Monday, January 24, 2011

Step by step, new federal rules protect LGBT people

Two things of note last week. First, from ABC news:
Patients at nearly every hospital in the country will now be allowed to decide who has visitation rights and who can make medical decisions on their behalf -- regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or family makeup -- under new federal regulations that took effect Tuesday.

The rules, which apply to hospitals participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, were first proposed by President Obama in an April memorandum and later implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services after a period of public review
This isn't specifically about LGBT people, but is intended to prevent hospitals from discriminating against gay and lesbian couples in the wake of cases like this.

Second, from Poliglot
Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan unveiled new regulations being proposed by HUD that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in several of the federal agency's programs -- from government-backed mortgages to public housing.

Most notably, the rules would prohibit lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower's eligibility for Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage financing.

Donovan noted that this rule would have a significant impact because the "FHA represents one-third of all mortgages in this country." HUD officials later clarified that this would mean that private lenders seeking to issue FHA-insured loans would be required to follow the new rules.

Additionally, Donovan said that the rules today proposed clarify that "the term 'family' includes LGBT families and couples" as covered individuals and families in all HUD programs….

Finally, Donovan said the proposed rule "prohibits inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender identity" in all HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD. …

[T]he rule made available today will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 24, which will then put in motion a 60-day public comment period that will end on March 25. A spokesman for the department said that publication of the final rules will depend upon the volume of comments received and any necessary changes to them. He said that he expects the final rule to be published before the end of 2011.
You just KNOW what those comments will be….

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