We are working to ensure the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community. Leader Pelosi's efforts include repealing ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' for military service, ending discrimination against same-sex couples in federal immigration laws, and working for a fully-inclusive Hate Crimes Prevention and Employment Non-Discrimination Act. View this pdf to see highlights of Pelosi's accomplishments in fighting for LGBT equality.
On the Marriage Equality Cases Before the Supreme Court - 3/26/13
Leader Pelosi's statement on the beginning of Supreme Court oral arguments on Proposition 9 and DOMA:
“Today, the Supreme Court will begin to hear challenges to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. It is clear that there is no legitimate federal or state interest in discrimination. As the justices consider both of these cases, equal protection under the law must rule the day and both DOMA and Prop. 8 must be relegated to the dustbin of history.
“The DOMA challenge involves the heartbreaking case of Edie Windsor, who was required by the federal government to pay hundreds of thousands in taxes after her wife, Thea, passed way. Regardless of the fact that Edie and Thea were married and together for over 40 years, the federal government discriminated against Edie. House Republicans intervened in this case in their efforts to preserve injustice and defend discrimination, and impose an unjust tax liability on an American family.
“In fact, the House Republican leadership repeatedly and secretly increased to $3 million the amount of taxpayer funds obligated to conducting an unprecedented, nationwide litigation campaign in more than a dozen lawsuits defending DOMA, losing all their cases in which decisions were rendered. At first, Republicans proudly announced this effort as they catered to the most extreme elements of their party. Now, as public opinion continues to shift, they leave unanswered charges of ‘fiscal responsibility’ hypocrisy and questions about the abuse of taxpayer funds.
"These cases are now before our nation's highest court. It is time for justice for all American families."
Harvey Milk Day - 5/22/12
On President Obama's Support of Marriage Equality - 5/9/12
Leader Pelosi's statement on President Obama supporting marriage equality:
'Today marks progress for the civil rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans. With President Obama's support, we look forward to the day when all American families are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
'Republicans are standing on the wrong side of history. Just yesterday, a Republican-backed amendment to ban same-sex marriage passed in North Carolina. Here in the House, Republican leaders refuse to bring up a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act that includes critical domestic violence protections for the LGBT community, and they are using taxpayer funds to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act in court. These actions only serve to advance fundamental unfairness in our society.
'Throughout American history, we have worked to live up to our values of liberty and freedom, and to end discrimination in all of its forms. Today, we took another step forward in our march toward equality.'
Planting at National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco - 4/21/12
@NancyPelosi: Planting with friends & family for the Community Volunteer Workday at National @AIDS_Memorial Grove in #SF
The End of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' - 9/20/11
Leader Pelosi's statement on the historic end of the discriminatory “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy:
“With the long-overdue end of the discriminatory ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy, our nation will finally close the door on a fundamental unfairness for gays and lesbians, and indeed affirm equality for all Americans. When the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate took action last year to end this wrongheaded policy, we reaffirmed the core American principle that anyone who wishes to serve, secure, and defend this country must be judged by their abilities and honored for their dedication and sacrifice.
“For those gays and lesbians discharged unfairly, including those who seek re-accession, we must correct their paperwork so that it properly reflects their service. We must continue efforts to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, but in the meantime, I urge the Obama Administration to investigate opportunities to extend the same support and benefits to all our troops and their families. We cannot allow there to be two classes of service members in our military - those who receive benefits for their families and those who do not.
“This landmark progress comes after the President, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Secretary of Defense have all certified that repeal will not hurt military readiness or unit cohesion.
“America is the land of the free and the home of the brave because of our men and women in uniform. And tomorrow, we honor their service by recommitting to the values that they fight for on the battlefield.”
Visting the Trevor Poject - 6/20/2011
30th Anniversary of First AIDS Diagnosis - 6/3/2011
Leader Pelosi on the 30th anniversary of the first diagnosis of AIDS, which falls on Sunday, June 5:
“This anniversary is a solemn occasion for those living with HIV/AIDS, for the families and friends of those who we have lost to this disease, for the Americans and people worldwide still struggling to find a cure. Since the first diagnosis 30 years ago, HIV/AIDS has taken our neighbors and loved ones, siblings and parents; it has struck our communities, and decimated towns and villages worldwide.
