The Clinton-Gore Administration

A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans

“Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender, disability or sexual orientation, is wrong, and it ought to be illegal. Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land.”
-- President Clinton, State of the Union Address to Congress, January 19, 1999

“It is time for all Americans to recognize that the issues that face gays and lesbians in this country are not narrow, special interests -- they are matters of basic human and civil rights.”
--Vice President Gore, September 15, 1997

Working for Basic Fairness and Against Hate

Fighting For Hate Crimes Legislation. In 1997, the President announced his sponsorship of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act during the historic White House Conference on Hate Crimes. This crucial legislation would strengthen and expand the ability of the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes by removing needless jurisdictional requirements for existing crimes. And for the first time in history, it would give Federal prosecutors the power to prosecute hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability.

On April 6, 1999, the President urged Congress to pass this pending legislation and announced a new public-private partnership to focus attention on issues of hate, tolerance and diversity in schools. President Clinton also called on the Departments of Justice and Education to include hate crimes in their annual report card on school safety and to report on hate crimes and bias on college campuses. The President and Vice President continue to push Congress to pass this important legislation and to speak out against hate. As the Vice President said on September 19, 1998: “If we allow even a small number of Americans to harbor and act upon malice and intolerance, we all feel the bitter sting of injustice. Let us send a clear message to those would commit crimes of hate: it is wrong, it is illegal, and we will punish you with the full force of our laws... Crimes of hate against all people -- including gays and lesbians -- should carry a punishment that is swift and severe.”

Additionally, as part of the 1994 Crime Act, President Clinton signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, providing for longer sentences where the offense is determined to be a hate crime based on sexual orientation.

Appointed the First –Ever Openly Gay United States Ambassador. On October 6, 1997 and again on January 6, 1999, the President nominated James C. Hormel to be U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Although Mr. Hormel' s qualifications were never in question, and it was generally agreed that his nomination would have easily won a floor vote, a handful of conservative Senators blocked the nomination. Because of this, on June 4, 1999, President Clinton announced the recess appointment of James Hormel. This appointment makes Mr. Hormel the first-ever openly gay United States Ambassador.

Ending Discrimination Against Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Civilian Workforce. President Clinton issued an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Federal civilian workforce. This makes the Federal Government the largest employer in the world (1.8 million civilian employees) with a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation. The Federal government recently released a guidebook on this non-discrimination policy for its employees and personnel managers. And the President, working with a bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives, successfully defeated an attempt to overturn the policy. The President also issued an Executive Order mandating that security clearances no longer be denied based on sexual orientation.

Endorsing Legislation that Outlaws Discrimination in the Workplace. President Clinton said in his 1999 State of the Union Address, “I ask Congress to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act… the law of the land.” President Clinton and Vice President Gore endorsed and continue to fight for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a bill outlawing discrimination in hiring, firing and promotions based on sexual orientation. This makes them the first U.S. President and Vice President ever to back civil rights legislation for gays and lesbians. The legislation would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, extending basic employment protections to gay and lesbian Americans.

Issuing the First-Ever Gay and Lesbian Pride Month Proclamation. In June 1999, President Clinton issued the first Gay and Lesbian Pride Month proclamation. This historic action marked, as the President said, “the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement.” In the proclamation, President Clinton encouraged “all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity, and to remember throughout the year the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.”

Standing Up for Basic Fairness, Protecting Adoption Rights. President Clinton blocked Republican efforts to pass legislation prohibiting unmarried couples from jointly adopting children in the District of Columbia and legislation which would have denied certain Federal funds to localities with domestic partnership laws.

Working to Stop Discrimination Against People With AIDS. President Clinton supports the Supreme Court' s decision in Bragdon v. Abbott, which reinforces the protections offered by the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act for Americans living with HIV and AIDS. The President directed the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to vigorously prosecute those who discriminate against people with AIDS, leading to actions against health care providers and facilities that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Opposing Anti-Gay Ballot Initiatives. President Clinton strongly opposed anti-gay ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon. His two nominees to the Supreme Court voted to overturn Colorado' s Amendment 2, declaring such initiatives unconstitutional violations of the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

Fighting Discrimination Against People with AIDS in the Military. President Clinton successfully fought for the repeal of the Dornan amendment, which required the expulsion of all HIV-positive military service members regardless of their ability to do their jobs. Prior to its repeal, President Clinton took the highly unusual step of unilaterally declaring the law unconstitutional and instructing the Department of Justice not to defend it in court, becoming the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to take such action.

