Wednesday, June 26, 2013

GOOD-BYE DOMA AND PROPOSITION 8, HELLO MARRIAGE!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2013
Liz Owen |
lowen@pflag.org> | (202) 467-8180 ext. 214

GOOD-BYE DOMA AND PROPOSITION 8, HELLO MARRIAGE!
WASHINGTON – PFLAG National—the nation's largest organization for families, friends and allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people – celebrated today’s victory at the United States Supreme Court, striking down both Section Three of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional, and Proposition 8 on standing, which means the restoration of marriage equality to the state of California.
“Today, committed and loving LGBT couples and their families, friends and allies in California and across the country celebrate a huge step forward towards full acceptance and equality,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby. “The Supreme Court’s dual rulings affirm what we at PFLAG have always known to be true:  that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are fundamental rights for all Americans, and that denial of those rights seriously harms LGBT people and their families.”
Joining in the celebration were PFLAG members and supporters from across the country who had worked tirelessly to ensure that their loved ones would receive equal treatment under the law.
Said PFLAG Los Angeles President Mariette Sawchuk, “When my son Stephen came out he said to me, ‘Mom, all I have ever wanted is to have a family and to have a marriage like yours and Dad’s.’ Thanks to today’s ruling, my twin sons--both of whom are gay--will have the opportunity to share in an enduring, loving, legally recognized and protected marriage.”
Sawchuk was one of several PFLAG members who shared personal stories in an Amicus Brief submitted by PFLAG to the Supreme Court regarding Proposition 8.
Another PFLAGer who participated in the brief was Eric Brock, whose older brother Brandon is gay. While Eric, Brandon, and each of their spouses celebrated today’s rulings, they acknowledged that there is still work to be done; Brandon and his spouse, Alexis Caloza, were married in New York and reside in San Francisco, where--thanks to today’s ruling--their  marriage is now legal again. But Eric still resides in Arkansas where the brothers were born and raised, a state whose constitution bans same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Said the younger Brock, “I am incredibly excited that my brother's New York State marriage will be recognized by the Federal government and in the state of California where he now lives. This was a big step forward, but there is still a long way to go to reach full equality. We need to keep working so that If Brandon and Alexis should ever choose to return to Arkansas, the federal government would provide them all the benefits of marriage within that state...even if the state itself didn’t yet legally recognize their relationship.”
PFLAG National ED Huckaby agreed with Brock,  stating, “PFLAG National and its vast chapter network will continue to move hearts and change minds to win full marriage equality at the federal level and in more states, and to grow support among the majority of Americans throughout the country. Together, we will continue to affirm the message that, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, love is love, family is family, and marriage is marriage.”
###

About PFLAG NationalFounded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. PFLAG has more than 368 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas in all 50 states. To learn more, please visit http://www.pflag.org, and connect with PFLAG National on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

LGBT Advocacy Groups Stand With Civil Rights Counterparts in Disappointment at Supreme Court Ruling on Voting Rights

Washington, DC – Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.


We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.

These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.

Center for Black Equity
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals
Equality Federation
Family Equality Council
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)
Human Rights Campaign
Immigration Equality Action Fund
Lambda Legal
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG National
Pride at Work, AFL-CIO
Unid@s

Thursday, June 20, 2013

PFLAG Policy Matters

Dear PFLAGers:

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming back Policy Matters! Every first and third Thursday of the month, PFLAG National will cover newsworthy local, state, and federal policy and legislative items to keep PFLAGers informed.

Got a policy or legislative question for Policy Matters? Drop us a line at dsanchez@pflag.org with “Dear Policy Matters” in the subject line.  

So, please enjoy, and we welcome your feedback and inquiries any time!

Policy Matters: June 20, 2013

As of this morning, no marriage equality rulings have yet come in from the Supreme Court. The next possible decision date is Monday, June 24. For a summary of the cases and possible outcomes, scroll down to DEAR POLICY MATTERS.

Front Page Headlines

President Obama Commends Ohio PFLAG Mom in White House Pride Reception Remarks: PFLAGer Susan Mason’s Letter Calls for Workplace Equality to Include Her Daughter
In a letter to President Obama, which she never expected to reach him while in office, Urbana, IL PFLAGer Susan Mason asked for workplace equality legislation to include her daughter M.  She included a postscript, asking whichever staffer would deliver the note to please request that the President read it after leaving office when he would have more time to review past constituent correspondence.  However, not only did Susan’s letter reach the President immediately, but it motivated him to invite Susan and her daughter to the White House LGBT Pride Reception...and to share the letter during his introductory remarks.  The letter and its Presidential recognition is particularly important as the inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is likely to be considered in the Senate at the Committee level this July and hopefully moved to the Senate Floor for a vote this year. Read what PFLAGers should know about ENDA here.

