Thursday, October 23, 2008

Does Your Congress Member Make the Grade?

The Human Rights Campaign, the nations largest organization fighting for LGBT rights, released its Congressional scorecard yesterday (Download PDF here). The scorecard rates members of Congress on their support for issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. This is an excellent tool to use during this election year. You can see how the elected official for your area voted on all the LGBT issues that came up during the 110th Congress (Jan. 2007 - Jan. 2009).

Here are some of the successes from this Congressional session:

* For the first time in a Congressional session, the Senate and House both passed hate crimes legislation that provides protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
* For the first time, the House introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that includes protections for both sexual orientation and gender identity, with 185 Members of Congress cosponsoring the bill.
* For the first time, the House held a vote on and passed a version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), that prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation;
* The House held the first-ever hearing focused solely on workplace discrimination faced by transgender Americans;
* The House held the first hearings since 1993 examining the negative impact of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
* The Senate held the first-ever hearing on the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations (DPBO) Act which provides equal family benefits to LGBT federal civilian employees; And with pro-equality leadership in the House and Senate, the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA) was not even scheduled for a vote.
* Also with more fairminded officials being elected, and the work of HRC lobbying and educating Congress we have also seen the number of positive votes improve.

According to HRC we have see the following:

In the 110th Congress, the average score for members of the U.S. Senate increased from 41.7% to 55.4% and for the House of Representatives from 40.5% to 47.9%. The number of Senators scoring 90% or better increased from 11 to 17. The number of Representatives with 90% or better increased from 96 to 128.

The following legislation is what appears on the HRC scorecard:

* The Matthew Shepard Act, H.R. 1592/S. 1105, to allow local law enforcement to access federal resources to investigate or prosecute violent crimes committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
* The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 3685, to prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation;
* The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), H.R. 2015, co-sponsorship of the inclusive version to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity;
* The HIV travel and immigration ban, included in the reauthorization of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), that took the first step toward ending the ban on travel and immigration to the United States by HIV-positive individuals;
* The Early Treatment for HIV Act (ETHA), H.R. 3326/S. 860, to allow states to provide Medicaid coverage to HIV positive persons;
* The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), H.R. 2221/S. 1328, to provide same-sex partners of U.S. citizens equal immigration access;
* The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (MREA), H.R. 1246, which would repeal the military’s ban on open service by gays and lesbians;
* The Tax Equity for Domestic Partner and Health Plan Beneficiaries Act (DP Tax), H.R. 1820/S. 1556, to equalize tax treatment for employer-provided health coverage for domestic partners.

To view the HRC scorecard click here.

Crossposted via our friends at Lez Get Real.


Anonymous said...

The surprise for me was Jack Reed, he didn't vote for two of the items HRC pushed. Otherwise Sheldon Whitehouse, James Langevin and Patrick Kennedy voted a perfect HRC ticket.

T. R Xands said...

*glares at TN* Goodness, some of those decisions didn't make a lick of sense (for my reps that is). Not that they ever do...

Tyler S. Forester said...

This is foresterinc you say that churches will be able to perform whatever marriage they believe in. Look around you, look at what has happened to Massachusetts, The purpose of bringing up the issues in Massachusetts is to show that this is only the beginning of the effects that legalizing gay marriage has on society. It's only the beginning! I can only imagine the effects 10, 20 years down the road. The truth is that freedom of speech and religion are at stake. Children's rights to be raised by a mother and father are at stake. It won't be something that can just stay in the neighbor's house. It will infuse into everything we do. That's why it's important to me that we vote yes on 8. I AM ALL ABOUT THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS, especially to those who may be different then me. Prop 8 to me is about definition not discrimination. Proposition 8 is NOT an attack on gay couples and does not take away the rights that same-sex couples already have under California’s domestic partner law. California law already grants domestic partners all the rights that a state can grant to a married couple. Gays have a right to their private lives, but not to change the definition of marriage for everyone else.
schools are already required to teach the role of marriage in society as part of the curriculum, schools will now be required to teach students that gay marriage is the same as traditional marriage, starting with kindergarteners. By saying that a marriage is between “any two persons” rather than between a man and a woman, the Court decision has opened the door to any kind of “marriage.” This undermines the value of marriage altogether at a time when we should be restoring marriage, not undermining it. Let me give you an example of what I forsee if prop 8 doesn't pass. My daughter Zoe when she enters into kindergarden and is being read "King and King" me and my husband if we go to the school district about her not hearing that kind of matrial will be overlooked because of amendment 1, which then inturn we lose the fight of free exercise of our rights. I know we have all heard it but I bring it up to prove my example Take education, for instance. In Massachusetts, the state Supreme Court—not a vote of the people—redefined marriage just as occurred in California. In 2007, a Massachusetts elementary school began teaching kindergarten and first grade children about same-sex marriage using a book which told the story of a prince who “lived happily ever after” with another prince. (*I’m not commenting on the quality of the story here, just the legal outcome*). Some parents requested that their children be allowed to opt-out of such instruction until the seventh grade. They did not challenge the use of the book as part of the school’s curriculum. When the school district refused to let the children opt-out, the parents sued in federal court.

They lost. In a 47-page opinion, the First Circuit held that the parents’ right to choose traditional marriage education for their child was not protected by the First Amendment because same sex marriage was permitted by Massachusetts law. Free exercise could not justify legal exemption where due process and equal protection rights were in play. I respect people's right to be gay. But I do not think they have the right to be married. One of the main purposes of marriage is to form a commitment to create children and raise a family. Notice that every culture on earth performs some kind of ceremony before a man and a woman join to make a family. Same-sex couples by definition cannot procreate. Please know that the things I speak of are words coming from a place of no contention. This is why I love America because you can do the very thing we are doing right now. Please respond back on my blog under the prop 8 post thanks.

Queers United said...

Leah & tyler - The teaching of same-sex couples in schools will happen with or without this amendment passing. It is about teaching about all kinds of families, some of those kids have gay parents, and some will grow up to be gay. Prop 8 has nothing to do with education. The California Superintendent of Schools spoke out against this nonsense and lies the opposition has said because its simply untrue.

California law clearly gives parents and guardians broad authority to remove their children from any health instruction if it conflicts with their religious beliefs or moral convictions.

As for procreation, gays & lesbians do have children through adoption and insemination. Some straight couples are infertile or don't want to procreate. Marriage is about love, commitment, and financially taking care of one another.

If you are for family values you would vote no on prop 8. said...

Thanks I just cross-posted this. Crazy past 2 weeks between work and school so I am so behind in my posting, ugh!

Dave, WickedGayBlog

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