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Do You Agree With HRC's 'To-Do List' For President Obama?

Do You Agree With HRC's 'To-Do List' For President Obama?


The Human Rights Campaign's 2015 Blueprint for Positive Change is an LGBT laundry list of actions the Obama administration could take to improve the lives of LGBT people.

On the eve of what is expected to be a ruling for marriage equality by the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Campaign has a message for the Obama administration: There is still much work to do.

HRC has issued its 2015 Blueprint for Change, which a spokesman says "includes both new items we've identified, and a few that still remain from the last blueprint [in 2009], that the administration should take to continue President Obama's unprecedented legacy of progress for the LGBT community while he's still in office."

The campaign issued an initial release, focusing on important actions it said are needed for LGBT service members and veterans, and this second release highlights some of the areas "significantly impacting transgender people that the Obama administration can address within various departments of the federal government," according to the HRC's Stephen Peters.

The document makes the following recommendations, with an asterisk marking 2009 ideas still not fulfilled:

* Eliminate Discrimination in Charitable Choice and Faith-Based Initiatives*

In recent years, the federal government has increasingly turned to religious organizations to provide vital services to vulnerable populations. These include substance abuse treatment, early childhood education, food and nutrition assistance, job training, and homeless shelters. Faith-based groups often have expertise in these areas as well as strong ties to the communities they serve. Making use of their skills and commitment can have remarkable benefits.

Yet in order to ensure that federal dollars do not finance discrimination, the Administration must issue clarifying regulations that ensure that the government does not discriminate on the basis of religion, religious affiliation, or lack of religious affiliation in making government grants or contracts and that grants and contracts continue to be issued based solely on merit. The Administration should also affirmatively clarify that the statutes containing charitable choice provisions in no way preempt federal, state, or local laws preventing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

* Appoint Openly LGBT Justices, Judges, and Executive Officials

The federal judiciary and executive offices should reflect the diversity of the country. The appointment of openly LGBT individuals sends a vitally important message to the LGBT community, including youth, about their equal ability to serve their country at the highest levels of government. The Administration should continue to appoint qualified LGBT judges and executive officials. If an opportunity arises, the Administration should consider the appointment of an openly LGBT Supreme Court Justice and should strive to appoint the first-ever openly LGBT cabinet secretary.

* Appoint Fair-Minded Justices, Judges, and Executive Officials*

A president's power to appoint judges and officials has far-reaching consequences. Judges' decisions can affect our lives for generations. Executive branch officials shape the policies enumerated throughout this document, ranging from civil rights enforcement to public health to protections for families. The Administration should ensure that only fair-minded individuals, committed to impartial judgments and policies based upon fact rather than ideology, serve our nation in these key posts.

* Amend the Manual for Courts Martial to Add Gender Identity as a Biased Crimes Protected Category

The Manual for Courts Martial is the official guide that governs courts martial in the United States military. In 1999, through an executive order, President Bill Clinton amended the Manual for Courts Martial to allow certain biases to serve as an aggravating factor in sentencing, including sexual orientation. President Obama should amend the executive order to add gender identity motivated bias to the list of biased based crimes to conform with the categories adopted by Congress in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

There are more recommendations for each department in the Obama administration, from Agriculture to the Social Security Administration. Read the full 2015 Blueprint for Change here.

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