I wanted to take a brief moment of your time to give you an update from Washington on some of my work on LGBT issues:
LGBT Students Have the Right to be Safe at School
As you may know, President Obama recently endorsed two bipartisan bills introduced in Congress to address school bullying and safeguard vulnerable students.
I’m a cosponsor of these bills to make sure our schools are safe learning environments.
The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 998) would prohibit discrimination in public schools against any student on the basis of actual, or perceived, sexual orientation and gender identity. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (H.R 1648) would require school districts to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment, including on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and religion.
I hope the President’s support for these two bills sends a message to the leadership in Congress that it’s time to bring these bills to the floor for a vote because all students have the right to be, and feel, safe at school.
Additionally, I joined the recently established Congressional Anti-Bullying Caucus. I look forward to working with the Caucus to educate my colleagues in Congress about the complex problem of bullying and how we can effectively address it at the federal level.
Working Against Economic and Employment Discrimination
I recently joined my colleague Congresswoman Linda Sanchez in introducing the Social Security Equality Act, which would allow LGBT families to gain access to the same Social Security retirement, survivor and disability benefits which are available to married, opposite-sex couples.
Finally, I wanted to make sure you knew about a letter I recently led, with 71 of my Congressional colleagues, to urge President Obama to issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to adopt policies of non-discrimination towards LGBT employees. I don’t believe the American people want their federal tax dollars used to support discrimination.
The President responded that he believed it was important for Congress to enact this change – and protections for all workers – by passing the Employment Non Discrimination Act (H.R. 1837), legislation I have long supported. I believe the Executive Order would be a necessary and appropriate first step on employment equality, but I also know that this Administration has an impressive record on LGBT issues. For example, in the last three years the President has signed into law legislation repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ declined to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court, and ensured hospital visitation for LGBT partners.
While we’ve made important and tremendous progress, much work still remains. Please rest assured that I take the effort and fight for full equality for LGBT Americans very seriously.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this update with you. As always, please feel free to pass it along to family and friends.