This June marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising at Stonewall and the birth of the modern LGBTQ movement.
We’ve come a long way in these 50 years; we’ve tackled the AIDS crisis, extended civil rights legislation in dozens of states, legalized same-sex marriage across the country, and elected LGBTQ Americans to nearly every level of government.
But we also must recognize that too many in our community are still in the closet, unsure if they will be accepted, and too many who come out experience harassment and intolerance.
No one should face discrimination because of who they are or who they love. Fortunately, with this historically diverse Congress, we finally can make LGBTQ rights a national priority. In honor of Pride Month, I want to update you on the work I’m doing in Congress to make equal rights a reality for all.
Codifying Equality — LGBTQ Americans in Florida and many other states across the country still are at risk of being fired, evicted, and denied services on the basis of their sexuality or gender identity. Last month, the House took a momentous step to end this injustice by passing the Equality Act, landmark legislation that extends anti-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community. I joined a bipartisan coalition of my colleagues in the House as a cosponsor the Equality Act, and I was proud to cast my vote for this bill on the floor.
Protecting LGBTQ Youth — LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in our child welfare system — over 30 percent of young people in foster care identify as LGBTQ. Tragically, these kids are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, and neglect than their heterosexual peers. I recently introduced the Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act in the House, legislation that seeks to prevent the maltreatment of LGBTQ kids who enter the child welfare system.
In addition, I am a cosponsor of the Prohibition of Medicaid Funding for Conversion Therapy Act, which bars Medicaid funds from going towards the harmful practice of conversion “therapy.” Nearly 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the U.S. have experienced conversion “therapy,” half of them as children. It is long past time for us to take action to stop this rampant abuse of our kids.
June also is the beginning of hurricane season. I implore you to practice proper hurricane preparedness: understand your flood risk, make a plan to evacuate your house and determine an emergency meeting location for family and friends, and put together a basic disaster supply kit. For more information and other steps you can take, see the National Hurricane Center’s guidance at www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php.
Miami-Dade County recently released an app, ReadyMDC, that provides residents of the county with up-to-the-minute weather information. The app includes guidelines for hurricane preparedness, as well as areas in danger of storm surge, evacuation center locations, emergency bus pick-up sites, information on what to do with pets, and more. You can download ReadyMDC for free on iOS and Android devices.
As always, don’t hesitate to stop by our district office if you need assistance with an issue or want to share your concerns about a policy matter. We are located at 7700 N. Kendall Dr., Suite 605, Miami, FL 33156, and we are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Give us a call if you need help with a federal agency, applying for a federal grant, or requesting a U.S. flag to be flown over the Capitol. You can visit our website at https://shalala.house.gov/services or give us a call at 305-668-2285 or 202-225-3931. Be sure you stay up-to-date with the latest developments from our office on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @RepShalala.