Posts Tagged As: Non-discrimination

Two Days After Orlando, House GOP Leaders Block LGBT Nondiscrimination Amendment

Jim Burroway

June 15th, 2016

Late yesterday, the House Roles committee, dominated by members handpicked by House Speaker He-Who-Cannot-Say-Our-Name (R-WI) blocked an amendment filed by Rep, Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) to restore President Barack Obama’s Executive Order prohibiting discrimination against LGBT employees among federal contractors. That Executive Order is threatened by a clause inserted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) into a VA spending bill passed by the House last month that would overturn it. As The Hill reports:

Maloney argued that allowing a vote to prohibit discrimination in the workplace after the targeted attack on the gay nightclub would send a message of solidarity with the LGBT community.

“It’s hard to imagine that any act that is so horrific could lead to anything positive. But if we were going to do anything, it would be a very positive step to say that discrimination has no place in our law and to reaffirm the president’s actions in this area,” Maloney told The Hill. “Seems to me a pretty basic thing to do.”

…Two centrist Republicans, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and Richard Hanna (N.Y.), signed onto Maloney’s amendment as co-sponsors.

…In an appearance before the House Rules Committee to make the case for his amendment, Maloney compared his proposal to last year’s racially motivated shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, S.C., that led to restrictions on displaying the Confederate flag.

“They also responded by acting and by recognizing that symbols and language matter,” Maloney said. “Because hate has no place in our flags, in our workplace, or in our country. And it should have no place in federal law.”

On the ascendancy of He-Who-Cannot-Say-Our-Name to the Speakership, he promised to usher in a new era of following the House Rules and Regular Order. But after Russell’s  amendment was attached to the VA spending bill, Maloney proposed an amendment to that same spending bill to countermand Russell’s amendment. It passed, 217-206 during the two-minute voting period in accordance with House Rules, but GOP leaders held voting open for another five and a half minutes while  Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) worked the Republican caucus to flip the seven votes needed to kill Patrick’s amendment.

The following week, the House approved Maloney’s amendment, this time to an appropriations bill for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers and several other agencies. But after approving other poison pill amendments unacceptable to Democrats — and after Rep. Rick W. Allen (R-GA) led the GOP caucus in an opening prayer quoting Bible passages saying homosexuals were “worthy of death” — lawmakers on both sides of the aisle lined up to defeat that bill 112-305. Soon after, He-Who-Cannot-Say-Our-Name instituted a new rule requiring all amendments to spending bills be cleared first through his hand-chosen Rules Committee.

Massachusetts To Add Gender Identity to Public Accommodations Law

Jim Burroway

June 2nd, 2016

As other parts of the country wring their hands over which (if any) bathroom transgender people should use, the Massachusetts House has approved a bill to add gender identity to its public accommodations anti-discirmination law. After seven hours of acrimonious debate, the House passed the measure with a bipartisan 116-36 vote after rejecting 22 amendments. There is a slight difference between the House version and the Senate version passed last month:

The House version tasks the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination and the attorney general with determining how to determine gender identity and how to enforce laws against anyone “who asserts gender identity for an improper purpose.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its re-approval or, barring that, reconciliation in conference. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has said he would sign the House version.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia offer some form of anti-discrimination protection based on gender identity. Massachusetts law currently includes gender identity as part of its housing, education and employment anti-discrimination laws. This measure adds gender identity protections for public accommodations, including hotels, restaurants, theaters, and other public facilities, including the right to use the changing room and bathroom corresponding to one’s gender identity rather than anatomical sex.

House GOP Caucus Heard “Homosexuals Worthy Of Death” Verse Before Spending Bill Vote

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

I mentioned this earlier, but Roll Call has just come out with more details:

Georgia Rep. Rick W. Allen led the opening prayer by reading from Romans 1:18-32, and Revelations 22:18-19. An aide to Allen told CQ that Allen did not mention the upcoming vote on the Energy-Water spending bill or an amendment it included from Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York that would prevent federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Passages in the verses refer to homosexuality and the penalty for homosexual behavior. “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet,” reads Romans 1:27, which Allen read, according to his office.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” read lines 28-32, which Allen also read, according to his office.

