President Trump’s so-called ‘humanitarian crisis’ at the border is creating a real-life American crisis across the country. This is the longest government shutdown ever for the United States, and it was entirely preventable.
As the manufactured stunt by the President continues, my mind reflects on the last time our government was shut down.
The 2013 shutdown was the outcome of petty, partisan fighting – much like this one. Hundreds of thousands of government workers were furloughed from their jobs.
I was one of those people.
And you can take it from me: Trump’s current Government shutdown could be a disaster for LGBTI people.
Being an LGBTI Government worker during a shutdown
Six years ago, I was working in Washington, D.C. for a U.S. Senator. I was in my early twenties and had a job that barely covered the basics. Whether covering my overpriced rent or my groceries, I also had to chip away at my student and credit card debt.
My budget was extremely tight, and let’s just say there were many times I was counting down to payday.
When the government shutdown happened, I didn’t really know what to expect or what to do. As furloughed staffers, we were not allowed to do any work or use our government hardware to communicate with our teams.
We could find supplementary employment – but it had to be preapproved by the Senate Ethics Committee. Which was closed because of the shutdown.
Needless to say, there was little way to make up for the pay we were missing.
Getting by on the generosity of people and business
Small businesses within the community, like restaurants, gave federal workers discounted prices for meals. But because my budget was already razor-thin, it was hard to enjoy those gestures of generosity.
Indeed, by the time the first week of the shut down passed, my accounts were near the red.
By the middle of the second week, my credit cards were maxed out. Just as that shut down was wrapping up, I was forced to apply for yet another credit card. And it was only so I could to buy more groceries until my next paycheck.
That’s not all, though. My financial dilemma led me to float some critical bills.
I skipped out on paying my cell, electric, and student loan bills. All so I could survive a mess beyond my control.
‘It was New Year when the debt collectors stopped calling’
Fortunately, federal workers got pay back after the 2013 government shutdown. And it looks like that will happen this time too.
But for the people like me who had to float bills or max out their resources to live during that time, that money will only pay off the additional debt they accumulated.
I think it was the New Year when the debt collectors stopped calling. I was finally all caught up on just paying the minimum amount on my bills.
But the damage was done, and it is happening yet again to all those federal workers who can’t afford a missed paycheck.
By the time this publishes 800,000 federal workers will have missed their paychecks. And many other contractors, local businesses, and family members will be feeling the impact too.
13,000 of the federal workers identify as LGBTQ, with another 10% choosing to not identify. The shutdown is hurting them.
The Trump shutdown is the 90th attack on LGBTI Americans from his presidency
Marginalized communities, like LGBTI Americans, could see lasting consequences from this Trump shutdown because statistically, they are already working hard from paycheck to paycheck just to make ends meet.
This preventable shut down marks the 90th attack from the Trump Administration on the LGBTI community explicitly through it policy and rhetoric since the beginning of 2017.
And while Washington, D.C.’s political elite dominate the headlines, remember the people who will suffer because of these foolish, political games.
Author: Jamie Wareham
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