LGBT Community to be hit hard by Sequester

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LGBT and HIV and AIDS community leaders are bracing themselves for massive budget cuts if leaders in Washington fail to strike a deal before the clock strikes midnight.

A sequester would mean that the government would be forced to shave some $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. According to Huffpost,”The sequester will affect government spending across the board. The military will see $550 billion in cuts, drawing funds away from national security and military operations. On the domestic side, cuts will affect health care, education, law enforcement, disaster relief, unemployment benefits, non-profit organization funds, scientific research and more.”

Crosby Burns, research associate on LGBT issues for the Center for American Progress,  tells the Washington Blade the community has a lot to lose if some sort of compromise isn’t reached,”Politicians are literally playing games with people’s lives. If the sequester happens, AIDS patients will lose access to life-saving drugs, programs that combat hate crimes and domestic violence in the LGBT community will be slashed, LGBT homeless youth will have to remain on the streets if homeless shelters receive less funding, and LGBT workers who have been discriminated against will see their cases go uninvestigated.”

Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more like the sequester may happen. A last minute meeting between the White House and congressional leaders on Friday morning failed to produce any results.

During a White House news briefing earlier in the week, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told the Washington Blade even the problem of school bullying would be virtually ignored if the cuts go through, “We’re not even having that conversation today, it’s all about going in the opposite direction,” Duncan said. “So creating safe communities, creating climates in which children live free of fear, thinking about what we’re doing in the curriculum, afterschool clubs — all the things we should be doing whether it’s around reducing bullying, or whether it’s around the arts or robotics, or whatever it might be, we’re not even having that conversation, which is, again, crazy to me.”

“According to a fact sheet issued by the White House earlier this month, cuts to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program could result in 7,400 fewer patients having access to life-saving HIV medications. The White House also says around 424,000 fewer HIV tests could be conducted by Centers for Disease Control State grantees, which could result in increased HIV transmissions and costs in health care,” the Blade reported.

According to Huffington Post, “The $1.2 trillion in budget cuts would be spread over nine years and are equally divided between domestic and defense-related spending. During the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, $85 billion worth of cuts are set to go into effect. The budget cuts would end in 2021.”

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