Both the House and the Senate are expected to reintroduce The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this Thursday. In the House, ENDA will be introduced by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO), an openly gay member of the House. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) will be introducing the Senate version of ENDA. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would ban discrimination by employers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While the number of co-sponsors in the House is yet to be determined, the Senate version has five original sponsors: Senator Merkley, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME); and Tom Harkin (D-IA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
ENDA legislation has been introduced in every Congressional session since 1994 except one. According to the Center for American Progress, only 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and only 16 and the District prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
"The bottom line is no worker in America should be fired or denied a job based on who they are. Discrimination is wrong. Period. And I think the Senate is ready to take that stand," said Senator Merkley (D).
Media Resources: Center for American Progress 4/24/2013; Metro Weekly 4/23/13; Washington Blade 4/23/13
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. . . .