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Equality Act introduction

From the Equality Act of 1974 to the Equality Act of 2015: Protecting LGBT People from Discrimination

On July 23, 2015, I had the opportunity to join the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Deputy Director, Rachel Laser, at the Capitol Building for a press conference for the introduction of the Equality Act.

The Equality Act (H.R. 3185/S. 1858) would amend existing civil rights legislation in order to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, credit, and jury selection based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and prohibit sex discrimination in public accommodations and federal funding. The bill and its introduction were historic in many ways, especially since the LGBT community has focused on just federal employment non-discrimination protections for the past two decades.

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President Obama Unveils New National Strategy to Combat HIV/AIDS

Last week, President Obama signed an Executive Order releasing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020. This new strategy builds upon the National/HIV AIDS Strategy that President Obama launched in 2010—the nation’s first comprehensive strategy addressing the issue. This new strategy’s vision is that “the United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare, and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.”

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medical symbol, stethoscope, white lab coat

Happy 50th Birthday Medicare and Medicaid!           

Fifty years ago, on July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act Amendments, which established Medicare and Medicaid and dramatically changed the landscape of health insurance in America. Before the programs went into effect, approximately half of all seniors lacked insurance and many other people, especially people with disabilities, families with children, pregnant women and low-income Americans were unable to afford the medical services they needed. Today, Medicare and Medicaid provide health insurance to about one in three Americans—that’s more than 100 million people!

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Boy Scouts Logo

Boy Scouts Lift National Ban on Gay Scout Leaders

Last night the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to ends its national ban on gay scout leaders and employees. While this vote represents an important step forward for the BSA, the resolution also allows chartered organizations to select their leaders based on their religious beliefs, therefore allowing individual troops to continue to ban gay scout leaders. In 2013, Rabbi David Saperstein, then-Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote a letter calling on the BSA to end their ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders and called for the BSA to establish a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. The BSA eventually lifted their ban on gay scouts, and last month, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the RAC, wrote a letter calling on the BSA to lift their ban on gay scout leaders and affirm that transgender boys can serve as both scouts and leaders. Although the ban on gay scout leaders has now been lifted, the BSA has remained silent on transgender inclusion.

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Celebrating the Progress and Promise of the ADA

by Curtis Ramsey-Lucas

Twenty-five years ago, on July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and the subsequent ADA Amendments Act, signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush, expanded opportunities for Americans with disabilities by reducing barriers and changing perceptions.  As a result, our society is more open and accessible to people with disabilities today than it was just a generation ago.

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LGBT Flag in front of congress

Historic Bill to End LGBT Discrimination Introduced

When I came out to my parents in high school as gay, I was fortunate enough to have their full acceptance and love. However, I remember my mom saying early on that she was saddened to know the difficulties I would now have to face because of my identity. But I was already aware of some of those challenges: bullying and homophobia, the inability to get married in most states and a ban on serving in the military.

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Arizona anti-gay bill protest

Beyond Marriage Equality

On Wednesday night at the ESPY Awards, Caitlyn Jenner accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, named after the African American tennis star who died of AIDS in 1993. In her moving speech, Caitlyn described the struggles trans people face, including bullying, suicide and even murder, and the importance of education and accepting trans people and their identities. Caitlyn’s speech highlighted several of the many issues that the LGBT community and their allies now have to address following the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

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Department of Defense Takes Important Step to End Trans Military Ban

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the Department of Defense “will create a working group to study over the next six months the policy and readiness implications of welcoming transgender persons to serve openly.” This working group, Secretary Carter shared, will operate under the assumption that trans people can service openly without an adverse impact on military readiness and effectiveness. In addition, Secretary Carter announced that Under Secretary of the Army Brad Carson will be making all decisions relating to administrative discharges for service members who identify as trans or are diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

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