Saturday, September 20, 2008

Federal Candidate Survey

Candidates for U.S. House and Senate should complete this survey on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) issues and send answers to

1) Since the early 1990s, Congressional legislation has blocked LGBTQ people from serving openly in the military. This discriminatory legislation, commonly referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (or DADT), has resulted in the discharge of thousands of qualified military personnel solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. As a member of the House or Senate, will you co-sponsor the
Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA) which on passage would permit openly LGBTQ people to serve in the military?

2) In 1996, Congress passed (and Bill Clinton signed) the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA). This law overrules the constitutional right of LGBTQ people to equal protection under the law by banning all federal recognition of same-sex relationships for various purposes (such as sponsoring a foreign partner for a visa, or filing a joint tax return). It also allows states to ignore the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause and reject other states’ certification of same-sex
relationships. As an elected representative, will you sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to repeal DOMA?

3) LGBTQ people are subject to unequal tax treatment in a number of areas. For example, while opposite-sex married couples aren’t taxed for joint health benefits, same-sex couples must pay income tax on domestic partner benefits that include health care coverage. Asset transfer taxes, estate taxes, and inheritance taxes that aren’t charged to straight couples must be paid by LGBTQ couples. As a result, many
LGBTQ couples will pay over five times the tax of a comparable straight couple over the life of their relationship. Will you sponsor or co-sponsor legislation to eliminate tax discrimination against LGBTQ people?

4) The District of Columbia is a federally-administered District. Recently, Congress has considered and/or passed a number of laws related to LGBTQ issues in the district that are distinctly homophobic, such as excluding same-sex couples from taxpayer-funded adoption services, a ban on recognition of same-sex couples, and a law forbidding LGBTQ people from having their out-of-district adoptions recognized. Will you vote against this legislation and other similar legislation in the District of Columbia?

5) The House and Senate are considering “hate crimes” legislation that seeks to make violence against LGBTQ people (as well as certain other minorities) “more” of a crime than violence against a member of a majority class, by assigning special resources to prosecuting these crimes than are typically allocated to prosecuting identical crimes against straight people. Will you lobby against – and vote against – such legislation?

6) The House and Senate are considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would regulate business and remove employers' and employees' First Amendment rights to freedom of association by banning private sector discrimination based on sexual orientation. Worse, the bill creates exemptions to taxation laws that make family health insurance more expensive only for LGBTQ families. Will you vote against ENDA?

7) LGBTQ people around the world face tremendous challenges in the face of government and societal persecution. In places ranging from the Palestinian Authority to Iran to China to Singapore to Algeria to Zimbabwe, LGBTQ people are regularly imprisoned, tortured, beaten, mutilated, and murdered simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many seek asylum in the United States, but find their application delayed or denied due to government policies that seek to limit immigration. As a result, the US government regularly sends
back thousands of people to an uncertain fate – or worse, a certain fate of torture and death – rather than welcoming the oppressed. Will you sponsor or co-sponsor efforts to reform the immigration system to allow oppressed LGBTQ people from abroad to find sanctuary and freedom in America?

8) State and federal regulations have severely restricted the availability of certain kinds of health insurance, such as “catastrophic care” coverage, to force people into expensive HMOs and similar programs that offer so-called “comprehensive” coverage. As a result, healthy LGBTQ people have not been able to buy insurance that fits their needs, and many are unable to afford health insurance – rendering them
vulnerable to catastrophic illness (and financial stress) as a result. As a member of Congress, will you introduce legislation to eliminate regulations that restrict the ability of people to buy health insurance that meets their priorities, rather than those of the health care regulators and other bureaucrats?

9) The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is legislation currently in Congress that would allow unmarried Americans (regardless of sexual orientation) to sponsor a same-sex or opposite-sex partner for residency in the United States. Will you co-sponsor UAFA and bring it to a vote?

10) You will be the chief executive of your own staff, with tremendous decision-making power over general employment policy in your office. Will you take steps to ensure that your LGBTQ federal employees (if any) are treated equally to straight employees in the provision of health care benefits and other conditions related to employment?

11) Efforts to water down, or even eliminate, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms have been gaining momentum. Self-defense is a crucial right for many LGBTQ people, who have often avoided severe injury or even death due to the prudent use of a firearm for self-defense. Organizations such as the Pink Pistols have emerged to
help protect and defend this right. Will you unambiguously support the right of LGBTQ Americans – and all other law-abiding people – to keep and bear arms for self-defense as outlined in the US Constitution by voting against any legislation restricting the right to keep and bear firearms?

12) LGBTQ parents – especially adoptive parents – often find difficulty in traveling across the country due to anti-LGBTQ state laws that refuse to recognize their status as parents granted by their home state. Some have even lost custody of their children due to a simple vacation that took them into “hostile territory.” This is in direct violation of the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause that
requires states to recognize other states’ certifications and legal status. Will you introduce or co-sponsor a law compelling state governments to uphold the full faith and credit clause to ensure that LGBTQ parents don’t suddenly become legal strangers to their children simply by crossing a state line?

13) Do you have any other comments or statements that you’d like to make to the LGBTQ community?