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Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans

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Record of Progress


A Record of Progress for Gay and Lesbian Americans

"Discrimination or violence because of race or religion, ancestry or gender, disability or sexual orientation, is wrong, and it ought to be illegal. Therefore, I ask Congress to make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act the law of the land."

-- President Clinton, State of the Union Address, January 19, 1999

"The cause we celebrate tonight...is really the cause that has defined this nation since its founding: to deepen the meaning of fundamental fairness, to make real the promise of our self-government, to build a good and just society on this bedrock principle: equal opportunity for all, special privileges for none."

--Vice President Gore, September 19, 1998

Fighting Discrimination and Hate

Fighting For Passage of Hate Crimes Legislation. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would strengthen and expand the ability of the Justice Department to prosecute hate crimes by removing needless jurisdictional requirements for existing crimes. And for the first time in history, it would give Federal prosecutors the power to prosecute hate crimes committed because of the victim's sexual orientation, gender or disability. The Clinton-Gore Administration's FY 2001 budget includes $20 million to promote police integrity and for hate crimes training for federal, state, and local law enforcement.

Enacted Longer Sentences for Hate Crimes. As part of the 1994 Crime Act, President Clinton signed the Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, providing for longer sentences where the offense is determined to be a hate crime based on sexual orientation.

Preventing Hate Crimes. President Clinton hosted the first White House Conference on Hate Crimes, which examined laws and remedies that can make a difference in preventing hate crimes, highlighted solutions that are working in communities across the country, and continued the frank and open dialogue needed to build One America. In April 2000, President Clinton held a strategy session on hate crimes at the White House where he met with state, local, and federal law enforcement officials to emphasize the need for federal hate crimes legislation and to highlight successful partnerships between various law enforcement offices in prosecuting hate crimes. The President also released two new resources to fight hate crimes -- a local prosecutor's guide to preventing and responding to hate crimes, and a "promising practices" report that describes successful anti-hate partnerships.

Ending Discrimination in the Federal Workforce. President Clinton issued an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in the Federal civilian workforce, making the Federal Government the largest employer in the world with a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation, and he defeated an attempt to overturn that policy. President Clinton also issued an Executive Order mandating that security clearances no longer be denied based on sexual orientation.

Endorsing Legislation that Outlaws Discrimination in the Workplace. President Clinton called for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in both his 1999 and 2000 State of the Union addresses. ENDA would outlaw discrimination in hiring, firing and promotions based on sexual orientation -- extending basic employment protections to gay and lesbian Americans.

Working to End Discrimination Against People With AIDS. President Clinton supports the Supreme Court's decision in Bragdon v. Abbott, which reinforces the protections offered by the Americans With Disabilities Act for Americans living with HIV and AIDS. The President directed the Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to vigorously prosecute those who discriminate against people with AIDS, leading to actions against health care providers and facilities that violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Promoting Tolerance in Our Schools. In April 1999, the President announced a new public-private partnership to focus attention on issues of hate, tolerance and diversity in schools. President Clinton also called on the Departments of Justice and Education to include hate crimes in their annual report card on school safety and to report on hate crimes and bias on college campuses. The Education Department has issued a guide for school administrators and teachers which provides practical help in developing a comprehensive approach to protecting all students, including gays and lesbians, from harassment and violence.

Standing Up for Fairness. President Clinton and Vice President Gore blocked Republican efforts to pass legislation prohibiting unmarried couples from jointly adopting children in the District of Columbia and legislation which would have denied certain Federal funds to localities with domestic partnership laws.

Working to Expand Civil Rights Enforcement. In FY 2000, the President won a six percent increase in funding for federal civil rights enforcement agencies including $82 million for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, a 19 percent increase. And this year, President Clinton has proposed $698 million for civil rights enforcement -- a 13 percent increase -- to prosecute criminal civil rights cases (including hate crimes and police misconduct), enforce the American with Disabilities Act, pursue Equal Employment Opportunity Commission employment actions and prevent housing discrimination, and other civil rights enforcement efforts.

Opposing Anti-Gay Ballot Initiatives. President Clinton and Vice President Gore strongly opposed anti-gay ballot initiatives in Colorado, Oregon and, most recently, California.

Fighting Discrimination Against People with AIDS in the Military. President Clinton successfully fought for the repeal of the Dornan amendment, which required the expulsion of all HIV-positive military service members regardless of their ability to do their jobs. Prior to its repeal, President Clinton unilaterally declared the law unconstitutional and instructed the Justice Department not to defend it in court, becoming the first president since Franklin Roosevelt to take such action.

