Thursday, December 15, 2016

BiNet USA Salutes President Obama’s Appointment of New Civil Rights Commissioners

BiNet USA wholeheartedly supports today's appointment of Catherine Lhamon and Debo Adegbile to be Commissioners for six-year terms on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Photo image of Catherine Lhamon, photo credit:

As Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon has been one of President Obama’s key leaders in advancing civil rights. Her groundbreaking work has changed how colleges respond to sexual assault and how schools treat transgender students. Lhamon also worked to provide guidance on excessive and disproportionate use of school discipline, equal access to all school resources for students with disabilities and English learners, educational opportunities for students in the juvenile justice system and access to Advanced Placement courses for students of color.

Photo image of Debo Adegbile, photo credit: MSNBC.

Debo Adegbile is a partner of WilmerHale.  Before that, he worked for more than a decade at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Through litigation and advocacy, Adegbile pursued a range of civil rights issues, including employment, housing discrimination and criminal justice.  He demonstrated exceptional legal skills during multiple arguments before the Supreme Court, particularly while defending the Voting Rights Act in 2008.

As part of the #bistories project, BiNet USA, working with Freedom for All Americans, discovered hundreds of instances of bisexual discrimination in education, housing and work. Lhamon’s and Adegbile’s work is crucial to the well-being of bisexual Americans.  To learn more about the disparities facing bisexual Americans, please read the landmark report from the Movement Advancement Project, Invisible Majority: The Disparities Facing Bisexual People and How to Remedy Them. To hear bisexual Americans share narratives about why our civil rights matter, visit us at

Below, please find additional background information on President Obama’s Commitment to Civil Rights and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

About President Obama’s Commitment to Civil Rights
The President has been committed to civil rights work throughout the past eight years.  He has led the fight to protect everyone - no matter who you are, where you're from, what you look like, or who you love.

o  President Obama hosted 3 bisexual specific events during his administration. A Bisexual Community Roundtable on September 23rd, 2013, a Bisexual Community Briefing on September 21st, 2015 and a live-streamed Bisexual Community Briefing on September 26th, 2016. Along with co-organizing these events for the bi, pan, fluid, queer (bi+) community, BiNet USA and other bisexual community organizations and organizers have worked closely alongside the administration to reach out to, uplift and affirm the lives of bi people everywhere.
BiNet USA President Faith Cheltenham* stands next to Trans People of Color Coalition Founder Kylar Broadus as President Obama signed Executive Order 13672 on July 21, 2014, protecting LGBT Americans from workplace discrimination. Learn more about the day’s importance to the bisexual community from Bisexual Organizing Project’s Martha Hardy.

o   The President has fought discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and eliminated barriers to equality. He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” required visitation rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) patients, did not defend DOMA, and prohibited federal contractors from discriminating and law enforcement from profiling based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

o   The President signed the Fair Sentencing Act to reduce mandatory minimum sentences and sentencing disparities with crack cocaine, ended restrictive housing for juveniles in federal prisons, and convened the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policies to identify best practices for law enforcement and communities.  

o   He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, two executive orders on equal pay laws and continues to advocate for other actions to strengthen the tools to fight pay discrimination.  

o   President Obama signed an Executive Order to increase the federal employment of individuals with disabilities.  He signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) into law, placing significant new responsibilities on several agencies for increasing the employment of individuals with disabilities.

o   And because of the Affordable Care Act, Americans with disabilities have better access to greater choices in healthcare and cannot be refused coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

o   President Obama has consistently called on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and ensure that all Americans have the right to vote.

About The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

o    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is a bipartisan, independent commission composed of eight Commissioners: four appointed by the President and four by Congress. They hold public briefings, issue press releases, conduct hearings and publish studies on a range of civil rights issues.

o   USCCR is statutorily required to investigate a federal agency every year and issue a report to the President, Vice President, Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the House.  This year they issued a report on how the EPA could respond more rapidly to issues of environmental justice.  In 2015, they examined immigration detention facilities, advocating for DHS to release children and families.

o   USCCR can also issue statements, hold hearings and release issue briefs and reports regarding civil rights violations in the United States.

o   This month, a delegation of USCCR Commissioners visited the Dakota Access Pipeline protests to observe civil rights issues at Standing Rock.  

o   They issued a statement of concern recently regarding the rise of hate crimes in the U.S. detailed in a November FBI report.

o   They have released statements supporting the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights’ protection of transgender students and court decisions that struck down discriminatory state voting laws.

o   In 2015, they hosted a briefing in New York on police practices in trainings and field tactics that could prevent the use of deadly force.

o   In 2014, they held a briefing in Florida on the Stand Your Ground law and its human rights implications.

*This photograph is provided by THE WHITE HOUSE as a courtesy and may be printed by the subject(s) in the photograph for personal use only. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not otherwise be reproduced, disseminated or broadcast, without the written permission of the White House Photo Office. This photograph may not be used in any commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.