White House spins budget proposals for lgbt community…quietly – UPDATED

by on February 2, 2010  •  In Uncategorized

UPDATE – At some point after I wrote this, the White House corrected its web page.

In what must surely be a first, the White House issued this briefing paper on budget issues relevant to the lgbt community when it announced the President's proposed FY 2011 budget yesterday. You gotta give somebody credit – no administration has ever done this before. But there's a problem – although the administration blitzed this out to lgbt rights supporters, the lgbt paper is noticeably absent from the White House web page that lists the other interest group "fact sheets." The list of groups is a rather strange line-up: middle-class families, military families, rural residents, and seniors. Your tax dollars at work trying to navigate identity politics, I guess.

What I find even more puzzling is how the White House staff decided which items of more general interest to include in the lgbt paper. It contains only one with no obvious link to lgbt-specific concerns: improving retirement security. The Middle Class briefing paper, for example, includes items like spurring job growth and helping families with child care costs – concerns that are just as relevant to gay folk as to anyone else. And if the idea is to feed only narrow special interests, I'm not sure why they bothered to include retirement security – especially with no mention of how lgbt seniors get shafted on Social Security and other benefits because their relationships are not recognized. Clueless?

Even taking the framing of the list at face value, there is no apparent rationale for why some items and not others are included in the lgbt paper. Because it is about the budget and not about general legislative priorities, you would expect it to focus on proposals with significant financial  consequences. Most do, such as additional funding for HIV programs and for the Civil Rights Division at Justice. For others, the connection seems murky – "support[ing] a fair and accurate census," for example, is not going to cost more than supporting an unfair one. And domestic partner benefits for federal employees (not yet law) is included, although no dollar figures are estimated.

The whole thing is kinda strange.  However, the paper does highlight one issue to watch: the Obama budget proposal includes creating a fund for making grants to states that want to start a paid leave program for workers taking family or medical leave. The unspoken reference is to HR 2339, a bill introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), that would authorize such a fund. Unfortunately, HR 2339 makes it optional for each state whether to cover domestic partners, a provision that ought to change so that such coverage is mandatory. Now there's a budget item where the White House could do some good.

HTs: Pierce Blue, Tim Westmoreland


One Response to White House spins budget proposals for lgbt community…quietly – UPDATED

  1. Nancy Polikoff February 3, 2010 at 10:32 PM

    So here is something odd about the Woolsey bill. It seems not to recognize that “son” and “daughter” under the FMLA include a child to whom one stands “in loco parentis” and that the regulations explicitly state that a legal or biological relationship is not necessary. So the other supposedly discretionary coverage in the Woolsey bill for a child born to or adopted by “any individual whose relationship to the individual taking leave is recognized for purposes of such leave under State or local law” is off target. Coverage is MANDATORY for the categories of leave permitted by the FMLA, and that’s where a partner’s biological or adoptive child fits when the couple both functions as the child’s parents. Do you think the Woolsey staff who wrote the bill doesn’t know this?

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