In 2015, we worked with more than ten federal agencies to broaden the definition of family and expand access to various federal programs, benefits and services for LGBTQ parents and their children, including: Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Social Security Administration (SSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of State, Department of Defense (DoD), Indian Health Service (IHS) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to broaden the definition of family and expand access to various federal programs, benefits and services for LGBTQ parents and their children.
In addition to our advocacy, we submitted 25 written comments to proposed federal rule changes. Among the most notable were the following:
HHS – Health and Human Services Acquisition Regulation parts 301-370
On May 1, 2015, we submitted comments to HHS in response to a request for feedback regarding a proposed portion of the Health and Human Services Acquisition Regulation (HHSAR). We urged them to push against policies and provisions that would make room for entities to withhold healthcare services on religious or moral grounds.
We advocated for the inclusion of a “Non-Discrimination in Service Delivery” clause in HHS contracts, which would prohibit discrimination against individuals accessing services through HHS-supported programs. This clause was included in the final rule and provides protections on the basis of race, national origin, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
HHS – Affordable Care Act, Section 1557
On November 12, 2015, in a response to a request for feedback from HHS regarding a proposed rule protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in healthcare under the Affordable Care Act, we submitted multiple comments requesting changes to the rule as originally proposed. Although we agreed that there should be protections from discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity, we also felt strongly that there must be inclusion of protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We also argued against the inclusion of a broad religious exemption to these protections. The following recommendations were incorporated from our comment into the final rule:
- Protections from discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity.
- Although protections from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation were not explicitly included in the final rule, HHS made it clear that complaints of this kind of discrimination will be heard and assessed as allegations of prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes.
- The religious exemption was excluded from the final rule.