Gay Primary Source

Monday, January 31, 2011

HUD Non-Discrimination Policy

Thank you all for joining us. I’m pleased to spend a few minutes with you today as we continue to make inclusivity and diversity cornerstones of all HUD’s programs and policies - and announce a new rule ensuring LGBT individuals and families can benefit from all our programs. As I have said before, the work HUD does is but one part of President Obama’s larger fight for equality on behalf of the LGBT community...

Whether it is giving same-sex couples hospital visitation rights or ensuring federal workers can afford long-term care for their partners, this administration is committed to fighting discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. And as it has been in so many civil rights battles over the last four decades, I want to make sure that HUD is a leader in this fight. That’s why, over the last 24 months, we have worked to ensure that our housing programs are open to all. We’ve conducted the first-ever national study of LGBT housing discrimination - which we designed based on feedback from town halls HUD leadership conducted in communities across the country.

For the first time at our annual National Fair Housing Policy Conference, HUD hosted a session on housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. In addition, we provided staff with new fair housing guidance instructing them to carefully assess whether any LGBT-based housing discrimination complaints could be pursued through the Fair Housing Act or state or local discrimination laws. And we have required grant applicants seeking a total of $3.25 billion in federal funding to comply with state and local anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals - covering 21 states and representing 41 percent of the US population. These are but the first steps we’ve taken to ensure that all American families - regardless of age, income, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation - have access to choice and opportunity.

Today, I am proud to announce another important step as HUD proposes new regulations that make clear that the term "family" includes LGBT individuals and couples as eligible beneficiaries of our public housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs.

Let me take a moment to explain why this rule is so important. HUD programs are designed and administered with a simple goal in mind: a decent home for every American. It is HUD’s responsibility to ensure that everyone - organizations, individuals, and families - have equal access to our programs and can compete fairly for our funds.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen evidence that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and families are being arbitrarily excluded from some housing opportunities. For instance, two years ago Michelle DeShane, a lesbian, wanted to add her partner Mitch, a transgender male, to her housing voucher. The local housing authority denied her request because the couple did not meet its definition of "family." Then, the housing authority referred the couple to a neighboring housing authority - because, as they were apparently told, the neighboring housing authority, quote, "accepts everyone - even Martians." That’s not right. No one should be subject to that kind of treatment or denied access to federal housing assistance because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

And so, through this proposed rule, this administration is ensuring that when it comes to housing assistance funded with taxpayer dollars, they won’t be. Specifically, it adds "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the list of definitions applicable to HUD programs. It clarifies HUD regulations to ensure that all eligible families have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs regardless of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity. It prohibits inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender identity and makes clear that gender identity and sexual orientation should not and cannot be part of any lending decision when it comes to getting an FHA-insured mortgage.

Allow me to conclude with a few words about why this rule is so important. For more than 200 years, family and home have gone hand-in-hand in America - our families are inextricably linked to the places in which we raise them. And if nothing else, my two years at HUD during this economic crisis have only brought that point home, so to speak. Home is where our families return when the day is over - where we eat dinner together and discuss our days together. It’s where we gather to celebrate holidays and birthdays - and sadder occasions as well. It’s where we put our kids to bed - and where our kids wake us up. Most important of all, it’s where we teach them to make good, responsible decisions that will impact not only their lives - but the lives of so many others.

These are the kinds of values our country celebrates - and every family in America should have the opportunity to pass them on to their children. That is why this rule is so important - and it’s why I’m so proud to make this announcement today.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, January 20, 2011.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clinton Deplores Murder of Ugandan Gay Activist

We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.

David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others. As an advocate for the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, he worked to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda's LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission's October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda's draft "anti-homosexuality bill" and the Ugandan High Court's January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans' right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity. His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda's LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.

Everywhere I travel on behalf of our country, I make it a point to meet with young people and activists -- people like David -- who are trying to build a better, stronger future for their societies. I let them know that America stands with them, and that their ideas and commitment are indispensible to achieving the progress we all seek.

This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us -- and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.

Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, January 27, 2011.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

NY Governor Supports Marriage Equality

"Fairness demands that marriage equality become a reality now. New York has been surpassed by many other countries which have legalized marriage for same-sex couples including Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and Portugal; as well as by many states including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Marriage equality is a question of principle and the State should not discriminate against same-sex couples who wish to get married. Without marriage equality same-sex couples, and their families, are unjustly denied over 1,000 federal and 700 state rights and responsibilities. For instance, spouses have hopsital visitation rights and can make medical decisions in the event of illness or disability of their spouse; employers offer spouses sick leave, bereavement leave, access to health insurance and pension; and the law provides certain automatic rights to a person’s spouse regardless of whether or not a will exists. None of these rights exist automatically for same-sex couples in the absence of marriage.

Therefore, I will fight to make marriage equality a reality."

New York at a Crossroads: A Transformation Plan for a New New York - Annual Message - State of New York [published version].

"We believe in justice for all, then let’s pass marriage equality this year once and for all." State of the State Address [spoken version].

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, January 5, 2011.