A group of 72 lawmakers in the U.S. House submitted a letter earlier this week calling on President Obama to issue an executive order instituting federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people in the workplace. The administrative action would require that all companies doing business with the U.S. government enforce non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and gender identity.
"This order would extend important workplace protections to millions of Americans, while at the same time laying the groundwork for Congressional passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a goal that we share with you," the lawmakers wrote. The executive order would be similar to that of ENDA, but much more limited, in that it only applies to federal contractors.
The letter was written by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), with Rep Lois Capps (D- Calif) and retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass) as original signers. "The opportunity to expand protections against workplace discrimination to members of the LGBT community is a critical step that you can take today, especially when data and research tell us that 43 percent of LGB people and 90 percent of transgender people have experienced workplace discrimination," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. They are joined by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the first non-LGBT civil rights group to add its support.
Both the Labor and Justice Departments have given full approval for this action and have submitted their recommendations to the Obama administration for final action. The White House has been silent on the issue.
Media Resources: Chicago Phoenix, 4/5/12; Care2 4/5/12; Chicago Phoenix 4/3/12; Washington Blade 2/1/12
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. . . .