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ENDA: 38th Time Is The Charm, They Say!

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Editor’s note: This guest post is by Scott Wooledge who also writes at Daily Kos under the handle Clarknt67.
Read Scott’s most recent previous post here, “One Of The White House 13 Anti-DADT Protestors, Facing Jail: “Try Me.”

 

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is being introduced into the House this morning. Press release from Barney Frank’s office:

BARNEY FRANK AND COLLEAGUES TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMATION ACT (ENDA)

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday morning, March 30th, Congressman Barney Frank and other prominent Members of the House of Representatives will make an important announcement about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

The legislation would extend federal employment laws, which currently prevent job discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability, to also cover sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill applies both to the public and private sectors.

On the night before the event, Frank said that “passing an inclusive ENDA is a difficult but winnable fight – winnable if supported by a serious lobbying effort. The bill we are about to introduce provides an important vehicle for that effort.”

Although some states have passed laws to prevent such discrimination, it is legal in 29 states to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and legal in 38 states to discriminate on the basis of gender identity. According to research by the Williams Institute, there is an ongoing pattern of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity nationwide.

In attendance: Rep. Barney Frank, joined by Rep. George Miller, Rep. Jared Polis and other cosponsors of the legislation. Also present will be representatives of leading LGBT equality, civil rights and social justice organizations.

Well, isn’t that special?

Now, Dear Reader, before you burst out of closet and into the corner office, and treat your Boss to a rousing rendition of “I Am What I Am,” maybe take a moment to peruse the ENDA Timeline Of Broken Promises, provided by GetEqual. Well, maybe more than a moment, it’s really very long and it begins:

March 14, 1974— On the fifth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY) and Rep. Ed Koch (D-NY) introduce H.R. 14752, dubbed the “gay rights bill” or “Equality Act of 1974,” but it fails to make it out of committee. It proposes that new categories of sex, sexual orientation and marital status be added to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Abzug’s version bars anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations and housing, but not transgender protections.

Fast-forward over the next 37 years, much changes, employment and gender expression are added, accommodations lost. It’s now 2010, but the song remains the same: “failed to get out of committee.”

This despite a May 2007 Gallup poll, one of many, that showed overwhelming support for the principle of equal job opportunities for lesbian and gay Americans, 89%! Heck, a 2001 Harris poll that showed that 42% of Americans believed such a law already exists.

Look, Congress Critters, I suppose it doesn’t hurt anyone if you want to keep doing these little, queer, dog and pony shows, year after year after year. Toss me my rainbow pom-poms! Yay! Go Gay Rights! But the fact remains, we can’t help you if you insiders won’t tell us; what is the real problem with this frickin’ bill?

Because, we don’t know.
What we do know is you had a golden opportunity to finally pass this bill in 2009 and 2010. And all we got were assurances from Rep. Frank, Speaker Pelosi, Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin, Joe Solomnese and other so-called insiders that “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming,” and “It’s coming…”

Psst? You know what? It never came. ENDA is the trick from Hell. And it can have its $20 back. We just want a cigarette break now.

Barney? Jared? Joe Solomnese?

We’ve made the calls, wrote the letters. We’ve been doing it for years. We’ve talked our family and friends’ ears off. We’ve talked strangers’ ears off, some of us for 37 years. The voters are there. We’ve turned the public opinion overwhelmingly to the side of equality. That’s right! They’re there! America’s on board with the idea. And we’ve even taken to making a nuisance of ourselves to make you guys take a vote on it.

Gay activists shut down traffic in Las Vegas, July 2010, calling on Congress to pass ENDA.

 

Now, you tell us. What more do you need from us?

I’m stumped. I’m not the only one. White House correspondent, and Equality Matters principle and LGBT politico extraordinaire Kerry Eleveld wrote just last month:

Second, although I have asked a good number of questions about ENDA and its prospects for a vote, I still can’t tell you why it never happened. Meanwhile, I can recall with decent clarity nearly every twist and turn of the battle to pass “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) repeal. This is not due to a bias on my part, but is rather indicative of the fact that no one seemed willing to talk with any specificity about what was or wasn’t happening with ENDA.

Because, I have to be frank with you, Frank. When you say you the bill is “winnable if supported by a serious lobbying effort,” a couple things go through my mind. One, you guys can’t get a bill passed that consistently polls in the 80%? Why are we sending you guys to DC?

And it’s really hard to get ourselves pumped up year after year to work for a bill, when it really doesn’t seem like anyone in charge is serious about actually passing it. Democrats’ well of credibility has run dry on this issue. Yours in particular, Rep. Frank.

