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AIDS drug funds threatened by Tea Party scare?

White House, Hill leaders reluctant to push emergency measure

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Some Democrats and Republicans in Congress who have long supported funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program are reluctant to back the struggling program this year because they fear the additional spending will jeopardize their chances of being re-elected, Capitol Hill observers and AIDS activists said this week.

William Arnold, executive director of the National ADAP Working Group, said intense pressure on members of Congress to curtail spending by the so-called Tea Party movement has made it difficult to line up support for an emergency supplemental appropriation measure.

Arnold and officials with other national AIDS and LGBT organizations say the program is facing a crisis never seen before, where a growing number of low income people with HIV or AIDS may be denied life-saving anti-retroviral drugs in at least 11 states this year because state ADAP affiliates have run out of money.

Due to a shortage of funds, the 11 states have been forced to put in place waiting lists for patients who otherwise would have received AIDS medication prescribed by their doctors.

“It’s ridiculous that people have to be wait-listed for medicine that they need to stay alive,” said Laurie Young, a policy analyst for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

ADAP was created in 1987 under the Ryan White Care Act to help pay for AIDS-related drugs for low-income people with HIV/AIDS, including those who don’t have health insurance coverage.

Advocacy groups familiar with the program say an emergency appropriation of at least $126 million is needed this year to provide AIDS drugs for all that need them. But they say the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress have yet to make a commitment to back such an appropriations measure.

Nearly 80 members of the House, including gay Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), signed a petition recently sent to the White House urging the president to back the emergency funding measure. All but one of the House members signing the petition were Democrats.

Baldwin said Tuesday that she and her colleagues who signed the petition have yet to receive a response from the White House.

In an e-mail Tuesday to the Blade, White House spokesperson Shin Inouye said the president “strongly supports the Ryan White Program and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program’s vital role in providing life-saving medications for people living with HIV and AIDS.”

Inouye noted that the current year’s funding for ADAP represents a $20 million increase over the fiscal year 2009 funding. He said President Obama has proposed an increase in ADAP funding for next year that will allow the program to “serve an additional 3,389 individuals.”

But Inouye didn’t say whether the administration would support the $126 million emergency supplemental appropriation for ADAP for this year, as AIDS groups have requested.

In response to a request for the White House’s position on the emergency funding proposal, Inouye said, “We are working to ensure that ADAP has the funds it needs so that waiting lists are not needed for this safety net program.”

Drew Hammill, a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders were reviewing the request.

“As she has every single year since the program was created, the speaker will push for increased funding for ADAP in the regular [fiscal year] 2011 Labor-[Health & Human Services]-Education appropriations bill,” he said.

Representatives of AIDS groups, including Arnold, said a funding increase in the fiscal year 2011 appropriations bill cited by Pelosi’s office would be helpful and could alleviate the ADAP crisis if the funding were large enough.

But they said that immediate relief is needed this year, noting that the 2011 measure would not take effect until July 1, 2011.

Baldwin told the Blade that she was certain that congressional Democrats would take steps to support the $126 million emergency appropriation. But she said Republicans in the House have followed a policy of opposing nearly all spending bills proposed by Democrats.

“I sense among the Democratic caucus, among the Democratic leadership, an absolute awareness of this” funding problem and a commitment to acting, she said. “And yet when we can’t rely on any bipartisanship to respond to this crisis, we can’t rely on a single Republican vote to help respond to the absolute needs of people we represent, it is extremely challenging.”

But Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, questioned Baldwin’s response, saying Democrats have yet to introduce a measure calling for the $126 million funding for ADAP.

“Why don’t they introduce a bill and call the Republicans’ bluff if they want to blame this on the Republicans?” Weinstein said.

He noted that Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced a bill last month that would take the $126 million needed for ADAP this year from the federal stimulus program, where there are millions of dollars in unobligated funds.

