ENDA Hub




Queer Nation: Why is HRC Blasting Vatican While Pushing for ENDA with Terrible Religious Exemption?

Earlier this week we reported that the Human Rights Campaign had sent a letter to the Vatican requesting an audience with the Pope on behalf of nine teachers who have lost their jobs at Catholic schools for being LGBT or supporting an LGBT person.

Pope_griffinThe activist group Queer Nation sent out a press release yesterday calling HRC out for hypocrisy on the issue of religious discrimination because it is pushing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which contains a terrible religious exemption.

Here's the full release from Queer Nation:

At the same time it is criticizing Roman Catholic schools for their anti-LGBT discrimination, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is lobbying in Congress for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that has a religious exemption that would allow that discrimination under federal law.

"All discrimination is immoral and HRC is right to object to what these schools are doing," said Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation. "So why is HRC spending millions in Congress to promote ENDA when that legislation has a religious exemption that will let Roman Catholic schools and other religiously-affiliated institutions fire LGBT people and perhaps even pro-LGBT people?"

In a May 27 press release announcing it had delivered a letter to the Vatican on behalf of nine Roman Catholic school teachers who were fired from their jobs for being LGBT or pro-LGBT, HRC called such discrimination "draconian laws" that are "designed to force LGBT people back into the closet and silence straight allies."

HRC noted that the firings were part of "a frightening trend" at Roman Catholic schools across America of including teacher contract clauses that bar LGBT people and pro-LGBT activities by teachers at these schools. In April, HRC collected over 30,000 signatures in a petition asking the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to remove the clause from its teacher contract, the press release noted.

"HRC can't have it both ways," Kidd said. "It can't criticize Roman Catholic schools for discriminating against LGBT Americans and then seek to make that discrimination legal under federal law. ENDA is a lousy bill and it should be scrapped. What the LGBT community needs is comprehensive federal civil rights legislation."

Queer Nation has been campaigning for a comprehensive federal civil rights law that bans discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and federally-funded programs. The direct action group is using the hashtags #deadenda and #endaisnotequal.

ENDA's religious exemption is expansive and goes beyond the more limited exemption in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Five leading LGBT legal groups are not supporting the current version of ENDA, which only bans employment discrimination, because of its religious exemption. Lorri Jean, the head of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, recently said that the exemption must be removed.

Matt Foreman, the former head of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and Cathy Marino-Thomas, the former board chair of Marriage Equality USA, have opposed ENDA and called for comprehensive federal civil rights legislation.


Thursday Speed Read: NOM and Oregon, Idaho Stay, Arkansas, Lorri Jean, South Carolina, Give Out Day

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

McshaneJUDGE SAYS NO TO NOM:

U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane yesterday denied the National Organization for Marriage motion to serve as intervenor to defend Oregon’s ban on same-sex marriage. McShane, who is openly gay, held a hearing on two consolidated lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ban. Because the state attorney general said her office could not vouch for the ban’s constitutionality, no one argued in its defense. McShane is expected to issue his decision on that issue soon and, if he finds it unconstitutional, same-sex couples may be able to obtain marriage licenses right away. NOM has said it will appeal McShane’s ruling on the intervenor motion to the Ninth Circuit.

Flag_idahoIDAHO RUSHES TO APPEAL FOR STAY:

Idaho Governor Butch Otter is also on his way to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Otter is appealing the decision Wednesday by Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale to deny his request that she stay her decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Dale’s ruling on the ban, issued Tuesday, will go into effect Friday morning unless Otter is able to secure a stay from the federal appeals court.

Arkansas_supremeARKANSAS COMPLICATIONS:

The Arkansas Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition from the state’s attorney general for an emergency stay of a county circuit judge’s May 9 ruling that two state laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The high court said that, for procedural reasons, the supreme court does not yet have jurisdiction. Responding to the attorney general’s argument that county clerks around the state are uncertain as to whether they should issues licenses or wait for the results of an appeal, the supreme court noted that Judge Chris Piazza’s ruling said nothing about a separate Arkansas law “and its prohibitions against circuit and county clerks issuing same-sex marriage licenses.” Jack Wagoner, an attorney for the 12 plaintiff couples, told the Arkansas Times he’d be in court today to “fix” the problem. “How can you find something unconstitutional,” said Wagoner, “but not affect a statute that would require the clerks to do something unconstitutional?”

