February 28, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Solmonese outlines 2010 federal legislative agenda

The president of the Human Rights Campaign on Saturday outlined expectations this year for pro-LGBT legislation in
Congress, including enacting domestic partner benefits for federal workers and ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

(DC Agenda Photo by Michael Key)

HRC President Joe Solmonese made the remarks in a speech during a fundraising dinner in Raleigh, N.C., after touting accomplishments of the past year, such as the passage of hate crimes protections legislation.

For the remainder of 2010, Solmonese included four items on the legislative agenda:

* ”We are going to eliminate the tax that you pay on domestic partner benefits. We’re going to get rid of that this year at long last.”

* ”We are going to extend domestic partnerships to federal employees.”

* ”We are going to get people living with HIV/AIDS treatment much earlier if they are on public assistance.”

* ”And finally, finally this year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ once and for all.”

The standalone bills for the first three items that Solmonese mentioned are — in the order he named them – the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act and the Early Treatment for HIV Act.

The Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act and the Early Treatment for HIV Act were incorporated as language in the version of health care reform legislation that the House passed last year. However, these provisions are absent from the new version of health care reform legislation that President Obama unveiled last week.

Conspicuously absent from Solmonese’s agenda for this year is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Multiple sources familiar with Capitol Hill have told DC Agenda that 60 votes are lacking in the Senate to overcome a filibuster on the legislation.

Solmonese also said he’s heard the demands of the LGBT community on pressing lawmakers for action in case fewer pro-LGBT lawmakers are in Congress after the election this November, and said he agrees with stepping up pressure.

“I also get that there is a drumbeat coming from our community to put more pressure on, to make more demands of the President and members of Congress to get it done this year because who knows what’s going to happen at the mid-term elections — and frankly they are right and our time is now,” he said.

[h/t] Pam’s House Blend

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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