Press Room

February 01, 2005

Category: HIV & AIDS

HRC Sends State of the Union Suggestions to President

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today sent the following letter to President Bush as he prepares for Wednesday night's State of the Union Address:

Dear Mr. President:

We extend to you our best wishes for your State of the Union address Wednesday night. Our nation faces extraordinary challenges at home and abroad and we join with every American in hearing you address the hopes, concerns and dreams we all share.

As part of your domestic agenda, we trust and expect you will continue to talk about the importance of families as a pillar of American life. We couldn't agree more. That's why gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are fighting to ensure that every American family is protected by the same rights and benefits and is equally able to fulfill their familial responsibilities.

Unfortunately, the reality today is that there are millions of families headed by same-sex couples who are denied the same basic rights and responsibilities as all others.

During the past year, you have said some supportive things about GLBT families. But those words are betrayed by policies that would weaken GLBT families and deny them equal rights. In fact, through marriage and marriage only can equal rights and responsibilities be provided to all families.

We respectfully believe the time is overdue for your record to match your words.

We have taken the liberty of drafting the following passage for inclusion in your State of the Union address. We have referenced sections that reflect your on-the-record remarks and followed them with the actions that we believe would finally support your words:

I believe every American family must be supported and given every tool needed to succeed. Stronger families help make America stronger. But today, there are families that are denied basic rights and protections.

Indeed, families headed by same-sex couples are as much as a family as Laura and I are (People Magazine, Dec. 27, 2004) and I think gay Americans ought to have the same rights as all other Americans (Presidential Debate, October 2000). And I reject partisan pronouncements, including those from my own party, which would seek to deny the rights of states to pass laws that provide fair treatment to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families (ABC News Good Morning America, Oct. 26, 2004).

I'm also not the kind of person that hires or fires someone based on sexual orientation (Presidential Debate, October 2000). GLBT Americans ought to have the same rights in terms of equal employment as other Americans.

What I say is what I'll do. That's why, today, I support efforts to make sure that every family has the same rights and responsibilities under the law.

The Marriage Protection Amendment betrays my words and I urge Congress to reject it.

I ask Congress to pass legislation that repeals the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which denies states and the federal government the ability to provide equal rights.

I support efforts in the states to ensure that marriage equality is extended to every citizen of those states.
And I want to go further than I have before. To those who say that the marriage debate is not about discrimination, I say prove it. Let's pass a law so that every GLBT American has the security of knowing they can't be fired because of their identity.

Let's ensure that our nation's military readiness is not threatened by policies banning well-trained and patriotic service members from serving when they're honest about their lives.

Let's give everyone at risk for HIV the unvarnished truth about how to prevent infection. And let's give everyone living with HIV the resources they need to be healthy.

Let's guarantee that law enforcement investigating crimes motivated by hate are given the tools they need to bring perpetrators to justice.

This is about American freedom, plain and simple. Let's show the rest of the world that nobody in America is without the freedom our nation promises.

If you spoke these words tomorrow night it would be an important step toward a more united America and fairer treatment for all American families. Indeed, in the first part of our recommended passages, the viewpoints expressed are not those of an advocacy group but of an individual: you. And now is the time for your words to be reconciled by your policies.


Winnie Stachelberg
HRC Political Director