JeanANOTHER VOICE ON ENDA FRAILTY:

Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center Executive Director Lorri Jean, speaking to “An Evening with Women” event on Saturday, had this to say about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act: “Religious freedom does not include the freedom to oppress other people. These kinds of fundamentalist forces are behind efforts to gut what laws we do have in this country that protect LGBT people from discrimination….Even our own Employment Non-Discrimination Act—the only federal law currently being proposed to protect LGBT people—includes a broad religious exemption. It was put into ENDA eight years ago, expressly to weaken it. It does not belong there today.” Former NGLTF Executive Director Matt Foreman said Monday he thinks LGBT leaders should “pull the plug” on the current version of ENDA, saying it is “essentially a lifeless corpse.”

SouthcarolinaSOUTH CAROLINA SENATE RESTORES FUNDS:

The South Carolina Senate on Wednesday approved a state budget Tuesday that restores the $70,000 cut from the funding for two public universities over their use of books with positive depictions of gay people. But according to the State newspaper, the senate stipulated that the restored funds should be used to teach the constitution and other founding documents.

A DAY TO GIVE “OUT” TO LGBT COMMUNITY:

Today is “Give Out Day,” an event scheduled to encourage supporters of LGBT organizations to donate to them. Last year, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the event raised over $600,000, from 5,474 individuals in support of over 400 nonprofits groups across the country.
© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Wednesday Speed Read: Virginia, Idaho, Equality Act of '74, Matt Foreman, ENDA, Alaska

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

NiemeyerFOURTH CIRCUIT SLUGFEST:

Oral arguments Tuesday before the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals over Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage suggest the vote will almost certainly be 2 to 1 vote. The only question is which way it will go. Sharp comments and fierce questioning by two of the three judges left little room for doubt on how their votes will split. Republican appointee Paul Niemeyer, 73, said allowing gays to marry could set the stage for a man to marry “six wives or his daughter.” He suggested same-sex couples could have a “parallel” type relationship “with less attributes.” Democratic appointee Judge Roger Gregory, 62, derided arguments by attorneys who said marriage laws are for heterosexual couples to “protect the children.” Gregory said that sounded like a “totalitarian system where people are baby makers and you get married for the interest of the state.” Full story tomorrow.

DaleTHE ‘SLOW’ MARCH IN IDAHO:

Just eight days after hearing arguments, a U.S. magistrate judge on Tuesday struck down Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage and ordered the state begin issuing licenses Friday. Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale’s 57-page memorandum order in Latta v. Otter, a case brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says the ban on same-sex couple marrying violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees to equal protection and due process.  “Slow as the march toward equality may seem, it is never in vain,” wrote Dale, who said the state offered “no evidence that same-sex marriage would adversely affect opposite-sex marriages or the well-being of children.” The ruling made Idaho the 11th state this year to see its ban on same-sex marriage struck down. All are under appeal. In anticipation of Dale’s decision, Idaho’s Republican Governor Butch Otter filed a motion requesting a stay pending appeal.

SPEAKING OF THE ‘SLOW’ MARCH:

It was 40 years ago today that U.S. Reps. Bella Abzug and Ed Koch (D-NY) introduced the “Equality Act of 1974,” the first version of what is now the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The Equality Act was a much broader piece of legislation, seeking to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Over the years, the bill was trimmed and rewritten. Today’s version seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity but only in employment with businesses of 15 employees or more and with exemptions for religious organizations. The bill passed the Senate last November for the first time in its 40-year history; but House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has vowed it will not get a vote in the House under his leadership.

ForemanPULL THE PLUG ON ENDA?

Former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman urged LGBT leaders to “pull the plug” on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), saying it is an “essentially lifeless corpse.”

COUPLES SUE IN ALASKA:

Five same-sex couples filed suit in federal court Monday to challenge Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage. That now leaves only three states with bans that have not yet been challenged in court: North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana.

LAMBDA AT ALASKA SUPREME COURT:

Lambda Legal argued a case before the Alaska Supreme Court Tuesday that could strike down that state’s ban on same-sex marriages. In Harris v. Millennium Hotel, Lambda argued that the state law barring same-sex couples the right to marry prevented Deborah Harris from qualifying for a survivors’ benefit paid through the state’s Workers Compensation Act to spouses of employees killed at work. Harris and Kerry Fadely were in a relationship for 10 years before Fadely was shot to death at work by a recently fired employee.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


GOP Congresswoman Throws Cold Water on ENDA 'Discharge Petition'

Advocates have long suggested that a discharge petition, used when a committee leader refuses to bring a measure up for consideration, is the only way to move ENDA forward in the House of Representatives, but at least one GOP sponsor says that won't be happening, the Washington Blade reports:

RoslehtinenRep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), an original co-sponsor of ENDA in the U.S. House, said through a spokesperson that she would not sign a discharge petition to force House leadership to move the bill to the floor.

