The LGBT-friendly regulations presidencyTrans Progressive Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Commentary: Trans Progressive
Saturday, Jan. 28 Shaun Donovan, secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), announced a significant new anti-discrimination policy. From his prepared speech to the recent Creating Change Conference:
“Today, I am proud to announce a new Equal Access to Housing Rule that says clearly and unequivocally that LGBT individuals and couples have the right to live where they choose.
“When we first proposed this rule, we included a provision that prohibited owners and operators of HUD housing from inquiring whether someone is LGBT.
“But as you made very clear, people don’t have to inquire to discriminate against them – that often, people face discrimination based on their appearance or mannerisms.
“And so, first and foremost, this rule includes a new equal access provision that prohibits owners and operators of HUD-funded housing, or housing whose financing we insure, from inquiring about an applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or denying housing on that basis.
“If you are denying HUD housing to people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity – actual or perceived – you’re discriminating, you’re breaking the law – and you will be held accountable.”
This is another regulation by the Obama administration that’s meant to specifically benefit members of the LGBT community.
In the same week this HUD policy change was announced, Immigration Equality announced in a press release that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released a new training module addressing asylum requests by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) claimants. The new training module “instructs asylum officers on substantive aspects of the law and highlights the unique difficulties that LGBTI claimants may experience in articulating their claims for asylum.” Among the significant changes are this one Immigration Equality highlighted in a recent press release:
“A non-exhaustive list of possible one-year filing deadline exceptions (which make it difficult to pursue asylum after one year of presence in the United States), including: recently “coming out” as LGBTI; recent steps to transition from birth gender to corrected gender; a recent HIV diagnosis; post-traumatic stress disorder; or severe family opposition to an applicant’s identity.”
In The Advocate’s article Op-ed: 14 Reasons That Made 2011 Great for Trans People by the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Mara Keisling, she listed as point two “The White House Makes Trans People and Issues a Priority;” point ten as “Government Backs Trans Federal Workers;” and point fourteen as “All Federal Legislation Introduced this Congress is Trans-Inclusive.” So those are good things.
And yet Keen News Service reported in their article White House Twitter Session: No News that when GetEqual asked, “What steps will [the president] take to ensure LGBT Americans are fully equal under the law? And please don’t pivot to [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell].” The answer from the White House was, “POTUS is for DOMA repeal, inclusive ENDA and his administration has taken many steps to protect LGBT Americans.” To which GetEqual replied, “That’s great – what is he planning to get done in 2012? Being ‘for’ those things doesn’t actually make us more equal.” That question wasn’t answered.
In 2010, legislation was passed through Congress and signed into law. “Insider” LGBT organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, had been working for years for repeal of DADT, and GetEqual as an “outsider” organization pushed in 2010 with direct actions. Between “insider” and “outsider” organization’s work, pressure was put on Congress to repeal the 1992 law. However, President Obama didn’t expend any presidential prestige on Congressmembers until the final weeks before the legislation was passed into law.
The point I’m making is that progress on LGBT issues is being accomplished by regulation – many of which might actually be undone should Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich become president in this coming November’s election. And 2016’s presidential election? Will the Republicans run another anti-LGBT president that would undo what President Obama brought about by regulation?
If Democrats again take control of both houses of Congress this November, and the president should win his re-election bid, we are left with the likely reality that President Obama will support repeal of DOMA and ENDA, but again won’t expend presidential prestige to see either of these passed into law.
I’m afraid without a Democratic Congress, and “outsider” groups working in conjunction with “insider” organizations for LGBT legislation, we’ll be left with no further legislation coming from the Obama administration. What could be President Obama’s personal real legacy is that of being the LGBT-friendly federal regulations’ president – which isn’t a bad thing, but isn’t precisely what many of us would like to see from his presidency.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=20379