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Office of Communications

For Immediate Release October 29, 1998
                      The Clinton-Gore Administration
            A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans

                              October 1998

"[W]e have to make sure that for every single person in our country -- all Americans means all Americans."

"It is time for all Americans to recognize that the issues

     that face gays and lesbians in this country are not narrow, 
     special interests -- they are matters of basic human and 
     civil rights."
                         -- Vice President Gore, September 15, 1997 

Working for Basic Fairness and Against Hate

Fighting For Hate Crimes Legislation. Last year, the President announced his sponsorship of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act during the historic White House Conference on Hate Crimes. This crucial legislation would strengthen and expand the ability of the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes by removing needless jurisdictional requirements for existing crimes. And it would give Federal prosecutors the power to prosecute hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability.

The President and Vice President continue to push Congress to pass this important legislation and to speak out against hate. As the Vice President said on September 19, 1998: "If we allow even a small number of Americans to harbor and act upon malice and intolerance, we all feel the bitter sting of injustice. Let us send a clear message to those would commit crimes of hate: it is wrong, it is illegal, and we will punish you with the full force of our laws... Crimes of hate against all people -- including gays and lesbians -- should carry a punishment that is swift and severe."

Additionally, as part of the 1994 Crime Act, President Clinton signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, providing for longer sentences where the offense is determined to be a hate crime based on sexual orientation.

Ending Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Civilian Workforce. President Clinton issued an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Federal civilian workforce. This makes the Federal Government the largest employer in the world (1.8 million civilian employees) with a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation. And the President, working with a bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives, successfully defeated an attempt to overturn this policy. The President also issued an Executive Order mandating that security clearances no longer be denied based on sexual orientation.

Endorsing Legislation that Outlaws Discrimination in the Workplace. President Clinton and Vice President Gore endorsed and are fighting for passage of the Employment Non Discrimination Act, a bill outlawing discrimination in hiring, firing and promotions based on sexual orientation. This makes them the first U.S. President and Vice President ever to back civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians. The legislation would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, extending basic employment protections to gay and lesbian Americans.

Standing Up for Basic Fairness. President Clinton blocked Republican efforts to pass legislation prohibiting unmarried couples from jointly adopting children in the District of Columbia and legislation which would have denied certain Federal funds to localities with domestic partnership laws.

Working to Stop Discrimination Against People With AIDS. President Clinton directed the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to vigorously prosecute those who discriminate against people with AIDS, leading to actions against health care providers and facilities that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Opposing Anti-Gay Ballot Initiatives. President Clinton strongly opposed anti-gay ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon. His two nominees to the Supreme Court voted to overturn Colorado's Amendment 2, declaring such initiatives unconstitutional violations of the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

Fighting Discrimination Against People with AIDS in the Military. President Clinton successfully fought for the repeal of the Dornan amendment, which required the expulsion of all HIV-positive military service members regardless of their ability to do their jobs. Prior to its repeal, President Clinton took the highly unusual step of unilaterally declaring the law unconstitutional and instructing the Department of Justice not to defend it in court, becoming the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to take such action.

Helping Those Fleeing Persecution Because of Their Sexual Orientation. President Clinton's Administration is the first ever to grant asylum for gays and lesbians facing persecution in other countries. The President sent gay human rights activist Keith Boykin to Zimbabwe as part of an official United States delegation. Mr. Boykin investigated human rights abuses of gays and lesbians there.

Banning Insurance Discrimination. President Clinton fought for and signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which bans insurance discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions including HIV/AIDS. In addition, President Clinton issued a directive that ensures that all providers of Federal health insurance abide by non-discrimination rules including sexual orientation.

Fighting Harassment of Students Based on Sexual Orientation. President Clinton's Department of Education has issued landmark guidance that explains Federal standards against sexual harassment and that prohibits sexual harassment of all students regardless of their sexual orientation.

An Administration that Includes All Americans

President Clinton Has Created an Administration That Is Highly Talented and the Most Inclusive Administration in History. President Clinton is the first President to appoint an openly gay or lesbian person to an Administration post. The President has appointed more than 150 openly gay and lesbian appointees, including:

Reaching Out to All Communities. This Administration is committed to a policy of inclusion. President Clinton named the first Presidential Liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Marsha Scott. Later, he named the first openly gay senior policy adviser on civil rights issues, Richard Socarides. President Clinton become the first sitting president to speak before a gay and lesbian organization on November 8, 1997, when he delivered the keynote address to the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. In September 1997, the Vice President addressed the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the first Vice President to speak at a gay rights event. This year, the Vice President spoke before the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., and the Empire State Pride Agenda in New York City. Both the President and the Vice President regularly meet with gay and lesbian leaders.