The night before, the full House — with the help of 43 Republicans — approved an amendment offered by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) Malone to restore President Obama’s LGBT non-discrimnation Executive Order. The order is threatened by a clause inserted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) into a VA spending bill passed by the House last week that would overturn it.

Following the prayer/sermon/caucus meeting this morning, 130 of the 246 House Republicans– well more than half the caucus — defeated the energy spending bill, with many of those voting against it citing specifically citing Maloney’s amendment. When Maloney heard about the GOP conference prayer/sermon, he declared, “To suggest that protecting people from being fired because of who they are means eternal damnation, then I think they are starting to show their true colors.”

Only 106 Republicans joined six Democrats to support the bill. Democratic opposition centered around a another amendment added to the spending bill after Maloney’s amendment was approved that would prevent the Obama administration from reducing Title IX and other funding to North Carolina over that state’s discriminatory anti-trans legislation. Exchanging one form of discrimination for another made the prospect of voting for the larger spending bill anathema to all but six Democrats.

What Went Wrong Today: Same As Before, But With A Twist

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

Emmarie Huetteman at the New York Times has an interesting analysis of what went wrong today when House Republicans derailed their own spending bill due to the inclusion of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-NY) amendment restoring Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That Executive Order is threatened by a clause inserted by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) into a VA spending bill passed by the House last week that would overturn it. After Maloney’s amendment to the Energy spending bill restoring Obama’s order was approved late yesterday, the House turned around and voted down the entire bill today.

So what happened?

During the revolt that drove out Speaker John A. Boehner last fall, Republicans demanded a more rule-abiding House, where members would be allowed to introduce amendments and there would be votes on appropriations bills. (House Speaker Paul Ryan), so dedicated to procedure that in January he cut off a key vote to rebuke tardy lawmakers, agreed.

Now, with bipartisan majorities forming around amendments like anti-discrimination legislation for gay men and lesbians, some House Republicans are having second thoughts.

…After the amendment’s passage, several Republicans told Mr. Ryan during a private meeting Thursday that they were not so keen on regular order, as the process of parliamentary rule-following is called, after all, according to members present.

Mr. Ryan said the collapse was to be expected. When he agreed to more amendments, he said, he understood “that some bills might fail, because we’re not going to tightly control the process and predetermine the outcome of everything around here. Well, that’s what happened here today.”

It might be tempting to say that the Tea Party wing of the GOP was hoisted on its own petard, but in the end it’s hard to know exactly whose petard got hoisted. Ryan blamed the Democrats for the bill’s failure. Only six voted for the measure. But the thing is, 130 Republicans — more than half of the GOP caucus, joined the Democrats to defeat the bill, against only 106 Republicans supporting it. That same infighting is also why House Republicans haven’t been able to produce a budget this year. So House Republicans continue to demonstrate their ongoing inability to govern their own caucus, let alone the House.

Ryan’s ascendency to the Speakership was supposed to usher in a new era, with the House getting things done and following the rules. The past two weeks have demonstrated that this new era, lasting not quite five months, now lies in shambles. In the end, the new era — the new ways of doing things — fell victim to the same forces that brought down the old era under Boehner. So how do they fix that? Well, it looks like there’s even more  talk today about dropping “regular order” and going back to the way things were done when Boehner was Speaker. We know how that worked out.

Updated: The House May Have Passed the LGBT Amendment, But They Defeated The Larger Bill

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

The House rejected a appropriations bill for the Energy Department, Army Corps of Engineers, Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation and several other commissions. The huge $37.4 billion spending bill went down 112-305. Dems lined up against the measure, citing such poison pill provisions as amendment targeting the Iran nuclear deal and prohibiting the Obama administration from revoking Title IX funds previously appropriated for North Carolina and Mississippi over those states’ anti-trans bathroom bills. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) was among those voting against the bill:

Ultimately, though, Maloney said he voted ‘no’ on the Energy-Water bill, which included his LGBT anti-discrimination amendment. He pointed to a subsequent amendment by Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C.,   which prohibits the Obama administration from blocking North Carolina from receiving federal funds in retaliation to its transgender bathroom law. That measure was adopted 227-192.

“I wasn’t about to support the Pittenger amendment … having fought all week to get workplace protections,” Maloney said. “We won the vote last night. That’s an important victory. It shows there is a majority in the House that supports work place protection.”

