Gay Rights

Speaker Boehner's Secret Vault

Six months later, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is still locked away by House GOP leadership. Take action with People For the American Way.
PFAW

Our ENDA mission started with Senator Kennedy

Eighteen years later, five after his passing, we are still working to complete the mission that Senator Kennedy laid before the nation. We are keeping the pressure on all of Congress to pass ENDA. The time is now!
PFAW

Where is Speaker Boehner hiding all the good bills like ENDA?

Senators who stood on the right side of history and voted for passage should be thanked. Senators who stood with anti-gay extremists should hear your disappointment. There are more instructions here and here, and you can always reach them by dialing 202-224-3121. As we move on to the House, if you have not added your name already, sign our petition now to keep the pressure on all of Congress to pass ENDA. The time is now!
PFAW

Scenes from today's ENDA debate - final votes tomorrow

The final Senate votes on ENDA will take place tomorrow, starting at 11:45 am EST. Now is your last chance to call your senators. There are more instructions here and here, and you can always reach both of them by dialing 202-224-3121. Don’t forget to sign our petition. The time is now – say yes to common sense and no to anti-gay extremists – pass ENDA!
PFAW

Scenes from the floor on the second day of ENDA debate

Today's speeches have already begun, and amendment votes are also in progress. Please keep calling the Senate. There are more instructions here and here, and you can always reach both of your senators by dialing 202-224-3121. Don’t forget to sign our petition. The time is now – say yes to common sense and no to anti-gay extremists – pass ENDA!
PFAW

Scenes from the floor on the first day of ENDA debate

From letters to alerts and more, the entire PFAW family has been working on ENDA. We still need your help. Please keep calling the Senate as this week's debate continues. There are more instructions here and here, and you can always reach both of your senators by dialing 202-224-3121. Don’t forget to sign our petition. The time is now – say yes to common sense and no to anti-gay extremists – pass ENDA!
PFAW

Senators Pryor and Manchin join list of ENDA supporters, contact your senators now

ENDA and workplace fairness for all have a clear majority on their side, but every vote is still critical. Thank those already in support for protecting LGBT workers. Tell those who aren't yet on board to say yes to common sense and no to anti-gay extremists.
PFAW

Senator Nelson cosponsors ENDA, leaves 3 votes to go, contact your senators now

Every vote will be critical to passage. Thank those already in support for protecting LGBT workers. Tell those who aren't yet on board to say yes to common sense and no to anti-gay extremists.
PFAW

Leader Reid announces ENDA vote – contact Senate now

Every vote will be critical to passage. Thank those already in support for protecting LGBT workers. Tell those who aren't yet on board to say yes to common sense and no to anti-gay extremists.
PFAW

Put this toolkit to good use and call your Senators today, "pass ENDA now!"

The government may be shut down, but Congress is still on the job, and we need to show them that they need to get back to work not only on the budget but on all of the urgent issues that we care about.
PFAW

PFAW Releases New Toolkit on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

First introduced in 1994, ENDA has been introduced in every subsequent session of Congress except one, including its introduction this April by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Advocates in Congress and on the ground believe that the growing momentum surrounding LGBT equality should help ENDA move forward this year.
PFAW

Employment Non-Discrimination Act: Judging Employees by Their Work Performance, Not by Who They Are or Who They Love

First introduced in 1994, ENDA has been introduced in every subsequent session of Congress except one, including its introduction this April by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate. Advocates in Congress and on the ground believe that the growing momentum surrounding LGBT equality should help ENDA move forward this year.

Schlafly: 'The Main Goal of the Homosexuals is to Silence Any Criticism'

On her Eagle Forum Live radio program last weekend, Phyllis Schlafly was joined by eminent conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi. Corsi, who is promoting his new book on the American Civil Liberties Union, told Schalfly that the ACLU and progressives are using the Supreme Court marriage cases as a way to enact hate speech laws and shut down churches. Schlafly agreed, saying, “I do think that the main goal of the homosexuals is to silence any criticism. Most of them aren’t interested in getting married.”

Later in the conversation, Schlafly compared a potential Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality to the infamous Dred Scott decision.

