In May 2010, I walked to our nation’s capitol to put pressure on our lawmakers to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy. I had been discharged from the Marines Corps under this discriminatory policy a few years earlier and I knew this was the moment in history when things would change — for the better. When I arrived, I stopped by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s office to thank her for her outspoken commitment to repeal DADT. Later that night, after the House had voted to repeal the policy, I bumped into the congresswoman again a few blocks from the Hill. With tears in our eyes, I gave her a hug and said “Thank you” once more.
Time after time, she has been there for the LGBT community, at times the only person in the Republican Party to do so. She courageously became the first Republican co-sponsor on the bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and she recently reaffirmed her support for same-sex marriage at the launch of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry in Washington, D.C. However, the Miami LGBT community is silent now, a few days after she voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Why should the local LBGT community care? It is a sad fact that HIV/AIDS is still a serious threat to the community. In fact, Miami-Dade is one of the highest ranking metropolitan areas in the nation for reported HIV/AIDS cases.
The Affordable Care Act will give needed assistance to those living with the disease. Many in the community simply cannot afford the life-saving drugs they desperately need. Many more are denied coverage by health insurance companies because of their pre-existing condition. The Affordable Care Act would prevent insurance companies from discriminating, no matter a person’s HIV status or pre-existing condition.
The congresswoman shouldn’t be given a free pass on her recent vote to repeal this law. Yes, the LGBT community thanks her for her support, but we also must hold her accountable. I urge those in the LGBT community, and the entire community for that matter, to contact her office and let her know that we do not want this law to be repealed. The health and wellbeing of her constituents are at stake.