By: Raffi Freedman-Gurspan*—
The White House Office of Public Engagement hosted over 100 advocates for a community briefing on advancing equality for members of the bisexual community
Yesterday, the White House Office of Public Engagement hosted over 100 advocates working to advance equality for members of the bisexual community across the country. The community briefing, which concludes Bisexual Awareness Week, featured discussions on the steps that community leaders and Administration officials have taken together to support bisexual Americans. It also underlined the challenges ahead in the community, specifically related to disproportionate risks of mental and physical health struggles, poverty, addiction, and violence – and the need for fully inclusive federal non-discrimination protections.
In the past eight years the Administration has worked hard to ensure that diverse identities are protected for all Americans, including bisexuals. President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd, Jr. Act in 2009 that expanded federal hate crimes laws, and in 2010 ended the restrictive ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ military service policy in the U.S., both of which impacted the lives of bisexuals.
Later in the presidency, he issued an Executive Order prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity by federal contractors and subcontractors, and he has been vocally supportive of the need to update our nation’s non-discrimination protections to make clear all people should be treated equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Through the Affordable Care Act, all Americans—including those in the bisexual community—have greater access to health care.
Yet despite this progress, the bisexual community still disproportionately lacks health insurance as compared to other groups. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has also taken steps to ensure equal access to housing for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. And just over a year ago, President Obama was proud to join millions of Americans in declaring that “Love Wins,” following the Supreme Court’s ruling bringing the freedom to marry to same-sex couples nationwide, including bisexual identified couples.
This past Friday, the LGBT community marked the 18th annual Bisexuality Visibility Day, the centerpiece of a week dedicated to honoring the unique contributions and experiences of bisexual people. It is an occasion for our country to reflect on and recognize the generations of bisexual leaders who have led their lives openly and visibly, committed to creating a more just and equal nation. The Administration has long stood alongside the community – and today, we look forward to hosting bisexual advocates and allies and continuing the dialogue about the vital work ahead.
*Raffi Freedman-Gurspan is the Outreach & Recruitment Director for the Presidential Personnel Office & Senior Associate Director of the Office of Public Management
[From a News Release]