Equality For All

ENDA passes HELP Committee, ready for Senate floor

This critical piece of anti-discrimination legislation would make it illegal to make employment decisions – hiring, firing, promotion, or compensation – based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
PFAW

Employment Non-Discrimination Act Passes Senate Committee

WASHINGTON – In response to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) gaining bipartisan approval from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee today, People For the American Way President Michael Keegan released the following statement:

“Today’s vote is an exciting step forward on the road toward full equality for LGBT Americans.  All employees deserve to be judged by their qualifications and work performance rather than by who they are or who they love.  ENDA is common-sense legislation that would establish employment protections for LGBT workers nationwide.

“There’s no question that protecting the rights of LGBT workers is the right thing to do, but it also increasingly reflects the values of most Americans. A majority of Americans support ENDA and they know that all hardworking people should have the same shot at earning a living and contributing to our economy and our country. And yet without ENDA, in 29 states it is currently legal to fire someone for being gay – and in 33 states for being transgender or gender non-conforming. 

“The far Right is already clamoring that passing ENDA would lead to everything from sexual assault to the end of religious freedom in our country.  But in reality, this legislation is the right thing to do and a no-brainer that all of Congress should be able to support. Workplace discrimination of any kind is not the American way.”


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Chipping Away at Choice: Five Growing Threats to Women’s Healthcare Access and Autonomy

The “War on Women” currently being waged by conservatives in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures is well documented. From attacking contraception to insulting rape survivors to threatening funding for reproductive healthcare, anti-choice legislators and activists are staging an assault on women’s health, privacy and autonomy.

The ENDA is Near: The Top Five Religious Right Claims About the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act scheduled for a Senate committee vote this week, here’s a look at Right Wing Watch’s collection of recent – and classic – claims from the Religious Right about ENDA.  Because ENDA is common-sense civil rights legislation that would expand federal employment protections against discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the Right cannot gain much traction by opposing ENDA on its merits.  Instead, resorting to fear-mongering and lies, they contend that ENDA will lead to everything from the end of religious freedom to sexual assault and death.

Here are highlights of Right Wing Watch’s reporting on right-wing opposition to ENDA:

5. Tony Perkins: ‘Totalitarian Homosexual Lobby’ Out to Destroy Religious Freedom with ENDA (March 2013)

“Like a B-grade 1950’s horror-movie, ENDA is coming back from the dead,” warned Family Research Council President Tony Perkins in a recent mailing. Perkins said President Obama is working with the “totalitarian homosexual lobby” to sneak ENDA into law, and if that happens, “Our freedom of religion will be destroyed.”

“In fact,” says Perkins in his letter, “under ENDA biblical morality becomes illegal.”

Read the full article here.

4. Steve Crampton: ENDA is Insanity (June 2012)

Speaking about a Senate hearing on ENDA, Liberty Counsel’s “Faith and Freedom” radio host Steve Crampton marveled that a transgender person was actually allowed to testify on behalf of the legislation and complained that ENDA is not about “equal rights” but rather “special rights” for gays and cross-dressers.

Crampton stated that if ENDA passed, he could come into work – “God forbid,” he said – wearing a dress and would be allowed to use the women’s restroom.  “In years past,” Crampton said, “we had another word for this: it’s called insanity.”

Read the full article here.

3. Andrea Lafferty Cites CT School Shooting to Rally Opposition to Non-Discrimination Policies (December 2012)

Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition used the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in order to bolster her campaign against ENDA. While speaking to Janet Mefferd about the Orange County, Florida, school system’s new non-discrimination policy that is similar to ENDA, Lafferty said that just as parents are upset about the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting and are concerned about keeping their children safe, they should also be worried about ENDA’s “devastating effects” as schools will have “people with some real issues playing out their personal problems in the classroom.”

Lafferty maintained that ENDA is part of the left’s “open season” on Christians on behalf of “fringe minorities and people that are truly sick.”  She warned that Chick-fil-A restaurants may soon be “forced” to hire “weirdos” seeking to undermine Christian businesses, warning that transgender people are committing “the ultimate act of self-hatred” and need “special medical treatment” rather than job protections.

Read the full article here.

2. Bryan Fischer: Businesses Threatened by ‘Flaming Homosexual’ Job Applicants and the ‘Return of Jim Crow Laws’ (January 2013)

American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer warned in a blog post that “ENDA would represent the return of Jim Crow laws.” On his radio program Focal Point, Fischer warned that if ENDA is signed into law businesses will be faced with a barrage of “flaming homosexual” job applicants. “The homosexual lobby,” Fischer said, “will send a guy in there wearing stilettos, a dress and dangly earrings” in order to provoke Christian business-owners “not to hire him.”