Delaware Becomes 17th State to Protect Transgender Rights  
On June 18, the Delaware House voted on S. 97, a bill to add gender identity or expression to the state’s anti-discrimination and hate crimes law. The Senate passed it yesterday, June 19, and Governor Jack Markel--a strong leader on gender identity and gender expression inclusion in non-discrimination protections--signed the bill into law that same day.  This was a great win, and one that PFLAGers can include as an update to their anti-discrimination advocacy talking points: Seventeen states and the District of Columbia include gender identity or expression in their nondiscrimination laws. Fourteen of those states and the District of Columbia have enacted trans-inclusive hate crimes statutes.

President Obama Nominates Three Openly Gay Ambassadors: The President has once again demonstrated his strong support for LGBT equality by nominating three openly gay Ambassadors. The nominees, who are still pending Senate confirmation, are: Daniel Baer, the openly-gay Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, as the next ambassador of the Vienna-based, 57-country Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); James Costos, an accomplished businessman and current executive at HBO, as the United States Ambassador to Spain; and Rufus Gifford, a former finance official for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Obama for America, and the Democratic National Committee, as the United States Ambassador to Denmark.  Previously appointed and confirmed openly gay Ambassadors are David Huebner, ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa since 2009; Michael Guest, ambassador to Romania from 2001-2004 and James Hormel, ambassador to Luxembourg from 1999-2001.

Virginia's First Openly Gay Judge Officially Sworn In
Richmond Circuit Court Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland’s investiture took place inside the Richmond City Council’s chambers, making him Virginia’s first openly gay judge. The former prosecutor’s 8-year-old twins Chance and Logan straightened their father’s black robe as his partner, Michael Thorne-Begland, looked on.  More than 200 people attended the ceremony.

New Williams Institute Report on Federal Contractors Strengthens Rationale for Presidential Executive Order for Employment Non-Discrimination by Contractors Receiving Federal Government Funds -  Shows That 90% of the Top 50 Federal Contractors Prohibit Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, 67% Prohibit Discrimination Based on Gender Identity: The report notes that the top 50 federal contractors represent more than $249 billion (46.9%) of all contracting dollars awarded by the U.S. federal government,  Of the top 50 of Fortune 500 companies, 49 prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (98%) and 88% prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.  Published in May, the report’s figures are effective as of January 2013. The timely report’s release coincides with the sustained and stepped-up requests from LGBT people and their allies for President Obama to honor a campaign promise that preceded his first term stating his support of a mandate that the U.S. government contract only with companies that have policies prohibiting workplace discrimination against LGBT workers.  PFLAG National is on the record as a supporter of the President signing an Executive Order for Federal Contractors.  

Immigration Reform Bill Debate Expected to Continue through June
Despite the strongly bipartisan Senate vote of 84-15 to debate S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, PFLAGers should stay braced to continue at least through June urging legislators to support and vote for an accessible pathway to citizenship, keeping families together, removing any filing deadline to seek asylum and fighting against harmful Amendments by comprehensive immigration reform opponents.


Policy News

Social Security Administration (SSA ) Updates Policy for Gender Marker Change
The new policy permits people to update their gender marker with a physician’s certification that confirms appropriate clinical treatment  for gender transition [this is the language the physician’s letter should use with no greater detail requested] or if they can show that they have updated their federally issued passport or state-issued birth certificate. Motor vehicle licenses are NOT considered among acceptable identifying documents at this time.  The new policy includes staff guidance on interviewing and serving transgender people that addresses direct protections such as proper pronoun usage and providing confidentiality.  This aligns SSA with several other federal agencies providing respect to transgender people, including the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration documentation, the Office of Personnel Management’s federal employee personnel records, the Housing and Urban Development’s guidelines, and the Veterans Health Administration’s veterans' records. The first federal agency to update its policy regarding gender markers was the Department of State under then-Sec. Hillary Clinton in 2010, while a remaining outlier on federal records system policy updating is the Department of Defense. According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, approximately half of transgender people report being unable to make current the gender on their records due to the restrictive policy formerly in place until today. The study surveyed more than 6,400 people in the U.S. and was conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).  Click here to read a helpful guide from NCTE.

