Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Federal Legislation

NCLR is committed to ending discrimination for all LGBT individuals, which is why we have long supported federal legislation designed to end both state-sanctioned discrimination as well as discrimination by private entities and individuals. Today, more than ever before, federal bills provide a nationwide opportunity to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Several such bills are both much-needed and long overdue, including the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), a federal hate crimes act that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity, an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and more. We also support a repeal of discriminatory federal laws, such as the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy and the anti-LGBT federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), among others.

news & opinion

Statement

NCLR Applauds John Trasviña, Outgoing Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Statement by NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.
5.21.13—(Washington D.C., May 21, 2013)—John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will be leaving HUD on May 21, 2013 to become Dean of the University of San Francisco School of Law. Assistant Secretary Trasviña has served in the Obama administration since 2009 when he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate. Under his leadership, FHEO has undertaken perhaps the most significant steps to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people across the country of any federal agency in history.

Statement

NCLR Responds to Introduction of Federal Immigration Reform Legislation
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
4.17.13—Today, a bipartisan group of Senators who have been working on a plan to fix the current broken U.S. immigration system released their long-awaited proposal for comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The bill, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, presents a massive overhaul to many aspects of our current approach to immigration. The plan provides a pathway to citizenship for undocumented people, including an expedited process for DREAMers, creates new types of visas, and requires the government to clear the high backlog for family-sponsored visas.

Statement

NCLR Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Oral Argument in Defense of Marriage Act Case
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
3.27.13—Today, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in a constitutional challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Supreme Court heard 50 minutes of argument concerning the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the case and one hour of argument concerning the constitutionality of DOMA.

Statement

President Obama Unveils Inclusive Immigration Plan
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell
1.29.13—Today, President Obama laid out a broad proposal for legislation that will overhaul U.S. immigration policy and replace it with a humane and workable system. In a much-anticipated address in Las Vegas, President Obama announced general principles he would like to see included in forthcoming legislation. The White House subsequently released a factsheet containing additional information and more detailed proposals, including a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and the substance of two pieces of legislation that have been particularly important for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) immigrants.

Statement

HUD Enforces LGBT Equal Access Rule
Statement by NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.
1.2.13—Today, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a settlement agreement in a claim it brought against Bank of America for discriminating against a lesbian couple applying for a federally insured mortgage loan. This settlement marks HUD’s first enforcement action taken under its recently enacted LGBT Equal Access Rule.

Press Release

Geoff Kors Joins NCLR as Senior Legislative and Policy Strategist
8.28.12—The National Center for Lesbian Rights is pleased to announce that Geoff Kors, a long-time leader in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement, has joined NCLR’s staff as Senior Legislative and Policy Strategist. Kors will work with NCLR State Legislative Director Connie Utada and NCLR Policy Director Maya Rupert to strengthen and expand the organization’s advocacy on national, state, and local legislative and policy initiatives.

Statement

NCLR Applauds New HUD Rule Ensuring Equal Access to Housing for LGBT Community
Statement by NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert, Esq.
1.28.12—Today, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced an important new rule that greatly increases protections against housing discrimination for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. The new rule, which will be published next week and go into effect 30 days after that, makes several critical changes to current housing and housing-related programs including: prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted or HUD-insured housing from discriminating against an applicant or occupant of a residence based on sexual orientation or gender identity; prohibiting all lenders offering Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages from considering sexual orientation or gender identity in determining a borrower’s eligibility; and clarifying the definition of "family" to ensure that otherwise eligible participants in any HUD programs will not be excluded based on marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Statement

NCLR, HUD, HHS Co-Host First-Ever National Summit on LGBT Elder Housing, Health, and Long-Term Care Issues
Statement by NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert
12.09.11—This week, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) co-hosted a day-long summit on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elder housing issues with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This is the first-ever national event to address housing, health and long-term care issues for LGBT elders. More than 90 people registered for the event, and the list of attendees included three assistant secretaries.

Press Release

NCLR Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert Named as One of Ebony Magazine’s ‘Power 100’
12.07.11—The National Center for Lesbian Rights is proud to announce that its Federal Policy Director Maya Rupert has been named one of this year’s 100 most notable people by Ebony Magazine, the nation’s premier black magazine.

Statement

NCLR Applauds Secretary Clinton’s Groundbreaking Speech on the Human Rights of LGBT People
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell
12.06.11—The National Center for Lesbian Rights applauds Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for her groundbreaking speech today on the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Speaking to human rights leaders from around the world, Secretary Clinton made a powerful case for the full inclusion of LGBT people in human rights protections, and pledged that securing those rights is a priority of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. In her remarks, Secretary Clinton said: “To LGBT men and women worldwide, wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to networks of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. . . . You have an ally in the United States of America.”

updates from the capitol

Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

On August 5, 2009, Senator Jeff Merkley (OR-D) joined by Senators Susan Collins (ME-R), Olympia Snowe (ME-R), and Edward M. Kennedy (MA-D) introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in an important show of bipartisan support. This bill, which would extend existing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination to protect people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, is much needed and long overdue.

An inclusive bill was reintroduced in the House on June 24, 2009. The bill was introduced in the House by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) and include IIeana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jared Polis (D-CO), Michael Castle (R-DE), George Miller (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), John Conyers (D-MI), Todd Platts (R-PA), Robert Andrews (D-NJ), and Leonard Lance (R-NJ).

Federal Hate Crimes Bill

In the 111th Congress, Rep. John Conyers introduced the bill in the House of Representatives on April 2, 2009 and Sen. Kennedy introduced a Senate version on April 28, 2009. In the same month, the House of Representatives voted 249 to 175 to add the Hate Crimes Bill, also known as the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to the 2010 DoD Authorization bill. The bill was then referred to the Senate Judiciary committee, which held a hearing on June 25 and heard testimony from Attorney Genderal Eric Holder on the need to expand the definition of federal hate crimes to cover attacks based on sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

On July 15, 2009, the Senate echoed the House’s decision by passing S.909, which added the Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment in the DoD Authoriization bill. The Senate approved the full defense bill on July 23.

The House and the Senate versions reconciled their versions of the DoD bill in a conference report and renamed the hate crimes provision “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” to honor another victim of a hate crime, James Byrd, Jr.

On October 8, 2009 the House of Representatives voted on the conference report on the DoD Authorization bill and passed at 281–146. The Senate approved the report, 68-29, on October 22, 2009 and on October 28, President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

On September 15, 2009, the Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the House by Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO). The bill had 87 co-sponsors.

The bill would repeal both sections 2 and 3 of DOMA. Section 2 creates an exception to the full faith and credit clause for married same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would eliminate that provision, but it would leave each state free to decide whether to recognize marriages of same-sex couples from other states. Section 3 excludes same-sex spouses from all federal benefits and protections, including Social Security survivor benefits, the right to file joint taxes, and the right to petition for permanent residence for a foreign spouse. The Respect for Marriage Act would require that the federal government treat all married couples equally.

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