Last week was a significant week for LGBT rights.
First, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes bill into law. This was the first time gays, lesbians and bisexuals have been recognized in a major piece of federal legislation (other than to take rights away from us) and the first time transgenders have ever been included. (Two other laws that include sexual orientation are the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which requires the FBI to track hate crimes and the Sentencing Enhancement Act, which enhances penalties for hate crimes committed on federal property).
Next the president signed an extension of Ryan White AIDS funding. During the previous administration, there were constant threats of ending that funding.
Finally, the president enacted legislation that President Bush had signed into law but had not put into effect. That law eliminates the discriminatory practice of excluding people who are HIV+ from the United States. The United States was the only western country with that practice.
On Nov. 4, the House will start debate on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
Last week, Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, said that he could see ending Don’t ask, don’t tell.
But one this did spoil all of this good news. In court on Friday, the justice department defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Although the administration said it does not support the law, it said it was obliged to defend a law passed by Congress.
— David Taffet