Today Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) spoke in opposition to an amendment to the District of Columbia Appropriations bill that would have prohibited local and federal funds from being used to implement a 1992 DC law that provides health benefits to unmarried domestic partners of city employees regardless of gender. The amendment failed by a vote of 194-226.
I rise in strong opposition to the amendment offered by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL). Unfortunately the rule only allows ten minutes of debate on this attempt to undo the bipartisan work of the Appropriations Committee, led by my colleagues Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Jim Moran (D-VA). The Weldon Amendment is an unnecessary attack on all DC citizens, not just the city’s gay and lesbian community. For almost a decade this Congress has prevented the District from implementing the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act.
This Congress should be supporting the decisions that local communities make about their health care. We all respect the importance of local control, and interference with District self-government is contradictory to that goal.
No citizen should be denied the right to care for an ailing partner or visit them in the hospital. No citizen should be prevented from taking the bereavement leave necessary to make funeral arrangements when his or her partner has passed away. And all citizens should have access to quality health care.
Over 4,200 employers around the country, including a third of the Fortune 500, have recognized this by establishing domestic partnership health programs. Many of these programs go much further than this law.
San Francisco has a proud history of advocacy for equal rights for lesbians and gays. That history is the result of respect. Respect for the contributions of our gay and lesbian community, and for the contributions of all of the many communities that make our city great. San Francisco is not alone in this regard. Cities as diverse Atlanta, Albany, Chicago, New Orleans, and Scottsdale all have domestic partnership benefits in place that are much more comprehensive than the DC law.
Gay and Lesbian Americans in the District of Columbia and across the country make significant contributions to our society and their relationships, in the community and in the workplace, should be treated with respect. I urge my colleagues to oppose the Weldon Amendment.
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