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June 12, 2017

In Trump’s budgets, LGBTQ community gets shortchanged

On May 23rd, President Trump released his first full federal budget proposal. While many knew it would be bad, nothing could have prepared us for this. If enacted, this budget would be devastating. It slashes funding for vital programs and services that help struggling individuals and families afford the basics- food, housing, heating, education, and healthcare. At the same time, the budget seeks an additional $54 billion for the defense department and gives corporations and the wealthy massive tax cuts.  This proposed budget would be disastrous for the LGBTQ community. These are just a few of the worst impacts on LGBTQ people:

  • Food Access: The budget proposes to cut SNAP (also known as “food stamps”) funding by $193 billion over 10 years, which is a cut of nearly one-quarter. This would mean more LGBTQ people would go hungry. Currently, more than 1 in 4 LGB adults aged 18-44 (27% or 2.2 million people) participated in SNAP, compared to 20% of non-LGB adults in the same age range.
  • Medicaid: The budget proposes to slash $800 billion from Medicaid. This would mean that countless LGBTQ people and people living with HIV will go without lifesaving healthcare.
  • HIV/AIDS: Trump has proposed cutting $186 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STIs, and TB prevention, including a $150 million reduction that would come from HIV/AIDS prevention domestic programs. The budget also aims for a massive $7.2 billion reduction to the National Institutes of Health, including a $550 million cut in HIV/AIDS research. These cuts will severely impact our ability to fight the HIV epidemic, which disproportionately impacts Black and Latino gay and bisexual men.
  • LGBTQ Non-discrimination: The budget proposes to eliminate the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) and transfer its duties to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) while not increasing funding for EEOC. The OFCCP has broad oversight over federal contractors and subcontractors to monitor workplace diversity and equal pay. The EEOC is charged with addressing individual employment discrimination allegations involving employers, including those that are not a federal contractor, with 15 or more employees. This major change in enforcement of nondiscrimination laws would hurt LGBTQ people who rely on these protections, because each of these offices have distinct missions and expertise and the budget would require the EEOC to double the work without doubling the budget of the agency. This change would impede the civil rights protections that employers and workers have relied on for almost fifty years.
  • Legal Services Corporation (LSC): Trump has proposed to eliminate LSC, which is the primary funder of civil legal aid in the country. A number of legal aid providers have LGBTQ programs. Already legal aid organizations are unable to meet the demand for legal services. Cutting LSC funds would make the situation much worse, because states are unlikely to cover the money lost in federal spending.
  • US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH): USICH helps coordinate the work of federal agencies that are focused on homelessness. Trump has called for the elimination of the council. This will make it more difficult for the federal government to address the epidemic of homelessness in our country. This is a serious concern for the LGBTQ community because of the high rates of homelessness experienced by LGBTQ youth and transgender adults.
  • Reproductive Justice: The proposed budget would prevent federal funding of Planned Parenthood, which is often the only source of care for many in underserved and vulnerable communities. For many LGBTQ people, who experience stigma and discrimination in the health care system, the specially trained staff and tailored programs – including services for transgender people – offered at these clinics are a lifeline.

While the president’s budget is merely a request to Congress, which actually makes decisions about federal funding priorities, it is a powerful guidepost that tells us where this administration’s priorities lie. It is now clearer than ever that helping those in need is not a consideration for this president.

We need a budget that creates better economic opportunities for those struggling to make ends meet, invests in public services, protects our environment, and requires corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes. Instead, this disastrous budget emphasizes giving more money to the wealthy and corporations while shredding the safety net for the most vulnerable. The LGBTQ community must stand up against this attack on our community by letting President Trump and Congress know it is an attack on us and our values.

 

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