Particularly when you yourself spoke just six months ago to our community on the prospect of LGBT legislation passing in Congress under the Republican-controlled House:

“Next year there’s no chance of anything happening,” he said of pro-LGBT legislation. “There’s zero chance.”

It was the one time I wasn’t skeptical of you. Now you’re telling us to lobby hard? Maybe you should think about giving the ground troops a year off so you guys in DC can regroup and come up with a serious strategy for actually getting this bill passed. And let us know what you come up with, because this isn’t working.


For more ENDA news, see also The Bilerico Project. Tico Almeida served as the lead counsel on the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has some interesting history, insights and strategy suggestions there.

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Ten Commandments Governor Declares No Church-State Separation in Rough Fox News Interview

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Louisiana Republican Governor Jeff Landry appeared surprised in a Friday Fox News interview when asked to defend his newly-signed law requiring the Bible’s Ten Commandments to be posted in every public school classroom throughout the state, which critics say is unconstitutional.

Speaking about the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state, which the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed at least a half-dozen times, Landry declared: “I challenge anyone who says that to go find me those words in the First Amendment. They don’t exist.”

He went on to claim those who want to “extract” what he claims are America’s Judeo-Christian principles “out of the foundation of this country…really and truly want to create the chaos that ultimately is the demise of this nation.”

On Thursday in a signing ceremony Landry declared the Bible’s Moses is the “original lawgiver,” a claim some challenged as a cultural choice and not an accurate one, given there are others that date back earlier, to ancient Greece, Babylon,  and India.

READ MORE: ‘Ominous Opinion’: Same-Sex Marriage Targeted Again in Latest SCOTUS Ruling, Expert Warns

“You’ve heard the criticism, it seems to be pouring in. Was it still the right thing to do?” Governor Landry was asked Friday afternoon.

“I mean, I didn’t know that living the Ten Commandments is a bad way to live life,” Landry replied, not touching the obvious and likely unconstitutional nature of the legislation he proudly signed 24 hours earlier. “I didn’t know that it was so vile to obey the Ten Commandments. I think that that speaks volumes about how eroded this country has become. I mean, look, this country was, was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and every time we steer away from that we have problems in our nation. I mean, right now schools teach, basically treat kids like critters and get the Ten Commandments is something bad to put in schools? It just it’s amazing.”

The founders clearly intended to create a secular, not religious government and took great care, including in the First Amendment, to ensure no religion was favored and individuals had the right to observe any faith, multiple faiths, or none at all.

RELATED: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

“For those listening right now, they’re wondering, what’s the goal?” Fox News host Sandra Smith continued. “Because it’s not as if this is going to be taught in every school and classroom. This is just being displayed on the walls. So my question to you is, how is this going to improve the school environment and the performance of kids in those schools? When Governor, I pull up the report cards of these public schools and Louisiana is struggling, I mean, it is at the bottom of the country. The education system is failing these kids. I mean, Louisiana is 43, 44th in math and reading. So is this gonna help what is a very big problem in Louisiana?”

“Look, I think it’s part and parcel for helping kids anywhere around the country, if other states followed our suits, but at the same time that we signed that bill into law, we signed a string of others assign 20 bills, including this one, to reform Louisiana schools.”

Experts note that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in 1980.

Sandra Smith’s remarks about Louisiana failing are accurate. According to U.S. News and World Report, Louisiana ranks 47th in education, 50th in crime, 49th in the economy, 46th in health care, and overall, it ranks last, at number 50.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

RELATED: ‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

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‘Ominous Opinion’: Same-Sex Marriage Targeted Again in Latest SCOTUS Ruling, Expert Warns

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In a 6-3 decision along partisan lines the right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court once again targeted the landmark 2015 Obergefell same-sex marriage decision, leading liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor to sound “alarm bells” on marriage equality in her dissent a legal expert says, warning that they may try to “roll it back.”

The case involves Sandra Muñoz, a U.S. citizen who argued that the federal government’s denial of a visa for her husband, who lives in El Salvador, deprives her of her constitutionally protected right to liberty.

The right-wing majority in a decision written by Justice Amy Coney Barrett ruled: “A citizen does not have a fundamental liberty interest in her noncitizen spouse being admitted to the country.”

Friday’s ruling “undermines same-sex marriage,” Bloomberg Law reports Justice Sotomayor’s dissent warns.

Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern has covered the courts since 2013, and is the author of a 2019 book on the Roberts Supreme Court.

“Justice Sotomayor, in dissent, accuses the conservative supermajority of cutting back the rights guaranteed in Obergefell—the same-sex marriage decision—and of repeating ‘the same fatal error’ it made in Dobbs,” Stern writes. “A very ominous opinion.”

READ MORE: ‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

The “fatal error” in Dobbs was ignoring precedent.