Sens. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.) and George LeMieux (R-Fla.) also signed onto the bill, but no Democrats so far have agreed to become co-sponsors. Weinstein said Democratic sources in the Senate told him the bill would be “dead on arrival” when sent to a committee to consider it.

“This is partisan politics, with the well-being of people with AIDS the ones to suffer the consequences,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein also challenged Pelosi to immediately introduce an emergency funding measure to cover the needed funds for ADAP this year, saying her district in San Francisco has a large number of low-income people with HIV that rely on ADAP.

He acknowledged, though, that no other Republican senator, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have signed on to the Burr-Coburn bill. A similar bill has yet to be introduced in the House.

Baldwin said she would likely vote for such a bill if it were introduced in the House and became the only vehicle to allocate the ADAP funds. However, she noted that she would prefer not to take funds from the stimulus program.

In his e-mail to the Blade, Inouye said the White House opposes taking funds from the stimulus program “because those resources are needed by communities across the country to keep the economic recovery going and to stimulate job growth.”

Arnold said his group supports the Burr-Coburn bill on grounds that it could provide immediate help for ADAP and the funds are already incorporated in the federal budget, preventing the need for “more spending” to appropriate the funds.

He also noted that the Tea Party movement appears to have frightened both Republicans and Democrats from embracing new spending, even if they know it’s needed to help save lives.

Some Capitol Hill insiders have said the reluctance by lawmakers to back spending measures appears to have stopped a supplemental appropriations bill normally approved each year to pay for federal disaster relief efforts. AIDS activists were hoping a supportive committee member would seek to add the ADAP emergency appropriation to this bill.

That bill, which was before the House Appropriations Committee, was expected to come up for a committee vote last month, just before Memorial Day. But Arnold and other sources familiar with the measure said Committee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) reportedly put the bill on “hold” because he couldn’t line up the votes among his fellow Democrats to pass it.

Moderate and conservative Blue Dog Democrats were among those reluctant to back the bill, said people familiar with the measure.

“The Blue Dog Democrats have been very opposed to spending money, period, because they’re worried about getting re-elected and they’re from swing districts where tea partiers might be challenging them,” Arnold said.

Obey reportedly has said he postponed committee consideration of the bill because too much business was taking place on the House floor and committee members didn’t have time to consider the bill, according a source familiar with the committee. The source said Obey indicated he would soon decide how and when to take up the bill.

Arnold said his and other AIDS groups have argued that turning down the ADAP spending measure would be “penny wise and pound foolish” because it saves the government large sums of money in the long run.

If people with AIDS are denied medication, they could end up in the hospital, and state and federal agencies could be forced into picking up the bill from patients without insurance coverage.

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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Jim Driscoll

    June 9, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    The Democrats’ Tea Party excuse for under funding ADAP is lame and misleading. The 4 Republican Senators, led by Tom Coburn and Richard Burr, who sponsored S 3401 to spend S126M of unspent stimulus money on ADAP are all fiscal conservatives liked by the “Tea Party” wing of the Rs. The crux issue is spending priorities, not spending itself. These Rs want to prioritize ADAP drugs to keep patients alive over favorite D. spending like jobs in the public sector, welfare, food stamps and things the Rs call pork. What kind of priority should ADAP get–that is the question Some advocates, like Arnold and Weinstein, assume that ADAP deserves equal or higher priority than many other well funded programs in the stimulus. Other advocates say, in effect, that they rely on the wisdom of Pelosi, Reid and the White House to set priorities. PWAs, most of them African American or gay or both, should be asking why, given these groups overwhelming political support of Obama, HIV and their very lives are not given higher priority by this Administration.

  2. Keith

    June 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    This is really kind of ridiculous. Any Tea Party candidate that’s going to publicly denounce a member of Congress for supporting a measly $126 Million dollars to help save lives and save the Feds money once these folks become ill and hospitalized would be out of their mind. How difficult do you really think it is to combat that?

    There’s something else going on and I think it’s called political will or lack thereof. Frankly, this is a no-brainer and easily justifiable.

