- June 27, 2014
Post submitted by Remington A. Gregg, former HRC Legislative Counsel
Yesterday, Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA) introduced the Voices for Veterans Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would reauthorize the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and would ensure that LGBT veterans are represented on this important committee.
The Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans advises the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Veterans Affairs Committees in Congress on VA programs and services, in addition to providing advice on how the VA can better meet the needs of minority veterans. The Committee is comprised of veterans who represent an array of minority groups who have varied experience in a number of subjects that are important to minority veterans.
HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “Since the repeal of the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, gay and lesbian service members have been able to serve proudly and openly. Yet, we know that there is still work to do to ensure full inclusion of all people who seek to serve their country, particularly transgender people. While we continue to work for full equality, this bill would take a critical step in ensuring that their voices are heard. Moreover, LGBT veterans have unique experiences and needs. The Voices for Veterans Act would ensure that the LGBT community is represented when addressing issues that affect minority veterans.”
Although transgender individuals are still barred from serving openly by harmful and outdated regulations, transgender veterans are included in the Voices for Veterans Act. HRC is continuing to work with coalition partners and the Pentagon to revise these regulations so that all LGBT people have the opportunity to serve the country the love.