(San Francisco, CA, December 17, 2015 )Today Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton unveiled a landmark policy paper addressing issues that affect the LGBT community. Clinton's policy proposal is the first and most specific issued by any presidential candidate currently in the 2016 race.
Statement from National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) Executive Director Kate Kendell:
"The policy positions announced today by Hillary Clinton sketch a bold vision for our community in this country and beyond. We applaud Secretary Clinton for her audacious and uncompromising support for a range of policy initiatives which, if realized, would improve the lives and futures of every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in our nation and the world. By addressing issues like parenting and adoption, protections for LGBT youth, conversion therapy, violence against transgender people and transgender service in the military, and health care access for people with HIVissues which have long been part of NCLR's workSecretary Clinton reflects a genuine understanding of the issues facing LGBT people and their families. Her passionate support is extremely gratifying."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org .
Fighting for Full Equality for LGBT People
Thanks to the hard work of generations of LGBT advocates and activists who fought to make it possible, our country won a landmark victory this past June when the Supreme Court recognized that in America, under our Constitution, LGBT couples, like everyone else, have the right to marry the person they love. The Obergefell decision was a watershed moment and we must fight to protect the progress we have won in our courts. But our work to reach the promise of full equality remains unfinished. LGBT kids continue to be discriminated against and bullied at school, a restaurant can refuse to serve a transgender person, and a same-sex couple is at risk of being evicted from their home. Hillary Clinton believes that we must stand firm and keep fighting until every American can not only marry, but also live, work, pray, learn and raise a family free from discrimination and prejudice. She believes that America is at its best when we are inclusive, open, and striving towards true equality.
As President, Clinton will:
Fight for full federal equality for LGBT Americans. Today in America nearly 65 percent of LGBT individuals report experiencing discrimination in their daily lives and nearly 50 percent report that this discrimination occurs in the workplace. LGBT youth are nearly twice as likely as their peers to be physically assaulted at school and 74 percent of LGBT students say they've been verbally harassed for their sexual orientation. Despite this discrimination, 31 states do not have fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination laws. Clinton will:
Work with Congress to pass the Equality Act. The Equality Act would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related statutes to add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected classes such as race, sex, national origin, and religion. The Act would provide LGBT individuals explicit and comprehensive protection from discrimination in all facets of American lifeemployment, housing, schools, access to credit, public education, jury service, and public accommodations. Clinton will fight for the passage of the Equality Act to secure full federal equality for LGBT Americans.
Continue President Obama's LGBT equality executive actions. President Obama has taken critical steps to protect LGBT people in employment, housing, and health care. For example, the Administration issued nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people employed by the federal government and federal contractors; published formal regulations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federally funded housing programs; and published a Health and Human Services regulation for hospitals participating in Medicaid and Medicare requiring respect for advanced directives and visitation requests regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Clinton will fully implement and enforce the President's LGBT equality executive actions.
Support efforts underway in the courts and federal government to clarify that under federal statutes "sex discrimination" includes discrimination on the basis of "gender identity" and "sexual orientation." Courts across the country have concluded that "sex" discrimination encompasses discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and federal agencies are following their lead. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has held that discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation constitutes sex discrimination under Title VII; the Department of Housing and Urban Development has concluded that the Fair Housing Act covers claims based on gender identity and sexual orientation; and the Department of Education has clarified that under Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation is discrimination based on sex; and HHS is finalizing a proposed regulation implementing Section 1557 of the ACA, the act's nondiscrimination protections, to recognize that sex discrimination includes gender identity and sex stereotyping. Clinton will support efforts to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation as discrimination on the basis of sex to help secure additional protections in important aspects of life until Congress acts to provide full federal nondiscrimination protections.
Support LGBT youth, parents, and elders. LGBT youth face unique challenges at school and at home, LGBT parents face discriminatory barriers when attempting to start a family, and LGBT elders carry the consequences of a lifetime of discrimination into retirement. Clinton has fought for children and families throughout her career, and will:
End discriminatory treatment of LGBT families in adoptions. An estimated 108,000 children in foster care are waiting to become part of loving families. But some states create roadblocks to prevent LGBT people from adopting or fostering childrenrequiring more burdensome or costly procedures or even refusing to place youth with same-sex parents altogether. Such practices not only prevent LGBT Americans from becoming parents, they also deny children the chance to live in a safe, happy, and healthy home. Adoption by same-sex couples remains illegal in Mississippi, and even in states where adoption is technically legal, LGBT individuals still face discrimination. Clinton will work with Congress to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would prohibit federally funded child welfare agencies from discriminating against potential foster or adoptive families on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status.