Improving Health Care Quality and Increasing Access

Providing National Leadership. President Clinton has worked hard to invigorate the response to HIV and AIDS, providing new national leadership, substantially greater resources and a closer working relationship with affected communities. Funding for AIDS research has increased by over 65 percent, and funding for HIV prevention has increased 34 percent. Funding for the Ryan White CARE Act has increased by over 240 percent. Although much work remains to find a cure, progress has been made. In 1996, the first time in the history of the AIDS epidemic, the number of Americans diagnosed with AIDS declined. And between 1996 and 1997, HIV/AIDS mortality declined 47 percent, falling from the leading cause of death among 25-44 year olds in 1995 to the fifth leading cause of death in that age group. There has been a decline in the number of AIDS cases overall and a sharp decline in new AIDS cases in infants and children.

Protecting Medicaid and Social Security Coverage. The President fought for and won the preservation of the Medicaid guarantee of coverage which serves more than 50 percent of people living with AIDS -- and 92% of children with AIDS -- who rely on Medicaid for health coverage. He also revised eligibility rules for Social Security Disability Insurance to increase the number of HIV+ persons who qualify for benefits.

Focusing National Efforts on an AIDS Vaccine. On May 18, 1997, the President challenged the nation to develop an AIDS vaccine within the next ten years. He announced a number of initiatives to help fulfill this goal, including: dedicating an AIDS vaccine research center at the National Institutes of Health and encouraging domestic and international collaboration among governments, medical communities and service organizations.

Dramatically Increasing Overall AIDS Funding. The Clinton Administration has responded aggressively to the significant threat posed by HIV/AIDS with increased attention to research, prevention and treatment. President Clinton increased public health spending for major HIV/AIDS programs by over 100 percent, funding for the Ryan White CARE programs has increased 241 percent and support for AIDS-related research has increased by over 65 percent.

Increasing AIDS Drug Assistance and Accelerating AIDS Drug Approvals. Funding for AIDS drug assistance has increased from $52 million per year to $385 million per year during the Clinton Administration. This program provides new life-prolonging drugs to people with HIV and AIDS. In addition, President Clinton convened the National Task Force on AIDS Drug Development, and removed dozens of bureaucratic obstacles to the effective and decent treatment of people with AIDS. Since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration has approved dozens of new AIDS drugs, new drugs for AIDS-related conditions and new diagnostic tests.

Historic $156 Million Effort to Address HIV/AIDS in Communities of Color. African Americans make up the fastest growing portion of the HIV/AIDS caseload. As part of the FY99 budget, the Clinton Administration fought for a comprehensive new initiative that invests an unprecedented $156 million to improve the nation's effectiveness in preventing and treating HIV/AIDS in the African American, Hispanic and other minority communities.

Making Research a Priority. In one of his first acts in office, President Clinton signed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, placing full responsibility for planning, budgeting and evaluation of the AIDS research program at NIH in the Office of AIDS Research. The Administration has increased NIH AIDS research funds by 67% in five years.

Promoting Lesbian Health Issues. Under President Clinton's leadership, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have commissioned scientific panels to study lesbian health issues and to suggest research methods for scientists who want to study specific lesbian health issues. This is the first time a U.S. Government agency has commissioned an examination into this subject.

Focusing on Prevention: Supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Administration has increased funds for HIV prevention at the CDC by 34% in five years. Under the leadership of the Clinton Administration, the CDC reorganized its AIDS prevention efforts to foster greater overall coordination and enhance efforts to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis.

Educating Young People about the Dangers of AIDS. The Clinton Administration launched the Prevention Marketing Initiative, focusing on the risk to young adults (18-25) with frank public service announcements recommending the correct and consistent use of latex condoms for those who are sexually active.

Requiring the Federal Workforce to Understand AIDS. The Administration issued a directive on September 30, 1993, that requires every Federal employee to receive comprehensive education on HIV/AIDS.

Established a White House AIDS Office and Created a Presidential Advisory Council. President Clinton created a White House Office of National AIDS Policy to bring greater direction and visibility to the war on AIDS. At the same time, the Administration has sharpened the focus of its AIDS programs. The President also created the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS to provide him and his Administration with expert outside advice on the ways in which the Federal government should respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Dr. R. Scott Hitt, an openly gay California physician, chairs the panel.

Convened the First Ever White House Conference on HIV and AIDS. On December 6, 1995, the President convened the first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS in the history of the epidemic, bringing together more than 300 experts, activists and citizens from across the country for a discussion of key issues.

"I think if we really could create a society where there is

     opportunity for all and responsibility from all and we believed 
     in a community of all Americans, we could truly meet every 
     problem we have and seize every opportunity we have."

                              -- President Clinton, November 8, 1997