“Yet, despite the pain of these last three decades, there remain glimmers of hope: a growing chorus of advocates, activists, and concerned citizens have joined the fight to end HIV/AIDS; recent research, breakthroughs, and medical advances are enabling HIV/AIDS patients to live longer and healthier. Across the globe, treatment access has improved, and new infections and AIDS deaths are on the decline.
“In the Democratic Congress, we expanded investments in HIV/AIDS care, lifted the ban on federal funding for syringe exchange, and reauthorized the Ryan White Act. In passing health insurance reform, we increased access to Medicaid for people with HIV, strengthened the AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, and ended discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. But more must be done.
“In my first speech on the House floor in 1987, I told my colleagues that I came to Congress to fight AIDS - because San Francisco had known the anguish caused by HIV/AIDS from the start. We were united then, and stand united today, in our drive to make this disease just a memory. On this anniversary, let's redouble our efforts to fight HIV/AIDS with inspiration from those who we've lost, with determination, compassion, and hope. Let's work toward a day when we mark not the first diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, but celebrate the end of this pandemic.”
Harvey Milk Day - 5/22/2011
Leader Pelosi on the second annual Harvey Milk Day, which is observed on Sunday, May 22, in the state of California:
“Harvey Milk Day honors the life, legacy, and achievements of a leader dedicated to the fundamental American value of equality. It celebrates a victory for LGBT Americans and working families, the disenfranchised and the poor, seniors and workers - the men and women Harvey Milk fought for; the Americans who believed in Harvey's message of hope and strived for the dream of justice and opportunity for all.
“In San Francisco - the birthplace of Harvey Milk's campaign for LGBT rights - we know that this holiday is about more than the heroic life and tragic death of a great man; it is about living up to his cause - the right of LGBT Americans to participate in our society as equals; the responsibility to treat others with dignity and respect.
“The Democratic Congress acted on these values and began realizing this vision. Together, we led the charge for an end to ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell'; for a fully-inclusive hate crimes law; for greater funding for HIV/AIDS care and reauthorization of the Ryan White Act. Inspired by Harvey Milk's example and memory, we opened the doors of progress for every American.
“Today, Harvey Milk's work continues - through the efforts of his nephew, Stuart Milk, and the Harvey Milk Foundation; through the campaigns of activists and advocates in California and across the country; through the fight to ensure that our laws reflect and embody our deepest values. Harvey Milk changed the course of history; now, we will create a future in which the LGBT Community and all Americans achieve true equality.”
DOMA Defense - Spring 2011
Leader Pelosi and House Democrats have written multiple letters to Speaker Boehner concerning his efforts to initiate a defense in court cases of the discriminatory and indefensible Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In the letters, Leader Pelosi and Democrats on the House Administration Committee question the contracts, lack of transparency, ethics, and cost to taxpayers of the House's intervention.
- 5/18/11 - House Administration Democrats Continue to Press for Transparency in DOMA Legal Contracts»
- 4/26/11 - House Administration Democrats Demand More Information on Contract to Defend Defense of Marriage Act»
- 4/20/11 - Pelosi Questions Boehner on House Contract with Outside DOMA Counsel»
- 4/18/11 - How Much Will Outside DOMA Counsel Cost Taxpayers?»
- 3/11/11 - Letter to Speaker Boehner on Defending DOMA»
BLAG Vote on DOMA - 3/9/2011
Leader Pelosi released the following statement today after the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group voted, along party lines, to initiate action by the House to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, potentially costing American taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars:
“President Obama took a bold step forward for civil rights when he announced that the federal government would no longer argue to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act in court. DOMA is discriminatory; it's unfair and indefensible; and it betrays our nation's long-held - and long-cherished - value of equality for all.
“Since its proposal and passage, this legislation has raised constitutional questions and has been viewed as a violation of the equal protection clause. The House should not be in the business of defending an unconstitutional statute that is neither rational nor serves any governmental interest. DOMA actually discriminates against American families.
“Given the complexity and number of cases, this legal challenge would sap hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, if not more, during a time of limited fiscal resources.
“Pursuing this legal challenge distracts from our core challenges: creating jobs, strengthening the middle class, and responsibly reducing the deficit. And that is why I voted against this action today.”
DADT Repeal - 12/22/2010
Speaker Nancy Pelosi after President Obama signed the historic repeal of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy into law:
“Today, our country took another step forward on the road to fairness, civil rights, and equality for all Americans. With the President's signature, the discriminatory ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy becomes a memory; our armed forces become stronger; our nation becomes more secure.