“Rep. Ros-Lehtinen will not be signing a discharge petition as it is a partisan political tool,” said Keith Fernandez, a Ros-Lehtinen spokesperson.

The Washington Blade reached out to all seven Republican co-sponsors of ENDA in the U.S. House to ask whether they’d be willing to sign a discharge petition, but Ros-Lehtinen’s office was the only one that responded. In addition to Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican co-sponsors are Reps. Richard Hanna (N.Y.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Jon Runyan (N.J.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Michael Coffman (Colo.) and Chris Gibson (N.Y.).

ENDA discussion picked up this week after Vice President Joe Biden told the Huffington Post that he sees no downside in the President signing an executive order protecting LGBT people in the workplace.


Biden Remarks on ENDA Prompt Renewed Grilling of White House Over Executive Order

Jay_carney

In ani interview on Wednesday with the HuffPost, Vice President Joe Biden said he didn't see any downside in the President issuing an executive order  on LGBT workplace discrimination but said that the White House still prefers the matter be handled legislatively, by passing ENDA.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about that statement yesterday.

Here is the transcript, via the White House:

Q    The Vice President said yesterday that he doesn’t see any downside to the President taking executive action on LGBT workplace discrimination.  Does the President agree?

MR. CARNEY:  Well, I think the complete statement was that what we’re focused on -- the big accomplishment, which would be passage by both houses of Congress and the signing into law by the President of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

I think it’s -- points have been made, and I think in response to something I said earlier, that it’s clear that executive orders aren’t necessarily completely overlapping with what would be achieved by legislation.  I think there’s no doubt that the legislation would be a far greater accomplishment and more broadly applied.  And that is why we continue to push the House to follow the Senate’s lead and pass that, because those who oppose it, I hope -- at least their children -- will regret the reasons they put forward for opposing it, because they sound a lot like the reasons opponents argued against civil rights legislation in the past.  And they were wrong there.  They’re wrong now.

So I don’t have any updates on suggested or proposed executive orders.  What I can tell you is that we still call on Congress, the House, to follow the Senate’s lead and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Q    What is there a reluctance to do something on the executive order when it could complement this broader push that you guys really want?

MR. CARNEY:  Again, I just don’t engage in discussion about speculative executive orders.  When the President decides to take action using his administrative authority, some --

Q    But the Vice President speculated.  He said that he didn’t see any downside.

MR. CARNEY:  No, I think he answered a question about it, as I have repeatedly.   And I’m happy to.  I think this is an incredibly important issue, and I think it is remarkable how much progress has been made and remarkable that there is still resistance to the progress that remains to be made.  That’s certainly the President’s view.

I just don’t -- I try not to engage in speculation about any executive action the President may or may not take.  What I can tell you is that there is legislation on Capitol Hill that we strongly support and would like to see passed by the House.  Thank you all very much.

In March, 195 lawmakers, all Dems, signed a letter urging Obama to issue the executive order.


Houston Mayor Annise Parker Introduces Ordinance Protecting LGBT City Workers From Discrimination

Today, Houston mayor Annise Parker introduced an Equal Rights Ordinance that would protect the city’s public and private employees from workplace, housing and public accommodation discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Anisse_parkerNews 92 FM reports that “Religious organizations would be exempt in order to avoid First Amendment issues," and that "Parker plans to present the draft ordinance to the Houston City Council Quality of Life Committee on April 30. Consideration by the full council is scheduled for May 7.”

John Wright at Lone Star Q adds that, “Parker previously indicated that an earlier draft of the proposed ordinance didn’t include citywide employment protections, leading to a major push by LGBT advocates to have the provision added.”

Wright also adds that Houston was “the only major city in Texas, and one of the few in the nation, that lacks citywide LGBT protections,” and that “Mayor Parker has exempted companies with fewer than 50 employees… three times higher than under the Austin or Dallas [non-discrimination ordinances], or under the federal [Employment Non-Discrimination Act].” Wright surmises that Parker may have had to do this in order to earn votes for the ordinance’s passage.

The Human Rights Campaign’s National Field Director Marty Rouse thanked Mayor Parker for leading on the issue:

“It is far past time to protect the citizens of Houston from all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. As the nation’s fourth largest city, Houston is an epicenter for business and culture. Cities thrive when all citizens feel welcome and part of the cultural fabric. Today, Mayor Parker told every Houstonian that they are a valued part of the city’s future."


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged