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President Obama: The Road Ahead

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Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States has filled many Americans with excitement and great hope. On January 20, 2009, President Obama took his oath to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution, and Lambda Legal joins all Americans in congratulating him and wishing him well as he leads our nation forward.

As president, Barack Obama will soon exercise his power to appoint federal judges. Lambda Legal has sent a letter to the President and the leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining the monumental need for fair and impartial nominees to the federal bench who will address issues facing lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV, without bias.

In the letter, Lambda Legal urges the new President to nominate judges and justices who adhere to precedents established in cases of importance to the LGBT community – precedents that, among other things, preserve the right to privacy and protect against antigay bias. In addition, the letter strongly urges President Obama to consider diversity in nominating judges and, in particular, to nominate self-identified LGBT people to federal judgeships.

Lambda Legal, along with our sister organizations, has also written the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team urging the reversal of policies that assault the civil and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, people with HIV and their advocates have called on U.S. presidents to take visible leadership in condemning discrimination and supporting vital services for people with HIV. It’s time for human and civil rights to be a central part of the U.S. national strategy to end AIDS. Lambda Legal is advocating for the new administration to:

  • Immediately issue an executive order to ensure that all federal agencies are complying with the federal Rehabilitation Act and are not imposing medically-unwarranted restrictions on employees and applicants living with HIV.
  • Direct the Department of Justice to issue official guidance to state officials, clarifying that a state’s exclusion of people with HIV from occupational training schools and licensing in professions such as barbering, massage, food services and home health care violates federal antidiscrimination law.
  • Direct the Surgeon General to re-issue findings reflecting the conclusive scientific evidence showing that needle exchange and syringe access programs reduce drug abuse and prevent HIV infection and urge Congress to lift the ban on federal funding that limits these programs and costs lives.
  • Direct the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Attorney General and the Secretary of Transportation to promptly issue regulations implementing the ADA Amendments Act in accordance with its remedial purposes.

Lambda Legal will continue to press the new Administration, to ensure that these steps are taken and other critical HIV civil rights issues are addressed.

As the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama has the opportunity to address many crucial issues facing LGBT people and those with HIV, and to make good on promises to ensure equality for all Americans.

Lambda Legal fights to protect the independence of our courts, so that our communities get a fair hearing based on constitutional principles, equality and fairness. For more information, visit our Fair Courts Project.

Date:
January 20, 2009