“In this historic act, we have opened the doors of our military to all of the courageous Americans who wish to serve and sacrifice on our behalf, regardless of their sexual orientation. And we have stated clearly and unequivocally: that, no matter whom you love, all of our service members are bound by love of country and a commitment to the cause of our common defense.
“The repeal of ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is a marker of progress for every American, a sign of our long-held ability to change for the better and advance our ideals in each generation. I applaud my colleagues in the House and Senate for acting to correct this injustice, and I commend the President for standing up for the rights of LGBT Americans to serve openly and for singing this repeal into law.”
DADT Repeal Floor Debate - 12/15/2010
It Gets Better - 10/22/2010
Speaker Pelosi adds her voice to the chorus of Americans across the country as part of the It Gets Better Project to tell LGBT youth: you are not alone, it gets better.
Marriage Equality Ruling - 8/4/2010
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the ruling announced by U.S. District Court Judge Walker in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger:
'I am extremely encouraged by the ruling today, which found that Proposition 8 violated both the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. Proposition 8 has taken away individual rights and freedoms, and is a stain upon the California Constitution.
We must continue to fight against discriminatory marriage amendments and work toward the day when all American families are treated equally.'
Honoring the Values of Our Nation - 5/27/2010
Under 'Don't Ask Don't Tell,' more than 13,000 men and women in uniform have been discharged from the military. Thousands more have decided not to re-enlist. Fighter pilots, infantry officers, Arabic translators and other specialists have been discharged at a time when our nation is engaged in two wars. By a vote of 234-194, the House passed an amendment to repeal the discriminatory policy on May 27, 2010. America has always been the land of the free and the home of the brave. And our men and women in uniform make it so. We are so because they have been willing to fight for our country. We honor their service by recommitting to the values that they fight for on the battlefield. Watch videos from the floor debate:
Pelosi Statement on President Obama's Memorandum on Hospital Visitation - 4/15/2010
Speaker Nancy Pelosi on President Obama's signing of a presidential memoranda regarding the visitation rights of hospital patients and the ability to designate surrogate decision makers in the case of emergencies:
“I applaud the President's decision to direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take steps to ensure that hospitals participating in Medicare or Medicaid respect the rights of patients to receive visitors and designate others to make decisions about medical care in the case of an emergency. The President's decision sends a strong message and builds upon laws enacted in many states across our nation.
“This is a critical step in ending discrimination against LGBT families and ensuring that, in the event of a hospital stay, all Americans have the right to see their loved ones.”
Other recent statements:
Preventing Hate Crimes
Hate crimes have no place in America. This Congress is committed preventing bias-motivated violence based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national origin, or disability.
On April 29th, 2009, the House passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which focuses on providing new resources to help state and local law enforcement agencies prevent and prosecute hate crimes.This bill extends the protections of current federal hate crime laws to help combat hate crimes committed because of a person's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The current federal hate crimes law authorizes federal aid in cases of hate crimes committed because of a person's race, color, religion, or national origin.
There has been a federal hate crimes law since 1968 because Americans recognize that bias-motivated crimes of violence harm all of society, in addition to the crime victim. Americans understand that hate crimes have no place in America. All Americans have a right to feel safe in their community. We all remember the brutal murders of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming and James Byrd in Texas because we know that these bias-motivated murders impacted us all. Yet, hate crimes continue to be widespread and persistent: More than 113,000 hate crimes have been documented by the FBI since 1991. In 2005 alone, there were 7,163 reported hate crimes.
On the bill's passage in the House, Speaker Pelosi said: 'Congress has been debating federal hate crimes legislation for 17 years. It was more than ten years ago that Mathew Shepard was brutally murdered. The time for debate is long over. I am so proud that today the House has acted and in so doing, honored this nation's commitment to the ideals of justice, equality and opportunity.'
Ending Employment Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) legislation is an historic advancement for gays and lesbians and their families that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation. The House passed this critical bill in November 2007. In 30 states, it is currently legal to fire someone simply because of his or her sexual orientation. This bill would prohibit employers, employment agencies and labor unions from using an individual's sexual orientation as the basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion or compensation. The bill extends federal employment protections to gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers similar to those already provided to a person based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
Watch Speaker Pelosi speak in support of the bill>>
Speaker Pelosi takes great pride in California Supreme Court decision that provides for equal treatment of gay and lesbian couples. It is a significant milestone towards equality for the LGBT community in California and across the nation.
|Volunteering at the National AIDS Memorial Grove in San Francisco|
Download a pdf document highlighting Pelosi's accomplishments on HIV/AIDS here.
