by Bob Gatty.
If you haven’t read Ryan Thompson’s article about the treatment of LGBT youth in Horry County, I invite you to do so. Ryan’s is a personal story, one that emphasizes the need for everyone to be treated with fairness and understanding.
Ryan is a teenager. A bright and courageous teenager who has challenged all of us to do our part in opposing and fighting against discrimination and abuse.
Ironically, it comes just a week after the Trump administration continued its attack on fairness and equality, this time against the elderly. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Seema Verma announced the administration was withdrawing a 2014 rule proposed by the Obama administration designed to assure that same-sex spouses are treated the same as opposite-sex spouses in long-term care facilities that receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid.
This article in The Advocate provides more details of this action. It explains that the rule was proposed after the Supreme Court’s 2013 Windsor v. U.S. decision, which struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.
In proposing the rule, Obama’s HHS wanted to assure that long-term care providers did not defer to state law on same-sex marriage, as not all states recognized it at the time. However, the Trump administration contends that the high court’s 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, is sufficient to assure equal treatment of all spouses.
“We believe that the Obergefell decision has addressed many of the concerns raised in the December 2014 proposed rule,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma wrote in withdrawing the measure.
However, some LGBT advocates argue that the rule is still needed as it specifically includes anti-discrimination language.
“The Supreme Court has previously found that the practice of specifically naming the groups who are protected from discrimination is essential for a nondiscrimination law to have its intended effect,” noted a press release from Boston’s Fenway Health.
The release quoted Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in the 1996 Romer v. Evans decision, overturning Colorado’s antigay Amendment 2: “Enumeration is the essential device used to make the duty not to discriminate concrete and to provide guidance for those who must comply.”
“It could not be more clear that the proposed CMS rule on the rights of LGBT patients and residents is still needed,” Stephen L. Boswell, president and CEO of Fenway Health, said in the release. “By rescinding this important guidance, the likelihood has increased that LGBT people and same-sex couples will experience discrimination, neglect and abuse in long-term care, nursing homes, and hospitals.”
This comes, of course, in the aftermath of President Trump’s order to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and its intervention in an employment lawsuit stating that federal anti-discrimination laws do not cover people suing based on sexual orientation.
It is clear that this administration cares little about fairness and justice for all, unless they are talking about straight, white, male, conservative individuals.
It’s time to rise up.