"Speaker Pelosi has been the tip of the spear on watershed advancements for the LGBTQ+ community”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, responded to the news that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to ever serve in the role, will be stepping down from leadership after 35 years as an LGBTQ+ champion and a groundbreaking leader of our nation.
“Speaker Pelosi has always been the definition of an ally. From her groundbreaking floor speech in 1987 on the AIDS crisis to her forceful advocacy for marriage equality long before its mainstream popularity, Speaker Pelosi has been the tip of the spear on watershed advancements for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Human Rights Campaign Incoming President Kelley Robinson. “During her tenure as Speaker, the House of Representatives passed an historic hate crimes law, repealed the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law, led the fight to enact the Affordable Care Act, and vocally opposed bans on transgender members serving in our nation’s military. Before the end of this term, the enactment of the Respect for Marriage will provide her with one more landmark achievement. Each and every moment when our community needed her, Speaker Pelosi has been there for us asking how to help. Without her commitment to progress and dedication to equality, our movement would be years if not decades behind where we proudly stand today.”
During her tenure as Speaker of the House, from 2007-2011 and 2019-2022, the LGBTQ+ community saw more legislative progress than under any previous Speaker.
This year, the Pelosi-led House passed the Respect for Marriage, which is on the verge of passage in the Senate. The legislation will codify federal marriage equality by guaranteeing the federal rights, benefits and obligations of marriages in the federal code; repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); and affirm that public acts, records and proceedings should be recognized by all states.
In 2019, the House under her leadership passed the Equality Act, which would ensure that LGBTQ+ people can’t be evicted from their homes, kicked out of a public business, or denied government services simply because of who they are, for the first time in history — giving the bill a top 10 number indicating its high priority for both her and her caucus.
Pelosi also led the fight for the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Pelosi’s leadership was pivotal to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, landmark legislation ensuring access to quality, affordable health insurance for millions of Americans, which also included important nondiscrimination protections.
Pelosi prioritized the LGBTQ+ community throughout her entire career. Even before many Americans supported marriage equality, Pelosi voiced vocal opposition to anti-equality initiatives like the Defense of Marriage Act, Federal Marriage Amendment, and California Proposition 8. In her first speech on the House floor in 1987, then-freshman Congresswoman Pelosi called for action from President Reagan to stop ignoring and take action to address the ongoing HIV & AIDS epidemic. While others, even some in her own party, showed a willingness to ignore the ongoing crisis, Pelosi refused to allow them by helping secure the permits for the AIDS Memorial Quilt to appear at the National Mall for the first time.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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