Friday, February 22, 2013
Yesterday, I had the pleasure and honor to attend the White House briefing for LGBT Emerging leaders, sponsored by the National Black Justice Coalition, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The day included a White House tour of the East Wing, a trip to the Kennedy Caucus Room on Capitol Hill for introductions and the White House briefing at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. I have lived in DC essentially for 27 years and that was my first visit to the White House. I always said that if I was to visit the White House it would be for a purpose. Yesterday was that day. The three hosting organizations did a wonderful job of making that day possible.
The discussions and topics vary, but what stood out to me was the foster care programs in our country and how there is a movement to make the programs LGBT friendly. Placing children who may identify as gay, with affirming parents. Furthermore, once he or she becomes 21, making sure that the are prepared for life. In addition, finding the parents is a must.
The other interesting topic came up about our criminal justice system, as it relates to hate crimes. "The Obama administration is working and has implemented executive orders to protect the basic civil liberties of LBGT people," said a top Obama adviser. Yet, there is the need for so much change.
AIDS and HIV was another topic discussed. The statistics are startling. For example, 1 in 2 gay black men in Baltimore has HIV. In some areas in America, the numbers are as bad as sub-Saharan Africa. This topic gets as deep as the numbers. Why are gay black men and men/women who are transsexual have the highest number of reported cases? One example someone gave is that the medication is so great, and people are living longer so if they contract it, it's ok. I see it from a grassroots standpoint, Every person in that moment, when it's time to make a choice, which should be a no-brainer, that each time you choose to have unprotected sex, you are playing the Russian roulette on your life.
Economic mobility for LGBT people was discussed. This referred to LGBT people owning their own businesses. There are a lot of programs the Obama administration will be funding this year to support this cause.
Overall, the briefing was great. It was good to see old and new faces. In a more personal note, I have spent years in the LGBT movement, from conferences to panels, to marching in parades, to hear people say all sorts of epithets mostly "Christian people." I was empowered again to keep up this fight. I am so glad that President Obama stands 100% behind LGBT people and the fight for equality, under law.