“Justice Sotomayor says the burden of today’s decision will ‘fall most heavily’ on same-sex couples, many of whom cannot safely reside in the non-citizen’s home country,” Stern adds. “Her dissent is littered with alarm bells about Obergefell.”

He points to this from Sotomayor’s dissent, a citation from the Obergefell decision:

“A traveler to the United States two centuries ago reported that ‘‘[t]here is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is so much respected as in America.’ ‘ ”

“Today,” Sotomayor continued, “the majority fails to live up to that centuries-old promise. Muñoz may be able to live with her husband in El Salvador, but it will mean raising her U. S.-citizen child outside the United States. Others will be less fortunate. The burden will fall most heavily on same-sex couples and others who lack the ability, for legal or financial reasons, to make a home in the noncitizen spouse’s country of origin.”

Again quoting Obergefell, she adds, “For those couples, this Court’s vision of marriage as the ‘assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other’ rings hollow.”

Stern warns: “I think Justice Sotomayor is clearly correct that the Supreme Court’s gratuitous attack on the constitutional rights of married couples in Muñoz—especially same-sex couples—suggests that the conservative justices hate Obergefell and may roll it back.”

Sotomayor began her dissent also with a quote from Obergefell: “The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition.”

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

She warns that the right-wing majority could have appropriately issued a narrow ruling but instead chose to hand down a broad decision:

“The majority could have resolved this case on narrow grounds under longstanding precedent,” she writes. “Instead, the majority today chooses a broad holding on marriage over a narrow one on procedure.”

Justice Sotomayor again points to same-sex marriage:

“Muñoz may be able to live in El Salvador alongside her husband or at least visit him there, but not everyone is sovereign lucky. The majority’s holding will also extend to those couples who, like the Lovings and the Obergefells, depend on American law for their marriages’ validity. Same-sex couples may be forced to relocate to countries that do not recognize same-sex marriage, or even those that criminalize homosexuality.”

She also noted, “The constitutional right to marriage has deep roots,” and “The constitutional right to marriage is not so flimsy,” while warning “the majority departs from longstanding precedent and gravely undervalues the right to marriage in the immigration context.”

Two years ago almost to the day, when the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade and stripping away the constitutional right to abortion, Stern warned the Court, especially Justice Thomas, would come for contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage:

Two years before Dobbs, Stern also warned Justice Thomas was targeting same-sex marriage, writing that “Thomas (joined by Alito) wrote a jaw-dropping rant taking direct aim at Obergefell and suggesting that SCOTUS must overturn the right to marriage equality in order to protect free exercise.”

READ MORE: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

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‘Desperately Needed’: Trump Wants ‘Revival’ of Religion and Ten Commandments in Classrooms

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Jumping on Louisiana’s controversial and likely unconstitutional new law mandating posters of a specific version of the Bible’s Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, Donald Trump overnight declared the nation “desperately” needs a religious “revival” and called for the religious text to be placed in classrooms across America.

Critics point out that the U.S. Supreme Court in 1980 found a similar law unconstitutional.

“The high court found that the law had no secular purpose but rather served a plainly religious purpose,” the Associated Press reports.

And while some lawmakers are insisting it is a historical document, remarks by Republican Governor Jeff Landry and the bill’s co-author, Republican state Rep. Lauren Ventrella, would appear to undermine that defense.

RELATED: ‘Christian Theocracy’: Ten Commandments Lawmaker Who Can’t ‘Fathom’ Outrage Gets Schooled

“I love the Ten Commandments in public schools, private schools, and many other places, for that matter. Read it — how can we, as a nation, go wrong??? This may be, in fact, the first major step in the revival of religion, which is desperately needed, in our country. bring back TTC!!! MAGA2024” Trump wrote on Truth Social in his all-caps post.

Some critics have been noting Trump has violated many if not most of the Ten Commandments. Some have listed the Ten Commandments and what they say are Trump’s actions in comparison to them.

MSNBC‘s Steve Bennen observed, “Trump is touting the Ten Commandments, despite the fact that he’s broken most of them. No graven images? Check. Honoring the Sabbath? Check. No adultery? Check. No stealing? Check. No bearing false witness? Big ol’ check. No coveting a neighbor’s wife? Check.”

Retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Judge Bob Orr wrote: “The GOP and Trump want parents controlling the books that are in schools NOT educators…but their ok with educators being responsible for teaching children to follow the Ten Commandments – a responsibility that belongs at home with the parents and the church.”

Earlier this week, before Trump’s declaration, The Lincoln Project posted a video on Trump’s relationship to the religious document.

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Fact Checking His Delusions’: Trump’s Falsehoods May Not Be Lies Anymore, Critics Warn

 

 

 

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