Nel's New Day

November 9, 2013

November Moves LGBT Rights Forward

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 9:08 PM
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The month of November is not even one-third gone, and the news of LGBT acceptance across the country has been amazing:

  • Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME), candidate for the state’s governor, came out as gay after his opposition started a “whisper” smear campaign about his sexual orientation.
  • Across the country, 54 LGBT candidates won, including the candidates for mayors of Houston and Seattle.
  • Shortly after his Tuesday win for Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe pledged to ban discrimination against LGBT state employees.
  • A federal judge upheld New Jersey’s law banning gay conversion therapy for minors, and Washington, D.C. is working on a similar law.

Around the world, Ireland is making a move toward marriage equality, and the First Lady of Zambia called for an end to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The most publicized movement toward LGBT rights in the past week was the Senate passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time in 17 years. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) first introduced ENDA in the Senate two years earlier. Before he died in 2009, he asked Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)—one of my senators!—to continue the effort.

Thirty-two GOP senators opposed the bill that could end employment discrimination in the 60 percent of the states that can legally discriminate against LGBT workers. Ten other Republicans voted in favor of the proposed law, and three GOP senators failed to vote. ENDA adds sexual orientation and gender identity to the job-protected categories of age, disability, gender, race, and religion.

Some House Republicans such as Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) are smart enough to know that the GOP needs to show more tolerance. He would be willing to support the law, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has promised to keep the bill from a vote in that chamber.

“No one should face discrimination in the workforce,” Boehner claimed in April when he asserted that LGBT people are already protected in their jobs:

“There are ample laws already in place to deal with this. Having been the chairman of the Education & Workforce Committee, I’m quite familiar with employment law.”

The majority of voters support legislation that protects LGBT workers from discrimination. Polls also show that many people wrongly believe that laws protect LGBT people on the job. No federal law or regulation prevents employers from firing LGBT workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Firing or discriminating against LGBT people is legal in 29 states; firing or discriminating against transgender people is legal in 33 states. You can look at your state laws here. Below is a map showing support for a law that Boehner refuses to take to the House.

ENDAStates-555x526

Jonathan Pacheco and his boyfriend couldn’t even shop at Walmart in Chickasha (OK). An employee, identified as a janitor, told them, “It is Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” before telling the two men that they weren’t allowed to be in the store.

Pundits have made very strange objections to ENDA:

ENDA is unprincipled and confers special rights. So wrote Ryan T. Anderson in a National Review op-ed that rambled through bigoted excuses ending with the problem of bathrooms, used a half century ago when discussing the Equal Rights Amendment.

ENDA is unnecessary and unpopular. So wrote Ralph Reed in USA Today when he talked about the bill “violating an employee’s right to privacy.” He concluded, “The number of discrimination actions in states that prohibit hiring decisions based on sexual preference is miniscule [sic], suggesting it doesn’t require federal policing.” Actually, between 15 and 43 percent of LGB people have experienced workplace discrimination or harassment, and between 8 and 17 percent have been hired or fired due to their sexual orientation. Up to 41 percent of LGB employees have experienced anti-gay harassment or abuse in the workplace. That number soars up to 90 percent for trans people.

ENDA will make gay people boring. So wrote Patrick Howley in the Daily Caller after he described his own possible homosexuality in a several hundred words. He then sneered at LGBT people and described ENDA as “another anti-business piece of legislation that allows self-identified cultural victims to sue their employers after they get fired.”

The newest right is approaching in Hawaii. Despite far-right protests, the Senate passed a marriage equality bill. An amended bill passed in the House will return to the Senate. If the Senate passes the amended bill, the governor has promised to sign it. Ironically, the possibility of Hawaii legalizing same-sex marriage 20 years ago goaded Congress into passing DOMA, which was the law of the land for 17 years until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned part of it last June. Hawaii’s governor Neil Abercrombie used the SCOTUS decision to make marriage equality in the state a priority to give same-sex couples federal rights.

The Senate opened up its hearing to over 1,000 public comments.Over 5,000 people signed up to address the bill in the House, many of them to delay the vote. IDs were required after people testified on behalf of others and used fake names to get more than one turn. Some people tried to use proxies in an attempt to make the testimony against the bill overwhelming, causing the House to make new rules. Only people with a valid registration number and ID can speak to a bill.

Hawaii police union president Tenari Maafala, an active duty officer, told legislators they would have to “kill” him before he would ever enforce same-sex marriage. He added that denying gay couples the right to marry is not discrimination if it’s against one’s beliefs.

Some Hawaiians tearfully claimed that legalized same-sex marriages would destroy their culture. Historians, however, said that the island did not have the modern marriage before European settlement and that the native people then accepted homosexuality.