Improve school climate for all students. We have told LGBT youth that it gets better, but as a nation, we have to do more to honor that promise. More than half of LGBT students say they've experienced discrimination at school due to their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBT youth are more than twice as likely as other students to be verbally harassed at school. Studies show that bullying and harassment contributes to higher rates of absenteeism, dropouts, adverse health consequences, and academic underachievement among LGBT youth. Clinton will fight to pass the Safe Schools Improvement Act to specifically prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion in federally funded school districts, and the Student Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit public schools from discriminating against students on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
End LGBT conversion therapy for minors. Studies have reaffirmed that conversion and reparative "therapies" focused on sexual orientation and gender identity are ineffective and deeply harmful to LGBT and gender-questioning youth. According to the American Psychiatric Association, "The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior." Clinton believes that we should support our LGBT youth and provide competent care to those struggling with their identity. She will support efforts in Congress and in the states to end conversion therapy for minors.
Combat youth homelessness. LGBT youth are vastly overrepresented in the homeless population: up to 45 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT, even though LGBT youth comprise just 5 to 7 percent of the overall youth population. In 2015, Congress failed to reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, which provided federal funding for homeless prevention resources, emergency shelters, street outreach, transitional living, and rural assistance. Clinton will work with Congress to ensure adequate funding and safe and welcoming shelter for homeless youth.
Ensure LGBT elders can retire with dignity and respect. Many LGBT elders enter retirement with the emotional and economic effects of having lived through a lifetime of discrimination, and the number of LGBT older adults in the U.S. is expected to double to at least 3 million by 2050. Clinton believes LGBT elders must be protected against discrimination and, as President, she will work to ensure they receive the support they need and deserve.
Collect national data to better serve LGBT individuals and families. Understanding the size of the LGBT population is critical to creating informed policies and tracking the prevalence of health and economic disparities facing the community. But no major federally supported population survey routinely asks respondents to share both their sexual orientation and gender identity. Clinton will work to improve data collection on critical issues such as LGBT unemployment, health coverage, violence, and poverty by adding sexual orientation and gender identity questions to federally supported surveys such as the American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey.
Honor the military service of LGBT people. Every day, LGBT service members valiantly fight for our country around the world. Clinton believes we should honor their service and ensure they receive the benefits they have earned. As Commander-in-Chief, Clinton will:
Upgrade service records of LGBT veterans dismissed due to their sexual orientation. Tens of thousands of men and women were forced out of the military before and during "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Many were given less than honorable discharges simply because of their sexual orientation. Clinton will direct the Department of Defense to review and correct the records of these discharged service members to make sure they receive the honorable discharge they deserve.
Support efforts to allow transgender personnel to serve openly. According to recent studies, there are an estimated 15,500 actively serving transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Department of Defense the largest employer of transgender people in America. In July 2015, Defense Secretary Carter created a working group in the Department of Defense to study the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender personnel to serve openly. Clinton believes the U.S. should join the many other countries that allow transgender individuals to serve openly alongside their comrades in arms.
Secure affordable treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS. While the United States has made great progress in the treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDS, our job is not done. As Secretary of State, Clinton began an ambitious campaign to usher in an AIDS-free generation, and as President, she will continue to drive towards that goal. Clinton will:
Call on Republican governors to extend Medicaid coverage to provide life-saving health care to people living with HIV. Before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an individual was eligible for Medicaid only if he or she was low-income and determined to be of "categorical need". Many childless low-income adults with HIV failed to qualify as categorically needy because asymptomatic HIV did not render a person "disabled" for purposes of Medicaid. This created a pernicious catch-22: HIV-positive individuals needed access to care before their health deteriorated but were not deemed Medicaid-eligible until their disease progressed to full blown AIDS. As Senator, Clinton co-sponsored the Early Treatment for HIV Act to fix this loophole. With the passage of the ACA, however, Medicaid was reformed to no longer tie eligibility to a finding of "categorical need"; income status alone now triggers eligibility. An analysis of the ACA's impact on persons living with HIV estimated that of 70,000 persons with HIV who were uninsured before the law, roughly 47,000 would be newly eligible for Medicaid. However, with the Supreme Court's ACA decision, these new eligibility criteria only apply in states that accept Medicaid expansion. As a result, childless low-income Americans in non-expansion states remain ineligible for Medicaid if they contract asymptomatic HIV. Clinton believes that every state should extend Medicaid coverage to provide life-saving health care to people living with HIV.