Advocates in Illinois Still Have Hope for Marriage Equality Bill This Summer
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) granted a deadline extension until August of Illinois's marriage equality bill SB0010. Proponents hold out hope for Gov. Pat Quinn to call lawmakers back to Springfield in the summer for a special session to address pension reform, which also was left unresolved before adjourning.  At that time, he could include Senate Bill 10 in a special session proclamation. The bill could stay alive if Speaker Madigan calls a House special session at the same time to take up the legislation. Marriage equality advocates suffered a setback in May when the legislature adjourned without voting on the bill.

LGBT Youth Included in Senate Committee-Passed Bill With Language of SSIA and SNDA
Sen. Tom Harkin’s 1,150-page Strengthening America's Schools Act, passed in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pension’s (HELP) Committee, includes LGBT students by copying the full language of the stand-alone Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) and the provisions included in the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA). The bill would reauthorize The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, more commonly known as “No Child Left Behind.”  Modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments, the SNDA provision in the bill establishes LGBT students as a protected class and prohibits schools from discrimination, including bullying, against any student based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity (and gender expression through the definition of gender identity). The bill also contains provisions similar to SSIA that promote a positive school climate and require reporting on incidents of bullying, including on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (or gender expression by definition).

ENDA Gains Speed as Sen. Maj. Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) Becomes 50th Senator to  Co-Sponsor in the 113th Congress
The inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received a strong boost last week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) signed on as the bill’s 50th Senate cosponsor.  Bucking his usual pattern of declining to sponsor bills due to his Senate Leadership role, he signed on while saying to The Huffington Post, “It’s time to make fairness the law of the land.  That is why I am cosponsoring this legislation, and I will do everything I can to ensure that it passes the Senate.”  He is on the record as confident that the inclusive bill will move soon in The Senate.  The inclusive bipartisan ENDA is sponsored in the House by Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and in the Senate by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL).  [Note: While Sen. Reid is the 50th Senator to sign on to Co-Sponsor ENDA in this Congress, the tally for the bill’s cosponsors when he signed was 49 due to the death earlier in June of ENDA co-sponsor Sen. Frank Lautenberg.  ENDA reached 50 living cosponsors in the Senate this week when Sen. Tom Carper, the senior Senator from Delaware, signed on.]

Dear Policy Matters

Dear Policy Matters:

Just about everyone who is involved or invested in my LGBT loved ones’ lives is talking about The Supreme Court, waiting eagerly and anxiously for what the SCOTUS decisions will be regarding marriage. What are the possible outcomes, and how will they affect my LGBT loved ones?

Signed,
Anxious Ally

Dear AA:

For PFLAGers, the most important point is that love is love, and marriage is marriage.  The Supreme Court’s decision choices will not avert that assertion.  Let’s look at the cases, each to be ruled separately by The Supreme Court, and possible outcomes for each:

U.S. v. Windsor: Often referred to as the DOMA Case

Request: Edie Windsor challenges Section 3 of The Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA (that denies federal equal protection under the law of all married couples), as unconstitutional.  She asks the federal government to treat all legally married couples equally in terms of more than 1,135 federally legally granted rights and benefits, including tax, Social Security, inheritance, immigration, veterans and military spouse status.

Case: Edith (Edie) Windsor, 83, is a widow who upon the death of her 40-year partner, her legally recognized wife in their home state of New York, in 2009 was called to pay $350,000 in federal estate taxes to claim the house they shared and in which they lived, their home, her home. She was precluded from inheriting her own family home from her spouse as opposite-sex spouses do without burden, only because she was a same-sex spouse and then a same-sex widow.  Edie’s federal suit challenged Section 3 of DOMA, which her suit claims violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.  Section 3 of DOMA denies the federal government the right to reccognize any marriage that is not between one man and one woman.  Her claim is that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional because it fails to provide equal protection under the law for same-sex couples that is granted to every other legally married couple if they are opposite-sex couples.  Edie was present on the Supreme Court steps when her case was heard.

Hollingsworth v Perry: Often referred to as the Prop 8 Case

Request: Kristen Perry asks the Supreme Court to strike down as unconstitutional Proposition 8, which by popular vote amended the California state constitution to ban same-sex marriage in California, and return the right to same-sex marriage in California.