The House considered 29 amendments showing such fears about marriage equality as these:

  • Tourists might stop coming from Asia.
  • Sex ed curricula might include same-sex couples or even say that heterosexual relationships are not healthy.
  • People might have to provide lodging to same-sex couples—a requirement already in law.
  • Churches might not be able to discriminate against the LGBT community.

Hawaii-Rep.-Jo-JordanIn a first, openly lesbian Rep. Jo Jordan (D) voted against the bill. No other openly LGBT lawmaker has voted against marriage equality, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. In her district, 75 percent of voters support marriage equality. Jordan said, however, that she had to represent the entire state. A statewide polling shows a 55-percent majority support for legalized same-sex marriage.

Almost 1,000 people spoke before the House passed the bill by 30-19.

A lawsuit has already been filed to slow the ability of same-sex couples to marry even if it becomes law. The people voted for a constitutional amendment asking if legislature could reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples. The state government and attorney general agree that the legislature can then legalize marriage equality. State Rep. Bob McDermott is going to the state circuit courts with the theory that people didn’t understand what their vote meant. His position is opposite from anti-marriage equality supporters in California who argued that the will of the people was absolute.

McDermott also worries that marriage equality will force Dick and Jane books to show Dick and Dick or Jane and Jane. Rep. Gene Ward (R) worried about “mama bears” threatened by a penis entering an anus. (What is with this GOP preoccupation with sex!?)  

Marriage equality in Hawaii has had a long 20-year journey since the state Supreme Court ruled that refusing a marriage license to Ninia Aehr and Genora Dancel was discriminatory and illegal. The Senate plans to finish the journey on Tuesday when it takes up the House’s amended bill. If the bill is passed and marriage equality is not blocked in the courts, same-sex marriages can begin December 2 of this year, and Hawaii becomes the 16th state in the union to recognize marriage equality.

Yesterday during the debate in the House, a rainbow appeared over the state capitol building.

rainbow hawaii

October 30, 2013

Marriage Equality: Pro & Con

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:12 PM
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After the New Jersey Supreme Court declared marriage equality the law of the state, Hawaii is using a special session called by the governor to tread the waters of legalized marriage equality. The rift between conservatives and progressives is building.

The Hawaii Senate has passed SB1 legalizing marriage equality by a 20-4 vote and sent it to the House. The House Republicans, however, want to remove the one GOP member in the legislature who supports the law from the 13-member Judiciary Committee before a final reading that would send the bill to the House. GOP Rep. Cynthia Thielen said, “I support marriage equality. I may be the sole Republican in our minority caucus that does … but I can guarantee I’m not the sole Republican in our community who does.”

At least, 1,800 people signed up to testify about the bill when it was in the Senate panel, causing Senator Clayton Hee to limit statements to one minute. Attorney General David Louie spoke in favor of the bill but acknowledged that a same-sex couple from Hawaii who married in California would get the federal benefits created by last summer’s Supreme Court ruling as if Hawaii legalized marriage equality. Republican Sam Slom, one of the nay votes on the Senate panel, said that people could go to California frequently enough that they could just marry there. Back to same-sex marriage for the elite.

Gary Secor, who represents the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii, worried about “the potentially negative sociological impact such relationships may eventually have on society.” The others who opposed marriage equality used religious reasons, at one time reciting “The Lord’s Prayer.” Testimony also argued that the bill was pushed by those outside the state and would harm Native Hawaiians. The testifier who compared marriage equality supporters to Nazi Germany, stating that a vocal minority was trying to exert their view over a silent majority, failed to mention that the opponents to the bill were very vocal. Or that gays and lesbians were many times persecuted and killed in Nazi death camps.

The Mormons, who claimed after they played a big part in passing California’s Proposition 8 banning marriage equality, have returned, sending anti-LGBT marriage letters to their Hawaiian local ward congregations to be read to the faithful in the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Those objecting to marriage equality can get some help directly from LGBT people. A New York Times article interviewed some couples who are also opposed to same-sex couples. Together for 18 years, Brian Blatz, 47, and Dan Davis, 58, see no point in marrying because “it isn’t going to change anything in terms of how we feel about each other.”

Other opposition comes from those who believe that as an outdated institution, marriage forces same-sex couples into the mainstream or that it creates financial burdens and legal entanglements. Sean Fader, 34, views marriage as “this oppressive Christian model.” Feminists perceive marriage as historically oppressive. Stephanie Schroeder and Lisa Haas say that marriage privileges couples and stigmatizes single people. John D’Emilio thinks same-sex marriage is elitist; his partner of 32 years, Jim Oleson, has been married and has no interest in doing it again. Still others fear they may have to pay higher taxes if they are married.

