Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act Introduced in Senate
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act was reintroduced in the US Senate yesterday by a bi-partisan coalition. The bill would amend existing federal hate crimes laws to include crimes where the victims were targeted on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and disability. It also would eliminate a requirement that the victim was engaged in one of several "federally protected activities" at the time of the crime in order to be protected by these laws. Previous versions of the bill faced various legislative roadblocks under the Bush administration.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is sponsoring the legislation, said in a statement "This is a bipartisan bill designed to combat crimes that have long terrorized communities and remain a serious problem in this country. It is a matter of simple justice, and it is past time for Congress to enact this bill and strengthen the government’s role in preventing and punishing crimes motivated by hate."
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said "After more than a decade of delay and tens of thousands of additional victims, now is the time for this critical piece of legislation to be signed into law. We stand with the more than 300 law enforcement, civil rights and religious organizations supporting this bill that would provide local police and sheriffs' departments with the tools and resources they need to ensure that entire communities are not terrorized by hate violence."
Media Resources: Feminist Daily Newswire 5/4/07; Senators Kennedy and Leahy Press Release 4/28/09; Human Rights Campaign Press Release 4/28/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .