Approximately 150 elected officials wrote an open letter to Congress asking to focus on LGBTQ rights in the next cycle, according to LGBTQ Nation.
The letter that will be sent to the next Congress and features LGBTQ city council members, state legislators, and mayors instead of higher-up politicians, such as governors or senators. Following the rainbow wave in November, many politicians found that the US Congress is not doing enough to advance the rights of LGBTQ Americans and that such a thing should a central concern.
In the letter, the politicians urge the next Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would amend the Equal Rights Act of 1964 to include sexual orientation, sex, and gender identity as prohibited categories of discrimination and/or segregation. Currently, many LGBTQ people live in areas of the United States where they are not granted non-discrimination rights in the workplace, and, as such, are subject to potential discrimination and firing that could have a significant impact on LGBTQ people and their families. The Equality Act would ensure that non-discrimination policies be put in place in areas of employment, housing, education, and in public places, among others.
Another thing that the politicians wish for the Congress to prioritize is reducing HIV/AIDS in the United States. In 1995, former president Bill Clinton created the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, or PACHA, to develop appropriate responses to the AIDS epidemic, but Donald Trump effectively dismantled the organization in December of last year by dismissing all existing members of the PACHA. Bio-medical scientists have invented things that have helped stop new infections and reduce HIV+ people's viral loads to such levels that they are undetectable. However, although such inventions have done a great deal of good, HIV transmission continues to persist, with rates of infection disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities.
Because of this, the politicians are asking the next Congress to do three things:
- Create a Congressional Advisory Commission on HIV/AIDS,
- Advocate for the complete eradication of the disease, and
- Address the disparities in HIV diagnoses and treatment in communities of color.
Additionally, the politicians want the Congress to oppose any actions that would discriminate against transgender and intersex people as well as oppose any measures that would change the definition of gender to erase transgender identities like Donald Trump and the Department of Health proposed.
Finally, they want the Congress to strengthen their commitment to international LGBTQ equality, as many non-heterosexual people are still attacked, kidnapped, murdered, among other things around the world. The politicians are asking the Congress to oppose efforts to change the asylum system to make it more difficult for LGBTQ people to be granted asylum and that LGBTQ rights are a cornerstone of the United State's foreign policy and around the world.
The increase in Democratic politicians is a relatively good sign that such policies will be enacted by the next Congress, but with anything, there is a degree of uncertainty from both sides. Hopefully, though, the Congress will make the right decision and agree to what is written in the letter.