Read the full article here.

1. Mat Staver: ENDA Will Result in the 'Death of Some Individuals' (June 2012)

Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver is ratcheting up the rhetoric in opposition to ENDA, even going so far as to say that if passed the legislation may lead to child molestation, sexual assault, and death. Staver told Jim Schneider of VCY America on Crosstalk that ENDA “will put individuals at risk and ultimately result in significant damage and even death of some individuals”:

Staver: So you can go into these restrooms or changing rooms, if you’re a man, and want to go in and molest, or watch, or sexually assault young girls. So, I mean, the absurdity of this is just beyond understanding how someone could be in favor of it. This will ultimately, in addition to colliding with religious liberty, in addition to forcing a radical agenda on people, this also will put individuals at risk and ultimately result in significant damage and even death of some individuals.

Read the full article here.

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Thank TX State Sen. Wendy Davis for her Heroic Filibuster Against the War on Women!

Tell Sen. Wendy Davis: Pease keep up the fight. And know that we have your back!

Crouse: Gay Marriage Is Ruining America Because Only Straight Married Families Volunteer in Hospitals

Concerned Women for America’s Janice Shaw Crouse visited Eagle Forum Live on Saturday, where she spoke with Phyllis Schlafly about the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The two were not optimistic for the future of the country after the DOMA decision. In fact, Crouse implied that same-sex marriage would undermine community volunteerism because “a man and a woman committed to each other for life” are “where we get our volunteers for hospitals, our volunteers for services to the homeless, our volunteers for all sorts of community outreaches, from the local scout troop to volunteering to visit the sick in individual churches.”

Schlafly: Tell us what you think about the real importance and the role that traditional marriage has played in our society and must play in our society if we’re going to continue to be a free country.

Crouse: Well, I think we’re all used to hearing the arguments that marriage is best for individuals, it’s best for women, it’s best for men, it’s best for children. And I have a whole book on how marriage has really, the demise of marriage has really hurt our children. But I think the thing that is really relevant right now is the fact that marriage is so good for communities, for nations. You cannot have a strong nation without strong marriages, it’s just as simple as that, because marriage is a husband and a wife working together.

A man and a woman committed to each other for life and committed to their children are the backbone of communities. That’s where we get our volunteers for hospitals, our volunteers for services to the homeless, our volunteers for all sorts of community outreaches, from the local scout troop to volunteering to visit the sick in individual churches. Volunteers generally come from families, people who are invested in the community and have a long-term interest in that community’s strength. And the same thing holds for nations.

Later in the conversation, Schlafly lamented that public schools are teaching children “that there are all kinds of families and you have to be respectful of all kinds.” Crouse responded that “it’s even worse than that,” because “we cannot even look at magazines at the supermarket checkout counter without having in our face homosexual embraces and couples who are flaunting [sic] public opinion and flaunting public mores.”

“It’s, I think, very egregious that we have to live with these kinds of public demonstrations that are trying to desensitize our children,” she added.

Schlafly: Janice, I wish you’d particularly address the problem in the schools, because I’m concerned that what the children are going to be taught in schools and what they cannot be taught in the schools.

Crouse: Well, we’re already seeing so much bias against Christians in our schools. It’s appalling to me as the grandmother of seven children who are in public schools. I’m seeing the evidence in a variety of different schools, from elementary through high school, where children are not allowed to express their own personal views in the context of the school, as though they only have freedom of speech at home or in the confines of their church or local synagogue or temple, wherever they worship.

Schlafly: Well, Dr. Crouse, it’s even worse than that. In their courses, they’re teaching them that there are all kinds of families and you have to be respectful of all kinds, and don’t pay any attention to what your parents say.

Crouse: Exactly. And it’s even worse than that, when you have indoctrination as early as preschool and in elementary school, as early as first grade and kindergarten, where kids are reading books. And we cannot even look at magazines at the supermarket checkout counter without having in our face homosexual embraces and couples who are flaunting public opinion and flaunting public mores. It’s, I think, very egregious that we have to live with these kinds of public demonstrations that are trying to desensitize our children.

