If Americans thought the “fiscal showdown” was over, they should think again. Tomorrow, a series of automatic across-the-board spending cuts—a process known as “sequestration”—is set to begin. This series of cuts calls for a devastating $85 billion reduction in spending on federal programs by the end of the year.
These broad spending cuts were originally intended to force both parties to agree on an alternative deficit-reduction plan out of a mutual desire to avoid swallowing such a painful pill. Now at the eleventh hour, it seems increasing unlikely that Congress will reach a deficit reduction compromise.
Millions of hardworking Americans, however, once again find themselves at the precipice of a fiscal showdown that, if left unresolved, will impose real and significant financial harm on them and their families. Among those Americans who will be hit hardest by sequestration are LGBT Americans.
As the Center for American Progress and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force outlined last November in the midst of the last fiscal showdown, sequestration would cut federal programs that are vital to the health, wellness, and livelihood of LGBT Americans and their families.
The sequester was a bad idea then. And it’s a bad idea now. Here are six ways sequestration would impose real and significant harm on LGBT Americans:
- Sequestration will hurt LGBT workers. LGBT Americans face extraordinarily high rates of discrimination in the workplace and it is still perfectly legal in a majority of states and under federal law to be fired for being LGBT. Sequestration would exacerbate this situation by, for example, reducing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s ability to investigate claims of discrimination against LGBT workers.
- Sequestration will compromise LGBT health and safety. Sequestration will cut funding to a number of federal programs—like programs suicide and bullying prevention—that are in place to support the physical and mental health of LGBT Americans, a population that disproportionately lack access to health insurance and culturally competent health care services, and suffers from a host of health disparities.
- Sequestration will exacerbate homelessness among LGBT youth. Already facing higher rates of homelessness compared to the general population—LGBT youth comprise 5 percent to 7 percent of all youth and 40 percent of all homeless youth—sequestration will exacerbate LGBT youth homelessness by reducing grant funds to community organizations working to addressing the issue and homelessness shelters that house the LGBT homeless.
- Sequestration will make higher education less accessible for LGBT students. Furthering inequality gaps in accessing higher education, sequestration will result in significant cuts to federal work-study programs for LGBT students and a reduction in supplemental educational opportunity grants for low-income LGBT students.
- Sequestration will limit the ability to prevent violence against LGBT people. Sequestration will reduce the funding that supports the government’s ability to tackle the disproportionate levels of abuse, harassment, and violent crime suffered by LGBT Americans. It will also limit resources available to investigate, prosecute, and prevent hate crimes.
- Sequestration will limit U.S. capacity to protect the human rights of LGBT people worldwide. The Department of State has become the world leader in promoting a comprehensive human-rights agenda aimed at protecting all human rights of LGBT people. Sequestration will deal a blow to worldwide LGBT equality by cutting funds to federal agencies and thereby limiting public diplomacy efforts conducted by U.S. embassies
Our guest bloggers are Chris Frost, intern, and Crosby Burns, Research Associate, with the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress.