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US House news about gay rights and marriage equality

 

Congressman Jared Polis Files ENDA Discharge Petition

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Colorado Representative Jared PolisThe openly gay House member from Colorado is filing a discharge petition to force a House vote on the Employment Non Discrimination Act.

Towleroad.com reports:

Out Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) announced today that he has filed a discharge petition in the House of Representatives for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Polis is the chief sponsor of ENDA and is also the co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus. From Rep. Polis’ statement: A discharge petition is a procedure to force a vote on legislation if it receives signatures from the majority of the House of Representatives. This move comes after the House Republican leadership has continued to refuse to hold a vote on this bipartisan bill. “This is common sense legislation that is supported by a majority of Americans and was passed overwhelmingly by the United States Senate,” said Rep. Polis. “The Republicans have been dragging their feet on this bill for too long, allowing workplace discrimination against hardworking LGBT Americans to continue.

This new version of ENDA would include a narrower religious exemption.

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Wikipedia Bars Congressional Staffers from Making Changes After Trans-Phobic Edits

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

WikipediaAfter a series of incidents where an unknown congressional staffer or staffers made trans-phobic edits to Wikipedia pages, the organization has blocked them from future changes.

Towleroad.com reports:

It’s impossible to know whether the edits are coming from one or multiple users, but the changes come from an IP address, 143.231.249.138, that has repeatedly been linked to House of Representatives computers. In the “talk” discussion section of one article, an individual making the changes has also claimed to be a staffer on Capitol Hill. The anonymous user has demonstrated a relatively specific focus on transgender topics. For example, a Wednesday edit to the “Tranny” article changed the phrase “assigned sex” to “biological sex” — a term that has been criticized as transphobic. Articles on “body integrity identity disorder” and “gender identity disorder” were also edited. Even the Wikipedia article on transphobia was edited on Tuesday to include an external link — since been removed for its reported “hateful or abusive content” — defending transphobia. “This article is too pro-trans,” the user complained after his or her edit was removed. “When I attempted to add an alternative point of view regarding this topic … it was reverted right away.”…

The final straw came on Wednesday afternoon, when someone from the House edited the page for the Netflix hit show “Orange is the New Black” to change the characterization of an actor from “a real transgender woman” to “a real man pretending to be a woman.”

“‘This article is too pro-trans,’ the user complained after his or her edit was removed.” Okay, just as a thought exercise, let’s replace “pro-trans” with “pro-Black”, or “pro-Hispanic”. Would anyone seriously look at that and say that wasn’t racist?

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USA: GOP Lobbyist Proposes Bill to Ban Gay NFL Players

Monday, February 24th, 2014

GOPGOP lobbyist Jack Burkman (yes, that Jack Burkman) announced Monday that he is preparing a piece of legislation which, if enacted would ban openly gay players from joining the National Football League.

In a statement, Burkman said,

”We are losing our decency as a nation. Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

He also added, “if the NFL has no morals and no values, then Congress must find values for it.”

Burkman alleges that up to five Republican Representatives and one Senator are “interested” in co-sponsoring the proposed bill, according to his words. Even more ridiculously, he claims that the number of co-sponsoring Representatives and Senators once the bill is introduced could rise to as high as 36 and five, respectively.

If introduced, the bill stands no chance whatsoever of passing either chamber, and would almost assuredly be laughed out of the building by President Obama should it somehow manage to reach his desk.

P.S. Hey, guys! My name is Tyler and I am ecstatic to be joining the Gay Marriage Watch crew, having answered Scott’s “Help Wanted” post earlier. I look forward to hearing from you all!

USA: Defense of Marriage Act 2?

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Texas Representative Randy WeberA GOP congressman from Texas is introducing the successor to the Defense of Marriage Act – a bill that would partially reinstate DOMA’s prohibition on federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

The Huffington Post reports:

Despite the growing number of states allowing gay marriage, one Republican congressman filed legislation Thursday to limit the federal government’s power to recognize gay marriages in states. Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) introduced the “State Marriage Defense Act Of 2014,” which would require federal agencies to look into a person’s “legal residence” when determining marital status and how federal law would be applied. The bill would have the effect of reintroducing for gay couples some aspects of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman until the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in June. The bill also would undercut a Treasury Department decision in August requiring gay married couples in all states to be treated as married for federal tax purposes; Weber’s bill would force the federal government to treat such couples differently in states that don’t recognize gay marriage. In addition, the Social Security Administration announced in December that it would pay survivor benefits to members of gay marriages.

DOMA 2So far, 27 representatives have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, all (surprise) Republicans.

Joe.My.God reports:

Since the bill’s introduction, 27 GOP members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors. The list so far is a cavalcade of crackpottery: Michele Bachmann, Louis Gohmert, John Fleming, etc. Eleven of the 27 co-sponsors are from Texas. Weber, a freshman rep and former air conditioner repairman, has previously only authored one failed House resolution. Therefore I suspect his bill was actually written by the Family Research Council, who jointly announced its introduction yesterday with an appearance by Weber on Tony Perkins’ national radio show.

It’s a blatant assault on equality, and will go a long ways to cement the party’s reputation as the party of bigots, religious zealots, and small minded people.