Update:  Politico adds this bit of inside baseball:

Some GOP lawmakers were furious over Rep. Rick Allen’s (R-Ga.) comments on the LGBT issue at a GOP Conference meeting prior to the vote.

Allen read a passage from the Bible and questioned whether members would violate their religious principles if they supported the bill.

But moderate Republicans were stunned by Allen’s remarks, and some walked out of the meeting in protest, according to GOP lawmakers.

“A good number of members were furious,” said one Republican, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. “There was some Scripture that was read and the like … Nothing good was going to happen to those that supported [the LGBT provision.] A good number of members were furious.”

An amendment offered by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) added a line saying that Maloney’s provision, which restored Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to provide anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, would not conflict with “the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.” The hope was that this caveat would reassure more conservative members of the caucus. But this morning, those conservatives informed leadership that they would not support the appropriations bill with Maloney’s amendment attached. Those conservatives said that GOP leadership never should have allowed Maloney’s amendment to be vote on in the first place. Meanwhile, Democrats also abandoned the bill over the Title IX amendment and other provisions targeting climate change science and withholding federal funds from “sanctuary cities.”

House Finally Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Measure

Jim Burroway

May 26th, 2016

Remember that amendment that Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) tried to attach to veterans spending bill last week that would uphold President Obama’s Executive Order requiring federal contractors to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity? Remember that he tried to attach that amendment because Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) had inserted a provision that would have overturned Obama’s Executive Order? And remember how House GOP leaders went through extra lengths — even going so far as to openly break their own House rules to do it — to see Maloney’s amendment defeated?

Well, the House has approved Maloney’s measure as an amendment to an Energy Department appropriations bill. The vote was 223-195 late Wednesday night. Forty-three Republicans joined all voting Democrats to support the amendment. According to The Hill:

Republicans were more prepared this time for Maloney’s amendment since it was clear ahead of time that it would come up for a vote. Last week’s vote, meanwhile, came with little warning, which resulted in GOP leaders partaking in the last-minute arm-twisting.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) offered a counter-amendment so that Maloney’s proposal would be modified by stating that no funds could be used in contravention of the LGBT executive order except as “required by the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.”

“Does anyone in this chamber seriously oppose Article I of the constitution, the First Amendment, or the 14th Amendment?” Pitts asked.

Maloney allowed Pitts’s amendment to pass by voice vote, saying that he had no objection to simply stating adherence to the Constitution.

“What do you say we abide by the whole Constitution? The part that tries to make it more progressive, more inclusive of people like me, of people of color, of women, of people who were shut out when it was written. How about we include the whole Constitution? Can we do that?” Maloney said.

All seven Republicans who switched their vote last week wound up voting for Maloney’s amendment.

Earlier that evening, the House approved an amendment from Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) which prohibits the Obama administration from revoking Title IX funds previously appropriated for North Carolina over the state’s anti-trans bathroom bill.

The whole bill goes before the House on Thursday, and will need to be reconciled with the Senate version which does not include Maloney’s amendment.

House Dems Promise More LGBT Amendments, GOP Leaders Counter With Rule Change

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

These two stories go hand in hand. Here’s the first:

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

House Democrats will keep trying to force floor votes on the issue of LGBT nondiscrimination after an amendment they offered to a spending bill last week failed when Republicans switched their votes, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday.

“There will be” more amendments, the Maryland Democrat said. “We believe that our country is all about inclusion. We certainly differ from [Donald] Trump on that issue.”

Last week, House GOP leaders broke their own rules to orchestrate the defeat of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)’s amendment restoring President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring federal to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity. A clause overturning the order had been inserted into the 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK).

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had promised to return the House to regular order and to be a stickler about House rules and the vote clock.  but he was convientiently AWOL during these shenanigans. He also didn’t bother to criticize the rule-breaking, saying he knew nothing about what happened. And here is where the second story comes in: Ryan informed his caucus this morning that he’s going to tinker with a key rule that have been in place since the GOP took over the House five years ago:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Ryan laid out plans at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning to require that members submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides.

The change will not yet be in effect this week for a bill to fund the Energy Department and water infrastructure projects. But lawmakers would have to abide by the requirement, which before now was optional, starting with appropriations bills considered after the Memorial Day recess.

