Press Room

July 13, 2004

Category: HIV & AIDS

HRC: House Marks Up Three Bills Affecting GLBT Community

'And now the battle heats up in the House,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - As the Senate continued its debate on a discriminatory constitutional amendment, two House committees today marked up three bills that would affect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

"And now the battle heats up in the House," said Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques. "From radically departing from our constitutional traditions to denying Washington, D.C.'s elected officials the right to create their own policy on HIV/AIDS prevention, these bills are nothing more than political ploys sure to backfire. Spending time debating marriage and overriding the wishes of locally elected officials won't help fix the country's challenges - pressing items like the economy, the war in Iraq and the lack of health care. Politics of distraction won't work on Americans."

The House Committee on the Judiciary today marked up the so-called Marriage Protection Act (H.R. 3313) - a bill that purports to strip the federal courts of jurisdiction over challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act. The committee reported the bill to the full House by a vote of 21 to 13. A vote in the House is expected the week of July 19, 2004.

Two other bills were marked up today by the House Committee on Appropriations. One measure, the fiscal year 2005 D.C. appropriations bill, already prevents District of Columbia officials from using federal and local funds to operate scientifically proven HIV/AIDS prevention programs and prohibits federal funds from being used to implement a limited domestic partnership program in the nation's capital.

It is expected that language further prohibiting the ability of the district to make its own policies on marriage recognition may be added to the D.C. Appropriations bill during later consideration on the House floor.

The committee also marked up the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education bill - a measure that includes inadequate funding for HIV/AIDS programs. This measure would stay funding for all Ryan White CARE Act programs at last year's funding levels, except for an additional $55 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

"While we appreciate the increase, it's not sufficient to meet the needs of an increasingly overburdened and underfunded program," added Jacques. "We will work hard to keep the pressure on our members of Congress to focus on helping Americans, not hurting us."

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.