The Advocate reached out to all Presidential candidates, as well as the President, for a statement on LGBT accomplishments. President Obama was the only one who responded. His statement is below…
Statement to The Advocate from President Barack Obama
Our country grows stronger when all Americans have access to opportunity and are able to participate fully in our economy. Too many Americans are still denied their basic rights. But we can also be proud of the progress we have made.
Together we have repealed the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prohibited gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans from serving openly in the military. We passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Protection Act, adding the words sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights protections for the first time. And through the Affordable Care Act, we’re making sure that all Americans have access to affordable health care and that insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, including HIV/AIDS.
I believe that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and should be repealed. I have instructed the Department of Justice to no longer defend it in court, and the Department has already filed multiple briefs supporting individuals challenging the law in court. I also support an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
But a lot of work remains, and we cannot wait for Congress to act. My administration developed and is executing the first comprehensive national strategy on HIV/AIDS to reduce HIV incidence, increase access to care, and reduce disparities. I hosted the first White House conference on bullying prevention and many in my Administration, including myself and Vice President Biden, participated in the It Gets Better Project that gives hope to young people who are victims of bullying or harassment because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Department of Health and Human Services is now requiring hospitals receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid funding to honor LGBT patients’ wishes regarding hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights, and is beginning to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity, including new information on health disparities affecting the LGBT population. The Department of State ended the ban on travel by HIV-positive individuals and is working to ensure that the human rights of LGBT people are a U.S. priority around the world. The Department of Homeland Security has prioritized the deportation of certain undocumented immigrants, including those who pose a threat to national safety and public safety, while putting a lower priority on the cases of undocumented immigrants with family members, including same-sex partners, in the United States. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is working to making housing discrimination against LGBT Americans a thing of the past. Finally, my Administration has brought on more qualified LGBT appointees, and confirmed more LGBT federal judges, than any other Administration.
My Administration will continue to seek out avenues for progress. Together we can continue to build the more perfect union in which LGBT Americans have the same legal rights and responsibilities as every American.