Congress Considers Employment Non-Discrimination Act
Congressional hearings began yesterday for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would outlaw work place discrimination based on sexual orientation. The bill was narrowly defeated in the Senate last year by a vote of 50-49.
Gays and lesbians who were fired because of their orientation described the hostile work environments and blatant discrimination they faced. An assembly-line worker was called "fag" and "queer" at work for over a decade. A woman who played soccer for the Gay Games on her vacation was fired upon her return. A restaurant worker who had been recommended for a management position at a new restaurant was abruptly fired when a co-worker reveal the man's sexual orientation to their boss. When he sought legal recourse, he was told that there were no laws protecting gays and lesbians from job discrimination in his state.
Executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, Elizabeth Birch, said "Today, it is perfectly legal under federal law to fire a person simply because he or she is gay, lesbian, or bisexual." ENDA seeks to prevent gays and lesbians from unfair job treatment simply because of their orientation.
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. . . .