By requiring amendments to be made public in advance, GOP leaders would be able to anticipate difficult votes and figure out a strategy before the last minute. Specifics of the revamped process, such as the deadline for members to file their amendments, haven’t been determined by leadership yet.

… Top Republicans have touted the use of open rules as a return to “regular order” and a way to empower individual members. But it has backfired spectacularly on House Republicans twice in the last year.

The change affects appropriations bills only. On all other bills, the Speaker has discretion in determining which amendments will be considered from the floor.

Charlotte Pulls “Compromise” With State Over HB2

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

Yesterday, the city of Charlotte was scheduled to vote on a proposed repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The ordinance had already been overruled by North Carolina’s HB2, which not only overturned local anti discrimination ordinances across the state, but added a highly controversial provision requiring that trans persons use public restrooms that matches their birth certificate. The state legislature and governor did all of that in exactly one day. Contrary to statements by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and other anti-LGBT extremists, the Charlotte ordinance did not address public restroom usage. In a potential compromise, the city would repeal its anti-discrimination ordinance and the legislature would “modify” some parts of HB2. I haven’t found any description of what those modifications were supposed to be.

But just before Charlotte’s city council was scheduled to meet yesterday, the Council released a statement saying the vote would not be on the agenda. The local Chamber of Congress had been pressing for the “compromise”:

The Charlotte Chamber declined to comment Sunday on the HRC criticism. But in an op-ed posted Sunday, Chamber President Bob Morgan said the City Council “should act to take the first step in a process we hope leads to reforms to HB2 that advance our city and state as places where discrimination is not tolerated – for anyone.” He said the council should take that step in response to “an overture” by the legislature.

The chamber says it opposes discrimination in any form but has not taken a position on HB2, unlike some other business groups in the state, which have asked for a repeal of the state law.

The chamber has previously lobbied city officials to be more conciliatory toward Raleigh leaders in their public statements. But the group upset some in the city when it issued a statement praising Gov. Pat McCrory’s executive order in early April that was an attempt to defuse the controversy over HB2.

Council members believe there are six votes for the symbolic repeal: Republicans Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith, and Democrats Greg Phipps, Claire Fallon, Vi Lyles and James Mitchell. (Lyles and Mitchel supported the ordinance in February; the others opposed it.) Those six votes would have been enough to pass the repeal, but not enough to sustain Mayor Jennifer Roberts’s veto. Later in the meeting, Republican council member Kenny Smith proposed a resolution to place the ordinance’s repeal on the agenda for Wednesday. That resolution failed 7-4.

The HRC sent a letter to the Council urging them not to compromise: “This moment in which we find ourselves is quickly defining the type of nation we are destined to be. Today, you are standing on the right side of history.”

 

Log Cabin Republicans Denounce Yesterdays Vote-Switching on Anti-Discrimination Provision

Jim Burroway

May 20th, 2016

Here’s their press release:

LCRLog Cabin Republicans has sent a letter to Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) demanding full accountability and a public explanation for the unprecedented and likely unparliamentary act yesterday that allowed a pro-LGBT amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fail.

“During an election year in which voters across the country are crying out because they feel our country’s political system is at best broken and at worst rigged, the sham on the floor of the United States House of Representatives yesterday spearheaded by Leader McCarthy played up everything wrong with congress today,” Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo stated. “Beyond overriding an executive order that existed under President George W. Bush, yesterday’s actions on the House floor defy the repeated promises of House Leadership to operate under regular order and with transparency. Log Cabin Republicans commends the 29 Republicans who refused to succumb to strong-arm tactics and voted for the amendment, and demands those congressmembers who perpetuated this fraudulence be held accountable.”

After House leadership broke their own House rules to orchestrate the defeat of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)’s amendment restoring President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring federal to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity, Democrats pounced on the seven vote-switchers, three of whom are in particularly vulnerable in tight races, and vowed to make their actions a campaign issue. LCR is also publicizing the those vote-switcher names. In case you missed it, they were Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Greg Walden (R-OR), Mimi Walters (R-CA), David Young (R-IA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), and David Valadao (R-CA).

