Speed Read: Tuesday 17 December 2013

SENATE BUDGET VOTE TODAY: The U.S. Senate will vote at 10 EST today on whether to proceed to the budget agreement approved by the House last Thursday. LGBT community and health centers are still assessing the deal, but the initial reaction of the nation’s largest LGBT community center is that it’s better than sequester but not good enough. Darryl Cummings, chief of staff of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, put it this way: “Clearly, this is not the budget we would have crafted but it is an improvement to sequester level funding. Still, it leaves health care centers, implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and the National AIDS Strategy chronically underfunded. Time will tell how organizations like the Center will be impacted. While this may have been the only deal possible to reach given the political circumstances in Washington, it hardly speaks to the needs of the LGBT community and general population who have been so hard hit by the Great Recession, or to the values of social services providers like the L. A. Center.”

SOCIAL SECURITY PROCESS: The U.S. Social Security Administration announced yesterday that it is now processing claims for benefits of surviving spouses’ of same-sex marriages. A SSA press release quoted SSA Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin as urging, “If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security, I encourage you to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits.” SSA spokesman William Jarrett explained: “We don’t want an individual to delay filing an application because he or she is uncertain of the rules. A person is typically protected back to the date the application is originally filed.” For more details, read full story.

NOT ALL CHANGE INCREASES BENEFITS: The U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced a new policy related to federal student loan applications. The change is in response to the U. S. Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). A December 13 press release says DOE will consider a student to be married if he or she “was legally married in any jurisdiction that recognizes the marriage, regardless of whether the marriage is between a couple of the same sex or opposite sex, and regardless of where the student or couple lives or the student is attending school.” This is one of those changes that may not benefit married gays and lesbians or the children of same-sex couples. For more details, read full story.

LGBT ISSUE FUNDING: A group that monitors and promotes contributions to LGBT groups issued a report yesterday saying domestic foundations directed more than $121 million in 2012 to “LGBTQ issues,” “while overall LGBTQ funding was largely stable.” The report, issued by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, counted 4,068 grants by 399 foundations and noted that the $121 million in 2012 represented a “slight decrease” from $123 million in 2011. But the amount is almost four times what was given ten years ago, and 75 percent of the recipient organizations were exclusively LGBT focused. The report identified the top five foundations which gave the most to LGBT issues in 2012 as: “Anonymous, Ford Foundation, Gill Foundation, Arcus Foundation, and the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund.”

GAY CANDIDATE CONFIDANT: Openly gay candidate for a U.S. House seat from San Diego next year is Republican City Councilmember Carl DeMaio. In an interview with The Hill newspaper last week, DeMaio said, “I don’t think the biggest unique thing about my candidacy is that I’m the gay guy…. I think the uniqueness in my candidacy is I get things done.”

Leave a Reply