    What is truly laughable was the increased amount of money for the HHS (I believe an additional $10 million) for their AIDS informational program a couple years ago. It not only lacked substance, but it was laughable. Hire me and I’ll compile something that WILL make people want to reach for the condom the next time they’re “in the moment.”

    Typical of government, can’t do anything right the first time. Meanwhile, people are being thrown under the bus for political expedience.

    • Carl Schmid

      June 9, 2010 at 10:36 pm

      I agree, this has nothing to do with the tea party. Congress is spending billions of additional dollars all the time, domestic HIV/AIDS is just not a priority.

  3. Taylor Siluwé

    June 10, 2010 at 7:40 am

    As Rachel Maddow pointed out the other night after the mini-Super Tuesday elections, the anti-incumbent wave is just not true.

    Thus the teabaggers rage against the machine is overrated, and thus any incumbent fear of retribution for doing the right thing amounts to either cowardice or some other nefarious reason known only to them.

  4. Joe Beckmann

    June 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    There is a brilliant argument for holding up ADAP. Anti-virals have a decisive impact on reducing the infectiousness of the virus among those in treatment. In Switzerland, for example, where anti-virals are most effective, viral loads are so low that the state no longer recommends condoms.

    The REAL reason to support the teabaggers is that they’ll die of their success. Rates of new cases of HIV have dropped decisively in California, New York and Massachusetts – up to 20% a year for the pasts three years – due to easy access to anti-virals and treatment. In Texas, Florida, and Georgia those rates continue to increase. Left alone, they’ll rival Africa. So be it. If that’s what they want, let ’em die.

  5. Peter the saint

    June 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Multiple years of Emergency $upplemental funding in the MULTI-BILLION$ for wayward and meandering wars. And yet you refuse to fund this. Well FC*K YOU TOO.

  6. beachwear

    August 8, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I would give you an award for this article if that was possible. This content is engaging, informative and it really makes really great reading.

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News

Md. biotech company’s HIV cure project clears first hurdle

‘We all have something to be excited about’

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HIV cure, gay news, Washington Blade
‘We all have something to be excited about,’ said AGT CEO Jeff Galvin.

American Gene Technologies, the Rockville, Md., biotech company, has announced that the first patient to receive its genetically engineered treatment therapy aimed at curing people of HIV/AIDS encountered no adverse side effects from the treatment.

In an Aug. 2 statement, AGT said that based on the data obtained from Patient One in its Phase 1 human trial of its HIV treatment called AGT103-T, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Data and Safety Monitoring Board voted unanimously to allow AGT to continue its HIV cure program without modification.

“The AGT103-T pipeline is a therapy for treating HIV disease,” the company’s statement says. “The therapy is designed to induce durable viral suppression by delivering therapeutic genes to the recipient’s immune cells,” it says. “The resulting immune cells are expected to survive attack by HIV and durably suppress the virus at undetectable levels without the need for antiretroviral treatment.”

The thumbs up decision by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board allows the company to continue its clinical trial with more participants to further confirm the HIV treatment’s safety outcome. The next phase in the trials will be to determine the treatment’s effectiveness in fully protecting the human body from HIV.

“We have six more patients,” said AGT CEO Jeff Galvin in referring to the patients who will be tested for possible adverse side effects in the coming weeks. Galvin spoke at a July 29 gathering to celebrate the success of Patient One at AGT’s headquarters offices in Rockville.

“If this works, they will be permanently immune from HIV,” he said. “Just think what this can do with the epidemic. We all have something to be excited about,” he told the gathering of about 100 people.

“Keep your fingers crossed. Let’s all keep hoping and praying,” Galvin said. “We will know by the middle of next year,” he said, referring to when the human trials will likely determine whether the AGT103-T treatment, which has successfully stopped HIV from infecting human cells in laboratory experiments, will work just as effectively on people with HIV.

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92% of LGBTQ+ adults have received at least one dose for COVID-19

59% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported Covid-19 made them feel socially isolated, & 50% reported that it impacted their mental health.