Helping Those Fleeing Persecution Because of Sexual Orientation. The Clinton-Gore Administration is the first ever to grant asylum for gays and lesbians facing persecution in other countries. The President sent gay human rights activist Keith Boykin to Zimbabwe as part of an official United States delegation to investigate human rights abuses of gays and lesbians.

An Administration that Includes All Americans

Most Inclusive Administration in History. Creating the most diverse Administration in history, the President has appointed openly gay men and lesbians to all levels of government, including judicial appointments and top Executive Branch positions requiring Senate confirmation. In fact, President Clinton is the first President to appoint an openly gay or lesbian person to an Administration post. The President has nominated more than 150 openly gay and lesbian appointees, including: James Hormel, Ambassador to Luxembourg and the first openly gay U.S. ambassador; Fred Hochberg, Deputy Administrator of the Small Business Administration, the first openly gay person to be appointed Deputy in an U.S. Cabinet-level agency; Bruce Lehman, former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the first openly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate; Roberta Achtenberg, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the first open lesbian confirmed by the U.S. Senate; and Robert Raben, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs, Department of Justice. In the White House, the President appointed Virginia Apuzzo, former Assistant to the President for Management and Administration (the first openly gay or lesbian Assistant to the President); Karen Tramontano, Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Chief of Staff; Sean Maloney, Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary; Daniel C. Montoya, Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS; Todd Summers, former deputy director of the Office of National AIDS Policy; and David Tseng, Chief of Staff, National Economic Council. They are the highest-ranking openly gay or lesbian people ever to serve in the Federal Government.

Reaching Out to All Communities. The Clinton-Gore Administration is committed to a policy of inclusion. President Clinton named the first Presidential Liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Marsha Scott. Later, he named the first openly gay senior policy adviser on civil rights issues and liaison to the gay and lesbian community, Richard Socarides. Julian Potter is the first lesbian to serve as a liaison to the gay and lesbian community.

Appointed the First Openly Gay United States Ambassador. On October 6, 1997 and again on January 6, 1999, the President nominated James C. Hormel to be U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Although Mr. Hormel's qualifications were never in question, and it was generally agreed that his nomination would have easily won a floor vote, a handful of conservative Senators blocked the nomination. On June 4, 1999, President Clinton announced the recess appointment of James Hormel, making Mr. Hormel the first openly gay U.S. Ambassador.

Issued the First Gay and Lesbian Pride Month Proclamation. In June 1999, President Clinton issued the first Gay and Lesbian Pride Month proclamation, marking the Stonewall Uprising and the birth of the modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement.

The First President and Vice President to Speak before Gay and Lesbian Organizations. On November 8, 1997, President Clinton became the first sitting president to speak before a gay and lesbian organization when he delivered the keynote address to the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner. In January 1999, President Clinton advocated for gay and lesbian issues in his State of the Union remarks, the first president ever to do so. In September 1997, Vice President Gore addressed the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the first vice president to speak at a gay rights event. The Vice President also addressed the Human Rights Campaign in September 1998. The Hetrick-Martin Institute awarded the Clinton-Gore Administration the Emery S. Hetrick Award "for outstanding contributions to lesbian and gay youth."

National Leadership in the Fight Against AIDS

Increasing Resources in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked hard to invigorate the response to HIV and AIDS, providing new national leadership, substantially greater resources and a closer working relationship with affected communities. Since 1993, the President and Vice President have increased overall funding for major HIV/AIDS programs by 133 percent (within the Department of Health and Human Services), funding for the Ryan White CARE programs has increased 338 percent, assistance for the purchase of AIDS drugs increased by 965 percent, and support for AIDS-related research has increased by 97 percent. In FY 2000 alone, President Clinton won a $73 million increase for prevention activities to help stop the spread of this disease; an increase of $183 million in the Ryan White CARE Act; and an estimated $300 million in additional funds for AIDS-related research at the National Institutes of Health. The FY 2001 budget includes $9.2 billion in total HIV/AIDS funding at HHS alone.

Focusing Efforts in Fighting AIDS. President Clinton created a White House Office of National AIDS Policy to sharpen the focus of its AIDS programs. The President also created the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS to provide him with expert outside advice on the ways in which the Federal government should respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Former Congressman Ron Dellums chairs the Advisory Council. Half of the Council's membership is gay or lesbian.