Corsi: The ACLU has been very strong behind the same-sex marriage. They have a whole section of the ACLU devoted to the LGBT agenda, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. And, Phyllis, if we get the Supreme Court saying that there’s a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, I think the next thing that’s going to happen is that we’re going to see an attempt to define hate speech, any minister or priest who from the pulpit condemns homosexual behavior from a scriptural basis or on principles of Judeo-Christian faith. And following that, the left will not only try to close that church down, but they’ll do it through pressing to take the tax-exempt status away from the church because the priest or the minister doesn’t agree with their agenda and is now engaged in ‘hate speech.’

Schlafly: Well, I do think that the main goal of the homosexuals is to silence any criticism. Most of them aren’t interested in getting married. But I think that’s what they want to do, and they’re starting out by trying it in the schools.



Schlafly: If five people on the Supreme Court are able to overturn our definition of marriage, which we’ve had for centuries, we had even before the Pilgrims landed on the Atlantic coast, there’s something wrong with our system. As Abraham Lincoln said in a famous, in his First Inaugural, in describing the Dred Scott case, probably the worst decision in history, and he said, okay, we have to accept what they decided for poor old Dred Scott. But we don’t have to accept it as a precedent and as something that will rule us forever, and we’re going to get this overturned. And if we don’t, we will be just simply subjects of what he called ‘that imminent tribunal.’ And we need to speak out. And before they hand down that decision, you need to pray that they come to the right decision and you all need to get your pastor to tell his congregation to pray for it.

Earlier this week, we reported that Schlafly is calling for a reinstatement of the House Un-American Activities Committee in response to the Boston Marathon bombings. When a caller asked why the ACLU couldn’t be tried for “subversive activity,” Schlafly repeated her demand to reinstate HUAC, and Corsi agreed.

Caller: The question I have is, how is it that no one has taken the ACLU to task in the courtroom and basically charged them with subversive activity?

Schlafly: Well, personally, Dr. Corsi, I think we need a new House Un-American Activities Committee, but I’ll let you answer your way.

Corsi: I’m in favor of it.

Marriage Equality Opponent Says 'Bigger Problem' Is No-Fault Divorce

Often lost in the debate over marriage equality is the fact that many of its leading opponents aren’t just interested in keeping the status quo on marriage. Instead, they're seeking to reverse what they see as a decline that began with laws granting greater freedom to women within marriages – specifically, the right to no-fault divorce.

In a conversation with radio host Janet Mefferd Friday, anti-gay writer Frank Turek responded to marriage equality supporters who point to divorce rates among straight couples. “You don’t make the car better by slashing another tire on it,” he said. “ You go back and repair the first tire. And I’m the first one to say that the bigger problem right now is no-fault divorce.”

Turek: I would agree with them that heterosexuals have debased it, heterosexuals have slashed one of the tires of marriage. But that’s not an argument for slashing another tire.

Mefferd: Good point, good point.

Turek: You don’t make the car better by slashing another tire on it. You go back and repair the first tire. And I’m the first one to say that the bigger problem right now is no-fault divorce.

Mefferd: Ah, yes.

Turek: But that is not an argument for same-sex marriage, in fact it’s an argument against it. Why? Because it shows you that when you liberalize marriage laws, you actually have a negative effect on society, which is what the no-fault marriage laws have done. So if you’re going to make marriage even more liberal, if you’re going to even further tear down the definition of marriage and make it totally genderless now, you’re going to have even worse results. You’re going to have even more illegitimacy, more kids that aren’t taken care of.

Now, I know the same-sex marriage advocates are going to say, ‘What, so same-sex marriage is going to do to your marriage?’ Well, it’s not going to do anything to my personal marriage, but it’s going to debase the institution of marriage into the future, make it a genderless institution, and that will hurt children and hurt the whole country.

PFAW Applauds President’s Inclusion of LGBT Families in Immigration Reform Proposal

WASHINGTON – People For the American Way today applauded President Obama’s proposal for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes equal rights for same-sex couples.

“The president has proposed a common-sense and necessary approach to immigration reform, which includes protections for LGBT families,” said Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way. “Any effective immigration reform must include equal rights for LGBT people. Our immigration policies must place a priority on keeping families together, including LGBT families. Too many bi-national, same-sex couples have seen their families torn apart by a federal government that refuses to recognize their relationships. That policy runs counter to our values and weakens us as a nation.”

“We are glad that President Obama recognizes the need to protect LGBT families,” added Keegan. “We will fight to make sure that all families are recognized in the final law.”

Yesterday, PFAW called a bipartisan immigration proposal from Senate, which includes a path to citizenship, "an important step in the right direction."
 

