Press

Gays Speak Out Against Welfare ‘Reform’

Date: 
July 29, 1996

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), the country's oldest national gay and lesbian civil rights organization, joined others from the civil rights community in voicing strong concerns regarding the current welfare reform proposals before a Senate and House Conference Committee.

"We urge Congress to reject any welfare reform legislation that results in an increase in hardship and pain for children and their families rather than helping to improve their lives. We urge the President to continue to stand up for children, by vetoing any bill sent to him by Congress which would force even larger numbers of children and families into poverty," stated Helen Gonzales, NGLTF public policy director.

Gonzales added that "while the Senate proposal (S 1956) has improved the most extreme proposals in the House bill (HR 3507), both bills are still anti-family and anti-children in their overall approach, especially since they eliminate a safety net of health and other benefits which bipartisan Congresses have previously maintained."

Both bills could result in the elimination of Medicaid to legal immigrants and even exclude vouchers to help families who have been denied public assistance to buy vital items, such as diapers, clothing, medicine or school supplies, for their children. Moreover, about 300,000 disabled children from low-income families reportedly would lose cash benefits because of stricter eligibility standards in the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. "Medicaid provides the only access to health care for large numbers of legal immigrants, even those who work hard and pay taxes but whose employers may not provide them with health insurance benefits," said Melinda Paras, NGLTF executive director of NGLTF. "Denial of Medicaid to legal immigrants would throw these individuals and families into havoc by denying them any health care access. This proposal would hurt children and the elderly the most. Furthermore, many people with HIV/AIDS rely on housing assistance, Medicaid, Disability Insurance, and welfare programs. In fact, of the estimated one million HIV - positive American, at least 40 percent of adults and 90 percent of children depend on Medicaid as their primary access to health care." added Paras.

According to Melinda Paras:

The Medicaid provision, the proposal which could deny SSI benefits to about 300,000 disabled children and the refusal to include the voucher proposal in either the House or Senate bill show the depth of mean-spiritness behind the so-called new and revised welfare bills. The current House and Senate welfare proposals, like the earlier versions sent to the President, and many other legislative proposals pushed by the Congressional Leadership in the past two years seeks to find scapegoats for problems in our society which demand more serious and complex solutions.

We urge Congress to show its commitment to protecting our nation's children and families by rejecting legislation which endangers their health and their lives, rather than providing them with real opportunities for getting out of poverty. We also urge the President not to sign any bill sent to him by Congress which punishes children and their families for the very fact of being poor.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.