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04/19/2007


Tuesday Speed Read: Supreme Court, Nebraska, Chai Feldblum, Peter TerVeer, Annise Parker

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

SUPREME REJECTION:

ElanephotographyThe U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to review a decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court that said the state human rights law does not violate the free speech rights of a wedding photographer who refused services to a same-sex couple. By not taking the case, Elane v. Willock, the Supreme Court leaves intact the state court ruling that said businesses that “choose to be public accommodations must comply” with the non-discrimination law. The photographer had claimed that she had religious beliefs that compelled her to refuse accommodations to the lesbian couple, and the case was viewed as one of many disputes heading to the U.S. high court that pitted religious beliefs against non-discrimination laws. But the case was never pitched as a free exercise case and that may be why the Supreme Court didn’t take it, said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jenny Pizer. Tobias Wolff, an attorney helping represent the lesbian couple, said, “No court in the United States has ever found that a business selling commercial services to the general public has a First Amendment right to turn away customers on a discriminatory basis.”

NEBRASKA COMES CLOSE:

NebraskaNebraska’s unicameral legislature voted 26 to 22 Monday to move a bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity to the floor. Unfortunately, supporters of the measure needed 33 votes to break the filibuster. The legislative session ends this week and local papers give little chance that the bill’s supporters might get the bill to the floor this year. The sponsor of the bill, Sen. Danielle Conrad of Lincoln, vowed to continue the push even though the state’s term limits won’t enable her to come back next session.

EEOC ON THE JOB:

FeldblumChai Feldblum, the openly lesbian member of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), told National Public Radio April 2 that the commission has “about 200 or so pending investigations right now that have been brought to us by LGBT people, and we're looking into those charges.” Feldblum noted the EEOC used to turn away LGBT complaints because there is no federal law prohibiting such discrimination. But she said the Commission is now looking into the complaints as forms of sex discrimination, which is prohibited by federal law. Whether the EEOC has authority to do so, she noted, will probably be determined at the U.S. Supreme Court.

SPEAKING OF SEX DISCRIMINATION:

A U.S. district court judge in Washington, D.C., entered a preliminary ruling April 4 in favor of a man who alleges he was fired from his federal job because he is gay. The order says the man, Library of Congress employee Peter TerVeer, can sue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act –the title that, among other things, prohibits sex discrimination. The government’s brief in the case, Terveer v. Billington, is due June 3.

HOUSTON’S PARKER GETS HEAT:

ParkerHouston Mayor Annise Parker is being criticized for preparing to propose a human rights ordinance that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing and public accommodations but not in private employment. In her annual State of the City address April 3, Parker noted that Houston is “the only major city in the nation without civil rights protections for its residents.” She is expected to introduce the bill in May, and LoneStarQ says LGBT leaders expect the bill will not prohibit discrimination in private employers, as a way to ensure the bill passes city council. The head of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus told the Texas LGBT paper the omission amounts to “siding with the right of employers to discriminate.”

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Senate Confirms Chai Feldblum as Commissioner at EEOC

Chai Feldblum, EEOC Commissioner, was finally officially confirmed by the Senate this week.

Feldblum You may recall that wingnuts ferociously opposed Feldblum's nomination before she was recess appointed in March, saying that "Feldblum intends to use her position of influence as EEOC commissioner to force private institutions to follow her radical vision of society, through the enforcement of aggressive and intrusive employment non-discrimination laws."

Windy City Media reports:

"In one of its last acts of the current session, on December 22, 2010, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Jacqueline A. Berrien to be Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; Chai R. Feldblum ( a long-time lesbian activist ) and Victoria A. Lipnic to be Commissioners; and P. David Lopez to be the General Counsel. All four were nominated to their positions by President Barack Obama and had been serving under recess appointments since April, 2010."

Feldblum is the first openly gay Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Chai Feldblum Recessed Appointed As Commissioner of EEOC

6a00d8341c730253ef01310f53273a970c Yesterday, President Obama announced that he would make fifteen recess appointments in key government positions and expressed his frustration with a lack in progress with the nominations due to delays in the process by the Senate.  Reasoned Obama: "I simply cannot allow partisan politics to stand in the way of the basic functioning of government.”

One of those appointments is that of openly gay Georgetown law professor Chai R. Feldblum, who will head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

You may recall that homophobic right-wingers opposed her nomination arguing that "Feldblum intends to use her position of influence as EEOC commissioner to force private institutions to follow her radical vision of society, through the enforcement of aggressive and intrusive employment non-discrimination laws."

Feldblum testified with the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee back in November. A "secret hold" was placed on her nomination just earlier this month.

This appointment makes Fledblum the first openly gay Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


Which Senator Placed a 'Secret Hold' on Obama's Lesbian EEOC Nominee Chai Feldblum?

Lisa Keen reports that at least one U.S. Senator has placed a "secret hold" on the nomination of openly lesbian Obama nominee Chai Feldblum to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission:

Feldblum  "A Senate committee approved all the nominations, including Feldblum’s, as a group in December. A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that Reid is 'working to get an agreement' with Republicans to consider the nomination of Feldblum and other EEOC commissioners. There has been no public indication yet of which senator has placed the hold on the EEOC nominees’ full Senate confirmation vote."

You may remember back in November that homophobic right-wing religious leaders hoped to "unleash Armageddon" on Feldblum's nomination and paint her as a radical extremist who would threaten religious liberty. The highlight of Feldblum's testimony, in that sense, was her statement that she did not support polygamy.


News: Bob Emrich, Iran, Manscaping, China, Chace Crawford

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Evidence of queer groups organanizing on Iranian college campuses surfaces, along with news of pending executions for 12 men under charges of sodomy.

Parrot

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Bird of a feather.

