Readout of Justice Department Leadership’s Meeting with Civil Rights Groups Ahead of 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington
The Justice Department issued the following statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in honor of Pride Month:
“As we recognize Pride Month and celebrate the LGBTQI+ community, the Justice Department renews its commitment to protecting the rights of every person to live free from discrimination and persecution based on who they are or who they love. The Justice Department is proud to stand in defense of the rights to which LGBTQI+ individuals, and all people in our country, are entitled.”
Fact Sheet: Justice Department Efforts to Protect the LGBTQI+ Community
The Justice Department works every day to ensure the rights of LGBTQI+ people are recognized and protected. Members of the LGBTQI+ community must be able to live their lives free from discrimination, harassment, violence, and threats of violence. The Justice Department prioritizes addressing threats and discrimination against LGBTQI+ people in the workplace, at doctor’s offices, in their schools, communities, and more.
Prosecuting hate crimes based on LGBTQI+ status. As recent FBI statistics confirm, hate crimes are on the rise, including hate crimes targeting members of the LGBTQI+ community. The Justice Department is pursuing those who commit acts of hate based on sexual orientation or gender identity to the fullest extent of the law. For instance, the Justice Department has:
Obtained a conviction of a Montana man of hate crimes for firing an AK-style assault rifle at the residence of a woman who identified as a lesbian and was home at the time. The defendant was on a self-described mission to rid the town of its lesbian and gay community;
Charged two South Carolina men with hate crimes and obstruction offenses for the murder of a transgender woman because of her gender identity;
Obtained a 45-year sentence against a Louisiana man who was convicted of kidnapping and attempting to murder a gay man as part of a hate crime scheme targeting users of a dating app for gay men;
Secured a 21-year sentence against a Missouri man for committing a hate crime by shooting a local teenager eight times in an attempted murder because of his sexual orientation;
Charged a Texas man for threatening a Boston doctor providing care to members of the transgender community; and
Obtained a conviction against a Washington man who pleaded guilty to one count of committing a hate crime for the arson of an LGBTQ+ bar and nightclub in Seattle.
Educating the public about protecting the LGBTQI+ community. The Justice Department and FBI are conducting outreach to share information about practical steps to protect the LGBTQI+ community from hate-motivated attacks and threats of violence.
On Sept. 27, 2022, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI hosted a meeting with national LGBTQI+ groups about protecting LGBTQI+ communities in light of the increase in hate-motivated attacks and threats of violence. The event served as an opportunity to connect law enforcement leaders with civil rights leaders and exchange ideas, raise awareness, and find new points of collaboration.
On March 30, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Community Relations Service (CRS) wide that addressed practical steps for protecting LGBTQI+ communities from hate-motivated attacks and threats of violence. The Justice Department and FBI shared information about steps to take in the event of an emergency, suspected hate crime, or threat of violence, and proactive measures to protect organizations, facilities, and communities. The webinar built on themes discussed at the September 2022 meeting with national LGBTQI+ groups.
Combating discrimination and harassment against LGBTQI+ people. The Department of Justice is also working to protect the rights of all LGBTQI+ people to live free of harassment and discrimination at school, at work, at home, and in their communities. For example, the Civil Rights Division has:
Resolved allegations of harassment and a hostile environment based in part on sexual orientation in a Vermont school district, and filed amicus briefs supporting a school’s decision to require employees to use the names and pronouns that match transgender students’ gender identities in Indiana, and a transgender boy’s right to use the boys’ restroom at his school in Florida;
Filed briefs in support of a transgender employee of a state prison in Georgia who suffered intentional misgendering and harassment in the workplace, a teacher in Maine who alleged her employer discriminated against her because of her advocacy for LGBTQI+ people, and a former Georgia deputy sheriff whose employer-sponsored health insurance did not cover treatment of gender dysphoria;
Filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court supporting the right of LGBTQI+ people to access public accommodations;
Challenged an Alabama law making it more difficult for transgender people to obtain driver’s licenses that reflect their gender identity;
Brought a lawsuit against the owners and managers of a rental property in Wisconsin for harassing a tenant because of his sexual orientation, and reached a landmark $4.5 million settlement in a lawsuit against a New Jersey landlord who sexually harassed both female tenants and tenants who were gay or bisexual men; and
Filed a statement of interest supporting the right of transgender inmates to safe living conditions and necessary medical treatment in Georgia prisons.
Defending transgender youth. The Justice Department has intervened or filed statements of interest supporting multiple challenges to state laws that restrict the rights of transgender youth and has educated the public about the rights of transgender youth. For example, the Civil Rights Division has:
Filed a statement of interest and an amicus brief in support of a transgender girl’s challenge to West Virginia’s law that banned her from playing on school sports teams consistent with her gender identity; and
In collaboration with the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, issued a back-to-school message of support for transgender students.
The Justice Department also issued a letter to all state attorneys general notifying them that transgender youth have federal constitutional and statutory protections that shield them from discrimination, including efforts to restrict access to gender-affirming health care.
Improving law enforcement response to LGBTQI+ crime victims. The Department of Justice issued updated guidance to help law enforcement agencies improve their response to sexual assault and gender violence by identifying gender bias. Sexual assault and domestic violence are crimes that disproportionately harm women, girls, and LGBTQI+ people in the United States. The updated guidance addresses the ways that gender bias can intersect with other forms of bias to disproportionately affect survivors from marginalized communities, including the LGBTQI+ community. The Community Relations Service will also partner with state and local law enforcement agencies to increase the number of law enforcement officers who have completed CRS’s training programs on engaging with transgender and non-binary youth and building relationships with transgender communities.
Supporting organizations that serve LBGTQI+ victims and survivors. The Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has made it a priority to improve outreach, services, civil and criminal justice responses, prevention, and support for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking from underserved communities, particularly LGBTQI+ survivors and others from historically marginalized communities. Through its Grants for Outreach and Services to Underserved Populations and its Training and Technical Assistance Initiative, OVW funds numerous projects and organizations, including:
An Albany, New York, based organization serving LGBTQI+ people of color, to provide services to survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in upstate New York, many of whom are transgender or gender non-conforming.
A network of organizations in Orlando, Florida, to expand outreach and victim services for LGBTQI+ survivors of sexual assault in Central Florida.
A community coalition in Pennsylvania, to address long-term safety and stability for LGBTQI+ survivors of color, build the capacity of service providers to provide culturally appropriate services, and develop culturally and linguistically appropriate materials, and provide housing assistance.
A Milwaukee organization, to provide mental health counseling, case management, support groups, safety planning, advocacy services, and economic resources to LGBTQI+ survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
Additionally, OVW is administering grants supporting LGBTQI+ organizations and LGBTQI+ community-specific services through the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 and its STOP Formula Grant program.
Addressing discrimination based on HIV status. The Justice Department has brought lawsuits addressing discrimination based on HIV status, which is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For instance, the Justice Department:
Brought suit against a town in Indiana after the police department unlawfully revoked a job offer to a qualified police officer because of his HIV status;
Resolved allegations against an in-home caregiving company in Wisconsin that refused to provide services to an individual with HIV; and
Reached a settlement with the state of Nevada to ensure that Nevada Department of Corrections inmates are not illegally segregated or otherwise discriminated against on the basis of their HIV status.
More information about the Justice Department’s work to uphold and protect the civil and constitutional rights of LGBTQI+ people is available online at www.justice.gov/crt/lgbtqi-working-group. Complaints about discriminatory practices may be reported to the Civil Rights Division at www.civilrights.justice.gov.