Since her first day in office, Speaker Pelosi has been committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS across the nation and around the world. One of Speaker Pelosi's first legislative victories was the creation of the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS program.
She has worked to accelerate development of an HIV vaccine, to expand access to Medicaid for people living with HIV, and to increase funding for the Ryan White CARE Act, the Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative and other programs vital for people living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. She was instrumental in passing legislation in 1996 which designated the San Francisco AIDS Grove as the country's first National AIDS Memorial. She commemorated her 20 years of service in congress at the National AIDS Memorial in 2007 where she said, “The National AIDS Memorial Grove stands as a monument to all that we have lost, but also all that we have held onto - our hope, our optimism, our steadfastness and determination to fight against this disease and for the people who have it.”
Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, 20 million men, women, and children have died from the disease. Thirty-three million around the globe are HIV-positive. Each and every day, another 7,000 people become infected with HIV. There is a moral imperative to combat this epidemic. The need for stronger U.S. leadership and a sustained commitment from the international community is clear. This year, Congress passed America's largest commitment ever to fighting the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Lantos-Hyde U.S. Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
The legislation builds on the landmark HIV/AIDS legislation passed in 2003, reauthorizing and improving that program - authorizing $48 billion over the next five years. This is $18 billion more than the $30 billion President Bush originally requested. By 2013, this bill works to prevent 12 million new HIV infections; provide medical and nonmedical care for 12 million people (including 5 million orphans); and train 140,000 new health care workers.
In the first five years of the U.S. response to the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, U.S. policy was driven by the urgency of an emergency response. Under this bill, the U.S. will develop and implement strategies to transition from the emergency phase to long-term sustainability that can be maintained by the host countries. The bill strengthens health care delivery systems in host countries and rebuilds health care workforces to boost host country capacities to reach and provide HIV/AIDS services to populations that are difficult to reach.
Hearings and Oversight
Armed Services Hearing on “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”
The Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee held a hearing, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell Review.” The hearing included testimony from military veterans on the effects of the policy. Former Naval intelligence officer Captain Joan E. Darrah, USN, (Ret.) testified: 'There was always that fear in the back of my mind that somehow I had been outed, and that the Admiral was calling me in to tell me that I was fired. The constant fear of being outed and fired, even though your perfomance is exceptional, is hard to quantify. ‘Don't Ask, Don't Tell' discourages thousands of talented and patriotic citizens from joining the military, because rightly so, they refuse to live a lie. This is a tremendous loss for our military.”
Rep. Patrick Murphy, the only Iraq veteran in Congress, challenged the witnesses in opposition to repealing the policy. He said, “You're basically asserting that straight men and women in our military aren't professional enough to serve openly with gay troops while completing their military missions. You know as a former Army officer I can tell you I think that's an insult to me and to many of the soldiers. To answer your question, Mr. Jones, it was 24 countries that allow military personnel to serve openly without any detrimental impact on unit cohesion.” Watch>>
Oversight Hearing on Abstinence-Only Programs
The Oversight Committee held a hearing, “Domestic Abstinence-Only Programs: Assessing the Evidence” Federally-funded abstinence-only programs require the exclusive teaching of abstinence until marriage and prohibit teaching about condoms or other contraceptives -- other than to discuss failure rates. These programs have received over $1.3 billion in federal funding over the past decade. Medical and scientific experts, as well as youth educators, will testify regarding the public health evidence of the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs and of more comprehensive programs.
Max Siegel, a Policy Associate at the AIDS Alliance for Children, Youth, and Families, testified on his experience with abstinence-only programs as a gay youth: “I experienced abstinence-only-until-marriage education taught by my junior high school gym teacher. In his class, he told me and my male classmates that sex is dangerous and that we should think more seriously about it when we “grow up and marry.” He made it clear that sex was something only for married people. He was visibly uncomfortable, and he conveyed to us that sexuality was not to be discussed extensively in an educational setting. Even if it were, my gym teacher made it clear that only one kind of sexuality--heterosexuality ending in marriage--was acceptable to talk about. Already aware of my sexual orientation, I found no value in his speech. It did not speak to me and my life. It might as well not have happened.” Watch>>