Case: Selected to be the face to challenge California's Prop 8, Kristen Perry was denied a marriage license because her to-be spouse, her partner for more than 13 years, is a woman. Same-sex marriages had been permitted in California until a popular vote to amend the California state constitution passed in the 2008 election which banned same-sex marriage.  Her lawsuit seeks to end the ban that the suit says violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, as described in the Windsor case noted above.  The District Court’s broad found that Prop 8 is unconstitutional and its finding would have affected same-sex marriage bans in other states.  The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did agree that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, but its findings applied narrower reasoning based on two facts: 1. California revoked a previously permitted right for same-sex couples to marry and 2. that the state already granted the rights of marriage to same-sex couple in the name of domestic partnerships, and denying the term “marriage” for which California could offer no legitimate government interest.

SCOTUS findings’ potential scenarios and outcomes:

Scenario 1: Win Windsor; Win a broad decision on Perry (on the case’s merits and standing/right for opponents to bring suit)

Outcome:
  • Section 3 of DOMA and Prop 8 are stricken.
  • All existing state marriage bans are overturned, including that in California.

Scenario 2: Win Windsor; Win a narrower decision on Perry

Outcome:
  • Section 3 of DOMA and Prop 8 are stricken.
  • Same-sex marriage is legal again in California.
  • Same-sex marriage must be granted by states with legal civil unions and those with legal domestic partnerships.
  • Existing same-sex marriage bans in states remain.

Scenario 3:  Lose Windsor; Win Perry

Outcome:
  • Section 3 of DOMA stands and is upheld; Prop 8 is stricken.
  • Same-sex marriage returns to California.
  • The 1,135 federal rights and benefits granted to opposite-sex married couples remain withheld from same-sex married couples.

Scenario 4: Win Windsor; Lose Perry

Outcome:
  • Section 3 of DOMA is stricken; Prop 8 is upheld.
  • Legally married same-sex couples (in 12 states and D.C.) receive federal rights and benefits of marriage.
  • Prop 8 and other state same-sex marriage bans stay in place, and California would have to return to voters to overturn Prop 8.

Scenario 5: Lose Windsor; Lose Perry

Outcome:
  • Section 3 of DOMA stands and is upheld; Prop 8 is upheld.
  • Same-sex married couples in 12 states and D.C. are denied federal rights and benefits granted to opposite-sex married couples.
  • Prop 8 and other state same-sex marriage bans stay in place, and California would have to return to voters to overturn Prop 8.
  • PFLAGers re-double their efforts to secure marriage equality and fairness for all loving couples who wish to marry across the country.

Scenario 6: The Supreme Court could decide that the Perry case should not be reviewed and shouldn’t have been accepted to be reviewed. Considered highly unlikely, but a possible (not probable) outcome.

Outcome:  
  • This is formally named “dismissed as improvidently granted,” which you might hear as “DIG.”  
  • If, even in the unlikely case, the Supreme Court decides this, the the federal appeals ruling would stand, which would strike down Prop 8 and return same-sex marriage to California.

There is a lot of potentially confusing information to comb through. Fortunately, the LGBT and ally community is replete with experts who dedicate their knowledge in part to helping a broad base of people who want to understand what current events can mean as well as what they are.  

Check out the following helpful links and images:

  • Third Way prepared this chart of possible outcomes, coupled with the video of a discussion they held on June 18 on both cases, featuring U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York and David Boies, co-counsel in Hollingsworth v Perry, more commonly known as the “Prop 8 case.” 
  • The American Foundation for Equal Rights prepared a handy visual infographic to show the potential outcomes of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Prop 8.
  • ACLU represents Edie Windsor in the DOMA case. Read more here.
  • GLAD, which led the way for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004 and brought a separate case to be considered by SCOTUS, weighs in on the two pending Supreme Court cases through Mary Bonauto, who has been noted as “Our Thurgood Marshall,” here.
  • NCLR and Lambda Legal will join ACLU and GLAD on Decision Day on Twitter to answer questions at the hashtag #LGBTatSCOTUS, as they did on June 18, and you can follow www.SCOTUSblog.com to read as decisions are announced.

And if you want to remember why your voice is so important, reread the PFLAG Amicus brief here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Student Non-Discrimination Act Reintroduced in Senate

Back in 2010, U.S. Sen. Al Franken first introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) which protects students who are—or are perceived to be—lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) from harassment, discrimination, and violence at school. Sen. Franken's bill extends to LGBT students the same rights to protection from discrimination as other kids have based on their gender, religion, disability, race, or national origin. 

In 2011 PFLAGers from all over the country met in Washington DC to kick off the PFLAG National Convention with a Lobby Day focused specifically on urging legislators to support this important bill.  It was an exciting day, kicked off with speeches by Sen. Franken, as well as the bill's House sponsor, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Col) speaking to PFLAGers about the significance of the legislation, and the need for PFLAGers to share their stories as they lobbied.

