Pelosi on Hate Crimes Bill: 'I Couldn't Do It in a Million Years If I Took Out Transgender'

June 16, 2014 - 4:03 PM

Nancy Pelosi

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)(CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says although she was encouraged to take the transgender element out of hate crimes legislation passed by the House, she would not do so “in a million years.”

“People said, ‘Well, you could do it in a minute if you take out transgender,’” Pelosi said last Tuesday, regarding the likelihood of passing a hate crimes bill. “I said, ‘No I couldn’t do it in a million years if I took out transgender.’ That’s never going to happen.”

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis introduced Pelosi as “one of the nation’s strongest supporters of LGBT rights” at an event focused on LGBT-related historical sites in the National Park Service.

“Thank you for affording me the opportunity to interrupt your program but also to thank you for all that you have done in the role of ending discrimination and enabling us to pass a hate crimes bill that was fully inclusive,” Pelosi said at the Interior Department.

Pelosi also said President Barack Obama’s “leadership” helped repeal the ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ law for the U.S. military.

“And I do want to salute our president, because although we were very proud of passing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell legislatively, that would never have happened without his leadership,” Pelosi said.

The event was billed as “a panel discussion with leading historians and scholars to discuss ways to celebrate and interpret lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history in the context of broader American history.”

CNSNews.com asked the National Park Service several questions about the “theme study,” including what gives NPS authority to conduct it.

Mike Litterst, public affairs specialist for the NPS, said the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, gives the Interior Secretary the authority “to expand and maintain a National Register of Historic Places composed of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture.”

Some of the theme studies conducted in the past were “mandated by Congress” while others are determined by NPS, Litterst said.

This study was determined by NPS, but Litterst said Jewell received letters from both the House and Senate encouraging the project. The letter from the House was signed by 18 Democrats and two Republicans. The Senate letter was signed by five Democrats.

“To ensure that the story includes the full diversity of our nation, we respectfully request that the Department conduct a theme study on the many contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans,” the Senate letter stated. “There are important stories of the role of members of this community have played in our nation’s history, including as part of the modern LGBT civil rights movement.

“Over the years, theme studies have evolved as an effective way of identifying and nominating properties, because they provide a comparative analysis of properties associated with a specific area of American history as well as the necessary national historic context required to assess the significance of a number of related properties,” Litterst told CNSNews.com.

“The National Park Service has completed more than 75 theme studies, on topics as diverse as the fur trade, earliest Americans, women's history, Greek Revival architecture, Man in Space, or labor history.”

Litterst said a $250,000 donation from the Gill Foundation is paying for the study. The foundation is “one of the nation's largest funders and organizers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights work,” according to its website.

When CNSNews.com asked about specific sites related to bi-sexuals or transgenders, Litterst said the need to find those sites is why the project is taking place.

Litterst said that the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar and site of riots in the 1960s by drag queens objecting to a police raid, “is the only site to be designated as a National Historic Landmark by NPS. That designation took place in 2000.

Four LGBT-related sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places: The Franklin E. Kameny Residence (home of a homosexual activist) in Washington, D.C.; the Cherry Grove Community House and Theatre on Fire Island (“one of the first and, for many years, the only gay and lesbian influenced geography in the United States” in New York; the James Merrill House (a gay poet who lived there with his partner) in Connecticut; and the Carrington House (a vacation home on the gay-friendly Fire Island) in New York.

Litterst said the LGBT theme study should be completed by 2016.