Helping Those Fleeing Persecution Because of Their Sexual Orientation. President Clinton' s Administration is the first ever to grant asylum for gays and lesbians facing persecution in other countries. The President sent gay human rights activist Keith Boykin to Zimbabwe as part of an official United States delegation. Mr. Boykin investigated human rights abuses of gays and lesbians there.

Banning Insurance Discrimination. President Clinton fought for and signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which bans insurance discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions including HIV/AIDS. In addition, President Clinton issued a directive that ensures that all providers of Federal health insurance abide by non-discrimination rules including sexual orientation.

Fighting Harassment of Students Based on Sexual Orientation. President Clinton' s Department of Education has issued landmark guidance that explains Federal standards against sexual harassment and that prohibits sexual harassment of all students regardless of their sexual orientation. At the White House Conference on School Violence last October, the President ordered the Education Department's civil rights office to step up its enforcement of anti- discrimination and harassment rules. That effort has resulted in, among other things, a groundbreaking guide for use by school administrators and teachers titled: Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime. The Guide provides practical guidance for developing a comprehensive approach to protecting all students, including gays and lesbians, from harassment and violence.

An Administration that Includes All Americans

President Clinton Has Created an Administration That Is Highly Talented and the Most Inclusive in History. Creating the most diverse Administration in history, the President has appointed openly gay men and lesbians to all levels government, including judicial appointments and top Executive Branch positions requiring Senate confirmation. In fact, President Clinton is the first President to appoint an openly gay or lesbian person to an Administration post. The President has appointed more than 150 openly gay and lesbian appointees, including:

· Virginia Apuzzo, the former Assistant to the President for Management and Administration (the first openly gay or lesbian Assistant to the President); Karen Tramontano, Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Chief of Staff; and Sean Maloney, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary. They are the highest-ranking openly gay or lesbian people ever to serve in the Federal Government;
· Fred Hochberg, Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration, the first openly gay person to be appointed Deputy in an U.S. cabinet-level agency;
· Former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Bruce Lehman, the first openly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate;
· Former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Roberta Achtenberg, the first open lesbian confirmed by the U.S. Senate, served in this position from 1993 to 1995;
· Gail Shibley, the Director of External Communications for the Federal Highway Administration;
· Vic Basile, the Director of Private Sector Cooperation and International Volunteerism for the Peace Corps;
· Romulo Diaz, Assistant Administrator for Administration and Resources Management at the Environmental Protection Agency;
· John Berry, Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget for the Department of Interior;
· Robert Raben, nominee for Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, Department of Justice;
· Harold Creel, Jr., Chairman, Federal Maritime Commission;
· Todd Dickinson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Commissioner, Patent and Trademark Office;
· Elaine Kaplan, Special Counsel, Office of Special Counsel;
· Jesse White, Jr., Federal Co-Chairman, Appalachian Regional Commission;
· Todd Summers, Deputy Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy; and
· Daniel C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

Reaching Out to All Communities. This Administration is committed to a policy of inclusion. President Clinton named the first Presidential Liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Marsha Scott. Later, he named the first openly gay senior policy adviser on civil rights issues, Richard Socarides.

The First President and Vice President to Speak before Gay and Lesbian Organizations. In January 1999, President Clinton advocated for gay and lesbian issues in his State of the Union remarks, the first president ever to do so. On November 8, 1997, he also became the first sitting president to speak before a gay and lesbian organization when he delivered the keynote address to the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. In September 1997, the Vice President addressed the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the first vice president to speak at a gay rights event. In 1998, the Vice President spoke before the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., and the Empire State Pride Agenda in New York City. Both the President and the Vice President regularly meet with gay and lesbian leaders. And notably, the work of the Administration "for outstanding contributions to lesbian and gay youth" was recognized last year by The Hetrick-Martin Institute with the Emery S. Hetrick Award. The President delivered videotaped remarks to this group, which advocates for gay and lesbian youth.

Improving Health Care Quality and Increasing Access

Providing National Leadership. President Clinton has worked hard to invigorate the response to HIV and AIDS, providing new national leadership, substantially greater resources and a closer working relationship with affected communities. During his administration, funding for AIDS research has increased by over 57 percent at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and funding for HIV prevention has increased 36 percent. Funding for the Ryan White CARE Act has increased by over 290 percent. Although much work remains to find a cure, progress has been made. In 1996, for the first time in the history of the AIDS epidemic, the number of Americans diagnosed with AIDS declined. And between 1996 and 1997, HIV/AIDS mortality declined 47 percent, falling from the leading cause of death among 25-44 year olds in 1995 to the fifth leading cause of death in that age group. There has been a decline in the number of AIDS cases overall and a sharp decline in new AIDS cases in infants and children.

