have LGBTQ programs. Already legal aid organizations are unable to meet the demand for legal services. Cutting LSC funds would make the situation much worse, because states are unlikely to cover the money lost in federal spending.
  • US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH): USICH helps coordinate the work of federal agencies that are focused on homelessness. Trump has called for the elimination of the council. This will make it more difficult for the federal government to address the epidemic of homelessness in our country. This is a serious concern for the LGBTQ community because of the high rates of homelessness experienced by LGBTQ youth and transgender adults.
  • Reproductive Justice: The proposed budget would prevent federal funding of Planned Parenthood, which is often the only source of care for many in underserved and vulnerable communities. For many LGBTQ people, who experience stigma and discrimination in the health care system, the specially trained staff and tailored programs – including services for transgender people – offered at these clinics are a lifeline.

While the president’s budget is merely a request to Congress, which actually makes decisions about federal funding priorities, it is a powerful guidepost that tells us where this administration’s priorities lie. It is now clearer than ever that helping those in need is not a consideration for this president.

We need a budget that creates better economic opportunities for those struggling to make ends meet, invests in public services, protects our environment, and requires corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. Instead, this disastrous budget emphasizes giving more money to the wealthy and corporations while shredding the safety net for the most vulnerable. The LGBTQ community must stand up against this attack on our community by letting President Trump and Congress know it is an attack on us and our values.

 

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Standing Up to Attempts to Take Down Marriage Equality.

In North Carolina this week, anti-LGBTQ extremists tried to do the unthinkable. They introduced House Bill 780, also known as the “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” in an attempt to turn back the clock and, once again, whip up anti-LGBTQ sentiment. The bill directly challenges the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges by seeking to nullify same-sex couples’ marriages.  

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper weighed in yesterday: “This bill is wrong. We need more LGBT protections, not fewer.” And Republican House Speaker Tim Moore noted that he intends for this bill never to see the light of day, that it will not be debated. And it will not be voted on.

But before these elected leaders took a stand, when news of this proposed legislation was first being broadly covered by media, NCLR received questions from LGBTQ people both inside and outside North Carolina about what to expect and whether states have the ability to undermine Obergefell. In the midst of an administration that has stirred so much conflict and division, and has taken steps to rollback protections for LGBTQ people, we understand these concerns. And we are committed to continuing to take a stand for you and your families. Here’s a link to a helpful legal analysis about the future of Obergefell written by my friend and colleague at NCLR Shannon Price Minter that we shared after the 2016 election: “Now That Trump Has Been Elected, Can Our Marriage Be Undone?”

Since 1977, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has fought to protect and strengthen the rights of LGBTQ families. And that commitment was never clearer than in our work as a key part of the legal team that secured marriage equality. And in our work every day to protect those rights despite extremist factions that seek to undermine and chip away at these protections.

Please continue to stand with us in our work to oppose legislation across the country that seeks to undermine Obergefell. Although this Supreme Court case is settled law, some state officials falsely state that Obergefell does not require states to treat married same-sex couples equally and are attempting to pass laws in support of that notion. Last month, NCLR filed a petition for writ of certiorari, an official request that a case be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court, on a recent Arkansas Supreme Court decision holding that Obergefell does not require states to treat same-sex parents equally with regard to the issuance of birth certificates for their children. We also recently filed a brief in the Texas Supreme Court, opposing arguments by Texas state officials that Obergefell does not require governments to pay equal employment benefits to same-sex spouses.

At NCLR, we know that we must remain vigilant. Our courts matter, and the judges appointed to preside over those courts matter too. (Read our recent piece in The Advocate, “7th Circuit Victory for Lesbian Worker Shows Why Judges Matter.”) That’s why NCLR’s Washington, D.C. office is on the ground every day educating Congressional staffers, working with other national leaders to fight for a fair and objective Supreme Court, and making sure that your concerns are being heard at the highest levels.

We’re here for you.

If you have legal questions or hear about anything similar happening in your state, call the NCLR Helpline at 1.800.528.6257.

Stay strong,

Kate