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Pastor Bob Emrich: pure evil.

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Media Matters exposes hate group MassResistance's connection to the anti-gay attacks on safe schools chief Kevin Jennings.

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Chai Feldblum nomination passes Senate committee.

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Heterosexual New York man wants his marriage annulled as protest of state's failure to pass marriage equality bill: "He is still seeking a pro bono lawyer to represent him and his wife in Family Court.' It’s unconstitutionally discriminative,' D’Olimpio said, referring to the state’s marriage laws. It is on those grounds that D’Olimpio, who now lives in Brooklyn, and his wife of two years, Rachel Murch D’Olimpio, are going ahead with their plans to annul their marriage."

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Wednesday: U.S. Senate to mark up bill that would provide benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees.

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Point Foundation announces 2010 scholarship season and four new named scholarships.

Chace

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Chace gives face: “Like the Pussycat Dolls or Brad Pitt, Chace Crawford is the kind of perfect human specimen that should be freeze-dried and put in a time capsule so that, in several thousand years, whatever manlike species can get a sense of just how good we looked."

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German football coach calls referee "dirty homosexual"...

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Gavin Newsom, SF activists, speak out against Uganda: "A crowd of nearly forty people gathered for thirty-minutes today at the Ugandan pillar in United Nations Plaza, and stood in unbending solidarity with gay Ugandans. Under a cloudy sky, signs were taped to the pillar, voices were raised, passersby offered support, and a successful visibility action took place, for gays on the other side of our small planet."

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NBC's The Office hires a new gay — Tim Daly's son.

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UK gay bashing farmer gets jail term.

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Someone's parading around with obvious reading material.

Fitzgerald

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Interest in "manscaping" is apparently surging. Here's hoping Luke Fitzgerald doesn't jump on the trend.

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Maryland to adopt anti-trans policy for driver's licenses?

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Who is the hottest Brazilian of 2009?

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First-ever pageant to be held for Mr. Gay China: "The pageant will take place on January 15 at a club in Beijing, ahead of the Mr Gay World competition in Norway in February, Ben Zhang, founder of gay media and PR website gayographic.org, told AFP. 'There will be sportswear and swimsuit segments, a Q&A session, and a panel of judges will select the winner based on overall performance,' Zhang said. The pageant will be open to anyone who lives in China -- local or foreign, and contestants can apply online, he said. 'Being homosexual, in general we get a lot of discrimination everywhere, so we are not going to discriminate against any contestants,' Zhang said."

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Gambian president makes unsurprising threat: "We will not encourage lesbianism and homosexuality in the military. It is a taboo in our armed forces. I will sack any soldier suspected of being a gay, or lesbian in The Gambia. We need no gays in our armed forces."


Clifford Stanley and Chai Feldblum Senate Hearings: Recaps

As I mentioned yesterday, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission nominee Chai Feldblum had her hearing at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Clifford Stanley had a confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee.

First Clifford Stanley's hearing. Stanley has been nominated to serve as Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness in the Department of Defense and oversee "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", among other things.

Stanley HRC Backstory reports on the questions regarding the military gay ban, following John McCain's assertion that the ban was "Working successfully":

"Senator Levin followed McCain’s pro-DADT position by asking simply if Dr. Stanley would provide his best objective opinion over the repeal of DADT, to which Dr. Stanley responded with a simple yes.  An opportunity to elaborate was provided with Senator Udall (D-CO), who asked – while noting gays and lesbians already serve in the armed services, and that thousands of gays and lesbians are civilian employees working with military personnel – if Dr. Stanley was prepared to support a push by the White House to include repeal of DADT in policy recommendations in the defense budget next year. Dr. Stanley didn’t quite answer the question, recognizing this is a sensitive issue and that he would be seeking input from all sources, particularly the service chiefs and military personnel “from deck plate to squad level,” and provide a recommendation to Secretary Gates.  Dr. Stanley admitted he did not know what that recommendation would be, and will bear no preconceived notions as to the direction he will go in recommending action on DADT. Senator Burris (D-IL) asked what Dr. Stanley would do about pending discharge cases immediately upon confirmation.  Dr. Stanley – correctly – responded that the pending cases would fall under existing statute, and that he was unaware that he would have any role in these pending discharge cases (he wouldn’t)."

The Servicemember's Legal Defense Network (SLDN) expressed disappointment that Stanley "punted". Said Aubrey Sarvis: "When given the opportunity by Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to support his commander in chief’s position to overturn the ban, Dr. Stanley did not do so. However, as is the case with most nominees, Dr. Stanley did not delve into any of the policy issues in his portfolio. We look forward to Dr. Stanley becoming fully aligned with President Obama on repeal."

Feldblum A question about polygamy was the highlight of Feldblum's testimony, according to Law Dork, with regard to a petition the nominee had signed called “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships” which mentioned polygamous families as an "alternative" relationship:

Feldblum began, initially, by stating unambiguously, “I do not support polygamy.”  She went on to say that it was a “mistake” to sign the petition and told the Committee that it was for that reason that she asked for her name to be removed from it.  Ben Smith at Politico reported on Wednesday that Feldblum had sent a letter to the petition organizers asking that her name be removed.

Harkin pushed further, asking her to explain why she had signed on to the statement in the first place.  Feldblum stated that she had been asked to sign on to the petition by “another academic from Columbia.”  She said, “I agreed with the general thrust of the statement,” and that her work at the time was very focused on efforts to “support the range of caregiving relationships.”  It was for that reason, she said, that she signed on in support of the petition.

She concluded, though, “However, the statement goes beyond what I would have said.  That’s why it was a mistake to sign it and why I asked for my name to be removed.”

More at HRC Backstory and Law Dork.


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