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HRC's Chad Griffin Says Congress Must Narrow ENDA's Religious Exemption and Pass Full LGBT Civil Rights Bill

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Wednesday called on Congress to narrow the religious exemption in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act one day after several other top LGBT rights groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the ACLU pulled their support of the bill.

GriffinHRC had come under criticism for standing by the bill. Said Griffin in today's statement, posted at Buzzfeed:

The Human Rights Campaign supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for a very simple reason. It will guarantee millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all 50 states explicit, reliable protections from discrimination in the workplace. We call on our allies in Congress to improve this bill’s overly broad religious exemption. A strong ENDA is worth fighting for because we cannot ignore the urgent need of countless LGBT people who do not have the luxury of waiting for these protections.

...We cannot and will not ignore the imperative of this moment. As long as this Congress is in session, we will fight for ENDA — with a narrowed religious exemption — because these workplace protections will change millions of lives for the better. But this movement has a responsibility to also chart a course for the future.

Griffin also stated the need for a full LGBT civil rights bill:

But regardless of whether or not ENDA passes in this session of Congress, it is time for the LGBT movement to throw its weight behind a fully comprehensive LGBT civil rights bill. A bill that, at long last, would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in all core civil rights categories — including housing, public accommodations, credit, education and, if ENDA fails to pass, in employment. This is a visionary idea that Congresswoman Bella Abzug brought to Congress in 1974. Its time has come.


As ACLU, GLAD, Lambda Legal, NCLR, and Transgender Law Center Pull Support for ENDA, HRC Holds On

Following this morning's statement that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) dropped their support for ENDA, four more major LGBT rights organizations have followed suit.

Via the ACLU: Aclu

The American Civil Liberties Union today announced that it is withdrawing its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a statement also signed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Transgender Law Center. The ACLU objects to a provision in the bill that would allow religiously affiliated employers to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

"Federal legislation to protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination is way beyond overdue, but Congress has no place giving religiously affiliated employers a license to discriminate against LGBT workers," said Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office. "We can no longer support a bill that treats LGBT discrimination as different and somehow more legitimate than other forms of discrimination."

President Obama has announced his intention to sign an executive order that would ban discrimination against LGBT people employed by federal contractors. The ACLU opposes any inclusion of a discrimination exemption in this executive order.

Read their statement HERE.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign continues to support the troubling, flawed piece of legislation.

Said HRC Vice President Fred Sainz in an email: "HRC supports ENDA because it will provide essential workplace protections to millions of LGBT people."

In related news, 45 LGBT groups have written a letter to President Obama asking him to ensure that the executive order he has promised to sign barring anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors "not contain any exemption beyond what is provided by the Constitution and Title VII."


Bisexual Asylum Seeker Avoids Deportation To Jamaica - VIDEO

Oraisha edwards

Orashia Edwards, a bisexual Jamaican man who says he faces danger in his native country because of his sexuality, learned on Tuesday that he will not be deported from the U.K.

Homophobia remains a major issue in Jamaican society.

The case for a judicial review of Home Secretary Theresa May's decision was thrown out by a judge in Leeds.

In his written judgement, Judge Clive Heaton QC said that Edwards was being dishonest about his sexuality.

According to Pink News, Edwards has been living in the U.K. for four years along with the rest of his family. He has a one-year-old daughter. Mr Edwards has not been in Jamaica for 14 years.

Speaking to the BBC after the verdict, Edwards said:

"This is my home, I feel safe here, my family and friends are here. I can't go back to Jamaica."

In a press release, activist organization Leeds For Change, which has claimed Home Office decisions behind asylum are prejudiced against LGBT applicants, said it “won’t stop fighting for Orashia to stay here in Leeds with us, his family and the LGBT community. An application to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Orashia will be issued shortly.”

All claims of bias in asylum applications have been denied by the government.

Edwards learned Tuesday that he will now not be deported from the U.K. A spokesperson from the Home Office refused to comment on the change in its decision.

Edwards is today in court submitting new evidence.

Watch State Of Limbo, a short documentary about the Edwards case, and a follow-up interview prior to the hearing, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Bisexual Asylum Seeker Avoids Deportation To Jamaica - VIDEO" »


Mongolian Government Plans Reform To Combat Hate Crimes

Mongolian flag

The Mongolian government is set to introduce a number of reforms to address the prevention of hate crimes in the country.

In 2012, the National Human Rights Commission reported that almost 80 percent of Mongolians surveyed who self-identified as LGBT had experienced some form of human rights abuse in the previous three years.

Hate crimes in Mongolia received international attention in 2011 when nationalist groups were responsible for numerous attacks against the country’s LGBTI and foreign migrant communities.