Crouse added that she was appalled that “too many” conservatives “are unwilling to die” for the anti-gay cause, and have instead become “complacent” and decided to “live and let live”:

Conservatives, far too many, are unwilling to die for it. They are too complacent, they are too laissez faire, they really do not understand the impact of what’s happening in this country, to the point that they are willing to take a stand and make a difference. Far too many people are saying, ‘Well, I live and let live. I’m not going to be judgmental. This is what I believe, but I’m not going to foist my beliefs off on other people,’ or, ‘I can’t go out there into the public square and say these kinds of things.’ I think we have to discover a courage, we have to be very brave, we have to be willing to say, ‘This is where I stand. These are the values that made this country great. These are the values that are important to me and to my family and to my family’s future and to the family of this country.’
 

Perkins: SCOTUS Gave Gays Benefits Meant for 'Real Spouses'

The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has already called the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act “absurd,” and warned that it presents “a clear and present danger to the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion in our country” and pushes America further down the road to becoming Sodom and Gomorrah.

In a member email today, Perkins elaborates on his outrage, claiming that the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision means “the landscape has been fundamentally altered in a society where the rule of law is slowly unraveling.” In guaranteeing that legally married same-sex couples are treated as married by the federal government, Perkins writes, the Supreme Court requires the government to provide benefits to married gay couples that “until yesterday, were reserved for real spouses.”

And, of course, Perkins added that we are on our way to legalized polygamy, which he claims is a part of the liberal “agenda.”

That said, the landscape has been fundamentally altered in a society where the rule of law is slowly unraveling. Twelve states can now force taxpayers to supply more than 1,100 benefits which, until yesterday, were reserved for real spouses. And both the court and rogue leaders like Jerry Brown have, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, "declared open season on any law that... can be characterized as mean-spirited." In a nation where our own President feels no obligation to defend the law, it's no wonder the Human Rights Campaign thinks it can impose same-sex "marriage" on every state in five years.

When the Left fell short of their goals yesterday, it gave our movement the most valuable commodity of all: time to persuade the country of the consequences. But it also meant that the waves of attack will keep coming -- stronger and more vicious than ever before. Emboldened by Justice Anthony Kennedy's sharp rebuke of our side, liberals aren't even bothering to hide the rest of their agenda. Polygamists popped the corked on a little champagne of their own after Wednesday's rulings, as they wait their turn for nationwide acceptance.

Dumping DOMA: The Next Step

PFAW is a strong supporter of the Respect for Marriage Coalition and applauds Representative Nadler, Senator Feinstein, and their 200 bipartisan cosponsors for taking swift action to dump DOMA.
PFAW

LaBarbera Reacts to DOMA Ruling: 'Craven' Kennedy 'Sold out Almighty God for a Place in the Gay Hall of Fame'

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality apparently had to spend quite some time stewing over the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, finally coming out today with a press release slamming the decision. The high court’s decision, LaBarbera writes, “continues America’s godless trajectory toward sexual and gender chaos” and helps to make us “a Profane Nation at war with our own heritage.”

He saves his special vitriol for Justice Anthony Kennedy, author of the DOMA opinion, whom he predicts “will go down in history as one more craven elitist who sold out Almighty God for a place in the Gay Hall of Fame.”

Yesterday’s decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and effectively invalidating Californians’ vote to preserve marriage as between a man and a woman — continues America’s godless trajectory toward sexual and gender chaos.  We have become a Profane Nation at war with our own heritage and the Judeo-Christian moral values that helped make us great.

Healthy societies discriminate against sexually immoral behavior: homosexuality, sex outside marriage, pornography, incest, etc. This benefits children and adults by using the law to reinforce stable moral boundaries and steer citizens away from destructive (sinful) behaviors. So it was stunning to read the majority decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy – a Reagan appointee – overturning DOMA’s pro-natural-marriage provision in the name of the children.

Kennedy surely has earned his future laudatory obit in the New York Times for capitulating to “gay” activist ideology — but among clear-thinking Americans who still know right from wrong he will go down in history as one more craven elitist who sold out Almighty God for a place in the Gay Hall of Fame.

The Kennedy majority’s legal insanity is what emerges from an Isaiah 5:20 culture (evil is good and good evil) that puts deviant sexual identities on a pedestal, to be celebrated as protected “civil rights.” The LGBT Pandora’s Box has been flung open, and there will be much more folly and destruction to follow — including the public policy madness of establishing “gender identity” (read: extreme gender confusion) as a parallel “civil right.”

At least the Supreme Court did not create a national “right” to homosexual “marriage.” But we must be vigilant, as future LGBT litigation, coupled with the appalling self-righteousness of Kennedy’s liberal court majority, will combine to make this the next goal of the judicial supremacists.

