The Obama administration has made great strides, but still has work ahead, when it comes to LGBT rights, according to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez.
Perez had been scheduled to give a plenary address at the Creating Change conference, hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force, in Chicago. However, it was cancelled due to inclement weather in Washington, D.C., from which Perez was scheduled to fly.
In a Jan. 22 conference call with reporters, Perez said that he's "been in many foxholes with LGBTQ activists over the years."
Perez noted many of the administration's accomplishments, among them the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the introduction of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He also recalled when the Department of Justice ( DoJ ) opted to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
"I'll never forget the call I got from Attorney General [Eric] Holder," said Perez, who worked in the DoJ at the time. "That was one of my favorite days of my career."
Perez also reiterated the president's support of the Equality Act, asking, "Do we want to be a country where two men can get married but then can get fired or can't get an apartment?"
Another area that the administration concedes needing more effort is transgender rights. Perez noted high levels of unemployment and homelessness in that community, among other challenges.
The labor secretary also said the administration would do its best to institutionalize various reforms before the November election.
"We've got 362 days before the weekend and we're going to use the remainder of this administration to forge ahead," said Perez.