article placeholder

ENDA advances out of committee, faces full Senate test next

Sen. Todd Harkin

Gay rights supporters in Washington have been trying to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act for years, but renewed momentum thanks to two recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage cases have put a new focus on workplace protections for the country's LGBT workers.

The U.S. Senate's committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions today passed H.B. 815, the 2013 version of ENDA.

ENDA, in its current form, would prohibit employers from firing, refusing to hire or otherwise discriminating against workers solely based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

article placeholder

Georgia Equality calls out Sen. Isakson over ENDA

The U.S. Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will meet tomorrow to discuss Senate bill 815, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is a member of the committee and is being urged by Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT political advocacy organization, to support ending workplace discrimination by throwing his weight behind ENDA.

Georgia Equality has issued a call for LGBT rights supporters to contact Isakson to let him know how they stand on employment discrimination against LGBT workers. Georgia is one of 29 states where workers can be fired simply for being gay and has as much as 79 percent voter support for workplace protections, according to Georgia Equality.

More than marriage: 5 issues our community must address now

Taylor Alexander

Mary Anne Adams moved to Atlanta in 1988 and since that time she has seen Atlanta's LGBT scene change dramatically.

“One of the biggest changes that I have seen is the degree and level of outness from LGBTQ communities, both internally and externally. Despite the overt homophobia and ever-looming threats of violence, it’s been exhilarating to see young folks on MARTA and at public events showing their affection for each other and just being themselves,” she said.

A proliferation of queer campus groups and openly gay politicians serving in the state legislature are also signs of Georgia's progress, said Adams, who works in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University and as an organizer with ZAMI NOBLA (National Organization of Lesbians Aging).

article placeholder

Romney promises ENDA support in secret Log Cabin endorsement deal?

Yesterday, gay conservative group Log Cabin Republicans officially endorsed Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney.

Left-leaning gay rights groups blasted the endorsement, saying the LCR had turned its back on the fight for LGBT equality. Out-going U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) also criticized the endorsement in a video posted to Youtube Tuesday. In it, Frank lays out the records of both Romney and his VP pick Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) on gay issues to poke holes in the LCR endorsement.

Ben Adler from The Nation did a little digging and speculates that LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper was given assurances by the Romney campaign that the candidate would support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as president. Such assurances helped convince LCR to endorse, Adler suggests.

article placeholder

First trans witness testifies at Senate ENDA hearing

Al FrankenGetting Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is no easy task, obviously, especially when it comes to the gender identity part. I mean, the anti-gay bigots are frothing at the mouth thinking about who will be using what bathroom.

But today the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held a hearing on ENDA and included a transgender witness to testify about his experiences. This is the same Congress that likes to discuss birth control with no women present, so no doubt this was a major victory for LGBT and ENDA activists.

article placeholder

‘Daily Show’ blasts Obama admin over LGBT employment discrimination

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

President Barack Obama has taken heat from LGBT activists in the last few weeks for refusing to sign an executive order that would ban workplace discrimination for federal contractors based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.

During last night's “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” host Jon Stewart laid out a pretty convincing argument against the Obama administration's decision to persue a legislative solution (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) rather than simply issuing an executive order to protect federal LGBT workers.

Stewart also pokes fun at North Carolina's proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage (in a state that has already outlaws such unions) and highlights a ridiculous new marketing campaign from the creators of Mike & Ike candies.

article placeholder

House Reps. to introduce ENDA this week

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives held a press conference this morning to announce the introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a law that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

ENDA, an important legislative priority for equality advocates, has been introduced each year since 1994. According to LGBT news outlet Metro Weekly, this year's ENDA bill will be identical to the one introduced by Rep. Barney Frank in the previous Congress.

The Human Rights Campaign, which has been pushing for such legislation, said today via its blog that LGBT persons are at greater risk of losing their job in an economy still struggling after a severe recession:

article placeholder

Gay activists watchful as Obama delivers State of the Union address tonight

President Barack Obama calls for DADT repeal

Though the central focus of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address will likely be the economy, gay rights advocates hope the president mentions LGBT issues when he speaks to the nation tonight.

Obama is expected to highlight the recent repeal of the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in tonight’s address, but advocates hope the president will also issue calls for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

During last year's State of the Union speech, Obama called for DADT to be repealed: "This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do," Obama said at the time.

article placeholder

Election: National results dim prospects for LGBT legislation

President Barack Obama

For two years, Democrats held the White House and the majority in both chambers of Congress. The window of opportunity for eliminating federal laws that treated LGBT Americans as second-class citizens was open. The window of opportunity for passing federal legislation to provide equal benefits of citizenship was open.

Some hoped the windows might be open for as long as eight years. But last week’s midterm elections are shutting those windows now — in fewer than eight weeks.

Republicans won back a majority of the U.S. House and it is an even more conservative Republican majority than LGBT citizens experienced in 1993 when Congress passed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ban on gays in the military. Democrat Tom Foley was Speaker of the House then, Richard Gephardt was Majority Leader. It is even more conservative than the 1996 Congress that passed the Defense of Marriage Act. Republican Newt Gingrich was Speaker then, aided by Dick Armey.

article placeholder

Openly gay candidates fare well, despite GOP ‘wave’

In spite of gains made across the country by Republicans typically unsupportive of LGBT rights, there were several important victories for the LGBT equality movement last night.

While it now seems unlikely that the Employment Nondiscrimination Act will be pass in the next session or efforts to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will continue in the U.S. House, many high-profile victories on the state and local level could signal opportunity for continued victories for LGBT rights.

Last night, New York elected Andrew Cuomo, son of former governor Mario Cuomo, as its next governor over Republican challenger Carl Paladino. Paladino made several anti-gay remarks (a few of which forced apologies) during the campaign, while Cuomo vowed to work toward marriage equality in the Empire state. “He will fight to make sure all couples have equal marriage rights under the law,” his website says.

article placeholder

Are LGBT voters over Obama?

President Barack Obama

Paul Schappaugh was a vocal supporter of Barack Obama when he ran for president, inspired by his inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues in his platform and his promises to ensure equality for all Americans.

What a difference a couple of years make.

Today, Schappaugh, an Atlantan and president of his own information technology business, said he is unhappy with the president’s misfires on LGBT issues, specifically his failure so far to overturn “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”