LaBarbera also discussed the DOMA decision on VCY America’s Crosstalk yesterday. He attacked President Obama’s statement praising the Supreme Court’s decision, calling it an example of “radical egalitarianism,” and warned that marriage equality will now be “foisted” upon children which is “not good for their hearts and souls.”

The other thing that strikes me, Jim, is the radical egalitarianism of that statement. You know, this idea of homosexual love, homosexual unions are equal to marital unions, it’s not all equal. A marriage between a man and a woman produces children, it’s the very foundation of human civilization. And the idea that two men or two women is somehow ‘equal’ to that is a liberal falsehood. And I’m worried that it’s going to be foisted by necessity now upon children, especially in the states that have so-called homosexual marriage, they will be taught that same-sex so-called marriage is equal to the real thing, and that’s not good for their hearts and souls.
 

LaBarbera: Homosexuality a 'Masculinity Deficit,' a 'Weird Sin'

Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality visited the Janet Mefferd show on Tuesday to discuss “ex-gay” ministry Exodus International’s decision to shut its doors and apologize to the gay community. LaBarbera, unsurprisingly, was none too pleased with Exodus’ reversal. He told Mefferd the story of an “ex-gay” acquaintance, Andrew Franklin, who helped him understand that homosexuality is merely a curable “masculinity deficit.”  He added that people react to homosexuality differently than other “sins” because it “is just a weird sin, so it’s different.”

LaBarbera: The Lord worked in his life, he’s acquiring, you know, masculinity. I think the issue that really hit me, Janet, was, this is really, homosexuality is a masculinity deficit. It’s an issue of masculinity for these guys.

Mefferd: Interesting. And yet, you hear from the other side all the time that people like Andrew Franklin don’t exist. I mean, Wayne Besen has made a whole career on the ex-gay movement as, you know, a misnomer, it doesn’t exist and it’s a big lie.

LaBarbera: Well, they exist. And God is working in their lives just as God works in the lives of all of us, helps us overcome our sin. And I think this is just a weird sin, so it’s different. And that’s why I think people, they want to cop out and say, ‘Oh, they’re born gay, just leave them alone.’
 

In 2016, Remember This Week at the Supreme Court

It's been a week of mixed emotions for those of us who care about civil rights. There was the elation today when the Supreme Court overturned the so-called Defense of Marriage Act -- the discriminatory law that has hurt so many Americans in its nearly 17 years of existence -- and let marriage equality return to California. There was the anger when the Court twisted the law to make it harder for workers and consumers to take on big corporations. And there was the disbelief and outrage when the Court declared that a key part of the Voting Rights Act that was so important and had worked so well was now somehow no longer constitutional.

But throughout the week, I have been reminded of one thing: how grateful I am that Mitt Romney will not be picking the next Supreme Court justice.

It remains true that this Supreme Court is one of the most right-leaning in American history. The majority's head-in-the-sand decision on the Voting Rights Act -- declaring that the VRA isn't needed anymore because it's working so well -- was a stark reminder of why we need to elect presidents who will nominate Supreme Court justices who understand both the text and history of the Constitution and the way it affects real people's lives.

We were reminded of this again today when all the conservative justices except for Anthony Kennedy stood behind the clearly unconstitutional DOMA. Justice Antonin Scalia -- no stranger to anti-gay rhetoric -- wrote an apoplectic rant of a dissent denying the Court's clear role in preserving equal protection. If there had been one more far-right justice on the court, Scalia's dissent could have been the majority opinion.

Just think of how different this week would have been if Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were not on the court and if John McCain had picked two justices instead. We almost certainly wouldn't have a strong affirmation of LGBT equality. Efforts to strip people of color of their voting rights would likely have stood with fewer justices in dissent. And the rights of workers and consumers could be in even greater peril.

As the Republican party moves further and further to the right, it is trying to take the courts with it. This week, we saw what that means in practice. As we move forward to urge Congress to fix the Voting Rights Act and reinforce protections for workers and consumers, and work to make sure that marriage equality is recognized in all states, we must always remember the courts. Elections have real consequences. These Supreme Court decisions had less to do with evolving legal theory than with who appointed the justices. Whether historically good or disastrous, all these decisions were decided by just one vote. In 2016, let's not forget what happened this week.

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

PFAW

Supreme Court Dumps PART of DOMA

The Supreme Court today ruled that the core section of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act violates the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. DOMA’s Section 3, which the Court vacated, prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in the states, thereby hitting legally married gay and lesbian couples with extra taxes and depriving them of a slew of federal protections.

People For the American Way Foundation president Michael Keegan said of the Supreme Court’s ruling: “Today’s  DOMA ruling is a profound step forward for loving, committed same-sex couples across the country. The decision is premised on the plain fact that there is no good reason for the government to recognize some legally married couples while discriminating against others.”

