In a historic vote, the Senate passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) 64-32 yesterday, with 52 Democrats, 10 Republicans, and 2 Independents supporting the measure. ENDA would protect people from discrimination due to gender identity or sexual orientation in the work place. If passed by the House, it would be the first federal LGBT rights law. ENDA was first introduced to Congress in 1994 but never got out of either chamber until yesterday.
"No one should have to face employment discrimination or the fear of being fired simply because of who they are," said Maya Rupert, Policy Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "This vote is historic and signals a sea-change in the fight for workplace equality. It is no longer a question of if LGBT employees will receive federal workplace protections - it is a question of when."
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) believes ENDA would pass in the House if brought to a vote, it is opposed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). President Obama has urged the House Republican Leadership to bring ENDA to the floor for a vote.
"If the House of Representatives were freed by Speaker John Boehner to vote its conscience, this bill could pass immediately," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. "It's unconscionable that any one person would stand in the way of this crucial piece of the civil rights puzzle."
Twenty-one states have laws that protect against sexual orientation discrimination in workplaces, and 17 states protect against gender identity discrimination. This still leaves 33 states where a person can be fired for no other reason than being who they are.
Media Resources: CNN 11/8/13; Thinkprogress 11/7/13, 6/14/13
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .