Prior to the 2008 general election, the New Beginning Initiative (NBI) coalition partners developed a non-exhaustive list of priorities for the new Administration. After President Obama's historic election in November 2008, the NBI shared its policy recommendations with the transition team. Since that time we've been working with the Administration and federal administrative agencies to make changes that benefit the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The information below represents the concrete accomplishments to date that have resulted from the work of the NBI and its members.

White House

Grant Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees
President Obama signed an Executive Order that granted limited rights to the same-sex partners of federal employees. Among the rights granted are: including partners in long-term care program, permitting employees to use sick leave to care for partners, and extending certain benefits to Foreign Service families.
Lead Organizations for Drafting Policy Change: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, American Civil Liberties Union, National Center for Transgender Equality

Department of Commerce

More Accurately Include Same-Sex Couples in U.S. Census Data Collection and Reporting: Count same-sex married couples
Make changes in the policies of the Census Bureau to allow researchers to better enumerate and understand the characteristics of same-sex couples by not changing the marital status of married same-sex couples to un-married persons.
Lead Organizations for Drafting Policy Change: The Williams Institute and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Federal Agency: Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau

Department of Health and Human Services

National Technical Assistance Resource Center
The Administration on Aging announced the first-ever grant opportunity to fund a national resource center on LGBT aging. This center will provide resources to mainstreaming aging centers as well as aging resources for the LGBT community. It is a significant step in the inclusion of LGBT older adults within the fabric of minority elders with specific needs.
Lead Organizations for Drafting Policy Change: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and SAGE
Federal Agency: Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging
Restore LGBT to Groups that Receive Services
Change at the Administration on Aging agreeing to restore LGBT people who can receive services on the agency Web site.
Lead Organizations for Drafting Policy Change: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and SAGE
Federal Agency: Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Aging
Lift the HIV Travel Ban
In a two-pronged approach, the New Beginning Initiative was able to lift the discriminatory HIV travel ban. The first step required legislative action to overturn the 1987 "Helms Amendment" that categorized HIV as a "dangerous and communicable" disease. Subsequent advocacy and work with the Department of Health and Human Services to fully remove the ban led to new regulations officially removing HIV from the "dangerous and communicable" list and finally ending the ban on travel to the United States for people with HIV/AIDS.
Lead Organizations for Drafting Policy Change: : Immigration Equality and Council for Global Equality
Federal Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Obama administration announces recommendations to improve the health and well-being of the LGBT community
On April 1, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a series of actions and recommendations to improve the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The changes are in response to an April 2010 request from President Obama to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for suggestions on how HHS could improve the lives of LGBT people.

The new initiatives will help address the many health disparities facing the LGBT community and explicitly extend nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity covering HHS programs. The changes will include:
  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services guidelines for ways in which the states can expand benefits for LGBT families in existing programs
  • An annual report on LGBT health issues
  • Providing information on LGBT health issues like domestic partner benefits on the government's health care reform Web site
  • Increasing the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data on federal health-related surveys
  • Fostering the development of more culturally-based guidelines for health professionals and organizations to better serve the LGBT community, particularly young people
  • Recognizing the LGBT community as an underserved population to address the many health inequities faced by LGBT people due to lack of programs
Lead Organizations Advocating for the Policy Change: NBI Coalition and Allies
Federal Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Ending Discrimination in Hospital Visitation Policies for Same-Sex Couples
Any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funds must now have written visitation policies that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, hospitals must inform each patient of his or her right to receive visitors designated by the patient, "including, but not limited to, a spouse, a domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), another family member or a friend." The new rule covers nearly 6,200 hospitals with more than 35 million patient admissions each year; this is the largest directive toward LGBT inclusion accomplished to-date.
Lead Organizations Advocating: Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition for LGBT Health, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and SAGE - Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders
Federal Agency: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Changes in Administration of Abstinence Only Until Marriage Program (AO)
In July of 2010, the Administration issued new guidelines for AO grant applicants benefitting LGBT youth and families. The new guidelines allow states more flexibility in developing AO programs. The change also requires programs to provide information that is "medically accurate," meaning it cannot be based on unproven or false information. Finally, the guidelines specifically call attention to the harm AO programs cause LGBT youth and suggests states tailor their programs accordingly.
Lead Organizations Advocating: Family Equality Council, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Coalition for LGBT Health, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays National, and The Trevor Project
Federal Agency: Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Change The Definition of Family
In October of 2009 HUD announced that it would change its rules to ensure that LGBT families are covered under HUD programs, to ensure that grant recipients follow local anti-discrimination laws, and ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories in mortgage loan rules. These rules are forthcoming.
Not Initiated, but celebrated by New Beginning Initiative
Federal Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development
Equal Access to Housing in U.S. Housing and Urban Development(HUD) Programs for LGBT People
The new policy will clarify the definition of family to ensure that LGBT families are covered under HUD programs, to ensure that grant recipients follow local anti-discrimination laws, and ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity are protected categories in mortgage loan rules. This pervasive rule will increase equal access to its program areas for the LGBT community.
Not Initiated, but celebrated by New Beginning Initiative
Federal Agency: Department of Housing and Urban Development

Department of Labor

U.S. Department of Labor Adds Gender Identity and Pregnancy Status to Its Equal Employment Policy
The U.S. Department of Labor announced in April of 2011 changes to its equal employment statement, including the addition of gender identity as a protected category. The policy, while internal to the Department of Labor, will apply to all hiring, promotion and disciplinary practices for employees of the agency. The updated policy is part of a continuing trend since the Obama administration's changes to the federal jobs website USAJOBS equal employment opportunity statement to include gender identity. Pregnancy status will also be added to the department's equal employment statement.
Not implemented by, but advocated for, by: NBI Coalition Members and Allies
Federal Agency: Department of Labor
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA): Clarification Regarding Same-Sex Couples and Their Children
Under the FMLA, parents are able to take leave for up to 12 weeks to care for a sick or newborn child. The clarification in July 2010 explains that a "parent" includes individuals who are not legally or biologically related to the child, but take on the responsibilities of a parent on a day-to-day basis, the legal theory of in loco parentis. This change in policy will help same-sex couples raising children across country living in jurisdictions that do not currently allow second-parent adoption. This positive step forward at the Department of Labor will help families take care of themselves.
Not initiated by, but celebrated by the New Beginning Initiative
Lead Organization advocating: Human Rights Campaign
Federal Agency: Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division

Office of Personnel Management

Include Gender Identity in the EEO Statement
The OPM updated its Equal Employment Opportunity statement to explicitly include gender identity in federal employment.
Lead Organization for Drafting Policy Change: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality
Federal Agency: Office of Personnel Management

Department of State

Provide Foreign Service Benefits for Same-Sex Partners
The Department of State amended policy to provide certain benefits to the same-sex partners of Foreign Service employees, including access to medical facilities, medical or emergency evacuation, and access to language training.
Lead Organization for Drafting Policy Change: Council for Global Equality
Federal Agency: Department of State
Change Passport Rules for Change of Name
The Department of State reversed course and now permits same-sex couples with marriage licenses to apply for a new passport using the individual's taken surname (applies in situations where someone takes the last name of the other person in the marriage).
Lead Organization for Drafting Policy Change: GLAD
Federal Agency: Department of State
Change Passport Rules to Reduce Burden of Updating Gender Marker
The Department of State announced in June 2010 that transgender people may change their passport gender with certification from an attending medical doctor. Before this policy change, surgery was a prerequisite to making a change of gender on a passport.
Lead Organizations Advocating for the Policy Change: A coalition of NBI partners
Federal Agency: Department of State
Please Note: Each organization has chosen to participate in this project and has done so individually and in collaboration as noted. Each policy proposal should be considered the proposal of that organization. Any errors or inaccuracies belong to that organization and may not be imputed to any other organization, or its board or staff. No organization reviewed, edited, revised, commented or rejected the proposals or analysis of other organizations. There should be no assumption that all organizations adopt or agree with the recommendations. No organization may be held responsible or liable for anything submitted by another group.

We would like to thank the Open Society Institute for their generous funding of this initiative.



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