June 7, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
White House to host meeting with statewide LGBT groups

The White House (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Statewide LGBT equality groups are set to meet at the White House on Friday afternoon to discuss federal policy administrative changes that might be duplicated at the state level.

The Equality Federation, a national San Francisco-based organization that works to support state LGBT groups, arranged the meeting amid Pride celebrations that are taking place in D.C. at around the same time.

Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation, said the main topic at the meeting would be ways in which state agencies could enact pro-LGBT administrative changes that have been seen at the federal level.

“So in states, for example, that are very hostile, where the legislatures are not amenable, potentially within the state agencies they might be able to make more headway,” Isaacs said. “People in civil service in the states might not be as ideologically opposed to helping the LGBT community as a legislator might.”

Among the things Isaacs said might be duplicated at the state level is the federal hospital visitation memorandum that President Obama issued in April 2010. She said action by the states could ensure this guidance is enforced at the state level.

Additionally, Isaacs said states could also duplicate guidance issued by the Department of Health & Human Services in June 2011 allowing healthy partners in a same-sex relationship to keep their homes while their partners are receiving support for long-term care under Medicaid.

Issacs estimated around 20 advocacy groups would participate in the meeting and some groups would have as many three representatives at the event.

Among the expected groups that will participate are Equality California, MassEquality, Fair Wisconsin, Equality Alabama, Equality Illinois, Equality North Carolina, Georgia Equality, Equality Texas and the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. The meeting is set to take place Friday afternoon at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The discussions aren’t open to the public or the press.

The administration officials who are set to participate weren’t immediately known. Issacs said she’s been coordinating with White House LGBT liaison Gautam Raghavan and expected him to participate.

It’s the not first time that the White House has hosted a meeting with statewide LGBT advocacy groups. In August 2010, The Advocate reported on a meeting that these groups held with administration when the hot topic of the day was legislative efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, confirmed the meeting was happening, but offered few details.

“The White House Office of Public Engagement routinely holds briefings and meetings with outside organizations,” Inouye said. “We look forward to meeting with the statewide LGBT organizations again and providing them with updates on the Obama administration.”

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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