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

NEW YORK – A summary of data collected as part of the annual LGBTQ+ Community Survey by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation in partnership and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City, found that the vast majority – 92% – of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed in the United States had received at least one vaccination for Covid-19.

Although vaccination rates vary somewhat within the LGBTQ+ community, the rates across race and ethnicity, gender identity and sexual orientation, and age are well above the rates for various general adult populations where the data are available:

  • By race and ethnicity, 90% of Latinx respondents, 85% of Black respondents, 96% of Asian or Pacific Islander respondents, and 85% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ adults, among other race identities have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • By gender identity and sexual orientation, 92% of cisgender lesbian and bi+ women, 93% of cisgender gay and bi+ men, and 92% of transgender and non-binary people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • By age, 91% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 18-34, 92% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 35-5, and 94% of LGBTQ+ respondents aged 55 and older have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine

While vaccination rates are high, Covid-19 took a toll on well-being among respondents. The survey finds that 59% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that Covid-19 made them feel socially isolated, and 50% of respondents reported that it impacted their mental health.

“Increasing vaccination rates among communities of color is a major focus for us, and working with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gives us the opportunity to better understand the impact of Covid-19 on LGBTQ communities of color. We look forward to continuing our support and outreach.” said Otis Rolley, Senior Vice President of Equity and Economic Opportunity at The Rockefeller Foundation.

Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

The data finds the Covid-19 pandemic led to social and financial loss, especially among LGBTQ+ people of color:

  • 21% of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed reported that a close family member or friend has died from Covid-19
  • LGBTQ+ people of color surveyed reported higher levels of loss due to Covid-19 compared to white LGBTQ+ people:
    • 30% of Latinx LGBTQ+ respondents
    • 28% of Black LGBTQ+ respondents
    • 25% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ respondents, among other race identities
    • 18% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ respondents
    • 17% of white LGBTQ+ respondents
  • 36% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that a close friend or family member has become very sick from Covid-19
  • 24% of LGBTQ+ respondents reported that Covid-19 has negatively impacted their financial well-being
  • LGBTQ+ people of color surveyed are more likely than white LGBTQ+ people to have experienced a negative financial impact during the pandemic:
    • 33% of Native American/Alaskan and Middle Eastern/North African LGBTQ+ adults, among other race identities
    • 26% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ adults
    • 26% of Latinx LGBTQ+ adults
    • 25% of Black LGBTQ+ adults
    • 22% of white LGBTQ+ adults

“There are many reasons why LGBTQ+ vaccination rates may be higher than the general population, including higher percentages of the LGBTQ+ community being liberal, living in blue states, and living in urban areas,” said CMI Senior Director of Research, David Paisley. “While participants had strong education levels, those with no more than a high school diploma still had an 87% vaccination rate. We also see that Covid isolation significantly impacted LGBTQ+ people, which may have motivated quick vaccination to reenter the community.”

The new data build on the HRC Foundation’s previously released reports, including the most recent report, “Covid-19 and the LGBTQ Community: Vaccinations and the Economic Toll of the Pandemic,” which was released as a part of the HRC Foundation’s vaccine public education campaign: “For Ourselves, For Each Other: Getting to the Other Side of the Pandemic.” The HRC Foundation has also partnered with the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition on a resource, “Finding Financial Stability During Turbulent Times,” with steps and advice for those who may be struggling to make ends meet during these difficult times. Read more about the HRC Foundation’s efforts during Covid-19 here.

The Rockefeller Foundation is supporting the Human Rights Campaign Foundation on a number of Covid-19-related projects to support research and community education to reach LGBTQ communities of color during this crisis through The Rockefeller Foundation’s Equity-First Vaccination Initiative. Learn more here.

