Restoring America’s Health

Capitol Hill ImageSo finally, the health care juggernaut is broken! We share the view that the new health care reform law, while not perfect, is a step forward. And after a year-plus of debate, it’s time to move on to other tasks.

One of those, of course, is the need to provide genuine equality to LGBT citizens in the U.S. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has been treading water on Capitol Hill for over 15 years; there’s no justification for delaying any further this basic workplace non-discrimination bill. The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations (DPBO) bill, which would allow the families of gay federal workers to enjoy the same benefits as the families of their straight colleagues, has been marked up in both houses; it needs to be given floor time by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. And repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is long-overdue: not only does a clear majority of Americans favor its repeal, our military needs the talents of the men and women it’s booting out for reasons unrelated to workplace performance.

Enacting these pieces of legislation is, of course, the right thing to do. But it also would set the right example for other countries that are beginning to grapple with calls for LGBT equality overseas. It’s time for the U.S. to become the model it claims to be in promoting one of democracy’s genuine tenets, which is equal rights for all citizens.

For months the pundits have debated health care. But restoring America’s commitment to equality matters is equally important to the health of our country. Those who lead our movement, and those who lead our country, should recognize that there has been, and will be, no better time to move this equality agenda forward than now.

When the chips were down on health care, President Obama and the Democratic leadership of both houses sprang into action. It’s time for them to show the same sense of arm-twisting resolve in moving these bills to a vote this year. True champions of equality and fair-mindedness on either side of the aisle should have no hesitation in moving these bills forward without further delay.

Amb. (ret.) Michael Guest, Senior Advisor, The Council for Global Equality

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