Within several weeks of the Lobby Day, numerous legislators stated they would either support, or co-sponsor SNDA.

Earlier this week, Sen. Franken reintroduced SNDA in the Senate. Earlier this year, SNDA was reintroduced in the House by Rep Polis and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a former certified teacher and school principal.

SNDA has 30 original cosponsors on the Senate side, and has also been added to the Strengthening All Schools Act to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as No Child Left Behind, which was also introduced today.

According to GLSEN's 2011 National School Climate Survey, nearly eight in 10 LGBT students have been bullied. The harassment LGBT youth experience in school deprives them of equal educational opportunities by increasing their likelihood of skipping school, underperforming academically, and eventually dropping out. It can also have a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health. 

SNDA would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition against discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. It would prohibit schools from discriminating against LGBT students or ignoring harassing behavior. It would also provide meaningful and effective remedies for discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, modeled after Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Read more about Sen. Franken’s legislation and the organizations endorsing the bill here.

And learn more about PFLAG's Safe Schools work by visiting www.pflag.org/safeschools

Monday, June 3, 2013

Joint Statement on HIV / AIDS, A Re-commitment to the Fight


Today, 35 LGBT and HIV advocacy groups marked the start of Pride Month with a joint statement on HIV/AIDS. The Executive Directors of these organizations--including Jody Huckaby of PFLAG National--have urged the broader LGBT movement for equality to re-engage in the fight to end this epidemic.


Together, these leaders have released a joint letter re-committing themselves and their organizations to the fight against HIV/AIDS. While issues like marriage equality and employment protections for LGBT workers have taken center stage, HIV continues to ravage the LGBT community.  Despite making up just two percent of the population, gay and bisexual men accounted for more than 63 percent of new HIV infections in 2010.  In fact, gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing.


“Our organization was founded in 1973 in New York City, the cradle of the LGBT movement  for equality...and where some of the earliest cases in the HIV/AIDS epidemic were reported,” said Jody Huckaby, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “Our founder, Jeanne Manford and her husband, Dr. Jules Manford, were themselves the parents  of a gay son, Morty Manford, who died of AIDS. The history of PFLAG is intertwined with the history of HIV/AIDS and it is important that we raise up that truth. Beyond the Manfords, many of our earliest members were parents who were fighting the battle of acceptance and equality for their children, while simultaneously fighting for their children’s lives. Jody Huckaby noted "It is imperative that PFLAG National and its vast chapter network renew our commitment to the inclusion of HIV/AIDS in our work.  Science is finally on our side. Today those of us leading LGBT-related organizations strengthen our voices in unison with HIV/AIDS organization leaders and stand together to help bring an end to this epidemic."


We are at an important crossroad in our fight against HIV,” said National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata.  “The evidence behind treatment as prevention, and expansions in health care coverage that will accompany implementation of the Affordable Care Act, have provided a unique opportunity to end this epidemic, which has ravaged our community for more than three decades.  But this will not happen without the full engagement of those most impacted by the disease, and no community has been more heavily affected than the LGBT community.  I am thrilled to be a part of this campaign to re-energize the LGBT response and work together to realize the vision of an AIDS-free generation.”
“As an organization that has been working to combat HIV discrimination since the beginning of the epidemic we are excited to see the LGBT movement re-commit to this work,” said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director of Lambda Legal. “Because gay and bisexual men and transgender people are disproportionately affected by the epidemic and because we see the effects of discrimination and laws targeting people with HIV for criminalization it is incredibly important for the LGBT community to step up.”


Said National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell:  “The LGBT community always has been at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic.  As the community most impacted, we are the ones who must step-up and recommit to ending future transmissions.  To have a new generation of LGBT young people grow up free from HIV and AIDS will be a fitting legacy to those we have lost to this disease.”


Below is an excerpt from today’s joint statement:


Over the last 30 years, the [LGBT] community has seen great strides in the movement for full equality.  Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s…In the decades since our movement has seen incredible victories… Unfortunately, our community hasn’t maintained the same momentum in our fight against HIV…Each day, more than 80 gay and bisexual men become infected with HIV in the United States…Despite these alarming statistics, which have galvanized our community in the past, the HIV epidemic has seemed to fall by the way side.  Many in our community have simply stopped talking about the issue.  This must change.


The entire letter and accompanying video can be viewed online here:  www.wethelgbt.org