Acrimony In Da House: Chaos As Republicans Defeat Anti-Discrimination Amendment

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 12.15.07 PM

When the 2016 Defense Authorization Bill hit the floor of the House today, it carried with it a provision attached by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) which would overturn President Obama’s executive order requiring federal contractors to maintain anti-discrimination policies that cover sexual orientation and gender identity.  Today, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) introduced an amendment from the House floor to strike Russell’s provision from the bill. And that’s when

The Hill describes it succinctly:

The House floor devolved into chaos and shouting on Thursday as a measure to ensure protections for members of the LGBT community narrowly failed to pass after Republican leaders urged their members to change their votes.

Initially, it appeared Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) amendment had passed, as 217 “yes” votes piled up over 206 “no” votes when the clock ran out. The measure needed 213 votes to pass.

But it eventually failed on a 212-213 vote after a number of Republican lawmakers changed their votes from “yes” to “no” after the clock had expired.

GOP leaders held the vote open as they pressured members to change sides. Infuriating Democrats, they let lawmakers switch their votes without walking to the well at the front of the chamber.

The clock for the vote was set at two minutes. According to House procedures, after the clock expires, the lawmaker holding the gavel asks the House if any members want to change their votes. At that point, the electronic voting machines are switched off, and any vote-changing members go to the front of the chamber to switch their votes in person.

But in this case, when GOP leaders saw that Maloney’s amendment had passed when the clock ran out, the Speaker pro tempore never asked the question and the electronic voting machines were kept open as GOP leaders prowled for potential vote-switchers. After an additional five minutes and 37 seconds had passed, the vote was closed soon after the 213th “nay” vote was cast.

When Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) took over the as Speaker from Rep. John Boehner, he promised to return the House to regular order and to be a stickler about House rules and the vote clock. Today he feigned ignorance to reporters when asked whether his leadership team pressured seven Republicans to change their votes. But a senior House Republican leadership aide told CNN that all of the top GOP leaders were working to defeat Maloney’s amendment.

Ryan was not in the House chamber when the vote was taken. Democrats say it was Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who was the most visible actor in the campaign to flip votes.

Maloney emphasized that many Republicans held their ground and refused to switch sides. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) “was at the head of that list,” Maloney said.

“McCarthy went down and talked to him, and [Dent] told [McCarthy] to get lost,” Maloney said. “And McCarthy then went around and twisted everybody else’s arms, and it was disgraceful.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that craven and that ugly in my time in Congress,” Maloney added.

At one point, Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), who had inserted the pro-discrimnation clause in the first place, was heard prowling the Republican side of the aisle shouting, “Need two more votes!”

Maloney added that “easily a dozen” Republicans approached him on the floor “and expressed disgust for what happened today.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was similarly outraged over what he called the “cowardice” of those House members who switched their votes:

Hoyer alleged that the Republicans who changed their vote initially believed that the amendment would fail.

“Several Republican Members initially cast votes in favor of Rep. Maloney’s amendment but shamefully changed their votes after it was clear the amendment would pass, leading the amendment to fail by just a single vote,” Hoyer said in a Thursday afternoon statement. “Not only did they vote against equality and inclusion, but those who switched their votes did not even have the courage to do so openly in the well of the House. They did so quietly from the back benches, contrary to established practice that requires vote-switching to be done in person at the Clerk’s desk, and House Republican leaders held a two-minute vote open for nearly eight minutes.”

…Hoyer later revealed on Twitter the seven Republican members who changed their vote on the amendment: Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA), Rep. David Young (R-IA), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-ME), and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA).

Walden is chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign committee for House Republicans. Valadao, Young and Poliquin have been identified by the NRCC as vulnerable, and before this vote they were already marked by the NRCC for extra “special protection” campaign spending. Democrats are already pouncing on the possibility of making this a campaign issue in those and other competitive districts.

House Republicans Refuse to Remove Anti-LGBT Provisions From Defense Bill

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2016

The House Rules Committee yesterday refused to take up a bipartisan proposal bipartisan amendment introduced by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) which would remove anti-LGBT language from the 2017 Defense Authorization Bill. If that language remains in the bill, it would overturn President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring that federal contractors maintain anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The committee voted down the amendment 9-3 on strict party lines.

