Our guest blogger today is Marion Mollegen McFadden, HUD’s Office of General Counsel
As a member of GLOBE, the Department’s affinity group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) HUD employees and our supporters, it was my pleasure to organize Wednesday’s HUD event honoring LGBT pride month. We chose the theme “Celebrating Our Victories” to highlight how much progress has been made for LGBT individuals and families in recent years. If you missed the event, please look for it in the webcast archives.
As Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research (PD&R) Raphael Bostic discussed, the Department is working to end LGBT discrimination from all angles. PD&R is conducting the first-ever study of LGBT housing discrimination in America. The Office of Housing now ensures that its industry partners do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in issuing HUD-insured mortgages. Under a rule proposed in the Federal Register earlier this year, the definition of “family” in HUD-funded housing has been clarified to include non-traditional families such as mine, families headed by same-sex couples. Under that rule, recipients of grants from the Office of Community Planning and Development such as Community Development Block Grants will be required to comply with applicable state and local LGBT nondiscrimination laws as a condition of receiving HUD funds.
HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is now collecting data on complaints about LGBT housing discrimination. Although sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, FHEO is accepting and processing complaints on the basis of sex discrimination where individuals have been denied equal opportunities for housing based on their appearance. Finally, HUD’s LGBT employees now have the opportunity to purchase long term care insurance for our same-sex partners.
Our keynote speaker, Sarah Warbelow, State Legislative Director for the Human Rights Campaign, compared past, present, and speculative future LGBT legal protections. I was deeply encouraged to see the growing number of states that recognize gay marriage or civil unions and prohibit employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and bullying of people who are (or are perceived to be) lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.
As one GLOBE old-timer noted, many of us never thought we would see government-recognized gay marriage in our lifetimes. President Obama wrote in a Proclamation recognizing LGBT pride, “Every generation of Americans has brought our Nation closer to fulfilling its promise of equality. While progress has taken time, our achievements in advancing the rights of LGBT Americans remind us that history is on our side, and that the American people will never stop striving toward liberty and justice for all.”
It was an honor to celebrate how many victories we have achieved.