Politics

Department of Justice Argues "Homosexuals" Aren't Protected At Work

Less than a day after Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender individuals in the military, the Department of Justice has issued an amicus brief that argues against protections for LGBTQ employees. Jeff Sessions and the DOJ claim to prove that the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect "homosexuals" from discrimination in the workplace.

Oh yeah and "homosexuals" is the term they're using again. Way to go, America! Total facepalm day!

In a nutshell, the brief declares that sexual orientation is NOT sex discrimination. Currently, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) mentions that the Civil Rights Act "makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity) or religion." But basically the DOJ is saying it is OKAY to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals in work environments!

The brief comes during a case Zarda v. Altitude Express in which a skydiving employee filed a lawsuit claiming his employer discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation. His claim was rejected by the district court as they stated he was not protected from the discrimination of his being gay. The employee, Donald Zarda, died in a skydiving accident in 2014 and the case is currently open in the court of appeals. And here we are with this amicus brief.

The main points being argued in the amicus brief are:

  • TITLE VII’S BAR AGAINST DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF SEX IS NOT VIOLATED UNLESS MEN AND WOMEN ARE TREATED UNEQUALLY
  • DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION IS NOT DISCRIMINATION BECAUSE OF SEX UNDER TITLE VII

 

Senate Votes For Healthcare Debate

Senate Republicans took majority vote today in Washington, a vote that now advances the debate to repeal and replace Obamacare.

After having been out during the vote that took place on July 18th, John McCain returned from Arizona to cast his vote.

This resulted in a tied vote that was tallied at 50-Democrats/50-Republicans the tie-breaking vote came from Vice President Mike Pence who voted in favor of the measure. This made the vote 51/50 (I know, the IRONY!). Democrats have been against the bill as they believe it will end health care coverage for millions.

Trump said at a White House news conference

I'm very happy to announce that with zero of the Democrats' votes, the motion to proceed on health care has moved past and now we move forward toward truly great health care for the American people. We look forward to that. This was a big step.

Senators were greeted by a group of protestors shouting “Kill the Bill!” and “Shame” right before the voting began. I imagine it went something like this

The motion to move to debate is now set. Senators will now be able to offer amendments in a “skinny repeal” process which would allow senators to pinpoint specific areas of Obamacare that they would like to change —making it difficult to predict what the final result for healthcare for millions of Americans will look like.

Tech Companies Stand Up To Oppose Texas 'Bathroom Bill'

On July 18th, Republican Governor Greg Abbott Texas ordered a 30-day special session in in state legislature to debate a list of items of which the Texas 'bathroom bill' is high priority. 

The ‘bathroom bill’ would force transgender individuals to use the bathroom that is designated for their birth gender. Disregarding their safety and identity.

Abbott aims to identify who is with him or who is against him as he claimed at the Texas Public Policy Foundation event:

I’m going to be establishing a list. You all, or other organizations, may be establishing a list. We all need to establish lists that we publish on a daily basis and call people out. Who is for this, who is against this, who has not taken a position. No one gets to hide.

Now, corporate tech giants led by IBM are taking a stance on the controversial bill. The company currently employs more than 10,000 people in Texas and has taken out full-page ads in major Texas publications urging Texas legislators to go against the bill.

The ad reads:

As one of the largest technology employers in Texas, IBM firmly opposes any measure that would harm the state's LGBT community and make it difficult for businesses to attract and retain talented Texans

They even changed their logo in protest.

IBM General Manager, Phil Gilbert said in a press conference:

It just behooves any company to really figure out, if you're going to really try to recruit the best talent and you're competing with companies that are operating in locations that do no have this type of discriminatory bills, you have to ask yourself, where are you going to grow 

Other companies include Apple, Facebook, AT&T, American Airlines, and Lyft, which signed a letter opposing the bill.

READ THE FULL LETTER HERE

It’s so nice to see that these tech companies are ready to swipe left on this matter that in 2017 we shouldn’t have to be discussing anymore.

 

 

 

Republican Healthcare Bill Fails in Senate

The effort to undo the Affordable Care Act fell short of passing votes in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, July 18, 2017 after three Republican senators voted against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan. Republican senators Shelley Moore Capito (WV); Susan Collins (ME); and Lisa Murkowski (AK) joined Democrats and a few other Republicans in declaring they would not support the effort without a proper replacement for Obamacare.

If passed, the Republican Healthcare Bill would have affected patients with a long list of pre-existing conditions.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) mentioned:

“It’s time to move on. It’s time to start over. Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our healthcare system.”

Trump told reporters at the White House:

"We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

And as with everything else, the Donald took to Twitter to show his braggadocious persistence:

 

 

This failure leaves Trump without a significant legislative victory during his first six months in office.

A top Republican told CNN:

"He was playing with a firetruck and trying on a cowboy hat as the bill was collapsing and he had no clue.”

And due to Trump’s presence on social media, the people took to Twitter to comment

 

Congress Rejects Anti-Trans Military Amendment

An amendment proposed by Republican Missouri congresswoman, Vicky Hartzler was narrowly voted down in Congress today with a 214-opposing to 209-supporting. 24 Republicans joined all 190 Democrats in the vote.

Had the amendment passed, it would have restricted funds available to the Department of Defense to go toward transition-related health care affecting thousands of transgender members of the armed forces and military families. This is in direct action against a Pentagon policy that has been in place since October.

Congresswoman Hartzler argued that taxpayers should not be responsible for transition-related healthcare, including hormone therapy.

Hartzler argued today:

"This is different from somebody going in and having a cold.”

