Dear Friend,

I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the work that I've been doing recently in the U.S. Congress.


Ending Discrimination against Gay and Lesbian Married Couples

Congressman Nadler speaks at a press conference to announce the introduction of the Respect for Marriage Act.  Attending the event were other Members of Congress as well as representatives from the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, and Lamda Legal.  To see a video of the remarks, click here.

On September 15 I introduced the Respect for Marriage Act.  This legislation would repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law which discriminates against lawfully married same-sex couples.  The 13-year-old DOMA singles out legally married same-sex couples for discriminatory treatment under federal law, selectively denying them critical federal rights and protections, including access to programs like social security which are intended to ensure the stability and security of American families.  

The Respect for Marriage Act is the consensus of months of planning and organizing among the nation’s leading LGBT and civil rights stakeholders and legislators.  It would ensure that marriages are respected under federal law, providing couples with the much-needed certainty that their lawful marriages will be honored.  Six states currently recognize the right of same-sex couples to marry, yet these legal unions receive no federal recognition.  My bill embraces the common law principle that marriages that are legally valid in the state in which they were entered into should be recognized by the federal government.  The Respect for Marriage Act would not tell any state who can marry or how married couples must be treated for purposes of state law, nor would it obligate any person, church, city, or state to celebrate or license a marriage of two people of the same sex.

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced with 92 original co-sponsors and has garnered the support of President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law in 1996, and former-Representative Bob Barr (R-GA) who first introduced DOMA. Read more about the growing support for the bill here.

Remembering 9/11

On the eighth anniversary of the terrible attacks of 9/11, we renewed our vows to never forget the destruction and painful loss of life we suffered that day.  The attacks of 9/11 inflicted scars that cannot be healed by any number of anniversaries and our thoughts and prayers remain with the victims and their families and friends.

This occasion must also be cause to rededicate ourselves to ensuring that we continue to provide health care and compensation to the living victims of the attacks.  Thousands of first-responders, workers, students, and community members still suffer terrible, and in some cases life-altering sicknesses due to the attacks on the World Trade Center.  For the last 8 years, I have fought, along with many of my colleagues, to make sure that we do not neglect those who are living with constant, painful reminders of their exposure to toxic dust from the collapsed towers.  The 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, legislation that I have sponsored with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and others, is the best opportunity we have to stem this acute public health crisis.

Speaking with the AFL-CIO to demand health care and compensation for the still-living victims of the 9/11 attacks.  Watch the video here.

With the recent approval of the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act by the House Judiciary Committee and President Obama’s re-appointment of Dr. John Howard as the nation’s 9/11 Health Coordinator, we have taken significant steps toward finally addressing this terrible episode in our nation’s history.

I have also introduced legislation that would create a special 9/11 commemorative coin to be issued by the U.S. Treasury in 2011, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.  A commemorative coin is a simple but powerful way to mark the 10th anniversary of the attack on our nation and simultaneously support the World Trade Center Memorial, which will receive $10 from the sale of each coin.

Lasting Health Reform

President Obama’s recent speech to Congress was an excellent articulation of his health insurance reform plan and why such measures are so essential for the well-being of our nation.  We need profound reforms and the President is working hard to guide us to the best possible legislation.  The President’s plan would make it illegal to deny you health coverage due to pre-existing conditions or to deny you coverage just because you become ill.  It would also provide a backstop against loss of coverage if you lose your job or suffer a catastrophic illness.  The President’s plan also takes significant steps towards providing health coverage to the millions of uninsured Americans who live in fear for their health and well-being.

Conducting a tele-town hall on the topic of health reform in August.  Thousands of New Yorkers participated in the call which you can listen to here.

I was also pleased to hear the President reiterate his support for a public health insurance option, a provision which I strongly support and which has strong support among a large cross-section of my constituents.  The public option would provide quality, affordable health coverage to those who currently lack it and ensure meaningful competition in the insurance marketplace—competition that will drive costs down while improving the quality of care.  I have long defended the public health insurance option and join with Speaker Pelosi in insisting that it be included in any reform bill that passes the House.

Housing for the Most Vulnerable

I am also proud to have worked hard to secure significantly more funding for affordable housing programs than was available in years past.  In the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Act, I was successful in the fight to include $18 billion for tenant-based rental assistance, $8.7 billion for project-based rental assistance, $75 million to provide for 10,000 Section 8 vouchers for homeless veterans, and $350 million for the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program.  These totals represent major funding increases for programs that help to house our most vulnerable citizens.  Year after year, I have fought for more funding for affordable housing and HOPWA programs, as I believe that quality housing is not a luxury, but a right and a necessity.

    Of course, caring for the most vulnerable among us is a task which requires the best effort of any organization ready and willing to help.  That is why I was pleased to announce $4 million in federal stimulus funds that were awarded to two other local non-profits which serve low-income populations.  These organizations are the Corporation for Supportive Housing, which provides loans, grants, training, and other services to assists tenants with complex needs, and the Primary Care Development Corporation, which serves low-income populations which lack primary health care services.  Both of these non-profit organizations provide vital care to underserved parts of the city and will put these federal stimulus funds to immediate use in bettering our communities.


Jerrold Nadler
Member of Congress

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