Declining Number of AIDS Cases. In 1996, for the first time in the history of the AIDS epidemic, the number of Americans diagnosed with AIDS declined. In October 1999, the National Center for Health Statistics announced that HIV/AIDS mortality has declined more than 70 percent since 1995, and AIDS cases are no longer among the top 15 causes of death, a fall from 8th place in 1996. There has been a decline in the number of AIDS cases overall and a sharp decline in new AIDS cases in infants and children. New treatments have improved care and lengthened the lives of people with AIDS.

Making Research a Priority. In one of his first acts in office, President Clinton signed the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993, placing full responsibility for planning, budgeting and evaluation of the AIDS research program at NIH in the Office of AIDS Research. The President requested and received the first federal plan for biomedical research on AIDS. The Clinton-Gore Administration has increased AIDS research funds at the National Institutes of Health by 89 percent to over $2 billion. In 1998, the President called for an overall increase of almost 50 percent over 5 years in the NIH budget as part of his Research for America Fund. Since that time, the NIH budget has increased by over $4.3 billion and with the funding proposed by the President this year, the Administration will be one year ahead of schedule in reaching the 50 percent goal. This influx of funding has allowed the NIH to support the highest levels of research ever on nearly all types of diseases and health conditions, including HIV/AIDS.

Focusing National Efforts on an AIDS Vaccine. On May 18, 1997, the President challenged the nation to develop an AIDS vaccine within the next ten years. He also announced a number of initiatives to help meet that goal, including high-level international collaboration, a dedicated research center for AIDS vaccine research at NIH, and outreach to scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and patient advocates to maximize the involvement of both private and public sectors in the development of an AIDS vaccine. In June 1999 the President dedicated the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center at the NIH and announced that the primary work of this new center will be HIV vaccine research. NIH has increased funding for AIDS vaccine research by 100 percent since the President's challenge.

Progress Toward Finding an AIDS Vaccine. As of June 1998, researchers supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have evaluated 27 vaccine candidates and 12 adjuvants (substances incorporated into a vaccine that boost specific immune responses to the vaccine) in more than 3,000 volunteers in hase I/II clinical trials. On June 3, 1998, the FDA granted permission to VaxGen Inc. for the nation's first phase III clinical trail for an AIDS prevention vaccine. The trial of the vaccine, called AIDSVAX, will include at least 5,000 volunteers from the U.S., Canada and Europe and will last up to five years. A separate phase II trial of AIDSVAX in Thailand will enroll 2,500 volunteers. And in February 1999, NIH-supported investigators initiated the first AIDS vaccine trial in Africa.

Increasing Access to AIDS Drugs. Funding for AIDS drug assistance, which provides new life-prolonging drugs to people with HIV and AIDS, has increased from $52 million per year to $528 million per year during the Clinton-Gore Administration. The Administration's FY 2001 budget includes an additional $26 million, a five percent increase. In addition, President Clinton and Vice President Gore convened the National Task Force on AIDS Drug Development, and removed dozens of bureaucratic obstacles to the effective and decent treatment of people with AIDS. Since 1993, the Food and Drug Administration has approved 11 AIDS drugs and 22 drugs for AIDS-related conditions, and accelerated approval to record times. Included in these approvals are a new class of drugs known as protease inhibitors, and in March 1997 the FDA approved the first protease inhibitor with labeling for use in children.

Addressing HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities. Racial and ethnic communities make up the fastest growing portion of HIV/AIDS cases (more than 50 percent of all new HIV cases). In FY 2000, the President builds on the progress started last year with a $251 million investment in a comprehensive initiative that will improve prevention efforts in high-risk communities and expand access to cutting edge HIV therapies and other treatment needed for HIV/AIDS in minority communities. The President's FY 2001 budget includes $274 million to continue this effort.

Increasing Resources for Prevention Activities. The Clinton-Gore Administration has increased funds for HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by 47 percent since 1993. The Administration's FY 2001 budget includes an additional $65 million increase. Under the Administration's leadership, the CDC reorganized its HIV/AIDS prevention efforts to foster greater overall coordination and enhance efforts to reduce sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis.

Protecting Local Authority Over Prevention Activities. The Clinton-Gore Administration helped protect local authority over HIV prevention activities, successfully removing language from the FY 2000 District of Columbia Appropriations bill that would have tied the hands of community health agencies in their ability to use their own money for needle exchange programs as a part of their overall HIV prevention strategy.

Educating Young People About the Dangers of AIDS. The Clinton-Gore Administration launched the Prevention Marketing Initiative, focusing on reducing the risk to young adults (18-25) with frank public service announcements recommending the correct and consistent use of latex condoms for those who are sexually active.

Promoting Understanding of AIDS. President Clinton issued a directive on September 30, 1993 that requires every Federal employee to receive comprehensive education on HIV/AIDS.