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USA, California: Congresswoman Proposes National Ban On Reparative Therapy

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

California Representative Jackie SpeierA US congresswoman from California is re-introducing a proposed ban on reparative or conversion therapy for gay youth.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) on Wednesday reintroduced a resolution asking the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage states to take steps to prevent minors from being harmed by controversial and discredited gay-to-straight conversion therapy. When first introduced last year, the Stop Harming Our Kids (SHOK) resolution was the first federal action taken to end the discredited sexual orientation change therapy — often referred to as “reparative therapy.” The practice is now banned in California and New Jersey.

A number of other states are also considering such bans. It also looks like an initiative to repeal California’s transgender kids rights bill may fail to make the ballot. Are we making progress on more than just the marriage equality front?

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USA: A Few ENDA Updates

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Washington DC LegislatureNow that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has passed the US Senate, we have a few follow-ups for you.

First off, Mormons helped pass ENDA in the Senate.

The New York Times reports:

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who at 79 is one of the Senate’s longest-serving members, became the first Republican to signal he would reverse his opposition as the bill faced a crucial vote in committee. He voted against a similar bill the last time it came up in the Senate — 17 years ago — but changed his mind earlier this year after Gordon H. Smith, a fellow Mormon and former Republican senator, convinced him there was nothing in it that violated church doctrine. “The church does want to be helpful where we can be, without violating our own conscience,” Mr. Smith, a former bishop, said in an interview. And as the bill approached a vital vote earlier this week, Senator Dean Heller, the Nevada Republican who has taught Sunday school at his Mormon church, provided the crucial 60th vote to break a filibuster. In the end, all but two of the Senate’s seven Mormons voted yes.

This newfound support for LGBT rights pointedly does NOT extend to marriage equality.

Openly gay House representative Jared Polis believes the bill would pass the House, if Boehner would bring it to a vote.

The Washington Blade reports:

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who’s gay and co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, predicted during an interview with the Washington Blade Friday that ENDA would pass the House and said the next step for the bill is to pressure Republican leaders to bring it to the floor. He added that a number of undeclared Republicans have privately told him they’d vote “yes.” “The next step is, of course, to continue to apply pressure to the speaker and the majority leader to bring it to the floor, where I’m confident it has enough support to pass,” Polis said. “The best way to do that is to demonstrate it has that support and continuing to add co-sponsors, particularly more Republican co-sponsors to ENDA so that we can have a stronger case to make that we need to bring it before the House to the floor for a vote.”

President Obama is thinking along similar lines.

On Top Magazine reports:

“Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago.”
“Now it’s up to the House of Representatives,” the president added. “This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities. They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.”

What do you guys think about the current version of ENDA? On the one hand, it is transgender inclusive, and would offer protections not available before to LGBT workers. OTOH, its religious exemptions are overly broad, and could lead to problems down the road. Where do you stand?

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USA: Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act Introduced

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

US CongressA bill that would provide benefits to partners of gay and lesbian federal employees, regardless of marital status, has been introduced in the US legislature.

GayWebSource.com reports:

While the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act and guidance from the Office of Personnel Management have made clear that federal workers’ same-sex spouses are now eligible for benefits, there are still federal employees who cannot access marriage and thus continue to be denied critical health, retirement and other benefits for their families. In an effort to remedy that continued inequality, today the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (DPBO) of 2013 was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and in the House by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) would provide benefits for same-sex domestic partners of federal civilian employees on the same basis as spousal benefits. These benefits would include participation in applicable retirement programs, life and health insurance benefits, and family and medical leave.

What do you think? While definitely an improvement in the short run for these couples, is this a good or bad thing in terms of long-term strategy for full marriage equality?

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USA: 68% Support the Employment Non Discrimination Act

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Congress - Capitol BuildingA new poll shows more than two thirds of Americans support a bill that would offer employment protections to LGBT citizens.

SDGLN reports:

New polling by a prominent Republican pollster shows a supermajority of voters – 68%, including 56% of Republicans – support a federal law protecting gay and transgender employees from discrimination in the workplace. The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on such a law – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – in the coming weeks. Currently, there are no state laws prohibiting an employer from firing or refusing to hire someone simply because he or she is gay or transgender in a majority of states.

But does the bill have a chance in the GOP-controlled house?

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USA: GOP Rolls Out Unnecessary Bill To Protect Religious Institutions

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

US Capitol BuildingWith nothing better to do (see debt limit, immigration bill, federal budget etc.) the house GOP is ready to roll out a bill that would protect religious institutions from same-sex marriage.

The Hill reports:

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) plans to introduce the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act Thursday. He said the bill “ensures that any religious institution, organization or church that believes that marriage should continue to remain between one man and one woman will not be discriminated against by the federal government.”

Even the bill’s sponsor admits it’s unnecessary:

I believe the Constitution protects these institutions,” he said, “but I just want to make sure that it’s in the law, that it’s 100 percent sure, that people have no question about it.”

But hey, what else is the House GOP have to do?

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USA, Hawaii: Full Congressional Delegation Supports Marriage Equality

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Hawaii Congressional DelegationAll four of Hawaii’s US Senators and Representatives support marriage equality. LGBT Weekly reports:

Members of Hawaii’s Congressional delegation are uniting to express their support for marriage equality in Hawaii. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard released statements of support, each urging Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the state legislature to pass the freedom to marry in Hawaii without delay. “We’re on the brink of getting marriage equality in Hawaii and same-sex couples shouldn’t have to wait any longer for this fundamental civil right. Let’s get this done,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Will Hawaii’s legislature call a special session, or do we have to wait until next year?

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