Speaking to Al Jazeera following the February 2014 rape of a gay man by homophobic nationalists, a civil rights activist who asked the news outlet to not be named, said:

“We are not sure whether later [the victim] was murdered - or whether he killed himself.”

Police had at first refused to register the sexual assault as a hate crime as male-to-male rape is not considered a crime in Mongolia.

Announced in May, the proposed reforms include a review of the provision for anti-discrimination in the country's criminal code. The Ministry of Justice has removed specific hate-oriented provisions from the draft law.  According to Anaraa Nyamdorj, executive director of Mongolia’s LGBT Centre, more generalized references to “discrimination” will mean that Mongolia “could very well be one of the first countries in the world to criminalize the very concept of discrimination almost entirely.”

Anaraa also recognises that the more generalized proposed law could be seen as a threat to free speech:

"It runs the risk of being seen in a negative light - people can't even say what they want to because then it will be considered discrimination. Then if it's discrimination, it's a crime, so I can't even fully express myself."

According to Bataa Bayaraa, head of the Mongolian National Human Rights Commission's Complaints and Inquiry Division, the law is likely to be passed following substantive amendments.

However, for Anaraa new anti-discrimination laws cannot come soon enough.  

"We cannot wait for these constitutional amendments to be passed. We need to take whatever we can ... and run with it. Right now, lives are being affected irreversibly."


Friday Speed Read: ENDA, Utah, NOM, IRS, Puerto Rico, Patricia Todd, Uganda, Immigration

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

Finalvote_endaTWO MORE GROUPS DISS ENDA:

The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equality Illinois issued separate statements Thursday, joining the chorus of those who say the current version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) “falls short.” Equality Illinois says that, while it supports ENDA, its members “strongly oppose including any exemptions that would give LGBT people less protection than other protected groups already enjoy under federal civil rights law.” NCLR said it is “confident the current discriminatory religious exemption in ENDA will not be part of the final legislation,” but added it would “not continue to support ENDA if it is not changed to be consistent with Title VII’s religious exemption."

UtahTENTH CIRCUIT STAYS RECOGNITION ORDER:

The Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed Thursday to a temporary stay of a federal district court judge’s ruling that Utah must recognize, for the purpose of state benefits, the 1,300 marriages performed for same-sex couples in the state prior to a U.S. Supreme Court stay of a decision striking the state ban. The appeals court is expected to decide by June 12 whether to grant a more permanent stay, in Evans v. Utah, until the Tenth Circuit can rule on the state’s ban, in Kitchen v. Herbert.

NOM-logoJUDGE DISMISSES MOST OF NOM-IRS LAWSUIT:

A federal district court judge in Virginia on June 3 dismissed most of a lawsuit by the National Organization for Marriage that claimed an employee of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service deliberately leaked a confidential tax document from NOM to the Human Rights Campaign. Judge James Cacheris said NOM failed to provide any evidence that the disclosure was deliberate and politically motivated; but, he said the IRS may bear some responsibility for the legal expenses NOM incurred as a result of that error and scheduled that issue for trial June 30. Story to follow later today.

RodriguezLESBIAN NOMINATED TO P.R. SUPREME COURT:

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla on Wednesday nominated lesbian attorney Maite Oronoz Rodríguez to serve on the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Rodríguez is director of legal affairs for the city of San Juan, served as deputy solicitor general for PR and briefly as its acting solicitor general. Lambda Legal issued a statement applauding the nomination of the “first openly lesbian judge” to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. The nomination now goes to the PR senate for confirmation.

ToddMORE ELECTION WINNERS:

Openly gay Alabama state Representative Patricia Todd beat out two Democratic challengers in a primary race Tuesday, seeking her third term to represent Birmingham. Todd, the state’s first and only openly gay elected official, took 64 percent of the vote. And Richard Garcia was elected mayor of Long Beach, California, becoming the city’s first openly gay mayor.

Chad_griffinHRC URGES OBAMA ACTION AGAINST UGANDA:

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin sent President Obama a letter June 2, urging him to take “immediate, concrete” action to “illustrate the United States’ commitment to protecting human rights in Uganda.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act in February. President Obama said at the time that the law would “complicate” U.S. relations with Uganda and the administration began an “internal review” of those relations.  “Delay is putting lives at risk,” wrote Griffin. “…The world is waiting for action….”

GROUPS URGE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION:

The Human Rights Campaign and 14 other groups signed onto a letter to President Obama June 3, urging him to take “swift executive action to suspend mass immigration detention and deportations.” The letter says Immigration and Custom Enforcement “has failed to take adequate steps to protect LGBT people from abuse and inhumane isolation in detention centers….”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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.


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