The White House is looking for nominees for its new award program, “Harvey Milk Champions of Change.”
Established in 2011, the White House Champions of Change Program regularly spotlights ordinary citizens who are doing extraordinary things for their community, their coutnry, and their fellow citizens. In that tradition, the White House says, “we will honor as Harvey Milk Champions of Change a small group of LGBT and local elected and appointed officials who have demontrated a strong commitment to both equality and public service.” They are especially looking for “unsung heroes” — individuals whose contributions have gone unrecognized.
The nominations are due before Friday, April 19, 2013. The nomination form is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions/nominate. More information on this effort is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/08/announcing-harvey-milk-champions-change.
George Stewart, a volunteer with SAGE Harlem, has won one of six coveted spots in a White House LGBT Pride Mionth Champions of Change Video Challenge, and your vote can help him win!
The campaign aims to “feature stories of unsung heroes and local leaders who are making an impact in their communities.” You can vote until midnight, Monday, June 25, 2012 by going to http://www.whitehouse.gov//lgbtvideochallenge. Let’s make the White House know how important LGBT elder issues are to our community!
The White House itself rang congratulatory bells last month when the Philadelphia Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) committed to helping fund a new public-private housing initiative in Philadelphia targeted to LGBT elders.
The project, which is to be built on Philadelphia’s 13th Street, between Locust and Spruce, is expected to have 6 stories and 56 bedrooms. It will be available to those who are aged 62 and older who earn less than 60% of the Philadelphia median income. $11 million of the necessary $19 million price tag has now been secured.
The White House memo on the financing, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/04/16/public-private-partnerships-ingenuity-and-11m-tax-credit-provides-innovative-housing, notes that “Under this Administration, [the Housing and Urban Development Department] has been a leader in advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, and has treated the fight for equality not as an issue, but as a priority.” The memo ends with this memorable line: “And HUD will continute to take an active role in ensuring that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community not only has a seat at the table — but also a place to call home.”
If you can be in Miami on May 7, 2012, make sure you plan to go to the White House LGBT Conference on Aging, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Miami’s Clinical Research Building at 1120 NW 14th Street.
The conference will feature keynote remarks by Kathy Greenlee, the openly lesbian Assistant Secretary on Aging for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Raphael Bostic, the openly gay Assistant Secretary for Policy & Research Development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“The White House LGBT Conference on Aging will provide advocates, community leaders, and members of the public an opportunity to engage with the Obama Administration on the health, housing, and security needs of aging members of the LGBT community. Participants will receive updates from senior officials from The White House and key agencies and departments, connect with Federal government resources and opportunities through workshop sessions, and provide valuable feedback through the “Open Space” process.”
To sign up (which includes places to say what specific issues or topics you would like to explore during the conference and what kinds of resources and information you’d like to access there), go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/white-house-lgbt-conference-aging
This week the Office of Public Engagement, “the open front door to the White House,” launched a new “one-stop-shop for all the ways you can engage with the White House online” at www.WhiteHouse.gov/Engage.
LGBT elders and advocates may be particularly interested in the latest news section (www.WhiteHouse.gov/Engage/latest-news), which contains a weekly schedule of events for which public input is invited. This page also contains links to 14 White House blogs, including the Middle Class Task Force. The “Get Involved” section links to 17 ways someone can engage with the White House, from interning there to Joining Forces, which offers multiple ways to support our military personnel and veterans. Another link here was mentioned in passing in yesterday’s blog post, which is an invitation to nominate Champions for Change to gain White House recognition for people who are helping make positive social change. You can also reach the White House’s LGBT page from here — go to Communities in Focus and scroll down for the LGBT Community.
This is but one of many ways that individual LGBT elders or advocates can make a difference in how LGBT older Americans live. Make your voice heard!
Last week I was privileged to meet Gautam Raghavan, the new White House LGBT Liaison, when he and his boss Jon Carson spoke to a meeting of the New Beginnings Initiative, a coalition of LGBT groups working with the Obama Administration to effect pro-LGBT policy changes.
Did you know that the White House has a free LGBT update that can keep you updated on what’s happening? Today’s edition features profiles of two LGBT leaders who were honored by President Obama last week. Janice Langbehn was given the Citizens Medal in thanks for her work to keep other LGBT families from experiencing the horror hers did, when she and their three children were kept from her partner’s deathbed by a Florida hospital. Also last week, Sharon Stapel was honored as a Champion of Change for her work with New York’s Anti-Violence Program, the largest such organization focused on providing services to LGBTQ and HIV+ victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and hate crimes. Mr. Raghavan invites us to submit more nominees for the Champions of Change awards by nominating them via an email to lgbt [at] who [dot] eop [dot] gov
That’s also the address to use if you want to submit other ideas or comments on LGBT issues to White House staff. If you want to sign up to receive the LGBT updates directly, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/sign-updates-issues-impacting-lgbt-community