The original amendment overturning Obama’s executive order was inserted into the Defense Authorization Bill by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) when the House Armed Services Committee was marking up the legislation.

Rep. Steve Russel (R-OK)

Rep. Steve Russel (R-OK)

The amendment, introduced by freshman Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.), would require the federal government when contracting with religious organizations to afford them exemptions consistent with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the American with Disabilities Act. Since neither of those laws prohibit anti-LGBT bias, the amendment would enable religious organizations doing business with the U.S. government to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Because the measure would have the force of law, it would overrule the executive order signed by President Obama in 2014 prohibiting contractors doing more than $10,000 a year in business with the U.S. government from engaging in anti-LGBT discrimination against employees. The president included no religious exemption in his order, although he left in place a Bush-era exemption allowing religious organizations contracting with the U.S. government to favor co-religionists in hiring practices.

The amendment provides an exemption for “any religious corporation, religious association, religious educational institution or religious society” contracting with the U.S. government. All of those terms are undefined in the amendment, but the lack of definition for “religious corporation” could allow courts to construe the term broadly to any federal contractor — not just religious organizations — in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in the Hobby Lobby case.

The White House has said that it strongly objects to the anti-LGBT provision. It has previously threatened to veto the bill over objections to several other provisions in the legislation.

The Senate version of the bill does not contain the anti-LGBT provision. The next opportunity to remove it from the house committee would be during conference committee after both houses approve their respective versions of the bill.

Why not add Gypsies to the Pride Parade?

Timothy Kincaid

July 23rd, 2015

Suppose that the Roma community (better known as “Gypsies”*) approached the organizers of Gay Pride parades and proposed that the events be changed to the Gay and Gypsies Pride events. Like the gay community, they explain, Gypsies have been excluded and discriminated against and treated with contempt. Even the name “Gypsy” has become a pejorative term thrown around at people who are not Romani so as to insult them.

After all, it’s not like gays still need to fight for marriage or military or family rights. And there are so many commonalities between the two communities that it just makes sense that the parades, demonstrations, and festivals advocating for gay inclusion should now focus on Gypsy inclusion. And since we’ve accomplished so much, it’s the Gypsies’ time.

Now many of us can empathize with the plight of the Roma people. Theirs has been a long tough row to hoe. But as for changing Gay Pride to be Gay and Gypsy Pride? I’m sure the answer would be a unanimous No. We have a sense of ownership and history and shared experiences and our remembrance of the Stonewall uprising has special meaning to us.

Nevertheless, many Roma people may feel that they are being rejected and disrespected and treated with contempt. Yet again, ugly anti-Gypsy animus has raised its head.

Now this is a very far-fetched scenario. The Roma are extremely unlikely to want to join up with the LGBT community and be equal partners at our festivals and parades.

But I propose this thought-exercise for a reason.

Currently before Congress is the Equality Act, which is designed to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.” Specifically, it seeks to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 thusly:

TITLE II–INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AGAINST DISCRIMINATION IN PLACES OF PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION
SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.

and

SEC. 202. All persons shall be entitled to be free, at any establishment or place, from discrimination or segregation of any kind on the ground of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin, if such discrimination or segregation is or purports to be required by any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, rule, or order of a State or any agency or political subdivision thereof.

The bill goes on to similarly revise Sections 301, 401, 410, 601, 701, 703, 704, 706, 717, and so on.

It would also add to the list of service providers prohibited from such discrimination:

(4) any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services;
(5) any train service, bus service, car service, taxi service, airline service, station, depot, or other place of or establishment that provides transportation service;

And clarifies that

A reference in this title to an establishment—
(1) shall be construed to include an individual whose operations affect commerce and who is a provider of a good, service, or program; and
(2) shall not be construed to be limited to a physical facility or place.

(In other words, this bill will specifically include unincorporated individuals who bake wedding cakes or arrange flowers from their home on a part-time basis.)

In addition to the above, the bill changes law relating to credit application and jury selection. But the primary provisions are the revision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

This bill will be opposed. Under Congress’ current configuration, it has very little chance of passing.

Some will oppose the bill because they believe that homosexuality is a trait that should be discouraged and that anti-gay discrimination is advantageous to society. Some may oppose the bill out of unexamined discomfort, animus, bigotry, or prejudice. Some libertarian minded people may see this bill as a step too far, one which disregards the rights of the individual to autonomy and self-determination.

