On June 1, 2013, President Obama issued a Proclamation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month. The proclamation outlined the important legislative changes that advance LGBT equity. NASW members have provided a strong voice in supporting the Administration’s decisions to extend hate crimes protections to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, as well as the lifting of the ban (of entry into the United States) of persons with HIV/AIDS and the successful policy change to ensure that hospitals extend the visitation rights of LGBT patients.
On Thursday, June 13, 2013, NASW participated in two events at the White House.
During the day, NASW staff from the Office of Social Justice and Human Rights, and the Legal Defense Fund & Office of Ethics and Professional Review, participated in the LGBT Pride Month Briefing, convened by the White House Office of Public Engagement. During the briefing, they heard from Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Domestic Violence, about the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that (for the first time) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and the importance of assessing for domestic violence across the lifespan. Dr. Grant Colfax, Director, White House Office of National AIDS Policy, spoke about the impact of the HIV epidemic with particular emphasis on gay youth of color, and recognized the importance of training programs, such as the NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project, in the efforts to reach out to disenfranchised and at-risk communities. David Simas, Assistant to the President, spoke about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which beginning in 2014, prohibits insurers from denying coverage to consumers based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. And Brian Altman, Legislative Director, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, addressed the importance of provider competency in working with LGBT youth, and acknowledged NASW’s role in educating social workers to identify and address bullying.
Later that evening, NASW Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Angelo McClain and NASW Senior Policy Associate, Evelyn P. Tomaszewski, attended the LGBT Pride Month White House Reception. President Obama and Vice President Biden welcomed guests. President Obama spoke to the standing room-only crowd, and recognized the critical role of everyday citizens in promoting equity for LGBT persons and their families. He stated, “It is clear we’re reaching a turning point… Hearts and minds change with time. Laws do, too…. It’s something that comes from the courage of those who stood up, and sat in, and came out. It’s something that comes from the compassion of family and friends and coworkers and teammates who show their love and support. And it’s something that can be traced back to our Declaration of Independence—the fundamental principle that all of us are created equal. And as I said in my Inaugural Address, if we truly are created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
The President closed his remarks with these words: “ I hope that when we gather here next year, and the year after that, we’ll be able to say, with pride and confidence, that together we’ve made our fellow citizens a little more free. We’ve made this country a little more equal. We’ve made our world a little more full of love.”
NASW and its chapters participate in coalition with other human rights, social action, and professional associations to advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. PRIDE Month provides an opportunity to learn more about the diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender communities.