LGBT EQUALITY; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 188
(House of Representatives - November 29, 2018)

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[Pages H9698-H9699]
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                             LGBT EQUALITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, throughout my tenure in Congress, I 
have been so proud to work and promote LGBT equality here at home and 
around the globe.
  When I was first elected as a Member of this distinguished body in 
1989, our country was in a very different place than it is today in how 
we understood people who are LGBT and the rights and the respect due 
  Although much progress still needs to be made, it is true that we are 
moving in the right direction. Let me give you some examples, Mr. 
  By voting to end the misguided Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy;
  By funding much-needed human rights programs abroad, implemented by a 
wonderful agency, USAID, such as its LGBT Global Development 
  By endorsing the principle of equality as it applies to marriage 
rights and responsibilities;
  By including LGBT individuals within nondiscrimination provisions and 
by ensuring that these and other services funded by this body are made 
available without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity.
  As a founding member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I 
have continued to build on these successes by supporting education 
legislation, including:
  The Student Non-Discrimination bill to end bullying and harassment 
continually faced by LGBT students throughout our Nation;
  Adoption bills, such as Every Child Deserves a Family Act;
  Legislation to modernize laws and eliminate discrimination with 
respect to people living with HIV/AIDS; and
  The Equality Act, which gives consistent protection for LGBT 
individuals across existing civil rights laws.

[[Page H9699]]

  Each one of these efforts seeks to put an end to the discrimination 
and to the violence against individuals as a result of their sexual 
orientation or their gender identity, and I believe each one of them is 
so strong and deserves to continue to be an American value because 
discrimination of any kind runs counter to who we are as Americans.
  As a refugee from the brutal communist, the dictatorship in Cuba, I 
have always viewed my adopted homeland, the United States, as a symbol 
of freedom, of equality, of opportunity; and these are fundamental 
values that must be applied to everyone in our country, regardless of 
who they are or whom they love.
  The United States has a unique and important role in the world. Many 
people look to us for leadership. They aspire to be like us. They 
emulate our values. So, as a country, we have the opportunity and the 
awesome responsibility to promote the best of our American values.
  One way to do this is to take a stand against the violence, against 
the harassment, against the discrimination that LGBT community members 
face around the world. Mr. Speaker, I will give some examples.
  Our American values dictate that we should respect and embolden 
individual freedoms for all. That is our guiding principle. But in 70 
countries throughout the world, being gay or transgender is cause 
enough to be locked away, imprisoned. In seven of these countries, the 
penalty is death.
  Our State Department Human Rights Report, a report that Congress has 
requested or mandated be filled out every year, is reported to us. It 
is filled with examples of abuses, of discrimination, of 
violence carried out against LGBT individuals everywhere.

  In Russia, basic political freedoms of speech, of assembly, and of 
expression are denied to those who are LGBT. In the Russian republic of 
Chechnya, Chechen government officials are directly responsible for 
rounding up and executing LGBT individuals. We in Congress condemn 
these actions by Chechen authorities through a resolution that I 
authored and we passed.
  In Egypt, LGBT individuals have been subjected to forced exams in 
order to prove if someone is gay, whatever that means; and, later, they 
are incarcerated.
  In Indonesia and Nigeria, gay men have been stoned.
  In Jamaica, lesbians have been subjected to rape, purportedly to 
correct their sexual orientation.
  In Brazil and in many Central American countries, transgender 
individuals have been subjected to abuse and murder.
  This is unimaginable in our country, but those are but a few examples 
of the range of injustices and disrespect that LGBT individuals face 
around the world.
  Those who remain in their countries face these humiliations. They are 
even denied employment, employment that they need in order to feed 
their families. And those who seek to flee their countries to escape a 
fate that you and I cannot even imagine are often denied the expedited 
refugee protection that they need.
  So, Mr. Speaker, as my time serving in this body comes to a close, my 
fight for what is right will not end. I say to my colleagues: We may be 
from different parties, we may have different points of view and 
different philosophies, and we might serve on different committees, but 
I ask us all to commit, beginning today, to working across the aisle 
with a view to becoming more consistent, more fair, more respectful, 
and more principled on this issue. We as a country need to take action 
to set the right example.
  There are many issues upon which we as a body may never agree, but 
LGBT equality should not be one of them.