First White House Conference on HIV and AIDS. On December 6, 1995, President Clinton convened the first White House Conference on HIV and AIDS, bringing together more than 300 experts, activists and citizens from across the country to discuss key issues.

Ensuring Access to Housing. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have worked to ensure that people with HIV and AIDS have fair access to housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has established the National Office of HIV/AIDS Housing to help people with HIV/AIDS pay for housing. Funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS program has increased by 10 percent. And in December 1998, the Vice President announced the release of $200 million to help communities prevent people with HIV/AIDS and their families from becoming homeless. In addition, HUD and HHS have launched collaborative efforts to combine housing assistance, medical and social services for people living with HIV/AIDS, including testing outreach programs and other special efforts for people with multiple diagnosis.

Addressing the Global AIDS Crisis

Vice President Gore Chaired United Nations Meeting on HIV/AIDS. In January 2000, Vice President Gore chaired a United Nations Security Council debate on the impact of the AIDS epidemic -- the first time a vice president ever presided over a Security Council meeting, and the first time the Council ever focused on a health issue. At the meeting, the Vice President announced that the Clinton-Gore Administration's FY 2001 budget will include a new $150 million investment to assist efforts to combat the international AIDS pandemic and contribute to international infectious disease prevention efforts.

Helping Developing Countries Obtain Affordable Medicines. In December 1999, the President announced that the United States Trade Representative and the Department of Health and Human Services will develop a cooperative approach on health-related intellectual property matters consistent with the goal of helping poor countries gain access to affordable medicines, including drugs to treat HIV/AIDS.

Delivering Vaccines for Developing Countries. In his 2000 State of the Union address, the President challenged the private sector to help develop and deliver vaccines for developing countries. In March, industry responded to the President's call as CEOs of the four largest vaccines manufacturers announced that they will donate millions of doses of state-of-the-art vaccines -- worth more than $150 million -- to those in the developing world and make a renewed commitment to step up research and development on vaccines for HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Improving Health Care Quality and Increasing Access

Fighting to Pass a Strong, Enforceable Patients' Bill of Rights. Leading by example, the President directed all federal agencies to ensure that their employees and beneficiaries have the benefits and rights guaranteed under the proposed Patients' Bill of Rights. 85 million Americans covered by federal health plans have the security of knowing they will have fair access to health care thanks to the President's work. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have called on the Congress to pass a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights that assures Americans the quality health care they need. The bill should include important patient protections such as: assuring direct access to specialists; real emergency room protections; continuity of care provisions that protect patients from abrupt changes in treatment; a fair, timely, and independent appeals process for patient grievances; and enforcement provisions to make these rights real.

Protecting Medicaid and Social Security Coverage. The President fought for and won the preservation of the Medicaid guarantee of coverage which serves more than 50 percent of people living with AIDS -- and 92 percent of children with AIDS -- who rely on Medicaid for health coverage. He also revised eligibility rules for Social Security Disability Insurance to increase the number of HIV positive persons who qualify for benefits.

Banning Insurance Discrimination. President Clinton fought for and signed the Kennedy-Kassebaum Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which prevents people from being denied health coverage due to pre-existing medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS. In addition, President Clinton issued a directive that ensures that all providers of Federal health insurance abide by non-discrimination rules including sexual orientation.

Promoting Lesbian Health Issues. Under President Clinton's leadership, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have commissioned scientific panels to study lesbian health issues and to suggest research methods for scientists who want to study specific lesbian health issues. This is the first time a U.S. Government agency has commissioned an examination into this subject.

Workshop on Lesbian Health. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review titled Lesbian Health: Current Assessment and Directions for the Future, which made eight sweeping recommendations for improving our knowledge about lesbian health. In March 2000, the HHS Office on Women's Health and the Gay and Lesbian Health Association teamed up with several HHS agencies as well as national gay and lesbian organizations to sponsor the first Scientific Workshop on Lesbian Health in Washington D.C. The workshop outlined the next steps needed to implement the recommendations of the IOM Report. Over 120 top scientists and policy experts from academic institutions, government, advocacy organizations, and foundations participated.

Released Strong New Protections for the Privacy of Electronic Medical Records. The Clinton-Gore Administration released a new regulation to protect the privacy of electronic medical records held by health plans, health care clearinghouses, and health care providers. This rule would limit the use and release of private health information without consent; restrict the disclosure of protected health information to the minimum amount of information necessary; establish new requirements for disclosure of information to researchers and others seeking access to health records; and establish new administrative and criminal sanctions for the improper use or disclosure of private information.



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