Before federal legalized marriage equality, gays and lesbians protested civil unions as “feel-good marriages,” Larry Kramer’s description. After the Supreme Court decision, he married David Webster in July.

A valid objection to the fight for marriage equality is that it was done at the expense of other issues such as AIDS prevention and non-discrimination in employment and housing. Emilio said, “After people with good health insurance could have treatment for H.I.V., the community sort of abandoned AIDS as a priority.”

One issue being addressed—again—is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring up the bill next week with the support of all 54 Democrats and at least four Republicans. GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Mark Kirk are co-sponsoring the legislation, and GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch and Lisa Murkowski voted for the bill in the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Rob Portman (OH) said he is “inclined to support” the bill, and other senators targeted by advocates include Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (NH), Dean Heller (NV), Jeff Flake (AZ), John McCain (AZ), and Pat Toomey (PA). Flake has said he won’t support the bill because it protects transgender workers.

Reps Jared Polis (D-CO) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) are leading the campaign to pass ENDA through the Republican-controlled House. Even if the GOP members of the House were inclined to support ENDA, they won’t have any time this year because they will be gone most of the time. The House quit today until November 12 and may cancel some of the 18 days left in the session. Nice work if you can get it. The deadline for final budget recommendations from the joint House/Senate Committee is December 15, and the existing budget expires on January 15. Not many working days before then.

ENDA has been introduced in every Congress since 1994 except the 109th when the GOP controlled Congress and the presidency. Similar legislation has been introduced without passage since 1974. The bill hasn’t had a vote on the House or Senate floor since November 2007, when it passed the House 235-184.

Not all gays and lesbians agree that marriage won’t give them and their families greater protection. In at least 20 states, lawsuits are addressing the constitutionality of state amendments or statutes banning marriage equality: Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Other states are taking further action:

 North Carolina: Buncombe County register of deeds Drew Reisinger has announced that he will accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples in spite of a 2012 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Oklahoma: Darren Black Bear and Jason Pickel are the first same-sex couple to marry in the state despite its ban against same-sex marriage.  The Cheyenne Arapaho recognizes the couple as wed although the state does not.

Oregon: A campaign is well on its way to collect enough signatures for an initiative that would overturn the state’s constitutional ban on marriage equality.

Before SCOTUS handed down its landmark decision legalizing federal marriage equality, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick wrote this:

“Nine years ago … same-sex marriages started happening in Massachusetts, and the time since then has proved wonderfully unremarkable. The sky has not fallen. The earth has not opened to swallow us up. Thousands of good people, contributing members of our society, have made free decisions about whom to marry. Most have been joyful and lasting. Some have failed. Ho-hum.”

The 2003 court decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health included the following statement from then-Chief Justice Margaret Marshall:

“Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. Because it fulfills yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

Not everyone may want marriage, but for those same-sex couples who do, the United States is gradually opening up. Marriage equality is inevitable; government would save lots of taxpayer money if they just changed the laws.

My opinion? Marriage equality is like health care: everyone should have the right to have it. And people who don’t get married because they say they’ll never need it may change their minds when they run into legal problems.

March 27, 2013

End LGBT Job Discrimination

Marriage equality has been the focus of media this week as the U.S. Supreme Court addressed two separate cases about allowing same-sex couples the opportunity for legalized marriage. Fox has started stirring up its audience into a froth, fomenting the fear that a ruling in favor of marriage equality would result in removing Christianity from our country and wiping out all the advantages that religion—primarily Christians—have. But there’s an even scarier thing going on for all LGBT people.

I want all the straight people in this country to consider what would happen if they were to be fired because they are—gasp!—heterosexual. Little do they know that this could happen in 29 states. It most likely won’t because straight people are in the majority in the United States, but their employers could legally use this excuse. That’s because Congress consistently refuses to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

Passing ENDA would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees. Introduced in every Congress since 1994 except for the 109th Congress from 2004-6, the concept of ENDA has failed since 1974. A version of the law failed in the Senate by a single vote in 1996. Even a Democratic Congress in 2006 couldn’t pass it, even after ENDA dropped protection for transgender people, perhaps because George W. Bush threatened to veto the measure. Even Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) voted for ENDA in 2007.

Following Democratic gains in 2008, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced ENDA that included transgender people. Failing in that Congress, the two men introduced the bill again in 2011 when a Senate committee held a hearing on the measure, the first such hearing to include testimony by a transgender witness.

