Gustavo Torrez, Program Manager The Network for LGBT Health Equity Reporting from the National Coalition for LGBT Health Annual Meeting
I am currently in Washington DC for the National Coalition for LGBT Health’s Annual Meeting. There has been a an amazing line up of speakers today from the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to the Administrator of SAMHSA Pamela Hyde along with many distinguished leaders in the LGBT Health Movement from across the country.
During the opening keynote address, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted “as a result of your work, today, we have a far better understanding that LGBT Americans face real and significant health disparities – another terrible consequence of discrimination, oppression, and social stigma.” The tireless efforts of you all is really making a difference. Understanding the disparity leave opportunity to combat the issues our communities face with federal support.
President Obama directed HHS to follow up with additional recommendations for action along with concrete steps to improve the lives of LGBT Americans. This direct call for action showed that our current administration understands that there is not only a disparity, but an understanding that there is work to be done to address the issues our communities face. One major step was LGBT inclusion in the Affordable Care Act. Secretary Sebelius notes ”The Affordable Care Act may represent the strongest foundation we have ever created to begin closing LGBT health disparities.” Many of you have been involved in this act, and we all understand that this has been a battle most have been fighting for, but the fight is not over.
Overall, doors are opening, work is being conducted, and the climate is changing for LGBT communities. Now more then ever we have a partner in the federal government. The administrations commitment is remarkable, and we know there is still more to be done but the doors are open. Secretary Sebelius summed this up perfectly stating “I know most of you have been fighting these battles for a long time. And you may not have always had active partner in the federal government. But that is changing.“
We are in a much better place today then we were 10 years ago. And again we know there is still so much that needs to be done. Our work for LGBT inclusion is far from over, but in a better place as we move forward with our movement.
In closing, I want to leave you all with Secretary Sebelius closing remarks which sum up the essence of her speech.“We have begun to push open doors that seem to be shut forever. Looking ahead, the future gives me real hope. And I’m looking forward to working with you to make it as bright as possible”
Click here for a copy of Secretary Sebelius’ speech.