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Cornell University study on impact of discrimination on LGBTQ of color

Around 25% of LGBTQ youth have attempted suicide, but the rates are starkly higher for LGBTQ youth of color than their white counterparts

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McGraw Tower, Cornell University (Photo Credit: Cornell University)

ITHACA, NY. – Cornell University’s What We Know Project in conjunction with a coalition of leading LGBTQ rights groups last month published a comprehensive curation of data on studies that chart the intersection of anti-LGBTQ and racial discrimination.

The findings found that discrimination inflicts profoundly greater harm on LGBTQ people of color in a wide range of areas, including grossly disproportionate rates of: experiencing discrimination over  the past year, poorer mental and physical health, greater economic insecurity, and attempts to die by suicide.

 In addition, LGBTQ people of color are more likely than white LGBTQ people to live in states without protections  against discrimination and that state anti-LGBTQ laws harm LGBTQ people. 

“This research brief makes clear the tangible harms that discrimination inflicts on LGBTQ people of color,  and the urgent need for public policy that reflects what the research tells us about how we can reduce those  harms,” said Dr. Nathaniel Frank, the study’s author.

Highlights of the research brief’s findings include

LGBTQ people are more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be people of color, and Black LGBTQ  Americans are disproportionately likely to live in states without protections against discrimination. For  example, 42% of LGBT people are people of color compared to 32% of non-LGBT people and the majority of  Black LGBT Americans live in the South (51.4%, more than twice the share of any other region), where most  states lack anti-discrimination protections. 

LGBTQ people of color face higher odds of discrimination than both non-LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ  white people. For example, LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely to experience anti-LGBTQ  discrimination (slurs or other verbal abuse) when applying for jobs than white LGBTQ individuals (32% vs.  13%). LGBTQ people of color are more than twice as likely as white LGBTQ people to experience anti-LGBTQ  discrimination when interacting with the police (24% vs. 11%). 

Black LGBT Americans are more likely to experience economic insecurity than Black non-LGBT Americans.  For example, the majority of Black LGBT people (56%) live in low-income households (below 200% of the  federal poverty level) compared to 49% of Black non-LGBT Americans, and Black LGBT adults are also more  likely to experience food insecurity than Black non-LGBT adults (37% compared to 27%). 

Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of poor  mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use, and  psychological distress. 

LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is linked to discrimination. For  example, while 12% of white LGBTQ youth attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous  youth, 21% for LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% of LGBTQ Latinx youth.  

While supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes for LGBTQ people of  color, anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. For example, states  with “denial of service” laws that give license to discriminate against LGBT residents between 2014 and  2016 were linked with a 46% increase in LGBT mental distress. Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels  of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting  suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%). 

Supportive laws, family, and peers lower the risk of poor health outcomes  for LGBTQ people of color. 

• Suicide attempts by LGBT youth dropped by 7 percent in states that legalized same-sex marriage.22 

• The corollary is that anti-LGBTQ state laws inflict tangible harm on sexual minority populations. States with “denial of service” laws that give license to discriminate against LGBT residents were linked with a 46% increase in LGBT mental distress.23 

• Black LGBTQ youth who reported high levels of support from at least one person, or who had access to an LGBTQ-affirming space, reported attempting suicide at lower rates than those who lacked such support (16% vs. 24%). Those with high levels of family support had rates of past-year attempted suicide nearly one third as high as those who lacked such support (22% vs. 8%).24 

• Protective measures that have been found to help reduce anxiety, depression, and suicidality among LGBTQ youth include: Establishing inclusive practices and anti-discrimination policies; peer, community, and family support, including dedicated school groups; access to affirmative mental health and social services; societal confrontation of attitudes and norms that exacerbate minority stress; and practitioner training and interventions designed to disrupt negative coping responses and build resilience.

Experiencing discrimination is associated with greater odds of harm to  psychological and economic well-being, which is reflected in data on  disparities for LGBTQ people of color. 

• Hundreds of studies conclude that experiencing anti-LGBTQ discrimination increases the risks of  poor mental and physical health, including depression, anxiety, suicidality, PTSD, substance use,  and psychological distress. 