PFAW launched a campaign to “Dump DOMA” in 2008. Since then, our petition calling on Congress to repeal the discriminatory law  has gathered 230,000 signatures.

But the effort to overturn DOMA is not over. While Section 3 was the law’s most damaging provision, DOMA’s Section 2, which says that states don’t have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, still stands. We will continue to work to overturn the remainder of DOMA and ensure that all gay and lesbian Americans have the right to marriage, no matter which state they make their home.

While our work continues, today’s decision represents a historic turning point for equality.  DOMA will no longer tear apart binational couples. It will no longer impose a “gay tax” on legally married same-sex couples. It will no longer deny benefits to same-sex spouses of federal employees. It will no longer deny gay and lesbian veterans benefits for their spouses.

The story of Edith Windsor, the plaintiff who brought DOMA to the Supreme Court, and Thea Spyer, her late wife and partner of 40 years, illustrates what this decision will mean to so many Americans:
 

PFAW

DOMA Decision Slices Right Wing Talking Point on Referendums

Today's opinion shatters the ridiculous right-wing line that marriage equality laws are illegitimate without a referendum.
PFAW Foundation

PFAW Foundation Applauds Wins at Supreme Court

The Supreme Court's rulings in the marriage cases mark an important victory for all Americans who value the principle of equal justice under law.

HUD Report Documents Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples

A new report released this week by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is the first-ever national study documenting discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market.
PFAW

Delaware Passes Historic Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill

Last Tuesday Delaware Governor Jack Markell wrote that in his state, it is high time “our laws reflect our values.”  The bill in question was the Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act of 2013, which adds gender identity to the state’s hate crime prevention and non-discrimination laws.  As Gov. Markell pointed out,

“Under our State's laws, it is currently legal to fire someone, deny them housing, or throw them out of a restaurant simply because they are transgender. This is simply not the Delaware way…”

And it’s not the American way. With bipartisan support in the state House and Senate, the bill passed the Delaware legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Markell Wednesday evening, making Delaware the 17th state with an employment non-discrimination law covering gender identity in addition to sexual orientation.

This is a profound victory for transgender Delawareans like Jay Campbell, who has so far felt unable to come out in his workplace. Campbell told the News Journal of Wilmington earlier this month,

“Without basic protection from discrimination, I can’t afford to tell my employer. I can’t obtain health coverage for the fear I’ll be outed and fired.”

Campbell shares this concern with other transgender – as well as lesbian, gay, and bisexual – people across the country.  In the majority of U.S. states, it remains legal to fire someone for being LGBT. This means that far too many people find themselves forced to choose between risking their livelihoods and undertaking the painful work of hiding who they are, day after day.

Today’s victory in Delaware underscores the need for employment protections for LGBT workers in every state through the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  This common-sense solution would help ensure that employees like Campbell are judged by how well they do their job, not by who they are or who they love.

PFAW

Anti-Bullying Protections Headed to Senate Floor

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is expected to bring the bill to the floor but has not released a date. People for the American Way will continue to monitor ESEA’s progress and the anti-bullying provisions it contains.
PFAW

Tell Congress: Pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a very basic, commonsense measure that would protect LGBT Americans against the very real discrimination many of them face in the workplace -- one that the public overwhelmingly supports.

Corsi Warns Gay Rights Will Lead to Legalization of Snuff Films, End of Freedom

In a speech recently posted online, prolific conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi claims that the gay rights movement will ultimately lead to the legalization of pedophilia, bestiality and “snuff films” in which you “kill a few people because it’s sexually exciting.”

“If sex becomes disassociated from a biblical purpose, than all the abuses we saw in paganism are about to return,” Corsi warns, adding that if the country “proceeds down this path…there will no longer be any basis for freedom in the United States.”

Porter: Boy Scouts Letting 'Confused Children Who Are Sexually Attracted to Other Boys Go Camping With Your Son'

In recent remarks posted on YouTube by right-wing activist Cliff Kincaid, Faith2Action’s Janet Porter gave her take on the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow openly gay scouts while continuing to bar openly gay troop leaders.

The Boy Scouts’ decision, Porter said, means “the last secular organization has capitulated to the homosexual agenda.”

“While they’re keeping out the homosexual predator scoutmasters,” she said, “they’re allowing these confused children who are sexually attracted to other boys to go camping with your son in the same tent.”

This, she added, would be just like the Girl Scouts opening up camping trips to boys.

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