But I believe that there will be an opposition to this bill which will be – at least initially – misunderstood. I believe that a sizable portion of the African-American community will oppose this bill for reasons that may be mistaken as animus but which hold a different basis altogether.

For Black Americans, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a near-sacred document. It has context and history and is closely tied in the minds of African Americans to slavery, Jim Crow laws, oppression, and anti-Black bigotry. The African American community has an emotional ownership in this piece of legislation.

And it may feel as though something is being taken from them, lack of respect is being shown for their history, and that gays are ‘latching-on’ to the Black Civil Rights Movement. A group that has not shared their history and which does not experience their lives is now saying “us, too”.

This is going to sit poorly with some African American leaders. Perhaps many of them. I think it even possible (though unlikely) that the Congressional Black Caucus may oppose this proposed revision to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And some in our community will be offended. They may be tempted to see it as yet another evidence of animus and anti-gay bigotry. Another “now that they got theirs” situation.

We should resist that temptation.

We should instead be respectful of the emotional ownership with which Black Americans hold this Act and the reasons behind it. Whether or not revision to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may be the best method through which to deal with anti-gay discrimination, let’s be careful to approach this bill with a recognition of the feelings and history of others.

After all, opposition to this bill by black leaders may be similar, in many ways, to how opposition would be within our community to revising Gay Pride to be Gay and Gypsy Pride. Less animus than a sense of personal ownership.

(* use of the term Gypsy is not meant be offensive. Although some consider Gypsy to be a pejorative term, that is a term many Romi use for themselves and is used in law. In some ways it mirrors the word Gay and how it is used by society)

What the Bible says to Christian cake bakers

Timothy Kincaid

April 8th, 2015

wedding cake

Personally, I don’t think that bakers and photographers should be compelled to offer their services to anyone they don’t like. We’ve had that discussion many times here at Box Turtle Bulletin and though I understand the arguments of those who wish to compel discrimination out of existence, my libertarian streak just doesn’t let me get there.

Frankly, there are people who I prefer not associate with or provide with services. And I respect that they may feel the same.

That being said, these angry Christians who are furious about bakers having to serve gay couples seem not to have read their Bible or believe the words of Jesus. Because the recorded words of Jesus himself tell you what to do when you are sued to bake a cake.

Matthew 5:38-42:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

So what would Jesus say to Baronelle Stutzman and the other Christian bakers who fear that by baking a wedding cake for a gay couple they are then condoning immoral lifestyles? Even if they think gay people are evil? It’s not very ambiguous:

If anyone wants to sue you and force you to bake a wedding cake, bake them cupcakes as well.

But, of course, that only applies to followers of Jesus. So Stutzman and her ilk may not find it relevant.

Wyoming Senate passes non-discrimination bill

Timothy Kincaid

February 10th, 2015

Therepublic

The Wyoming State Senate voted Tuesday to approve a bill to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Senate voted 24-to-6 on Tuesday to send the bill to the House.

The bill would add prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to a range of state laws that now prohibit discrimination based on other factors including race, age, disability and political affiliation. The bill has exemptions for religious organizations.

There are 26 Republicans and 4 Democrats in the Wyoming Senate.

Snyder calls for non-discrimination

Timothy Kincaid

June 4th, 2014

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) has been walking a careful line when it comes to gay issues.

When his state’s ban on marriage equality was found to be unconstitutional, he opted not to share his own views and left the appeal to the state’s attorney general. And when his office had to take a position on those marriages that occurred before a stay was issued, he found a legal medium; the marriages were legal (and thus could be recognized federally) but the state’s statutes (once the ruling was stayed) disallowed state recognition.

But now he has found a way to be supportive of the gay community, and do so at the behest of a Republican constituency. Speaking at the Detroit Regional Chamber Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, where a group of business leaders has endorsed adding LGBT rights to the civil rights law, he concurred. (Michigan radio)

Governor Rick Snyder says he’d like the Legislature to amend Michigan’s civil rights law to add protections for gays, lesbians and transgendered people.

“I don’t believe in discrimination and I think it would be great if they, the Legislature, looked at it later in the year,” said Snyder.

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