• LGBT people of color have work-place experiences that are more negative than those of white  LGBT employees, reporting that their success and work-life balance are fostered less extensively,  they have less transparent evaluations, and they are respected less by supervisors. 

• Among LGBTQ people surveyed, 51% of Black respondents say discrimination harms their  ability to be hired, compared with 33% of white respondents; 41% say it has an impact on  their ability to retain employment, compared with 31% of white respondents; 77% of Black  respondents report that discrimination impacts their psychological well-being, a rate nearly 50%  higher than the total LGBTQ survey population. 

• While racial discrimination on its own is not associated with mental health disorders, the  combination of racial discrimination with gender and/or sexual orientation discrimination is  significantly associated with increased odds of a past-year mental health disorder.

LGBTQ people of color face disproportionate odds of suicidality, which is  linked to discrimination.  

• Around 25% of LGBTQ youth of all races have attempted suicide, but the rates are starkly  higher for LGBTQ youth of color than their white counterparts: While 12% of white LGBTQ  youth have attempted suicide, the rate is 31% for LGBTQ Native/Indigenous youth, 21% for  LGBTQ Black youth, and 18% for LGBTQ Latinx youth. 

• In a 95%-non-white LGBT sample, those who report experiencing anti-LGBT victimization (such  as bullying and harassment) are 2.5 times more likely to report a past-year suicide attempt  compared to those who do not report victimization. 

• Black LGBTQ youth who experience anti-LGBTQ discrimination face twice the rate of past year suicide attempts compared to youth who do not (27% vs. 12%). Black LGBTQ youth who  experience race-based discrimination also face higher odds of attempting suicide than those  who do not (20% vs. 14%).

• Black LGB adults are over 40% more likely to have made a serious suicide attempt in their  lifetime than white LGB adults. 

• Latinx and Native American/Pacific Islander LGBT youth are 50% more likely to attempt suicide  than white LGBT youth. Latinx LGBT girls are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide than  white LGBT youth.

• LGBTQ students who experience discrimination “based on multiple social identities” report more  use of deliberate self-harm compared to LGBTQ students who experience racial discrimination  alone or who do not experience significant discrimination of any kind.

Reflecting on the study’s findings, key executives from participating LGBTQ Advocacy groups weighed in:

“These painful figures highlight an indisputable link between discrimination, economic security,   mental and physical health. People with multiple stigmatized, marginalized social and political identities, particularly Black LGBTQ+/Same Gender Loving people, bear a disproportionate amount  of the weight illustrated by the data in this study. Statutory equality for LGBTQ+ people nationwide is a necessary foundation to remove the gaps in existing civil rights laws if we are to ever live up to  our country’s founding promises of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all,”  said David Johns, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition.

The majority of Black LGBTQ people live in the South, with nearly half (44%) of all Black women couples raising children. Even today, most of these states still do not protect LGBTQ people from discrimination and have overtly discriminatory laws on their books. It is no wonder the disparities are so profound and it is a testament to the strength and resilience of our people that they are doing  as well as they are. For our community and for our children it’s time for federal action!” said Kierra Johnson, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force.

“This important brief only further solidifies what we have known for a very long time—the combination of racism and anti-LGBTQ discrimination has serious and long-lasting effects for the health and well-being of LGBTQ people of color. This research highlights why federal non-discrimination protections are overdue and vital to protecting the most some of the most underrepresented and vulnerable members of our community. Federal anti-discrimination protections are absolutely necessary in protecting and supporting all LGBTQ people, and this is especially true for LGBTQ people of color,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“Study after study shows that nondiscrimination protections improve economic opportunities, public  safety, and physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ people. It is well past time for the essential protections available only in some of our states and cities to be extended to all LGBTQ Americans, especially LGBTQ people of color, who are disproportionately burdened by the lack of protections, ” said Kasey Suffredini, CEO and National Campaign Director, Freedom for All Americans.

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