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FRC: Anti-Gay Laws Reflect Public Opinion, Gay Rights Laws Reflect Powerful Gay Lobby

The Family Research Council submitted two amicus briefs to the Supreme Court yesterday urging it to reject challenges to DOMA and to California’s Proposition 8. The briefs lay out some of the same arguments that we’ve heard many times from the FRC. But we were curious if the FRC would jettison one of its favorite talking points– the success of discriminatory measures at the ballot box –in light of last year’s resounding marriage equality victories in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.

The answer was yes and no.

In its brief on Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, the FRC goes back to the old talking point, ignoring the events of last November, to argue that “there is no ‘emerging awareness’ that the right to marry extends to same-sex couples.”

This Court has never stated or even implied that the federal right to marry extends to same-sex couples.  And, with the exception of the district court’s decision below, which was affirmed on other grounds by the court of appeals, no state or federal court has held that the fundamental right to marry extends to same-sex couples.  In sharp contrast to the “emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex,” Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 572, which, in turn, was based upon an examination of “our laws and traditions in the past half century, id. at 571, “[t]he history and tradition of the last fifty years have not shown the definition of marriage to include a union of two people regardless of their sex.”  If anything, the fact that thirty States have amended their constitutions to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples strongly suggests that there is no “emerging awareness” that the right to marry extends to same-sex couples.

But when the FRC wants to argue that gays and lesbians are not a “politically powerless” group deserving protection from discrimination, they flaunt the 2012 election results and point to how close previous anti-gay votes on state ballots were. This is from the brief on U.S. v. Windsor, the DOMA case:

Any lingering doubt that gays and lesbians are able to influence public policy, particularly with respect to the issue of same-sex marriage, should have been laid to rest by the results of the last election.  Three States – Maine, Maryland and Washington, by popular vote, approved laws allowing same-sex marriage, and in a fourth State – Minnesota – voters rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have prohibited same-sex marriage.  Even in States where such amendments have been approved, the margin of victory has often been narrow, in some cases barely passing (as in California in 2008 and South Dakota in 2006), indicating that homosexuals, who comprise no more than one to two percent of the population, have succeeded in enlisting many heterosexuals to support their cause for same-sex marriage.  In such a dynamic social and cultural environment, the belief that homosexuals are “politically powerless in the sense that they have no ability to attract the attention of the lawmakers,”  strains credulity. 

So when voters reject gay rights at the ballot box, they are reflecting public opinion. But when they vote in favor of gay rights, they have been “enlisted” to the cause by powerful gay rights lobbyists.

Sen. Inouye’s Civil Rights Legacy

Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, President Pro Tempore of the Senate, passed away yesterday at the age of 88, having represented the people of Hawaii in either the House or Senate as long as it has been a state. Inouye was elected to the Senate nine times, serving nearly 50 years. Taking office the year before the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Inouye was a leader in half a century of civil rights battles in the Senate. John Nichols of The Nation details Inouye’s role in some of those battles:

The last sitting senator who joined the epic struggles to pass the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, he led the fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act and was a key sponsor of the constitutional amendment to extend voting rights to 18-to-20-year-olds.

Inouye battled for reparations for Japanese-Americans who were interned in government compounds during World War II. And he was a passionate defender of the right to dissent. Indeed, the ACLU recalls, “Senator Inouye fought every iteration of proposed constitutional amendments to ban flag desecration—support that was particularly meaningful to the defense of free speech because of his military service.”

Inouye was one of the handful of senators who rejected the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s and he emerged as one of the earliest and most determined backers of marriage equality in the Senate, asking: “How can we call ourselves the land of the free, if we do not permit people who love one another to get married?”

When the debate over whether gays and lesbians serving in the military arose, Inouye declared as a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient: “In every war we have had men and women of different sexual orientation who have stood in harm’s way and given their lives for their country. I fought alongside gay men during World War II, many of them were killed in combat. Are we to suggest that because of their sexual orientation they are not heroes?”

Sen. Inouye represented the best of American values. This country will miss him.

 

PFAW

Justice Scalia’s 7 Worst Anti-Gay Statements

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two landmark cases on marriage equality. Yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia reminded us again why gay rights advocates, to put it mildly, aren’t counting on his vote.