Protecting Medicaid and Social Security Coverage. The President fought for and won the preservation of the Medicaid guarantee of coverage which serves more than 50 percent of people living with AIDS -- and 92 percent of children with AIDS -- who rely on Medicaid for health coverage. He also revised eligibility rules for Social Security Disability Insurance to increase the number of HIV+ persons who qualify for benefits.

Fighting to Pass a Strong, Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. President Clinton has called on the Congress to pass a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights that assures Americans the quality health care they need. The bill should include important patient protections such as: assuring direct access to specialists; real emergency room protections; continuity of care provisions that protect patients from abrupt changes in treatment; a fair, timely, and independent appeals process for patient grievances; and enforcement provisions to make these rights real.

Focusing National Efforts on an AIDS Vaccine. On May 18, 1997, the President challenged the nation to develop an AIDS vaccine within the next ten years. He announced a number of initiatives to help fulfill this goal, including: dedicating an AIDS vaccine research center at the National Institutes of Health and encouraging domestic and international collaboration among governments, medical communities and service organizations.

Dramatically Increasing Overall AIDS Funding. The Clinton Administration has responded aggressively to the significant threat posed by HIV/AIDS with increased attention to research, prevention and treatment. President Clinton has increased overall funding for major HIV/AIDS programs by 122 percent (within HHS), funding for the Ryan White CARE programs has increased 290 percent and support for AIDS-related research has increased by over 57 percent.

Increasing AIDS Drug Assistance and Accelerating AIDS Drug Approvals. Funding for AIDS drug assistance has increased from $52 million per year to $461 million per year during the Clinton Administration. This program provides new life-prolonging drugs to people with HIV and AIDS. In addition, President Clinton convened the National Task Force on AIDS Drug Development, and removed dozens of bureaucratic obstacles to the effective and decent treatment of people with AIDS. Since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration has approved dozens of new AIDS drugs, new drugs for AIDS-related conditions and new diagnostic tests.

Addressing HIV/AIDS in Communities of Color. Racial and ethnic communities make up the fastest growing portion of HIV/AIDS cases (more than 50 percent of all new HIV cases). As part of the FY99 budget, the Clinton Administration fought for and won a comprehensive new initiative that invests an unprecedented $156 million to improve prevention efforts in high-risk communities and expand access to cutting-edge HIV therapies and other treatment needed for HIV/AIDS.

Making Research a Priority. In one of his first acts in office, President Clinton signed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, placing full responsibility for planning, budgeting and evaluation of the AIDS research program at NIH in the Office of AIDS Research. The Administration has increased NIH AIDS research funds by 50 percent in six years.

Promoting Lesbian Health Issues. Under President Clinton's leadership, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have commissioned scientific panels to study lesbian health issues and to suggest research methods for scientists who want to study specific lesbian health issues. This is the first time a U.S. Government agency has commissioned an examination into this subject. On January 14, 1999, the Institute of Medicine, an independent research organization commissioned by the Administration, released Lesbian Health: Current Assessment and Directions for the Future, a significant new study that includes suggested areas of additional research and recommendations for improving the understanding of lesbian health issues.

Focusing on Prevention: Supporting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Administration has increased funds for HIV prevention at the CDC by 32 percent in six years. Under the leadership of the Clinton Administration, the CDC reorganized its AIDS prevention efforts to foster greater overall coordination and enhance efforts to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis.

Educating Young People about the Dangers of AIDS. The Clinton Administration launched the Prevention Marketing Initiative, focusing on the risk to young adults (18-25) with frank public service announcements recommending the correct and consistent use of latex condoms for those who are sexually active.

Requiring the Federal Workforce to Understand AIDS. The Administration issued a directive on September 30, 1993, that requires every Federal employee to receive comprehensive education on HIV/AIDS.

Established a White House AIDS Office and Created a Presidential Advisory Council. President Clinton created a White House Office of National AIDS Policy to bring greater direction and visibility to the war on AIDS. At the same time, the Administration has sharpened the focus of its AIDS programs. The President also created the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS to provide him and his Administration with expert outside advice on the ways in which the Federal government should respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Dr. R. Scott Hitt, an openly gay California physician, chairs the panel.

Convened the First Ever White House Conference on HIV and AIDS. On December 6, 1995, the President convened the first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS in the history of the epidemic, bringing together more than 300 experts, activists and citizens from across the country for a discussion of key issues.


“I think if we really could create a society where there is opportunity for all and responsibility from all and we believed in a community of all Americans, we could truly meet every problem we have and seize every opportunity we have.”

-- President Clinton, November 8, 1997


Clinton-Gore Accomplishments by Issue

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