Courts cannot protect LGBT employees fired because of their sexual orientation and gender identify because LGBT people are not classified as a “suspect class,” a group with a set of criteria indicating that they are probably the subject of discrimination. ENDA supporters argue that the Constitution guarantees equal protection and due process for all. The American Psychology Association (APA) argues the homosexuality is a personal identity and not a “choice” and that all employees should be judged by the quality of their work performance instead of completely unrelated factors.

Conservative Christians believe that there is no discrimination against LGBT people and that ENDA would negatively impact religious organizations. The Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), are afraid that schools would be required to hire transgender teachers.

In the current 113th Congress, with Frank no longer in the House, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) plans to be the lead author of the next ENDA. One source stated that the new bill may have changes related to religious exemption and disparate impact to make the legislation’s protections stronger for LGBT workers than previously written. ENDA has previously included a strong religious exemption. In the most recent version of the bill, Section 6 provided an exemption for religious organizations and businesses that were also exempt under Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964.

Three weeks ago, the Family Research Council sent out a fundraising email warning its recipients that this “dangerous” and “totalitarian” bill is possible. Tony Perkins explained that ENDA would “give special rights to men and women who engage in homosexual behavior.” To far-right Christians, having a job is an example of “special rights.”

A public opinion poll from 2011 shows that almost three-fourths of voters (73 percent) support protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination. Even two-thirds of Republicans supported nondiscrimination laws. Even Catholics (74 percent) and seniors (61 percent) are in favor of workplace protections for LGBT people. Even voters who describe themselves as being unfavorable toward LGBT people support nondiscrimination by 50 percent.

Yet 90 percent of these voters don’t understand that that these protections are not in place: they think a federal law protects LGBT people from workplace discrimination. ENDA affects far more people than equality of marriage and of lesbians and gays in the military, but the bill is largely ignored by most people, including President Obama.

There’s a 99-percent chance that the bill won’t even see the light of day in the current, Republican-dominated House although Ryan claims that the GOP will support ENDA—sort of. The GOP even strongly opposes universal background checks for gun buyers although 91 percent of the people support this. But if any heterosexuals are fired because of “sexual orientation,” they might want to consider support of ENDA.

As columnist Ruth Marcus wrote, “The movement for marriage equality is enormously important; its trajectory toward success is nothing short of astonishing. Yet no American should be asked to choose between the right to marry and the right to work. Every American, regardless of sexual orientation, is entitled to both.”

May 17, 2012

End Homophobia & Transphobia

Because of Louis-Georges Tin, French university lecturer and equal rights campaigner, today is The International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). He chose May 17 for this global day of action to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The organization began with a concentration on homophobia in 2004 and added transphobia five years later.

The week began with clear examples of homophobia. Despite majority approval from legislators, Virginia blocked a gay judge from confirmation.  One Virginia lawmaker said he voted against the confirmation because a gay judge could not be impartial; the House of Delegates voted 33-31 for confirmation but lacked the 51 majority votes required.

Colorado suppressed a bill to allow same-sex civil unions. The Republicans had filibustered the civil union bill until the legislature finished for the year, but the governor brought the legislature back to consider the bills not addressed in the session. House Speaker Frank McNulty then sent the bill to his “kill” committee, the State Veterans and Military Affairs Committee with five Republicans of the nine members. The bill would probably have passed  if it had escaped the committee.

On the good side, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has come out in favor of marriage equality. “I don’t think we want to wait on courts,” Quinn said. “I think in Illinois, we are able to show the nation that we are a state that believes in respecting everyone. Everyone has dignity and rights.”

Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee declared that the state will recognize any legal marriages from any other state, including same-sex marriages. The situation has been pending for five years since then-Attorney General Patrick Lynch issued an opinion that recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriage. The executive order making same-sex marriage legal has many implications. Same-sex spouses of state employees and anyone covered by an insurance company regulated in Rhode Island can get health and life insurance benefits. Same-sex couples having children can list their names as parents on the birth certificates, and they also receive sales tax exemptions on property transfers.

The Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) is headed back to committee—and the support behind this is bipartisan! Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) announced a hearing in the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee on June 12. The announcement followed a letter dated May 9 from ENDA co-sponsors Mark Kirk (R-IL), Robert Casey (D-PA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) urging the committee to bring the legislation up for debate. Harkin said, “Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination. Workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation.”

And Ellen DeGeneres is the 15th recipient of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, which recognizes individuals who make a difference through satire and social commentary!

Much as some people would prefer to have LGBT people invisible, LGBT people have changed history for the better in all parts of life from art to philosophy to science to politics. Ancient Greece, Rome, China, Japan, the Arab countries, and most early indigenous peoples have known the advantages of these individuals.

