Congresswoman: White House ‘Discounting’ of LGBT Month ‘Disappointing But Also Ala
By Nicholas Ballasy
WASHINGTON – Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) called the White House’s “discounting” of LGBT Pride Month “disappointing” and “alarming.”
The Pentagon’s LGBT pride month recognition event took place on Monday but the White House did not formally recognize June as Pride Month with an official statement.
“The White House’s effective discounting of Pride Month is not only deeply disappointing but also alarming. Unfortunately, this lack of acknowledgment for the LGBT community is just a continuation of anti-LGBT policies we have seen the Republican Party,” Maloney said today following a press conference on the LGBT Pride Act. “We should be working toward equality for the LGBT community, not rolling back protections and allowing discrimination. Recognizing this community and its needs is a necessary step in making our country better for all Americans.”
Maloney is a co-sponsor of the LGBT Pride Act, which would appropriate $25 million in federal funding to “expand participation in the National Violent Death Reporting System to all states” if passed and signed into law.
“I feel like there’s too much violence. My colleagues mentioned the violence in the [Pulse] nightclub in Florida but there’s violence in my own state,” she said. “It will help us then come forward with policies to end the violence, so I strongly support it. It’s well needed.”
According to the text of the bill, “not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shall take measures to improve the incidence of the collection of information on the sexual orientation and gender identity of deceased individuals through the National Violent Death Reporting System or any successor programs.”
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.), Congressional LGBT Caucus co-chairman, said he decided to re-introduce the LGBT Pride Act because there is not enough data on violence committed against Americans on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Maloney said additional funding would help states “accelerate” the rate of data collection.
“We want to know nationally who is the victim of violent crime when it’s related to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Maloney, the first openly gay member of Congress elected in New York, said at the press conference on Capitol Hill with House Democrats and a representative from the Human Rights Campaign.
Maloney acknowledged that the bill faces an uphill fight in Congress but said equality for LGBT Americans should not be a “partisan” issue.
“Look, this is a long-term effort. A lot of us are up here fighting for stuff that is going to require years to get done,” he said. “I mean, this is about slowly, every day building support and sometimes you have to do that over the course of Congress. So, look, we have no illusions about the uphill battle we are facing in a Republican-controlled Congress.”
Maloney continued, “This should not be a partisan issue. Violence against people should not be a partisan issue and equality should not be a partisan issue. The day is coming when both parties will care about equality equally, and it’s our job to speed that day up by winning over our opponents one at a time and showing them that the way forward is to come together, not to separate us on the basis of our differences.”
He criticized the White House for failing to issue a pride proclamation.
“But I think there are a lot of reasons to believe we might have a big backlash to a lot of the things that are going on around here, and one of them is the disregard for the basic rights of LGBTQ Americans. I mean, the White House just failed to issue a pride proclamation, you know, for the first time in years,” Maloney said.
“I was in the White House in ‘99 when we issued the first pride proclamation. So, I believe increasingly we’re seeing the Republican Congress out of step with the values of most Americans – not just LGBTQ Americans, but all Americans. And when the day comes when we have more capacity here we are going to move this and other measures, but we want them to be ready and we want to have done the groundwork and that’s what today is about,” he added.
Maloney said LGBT month should not be a month of “fear.”
“I was talking yesterday about the Trump administration and encouraging LGBT people to not be afraid of Donald Trump. Do not be afraid of the current administration. I want you to be active. I want you to be concerned. I want you to be outraged,” he said. “This is not a month for fear. This is not a season for fear. This is a season for pride and for determination.”
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) vowed to do all he can to help move the legislation through the House of Representatives.
“This is an important step forward. You cannot deal with a problem until you know the magnitude of the problem, and it’s very unfortunate we are not collecting this empirical evidence to give us some sense of what we have to do,” he said. “This is about life. This is a life-and-death issue.”