Advancing LGBT Rights in Small Steps

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Probably recognizing that further legislative advances in LGBT rights are unlikely in the near term, the Obama administration has taken some further administrative steps toward advancing LGBT rights. At the end of this past week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced proposed rules that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in federal housing programs.

This comes on the heels of announced changes to the passport forms to make them more gender neutral. The forms will now refer to parent 1 and parent 2 rather than mother and father, as they currently do. This only makes sense given the reality that many same-sex couples have children. It also brings the federal government into line with some conservative states. Georgia, for example, will issue a “parent, parent” birth certificate to a child of a same-sex couple rather than its standard “mother, father” birth certificate.

And earlier in the week, the new federal rules extending hospital visitation rights to LGBT partners at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals became effective.

These changes may not be on the order of magnitude of December’s legislation repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” but they will provide real benefits to the LGBT community. Hopefully, we will see more such steps in the coming months.

-Tony Infanti

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