The following honors only a few of these people.

  • Writer Oscar Wilde, who changed the world even after he was sentenced to hard labor for his sexuality, said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Many people know him for The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest.”
  • Author Gertrude Stein gave no apology for either her gender or her sexual orientation, leaving not only a literary legacy but also the magic that resulted from networking among the developing artists and authors in her famous salons during the early twentieth century.
  • Inventor, scientist, and great painter Leonardo da Vinci created not only machines not known until centuries later but also  such masterpieces as “The Last Supper” and “The Mona Lisa.”
  • A founder of computer science, Alan Turing was instrumental in solving the Nazi’s Enigma code during World War II, allowing translations of intercepted messages so that Allies could anticipate enemy movements. People in the United States might be speaking German instead of English without Turing. He committed suicide after the English government chemically castrated him.
  • The man behind the scenes of the Civil Rights Movement, Bayard Rustin organized the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King made his most famous speech and was one of the main people responsible for the Congress on Racial Equality.

People resentful of knowing the important contributions of LGBT people frequently ask that we not push their identity on others. They fail to understand the way that heterosexuality is pushed onto the world—photos on office desks, wedding rings, marriage celebrations, children, small talk, jokes, etc. Their sexual identity is highly visible: we LGBT people deserve the same rights. It is time that all people become “we.”

April 21, 2011

Defense of Marriage for All



According to the conservatives, America is very poor, on the verge of being broke. But U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (pronounced “Baynor” and not how it looks phonetically) has decided to spend taxpayers’ money on his personal issue–The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Incensed because the Department of Justice (DOJ) is not defending the law before the U.S. Supreme Court, he has managed to pass a bill that will hire former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement and the King & Spalding law firm to defend the 1996 law that defines and recognizes marriage only as the legal union between a man and a woman. And he wants to take money from the DOJ to pay for his decision to fight at least eleven cases surrounding this issue.

When former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked the amount of this expenditure, Boehner didn’t answer. But the contract with the law firm shows that he is getting a discount for their services, $520 per hour instead of the usual $1000. According to the contract, the cap for the cost approved by House Republicans is $500,000 but can be raised “by written agreement between the parties with the approval” of the House. Compared to other government expenditures, this may seem a pittance, but a women who has been denied WIC monies for her starving child will think differently.

Although King & Spalding’s policies indicate its support for diversity, the conservative Focus on the Family is extremely pleased by the choice. They believe Clement has an excellent chance of winning the case before the Supreme Court. They might be able to show this chart to reveal the dangers of legalized same-sex marriage.

Currently Congress is moving forward with The Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA. Sen. Herb Kohl (WI) has become the tenth and final senator necessary to move S.598 out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Maybe there is hope for Wisconsin!)

Update 4/22/11:  All of King & Spalding’s employees – lawyers and non-lawyers – are barred from advocating for the Respect for Marriage Act – the bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act – in the 112th Congress, according to the terms of the contract to defend DOMA that King & Spalding partner Paul Clement signed on the firm’s behalf on April 14. In 2010 King & Spalding had more than 800 lawyers and offices worldwide.

An excellent book about same-sex marriage that disproves many of the negative myths about it is M.V. Lee Badgett’s When Gay People Get Married:  What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage (NYU, 2010).  A blend of personal stories from couples in the Netherlands and extensive data from several countries surrounding the issue of gender-neutral marriage, this provides political, social, and personal stakes in the fluid shifting of legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples. She discusses issues that I had not considered, such as the increased monogamy resulting from gay marriage decreasing the incidence of venereal disease. According to her research, more people get married in theU.S. than inEurope to obtain their health care situation and support their religious viewpoint. The Netherlands has a four-tiered system:  1) living alone; 2) living with someone else without written agreement which gives them certain rights; 3) partners; and 4) marriage.  The research also shows that marriage has not destroyed the institution of marriage.

On another subject, the White house has begun circulating a draft executive order that would require companies seeking government contracts to disclose contributions—including the secret ones—to groups that air political ads attacking or support candidates. This is its answer to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that allows corporations to donate unlimited monies anonymously to candidates. The Koch-owned companies may be impacted by such an order.

Progressives also need your help in supporting the new version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)—HR 1397—and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Mark Kirk (R-IL)—S. 811, the bill would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote an employee based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Currently, it is legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation in 29 states, and it is legal to fire someone because of their gender identity in 38 states. PFLAG encourages everyone to contact their representatives and senators to educate them about the importance of passing this bill.

Tomorrow’s blog for Earth Day will be cheerier!

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