Scalia is the Supreme Court’s most outspoken opponent of gay rights. He led the dissent to the two major gay rights decisions of his tenure on the Court, the decisions to strike down Texas’ criminal sodomy law and to overturn Colorado’s ban on local anti-discrimination measures. And in his spare time, he minces no words about his uncompromising opposition to gay rights. Here are seven of his most egregious anti-gay statements:

  • Compares bans on homosexuality to bans on murder: Yesterday, Scalia asked a gay law student, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
  •  …and to bans on polygamy and animal cruelty: In his dissent to the Colorado case, Romer v. Evans, Scalia wrote, “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even 'animus' toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.”
  • Defends employment and housing discrimination: In his dissent to Lawrence, the decision that overturned Texas’ criminal sodomy law, Scalia went even further, justifying all kinds of discrimination against gays and lesbians: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as ‘discrimination’ which it is the function of our judgments to deter.”
  • Says decision on “homosexual sodomy” was “easy” because it's justified by long history of anti-gay discrimination: In a talk at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year, Scalia dismissed decisions on abortion, the death penalty and “homosexual sodomy” as “easy”: “The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” he said. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
  • Says domestic partners have no more rights than “long time roommates”:  In his dissent in Romer, Scalia dismissed the idea that a law banning benefits for same-sex domestic partners would be discriminatory, saying the law “would prevent the State or any municipality from making death benefit payments to the ‘life partner’ of a homosexual when it does not make such payments to the long time roommate of a nonhomosexual employee.”
  • Says gay rights are a concern of “the elite”: In his Romer dissent, Scalia lashes out at the majority that has upheld gay rights: “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that 'animosity' toward homosexuality is evil. “
  • Accuses those who disagree with him of supporting the “homosexual agenda”: Lifting a talking point straight from the far right, Scalia accused the majority in Lawrence of being in the thrall of the “homosexual agenda”: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”

Cross-posted from PFAW Blog

Justice Scalia’s 7 Worst Anti-Gay Statements

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two landmark cases on marriage equality. Yesterday, Justice Antonin Scalia reminded us again why gay rights advocates, to put it mildly, aren’t counting on his vote.

Scalia is the Supreme Court’s most outspoken opponent of gay rights. He led the dissent to the two major gay rights decisions of his tenure on the Court, the decisions to strike down Texas’ criminal sodomy law and to overturn Colorado’s ban on local anti-discrimination measures. And in his spare time, he minces no words about his uncompromising opposition to gay rights. Here are seven of his most egregious anti-gay statements:

  • Compares bans on homosexuality to bans on murder: Yesterday, Scalia asked a gay law student, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?”
     
  •  …and to bans on polygamy and animal cruelty: In his dissent to the Colorado case, Romer v. Evans, Scalia wrote, “But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible--murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals--and could exhibit even 'animus' toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, the same sort of moral disapproval that produced the centuries old criminal laws that we held constitutional in Bowers.”
     
  • Defends employment and housing discrimination: In his dissent to Lawrence, the decision that overturned Texas’ criminal sodomy law, Scalia went even further, justifying all kinds of discrimination against gays and lesbians: “Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as ‘discrimination’ which it is the function of our judgments to deter.”
     
  • Says decision on “homosexual sodomy” was “easy” because it's justified by long history of anti-gay discrimination: In a talk at the American Enterprise Institute earlier this year, Scalia dismissed decisions on abortion, the death penalty and “homosexual sodomy” as “easy”: “The death penalty? Give me a break. It’s easy. Abortion? Absolutely easy. Nobody ever thought the Constitution prevented restrictions on abortion,” he said. “Homosexual sodomy? Come on. For 200 years, it was criminal in every state.”
     
  • Says domestic partners have no more rights than “long time roommates”:  In his dissent in Romer, Scalia dismissed the idea that a law banning benefits for same-sex domestic partners would be discriminatory, saying the law “would prevent the State or any municipality from making death benefit payments to the ‘life partner’ of a homosexual when it does not make such payments to the long time roommate of a nonhomosexual employee.”
     
  • Says gay rights are a concern of “the elite”: In his Romer dissent, Scalia lashes out at the majority that has upheld gay rights: “This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that "animosity" toward homosexuality is evil.“
     
  • Accuses those who disagree with him of supporting the “homosexual agenda”: Lifting a talking point straight from the far right, Scalia accused the majority in Lawrence of being in the thrall of the “homosexual agenda”: “Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”
PFAW

Election Is Mandate for Policies Grounded in Progressive American Values

The American people have made their choice -- a resounding victory for President Obama and Vice President Biden and a mandate for their policy agenda.
PFAW
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