Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) made the following statement in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month:
"I am proud to join our nation's LGBT community and its allies in recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month. Thanks to the courage, leadership, and sacrifices of countless individuals, we have made great strides in the ongoing struggle for LGBT equality. And, while we continue to face both old and new challenges to equal rights for all Americans, we know that real progress is not only achievable when we work together, but unstoppable.
"Last year, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to honor, integrity, and the fair treatment of all Americans when Congress voted to repeal the discriminatory law known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.' However, it is not a 'done deal' yet. Without certification, our gay and lesbian service members remain at risk. Therefore, I urge President Obama, Defense Secretary Gates, and Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to certify repeal as soon as possible and implement a non-discrimination policy.
"Furthermore, we cannot expect our military to recognize LGBT Americans when the federal government itself does so piecemeal. As I have said time and again, this nation can only truly prosper when all of its citizens are guaranteed equal recognition and protection under the law. To this end, I stand ready to work together with my colleagues in Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) once and for all.
"In addition, this June also marks the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic, which continues to impact the LGBT community and our nation as a whole in profound ways. Routine screening for HIV has been proven to save lives and reduce new infections. That is why I recently introduced the Increasing Access to Voluntary Screening for HIV/AIDS and STIs Act of 2011, and continue working to secure funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and other national efforts.
"Finally, I commend the tremendous work being done by the It Gets Better Project and other organizations in support of LGBT youth. We must do more to prevent bullying and suicide amongst our young people. Together with my colleagues in Congress and the Obama administration, I will continue working to prevent bullying before it is too late for one more young person.
"LGBT rights are American rights. As we celebrate LGBT Pride Month, I reaffirm my commitment to achieving equality for all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Democratic Chairman of the Florida Delegation.