Congressional LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Sends Letter to Speaker Pelosi
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
H-233, U.S. Capitol Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Pelosi:
April 9, 2020
The COVID-19 recovery packages have provided important protections, including economic relief and broader access to testing and treatment, for individuals and communities across the nation. As Congress continues to respond to the ongoing pandemic, it is vital to ensure that all people, including our LGBTQ+ constituents, have equal access to these resources, including quality health care and safe housing.
At a time when the Trump Administration is easing protections against and advancing rules that support discrimination, the LGBTQ+ community is particularly vulnerable to systemic failures surrounding access to healthcare and housing stability. Most recently, in November 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – “tasked with ensuring the health and well- being of all Americans [and] developing strategies to address public health crises”1 – revised its regulations to allow for providers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity under the guise of religious freedom. Executive actions like this will undoubtedly make it more difficult for LGBTQ+ people to access the services they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
Advocacy groups like SAGE, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National LGBT Cancer Network have all pointed to healthcare discrimination, diminished support systems, and housing disparity faced by gay and transgender people.2 Representatives Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids also led a letter with 87 members calling for the White House Coronavirus Task Force to keep the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community in mind and urging the Administration ensure that their response to the COVID-19 pandemic be conducted without discrimination against any community, including the LGBTQ+ community.
Without clear and direct Congressional action, there is concern that the inequities faced by the LGBTQ+ community will grow more pronounced as our nation continues to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Co-Chairs of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus, we ask that the next recovery package expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for all entities receiving federal grant funding.
1 Laura E. Durso and Sharita Gruberg, HHS Proposal Puts Millions of Americans at Risk of Discrimination When Accessing Federally Funded Services (Nov. 5, 2019), https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbtq- rights/news/2019/11/05/476854/hhs-proposal-puts-millions-americans-risk-discrimination-accessing-federally- funded-services/
2 Open Letter About Coronavirus and the LGBTQ+ Communities: Over 100 Organizations Ask Media & Health Officials to Weigh Added Risk (Mar. 11, 2020), https://cancer-network.org/wp- content/uploads/2020/03/Press-Release-Open-Letter-LGBTQ-Covid19-14.pdf.