69 Groups Tell Congress to Support LGBTQI+ Communities in Build Back Better Legislation

Yesterday, the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research, the LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network and a coalition of 67 other organizations working to advance LGBTQI+, gender, racial, and social equity sent a letter to Democratic and Independent lawmakers in Congress, to Democratic leadership, and to Congressional Committees considering recovery legislation urging them to support the LGBTQI+ community with a robust $3.5 trillion Build Back Better package with critical social safety net programs and progressive revenue streams.

The letter explains that Build Back Better must explicitly include funding for LGBTQI+ outreach, program participation, equity, and data collection, in order to address high levels of poverty and unique barriers to employment and accessing benefits and services for LGBTQI+ people.

Specifically, the letter calls for lawmakers to support the following programs to support low-income LGBTQI+ people by:

  • Investing in LGBTQI+ owned businesses in funding and programs to support small businesses.
  • Investing in home and community-based services to support disabled and elderly LGBTQI+ individuals.
  • Investing in LGBTQI+ workers by promoting LGBTQI+ competent and affirming training, policies, and procedures in workforce development programs, ensuring enforcement of employment nondiscrimination laws and other laws protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ people to collectively organize and stay safe at work
  • Passing into law the LGBTQI+-inclusive language in the House Ways and Means Budget reconciliation Legislative Recommendations Relating to Universal Paid Family and Medical Leave
  • Expanding and enhancing data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Expanding fair access to affordable housing for people with the lowest incomes
  • Supporting unemployed people by reforming unemployment insurance
  • Revitalizing Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Ensuring a pathway to citizenship and access to benefits and work eligibility for immigrants and undocumented people.

The full text of the letter can be read inline below or downloaded as a PDF here.

The sign-on letters were organized by the Advocacy Subgroup of the LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network, a coalition of over 100 organizations and individuals working in the LGBTQ, anti-poverty, and anti-hunger movements. The mission of the National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network is to end poverty in the U.S., advocate for economic justice, and pursue solutions to economic, racial, gender and social disparities as they specifically impact low-income LGBTQ people.

The letter is the second letter sent by the LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network, the Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research, and equity organizations to lawmakers regarding Build Back Better. In that letter, 48 groups additionally urged Congress to support LGBTQI+ communities by:

  • Raising revenues and improving equity through progressive tax policies
  • Supporting LGBTQ+ families by making the expansions of refundable tax credits permanent
  • Streamlining access to benefits such as SNAP, WIC, free and reduced school meals, and housing assistance
  • Expanding digital infrastructure to expand broadband coverage
  • Expanding Medicaid in states

Individuals who wish to send their own letter of support for robust, LGBTQI-inclusive Build Back Better legislation can send their own letter using this free tool.


Dear Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Schumer, Committee Chairs and Members of Congress:

The National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network, and the 68 undersigned organizations committed to
advancing equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) communities, are
grateful for the critical provisions House committees put forward to lift individuals and families out of
poverty in proposed Build Back Better legislation. Measures to secure access to inclusive paid leave, services to support LGBTQI+ older Americans, expand access to Medicaid, enact and enforce progressive tax policies, expand housing assistance for low-income renters and aspiring homeowners, and make the expanded refundable tax credits permanent are key to supporting the recovery of low-income LGBTQI+ people and families. We urge Congress to retain these measures put forward by House committees in final Build Back Better legislation.

LGBTQI+ people disproportionately experienced poverty before March 2020, and the pandemic has
exacerbated this. According to the Williams Institute, 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ people and nearly 3 in 10 transgender people in the United States lived in poverty before the pandemic. Black and Brown LGBTQ+ people were even more likely to live in poverty: 3 in 10 Black LGBTQ+ people lived in poverty, including nearly 4 in 10 Black transgender people, as did more than 1 in 3 Latinx LGBTQ+ people, including nearly half of Latinx transgender people. Since the start of the pandemic, two-thirds of LGBTQ+ households have experienced a loss of employment—and two-thirds have suffered one or more serious financial problems. Research demonstrates that programs must explicitly target and include LGBTQI+ people in order to ensure the community is not left behind. Therefore, we urge you to support at least $3.5 trillion in bold solutions in Build Back Better and ensure these policies and funding explicitly address the needs of, and explicitly set aside funding for data collection on, outreach to, direct services for, and research to assess equity in program participation of low and middle-income LGBTQI+ people and families.

