Main | Thursday, April 23, 2015

Senate Narrowly Rejects Bill To Fund Assistance To Homeless LGBT Youth

From Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Fund:
Today, the United States Senate failed to pass the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (S.A. 290), which would reauthorize the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA). The vote was 56 "YES" to 43 "NO" - short of the 60 "YES" votes required to pass. The Act includes a non-discrimination clause that would help ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experiencing homelessness not only have access to critical services, but that those services are safe, welcoming, and tailored to meet their unique needs. Research continues to show that while LGBT youth make up just seven percent of the general youth population, they comprise up to 40 percent of the 1.6 million youth that are homeless in America each year. 

"Thank you to the 56 senators who showed true leadership today by voting in favor of protecting all of our nation’s 1.6 million homeless youth,” said Cyndi Lauper, Co-Founder of the True Colors Fund. “Unfortunately, 43 senators put the objections of conservative religious groups ahead of the lives of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. Every day, homeless gay and transgender youth experience rejection and discrimination from their families, communities, and the providers who are supposed to help them. Today, 43 senators added their names to the group of people who think that it is acceptable to throw away the up to 40% of homeless youth who identify as LGBT."
Chris Geidner reports on the voting:
For the third time this year, a majority of the Republican-led Senate voted for a pro-LGBT measure — with 56 senators, including 10 Republicans, voting for an amendment that including LGBT protections for runaway youth. Wednesday’s vote to amend the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 failed, however, as it would have required 60 votes to pass. The amendment included a nondiscrimination clause that would have prohibited runaway and homeless relief programs created by the act from discriminating against LGBT children based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Rob Portman, Dan Sullivan, and Pat Toomey joined all the Democrats in voting for the measure, which was brought to a vote by Sen. Pat Leahy. Among the declared presidential candidates, Paul was the only one to vote for the measure. Sen. Marco Rubio opposed the amendment, and Sen. Ted Cruz did not vote on the amendment or the underlying bill, which passed 99-0. This was not the first such vote, suggesting that, while there is still not yet a filibuster-proof majority supporting LGBT rights in the Senate, there is a simple majority who appears willing to back a broad range of LGBT rights measures. In many cases, however, the Republican leadership’s opposition to LGBT rights measures would keep them from coming to the floor.

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