California Representative, Nancy Pelosi took on an opposing stance by saying:

"We owe these heroes an immense debt. The defense bill before us today should be about honoring that responsibility."

In a statement, Executive Director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) Matt Thorn said:

“Congresswoman Hartzler’s attempt to strip healthcare from service members and their families in a time of war was unpatriotic, unconstitutional, and just plain vile, we are pleased to see that the House of Representatives voted down this amendment. It would have been harmful to trans servicemembers, spouses, and families with trans children; it would have undermined our mission readiness by degrading our capabilities as a fighting force. OutServe-SLDN will continue to support and defend our trans brothers and sisters in any and all legal and advocacy matters.”

 Nice try, Hartzler!

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Net Neutrality Is At Risk

When you log on to the internet, be it on your phone, computer, or other device, you expect to be able to access all websites, applications and content of your choice. As the user, you want to be in control of what you are personally viewing or experiencing. That means if you check your email and then want to check Facebook and then want to peruse your favorite porn sites, blogs or even dating apps—you hope to do so without interruptions or interference. This, my friends, is Net Neutrality.

Net Neutrality is the foundation of internet use that protects our rights to communicate freely online—an internet that preserves our freedom of speech and privileges to all websites and applications without blocking or discriminating the content.

Without Net Neutrality, phone companies such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon could have the power to place the internet into what they consider to be fast and slow lanes. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) could block or slow down the access to a competitor’s content based on its own opinions or even charge extra fees to access more content—allowing only those who could afford it to view. Like those pesky premium accounts that already exists on apps, but worse!

In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was pressured by millions of activists to instate Net Neutrality rules that keep the internet free and open for all—but now the Trump administration and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai have threatened to dismantle Net Neutrality.

If this succeeds, access to your internet browsing could be limited or disappear! No more unlimited streaming videos, no more entry to your daily dose of news or even, dare I say it? Reading this post or other Instinct Magazine content, etcetera etcetera.

On July 12thmany of the world’s biggest internet companies came together in protest against the FCC’s attack on Net Neutrality.

Here are how some giants made their voices heard:

Do you want to continue to freely access your favorite websites, apps and content wherever and whenever you want? You can help do your part to battle the regulations of Net Neutrality by sending a letter to the FCC and Congress HERE

Human Rights Campaign Announces Largest Investment In Political Game

 

The Human Rights Campaign has announced the launch of HRC Rising, a grassroots initiative that will make the “biggest strategic investment” in 37-year history in an effort to influence 2018 senate races. HRC will be allocating $26 million to add a minimum of 20 staffers who will focus on local and state issues, especially in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Nevada—each with top-tier Senate races.

The President of the Human Rights Campaign, Chad Griffin, says this:

“It’s not enough to resist the hateful policies and attacks coming from the Trump-Pence regime. We’ve got to accelerate the pace of progress toward full equality and secure protections for LGBTQ people in states and communities across the country. That’s why we’re going on offense with the largest grassroots expansion in HRC’s 37-year history. The power and determination of the 10 million LGBTQ voters and our allies across America will only continue to grow stronger in the face of discriminatory attacks on our rights and freedoms."

HRC Rising will also turn to allies, “pro-equality voters” as the election of Trump has created mobilization among these citizens.

Since its establishment in 1980, the HRC has been active in the political game, but since the recent election donations have flooded the organization in support of keeping the LGBTQIA community at the forefront of this movement.

 

 

 

ENDA Passes Senate Committee In 15 - 7 Vote

For the first time since 2002, an Employment Non-Discrimination Act including protections for lesbian and gay Americans came up for a vote in a Senate committee--and passed. The vote also made other applause-worthy history as the Washington Blade reports:

A Senate committee made history on Wednesday by approving for the first time a trans-inclusive version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and picking up key Republican support from Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

Lawmakers on the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee reported out ENDA by a 15-7 vote after a short period of discussion. No amendments were offered except for a manager’s amendment, although Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said he’ll reserve three that he planned for consideration on the Senate floor.

All 12 Democrats on the committee, including lesbian Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), are co-sponsors of the bill as well as one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). They each voted in favor of ENDA during the final vote.

NJ Democrats Call For Vote To Override Gov. Christie's Marriage Equality Veto

The marriage equality fight is heating up in New Jersey where top Democratic lawmakers are pushing for a "conscience vote" on Gov. Chris Christie's veto of same-sex marriage. 

The NJ Star-Ledger reports:

Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he will hold a vote to override Christie’s veto of a same-sex marriage bill that passed last year, noting that thousands of gay couples in New Jersey will be ineligible for federal benefits unless lawmakers act soon.

But first, Sweeney said, at least a few Republicans have to change their no votes to yes. The Senate president said Christie has intimidated GOP lawmakers, claiming some have privately admitted they would like to change their votes to allow same-sex marriage.

It's not an easy mission for NJ dems. 

To quash Christie’s veto, Democrats have to muster three more votes in the Senate and 12 more in the Assembly to reach the required two-thirds majority.

ENDA Gets A Date With The Senate

The long-awaited Employment Non-Discrimination Act has finally received a date with a Senate Committee. 

Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade reports:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has scheduled the markup for the LGBT job anti-bias legislation two weeks to the day that the Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.

Scheduling the vote is first step for Senate HELP Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, pictured) in fulfilling the promise he announced this year to move ENDA out of the committee this year. All 12 Senate Democrats on the panel are co-sponsors of the legislation — in addition to Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) — so ENDA should have no trouble obtaining approval from the committee.

The Committee will take up ENDA on July 10. 

 

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