We urge you to further support the recovery of low-income LGBTQI+ people by including the following
measures in Build Back Better:

  • Investing in LGBTQI+ owned businesses in funding and programs to support small businesses. Congress should direct the Small Business Administration to create an office dedicated to identifying and supporting the needs of LGBTQI+-owned small businesses—particularly those whose owners are also members of other communities that are typically underinvested in, including women, people of color, transgender people, people with disabilities, and formerly incarcerated people.
  • Investing in home and community-based services to support disabled and elderly LGBTQI+ individuals so they can get in-home aid and nutrition services to help them stay healthy in their homes, and ensuring that disabled and elderly LGBTQI+ people have equitable access to these services and benefits.
  • Investing in LGBTQI+ workers by promoting LGBTQI+ competent and affirming training, policies, and procedures in workforce development programs, ensuring enforcement of employment nondiscrimination laws and other laws protecting the rights of LGBTQI+ people to collectively organize and stay safe at work, including by robustly funding the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, and National Labor Relations Board, to rebuild enforcement capacity after years of flat funding and reductions that have too often left LGBTQI+ working people on their own to enforce their rights; and by strengthening unions, worker centers, and worker cooperatives, and investing in a subsidized jobs program. Congress should direct the Labor Department, Education Department, and other appropriate executive agencies to dedicate parts of this funding to provide technical assistance to evaluate and scale up LGBTQI+-focused workforce development programs, and promote LGBTQI+-competent and affirming training, policies, and procedures, with a special focus on voluntary workforce development programs that serve economically marginalized LGBTQI+ people. In a survey by the Center for American Progress, over half of transgender people report being out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 68% report being discriminated against in employment over the past year. Congress should set aside funding for voluntary workforce development services that address the particular barriers that transgender people experience in entering, remaining in, and advancing in the workforce, including employment discrimination, and should fund research into promising workforce program models for transgender individuals and their outcomes.
  • Passing into law the LGBTQI+-inclusive language in the House Ways and Means Budget reconciliation Legislative Recommendations Relating to Universal Paid Family and Medical Leave, including promoting equity based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity (Subtitle A Sec. 130001 Title XII Sec. 2206 (a)); training to prevent discrimination including based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Sec. 2207 (b)(9)); research to ensure access to and detect and prevent disparities in benefit access including based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity (Sec. 2208 (b)(1)) and reporting on disparities in accessing benefits and actions to prevent these disparities, including based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity (Sec. 2208(b)(2)(D) and (E)).
  • Expanding fair access to affordable housing for people with the lowest incomes, including rental assistance and homeownership down payment assistance for LGBTQI+ people and other underserved communities, including formerly incarcerated individuals and those with criminal records. To ensure Build Back Better adequately responds to the high level of housing instability faced by transgender people and LGBTQI+ older adults, funding should be directed to support community development projects led by transgender people and to support a two-year community planning project in partnership between local governmental agencies, members of the transgender community, and organizations serving LGBTQI+ older adults.
  • Ensuring that every program funded under Build Back Better which is collecting demographic data to promote equity and access to services invests in expanding and enhancing data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity. Funding should also be allocated to test and implement intersex status data collection in federally funded surveys.
  • Supporting unemployed people by reforming unemployment insurance to remove barriers to eligibility and improve payment durations and amounts, so a temporary stint of joblessness does not mean an immediate financial crisis for them and their families.
  • Revitalizing Supplemental Security Income (SSI) by setting a maximum payment to at least the poverty line; raising or eliminating asset limits; eliminating the in-kind assistance provisions; and updating SSI income disregards to account for inflation.
  • Ensuring a pathway to citizenship and access to benefits and work eligibility for immigrants and undocumented people.

Sincerely,

National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network and the following organizations:

National Organizations:
Bayard Rustin Liberation Initiative
A Better Balance
Black Women’s Blueprint
Center for American Progress
Center for Disability Rights
Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
Center for LGBTQ Economic Advancement & Research (CLEAR)
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Closing the Women’s Wealth Gap
Coalition on Human Needs
Faith in Public Life
Family Equality
First Step Alliance
FORGE, Inc.
The Forum for Youth Investment
GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality
The Global Justice Institute
GLSEN
Hispanic Federation
Impact Fund
interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth
Justice in Aging
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Movement Advancement Project
NASTAD
National Association of Social Workers
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Center on Adoption and Permanency
National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)
National Council of Jewish Women
National Employment Law Project
National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
National Women’s Law Center
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pacific Community Ventures
PFLAG National
Positive Women’s Network – USA
Prosperity Now
R2H Action [Right to Health]
RESULTS
Roanhorse Consulting
Time’s Up Now
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund
The Trevor Project
Union for Reform Judaism
United Today, Stronger Tomorrow
URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity
Voices for Progress

State and Local Organizations:
AIDS Alabama – AL
Equality California – CA
Legal Aid at Work – CA
Oasis Legal Services – CA
Pacific Community Ventures – CA
The Center on Colfax – CO
Wanda Alston Foundation – DC
Georgia Equality – GA
Chicago Foundation for Women – IL
Equality Illinois – IL
Howard Brown Health – IL
Illinois Accountability Initiative – IL
Pride Community Services Organization – KY
Public Justice Center – MD
Results DC/MD – MD
Fostering Forward Michigan – MI
PROMO – MO
Mazzoni Center – PA

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