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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Expanding Opportunities for the LGBT Community

An announcement by the White House Office of Management and Budget:

Having emerged from the worst recession in generations, the President has put forward a plan to rebuild our economy and win the future by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our global competitors and creating the jobs and industries of tomorrow. But we cannot rebuild our economy and win the future if we pass on a mountain of debt to our children and grandchildren. We must restore fiscal responsibility, and reform our government to make it more effective, efficient, and open to the American people. The President’s 2012 Budget is a responsible approach that puts the nation on a path to live within our means so we can invest in our future – by cutting wasteful spending and making tough choices on some things we cannot afford, while keeping the investments we need to grow the economy and create jobs. It targets scarce federal resources to the areas critical to winning the future: education, innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure. And it proposes to reform how Washington does business, putting more federal funding up for competition, cutting waste, and reorganizing government so that it better serves the American people.
Last year, President Obama signed into law the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, taking an historic step to end a policy that undermines our national security while violating the very ideals that our brave men and women in uniform risk their lives to defend.
To continue to defend the rights and support the needs of the LGBT community, the Budget will:
Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement. Even in fiscally constrained times, the substantial investments that have been made by the Administration to strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination continue in the 2012 Budget. The Budget proposes an increase for the Community Relations Service in the Department of Justice to fight hate crimes and provides an $18 million, a 5 percent increase over the 2010 enacted level, for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This investment will allow EEOC to add additional staff to reduce the agency’s backlog of private sector charges of discrimination.
Support Federal Employee Domestic Partner Benefits. The Administration supports the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, which provides the same benefits to same-sex domestic partners of Federal employees as those provided to married heterosexual partners of Federal employees. These benefits include health insurance, survivor annuities, compensation for work-related injuries, travel and relocation benefits, life insurance, and vision and dental benefits.
Combat Hate Crimes. The substantial investments that have been made in Civil Rights enforcement during this Administration also continue in the 2012 Budget. In addition to the protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Budget also proposes an increase for the Community Relations Service to fight hate crime.
Support Equal Rights for Hospital Visitation. On April 15, 2010, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that those hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients and their families the compassion, dignity and respect they deserve in difficult times, as well as widows and widowers with no children, members of religious orders, and others who otherwise may not have been able to receive visits from good friends and loved ones who are not immediate relatives, or select them to make decisions on their behalf in case of incapacitation. An in November of 2010, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a final rule which updates hospital Conditions of Participation (CoP) requiring all Medicare and Medicaid-participating hospitals to explain to their patients their right to choose who may visit them during their inpatient stay, regardless of whether the visitor is a family member, a spouse, a domestic partner, or other visitor.
Remove Discriminatory Barriers to Fair Housing. For the first time in its history, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a policy last year requiring grant applicants seeking HUD funding to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals.
Support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and Expand Investments in Prevention, Care, and Research. The Budget expands access to HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities and supports the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: reducing HIV incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. The Budget prioritizes HIV/AIDS resources within high-burden communities and among high-risk groups, including gay and bisexual men, Black Americans, Latino Americans and substance users. Compared to 2010, the Budget increases domestic discretionary HIV/AIDS funding at HHS by $219 million, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) HIV/AIDS funding increases by $173 million, while maintaining HIV/AIDS funding levels at the Departments of Justice and HUD. The Budget includes $2,376 million for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program, which includes $940 million for AIDS drug assistance programs, an increase of $80 million above 2010 to support access to life saving HIV-related medications for approximately 13,000 additional people living with HIV/AIDS. The Budget also increases HIV prevention efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by $58 million above 2010 including increasing funding for programs specifically targeting gay and bisexual men by $20.4 million. The Budget includes $22 million for the Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention program for metropolitan areas most affected by the HIV epidemic.
Support Housing Assistance for People Living with HIV/AIDS. The President’s Budget maintains funding at $335 million for HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, to address housing needs among people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. The program provides states and localities with the resources to create comprehensive strategies for providing housing assistance and supportive services such as case management. The Administration recognizes special needs among people living with HIV and AIDS, and HOPWA program benefits are one component of the President’s commitment to increasing permanent housing among low-income individuals and families, supporting short-term and transitional housing, and reducing the risk of homelessness.
Combat Violence and the Bullying of Children. The Budget provides $132 million for grants to State and local governments under the Department of Education’s Successful, Safe, and Healthy students program. State and local grants support the development and implementation of comprehensive strategies designed to continuously improve conditions for learning and student outcomes, including activities aimed at preventing and reducing substance use, violence, harassment or bullying, and promoting student mental, physical, and emotional health.
Increase Support for Global AIDS Programs. Over the past two years, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has nearly doubled the number of people it supports to 3.2 million. Additionally, the per-patient cost to the U.S. of providing anti-retroviral treatment has fallen by over 50 percent since 2008 because PEPFAR has investing carefully, tailoring prevention to countries’ urgent needs, using generic drugs, shipping more efficiently, and linking PEPFAR to other needed health services.

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