Cap out-of pocket expenses for people with HIV/AIDS. It is an abomination that a pharmaceutical company can raise the price of life-saving medicine for HIV and AIDS patients by more than 5,000 percent. Clinton has announced a plan to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable and to achieve lower drug costs for Americans, including for medications that help treat HIV and reduce the risk of contracting AIDS. Clinton will ensure that Americans can get the care their doctors prescribe by requiring health insurance plans to cap covered out-of-pocket prescription drug costs at $250. She also will allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices and will stop direct-to-consumer advertising subsidies for drug companiesreinvesting those funds in research.
Expand the utilization of HIV prevention medications, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). While we work to diagnose and treat all Americans with HIV and AIDS, we also must work to prevent exposure. Decades of research are beginning to offer a promising path to prevention. In 2010, a major two year study showed that PrEP was effective at preventing HIV infection 90 percent of the time when used as directed. As a result, both the CDC and the World Health Organization have recommended widespread use of PrEP among certain at-risk groups. In March, the CDC announced $125 million over three years in grants to state and local health departments to increase knowledge about and uptake of PrEP among transgender individuals and black men who have sex with men (MSM). Clinton will increase the CDC investment to ensure populations at greatest risk of infection have access to the drug, and encourage states to follow suit.
Protect transgender rights. We must do more to end discrimination against the transgender community. Transgender people are twice as likely than the average American to be unemployed, and in a recent national survey, 75 percent of respondents said they had hidden their gender or gender transition to avoid discrimination. For a majority of transgender individuals, the simple act of filling out a government form can lead to harassment or questioning. Clinton believes no individual should be held back from fully participating in our society because of their gender identity. At the State Department, Clinton made it possible for transgender Americans to have their true gender reflected on their passports for the very first time. As President, she will:
Protect transgender individuals from violence. There is a tragic epidemic of violence against the transgender community. This year alone marks the highest recorded number of transgender homicide victimsnearly all of them women of color. Transgender individuals are also 10 times more likely than the general prison and jail populations to be sexually assaulted. Everyone in prison, jail or detention deserves to be safe from assault. To better understandand endthe incidence of violence, Clinton will direct the U.S. Department of Justice to require that gender identity and sexual orientation data be collected whenever demographic data is collected with respect to programs for victims of crime, and to encourage jurisdictions to improve reporting of hate crimes data based on a victim's actual or perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
Streamline identity documents. Without accurate identity documents, transgender people face obstacles accessing employment, health care, education, housing, and voting. Some states require evidence of a medical transition (which not everyone chooses to pursue) to change one's gender on official documents. As Secretary of State, Clinton worked to remove such barriers for transgender individuals seeking to change their gender marker on their passport. As President, Clinton will build on the work of the Obama Administration to ensure the federal government models best practices in allowing transgender individuals to change their gender marker on identification documents, and she will call on states to do the same.
Invest in law enforcement training on interactions with LGBT individuals. Clinton will invest in law enforcement training that focuses on issues such as implicit bias, use of force, and de-escalation, as well as fair and impartial policing including in their interactions with the LGBT community, in particular transgender individuals. It will also focus on educating police officers on correctly identifying bias-motivated crimes.
Promote human rights of LGBT people around the world. In 2011, Secretary Clinton stood before the United Nations Human Rights Council and told the world's leaders, "Gay rights are human rights" spearheading the effort to pass the first-ever UN resolution to protect the LGBT community abroad. Clinton will continue her work to promote LGBT human rights and ensure America's foreign policy is inclusive of LGBT people around the world. As President, she will:
Increase support for the Global Equality Fund. As Secretary of State, Clinton launched the Global Equality Fund to support programs that advance the human rights of LGBT persons abroad. Hundreds of millions of people live in places where they can be arrested, even executed for their sexuality or gender identity. As President, Clinton will increase our investment in the Global Equality Fund by $50 million over the next decade to advance the human rights of LGBT people around the world.