One of the LGBT policy advances we’ve seen under the Obama Administration is a commitment to ensuring that federal programs under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Administration recently published proposed rules to implement these changes and is soliciting professional and public input until March 25, 2011. These proposed rules — available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=LGBTPR.PDF – specifically prohibit HUD programs (including FHA mortgage insurance programs and federally-supported housing programs for older adults) from asking about sexual orientation or gender identity. The rules also give more expansive definitions of a “family” or “household” to ensure that LGBT families are included. Two additional programs of note that are included under the new provisions are the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS. (Interestingly, the introduction to the rules cites, among other things, the large discrimination study just sponsored by the National Center on Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which FORGE has been summarizing here.)
John Johnson, full-time federal lobbyist for the LGBT aging community (employed by SAGE), suggests that comments include the following:
- Brief introduction
- Your credentials
- How the rule or change will impact your agency and/or your constituents
- Ask what change you would like to see
- Say why it is important
- Thank them for their time
- Provide your contact information
HUD prefers that comments be submitted electronically; those with privacy concerns should note it appears these are available online to anyone who cares to search them. Comments can also be submitted by mail. For more information and for contact information if you have questions, see the website noted above.