A federal judge in Missouri dismissed a lawsuit brought by a lesbian couple on Wednesday who were turned away by a retirement home, finding that the Fair Housing Act does not protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“The Eighth Circuit has squarely held that “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against homosexuals,” U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton wrote in a 10-page order
“The court recognizes that several federal courts have held otherwise in recent opinions, concluding that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination,” the judge continued. “This court is bound by the law of the Eighth Circuit, however. … To date the Eighth Circuit has not changed its position on the issue, and so the court must dismiss.”
In their lawsuit, Walsh and Nance claimed they were discriminated against because of their sex, their association with a person of a particular sex, and on the basis of their nonconformity with sex stereotypes.
While the FHA prohibits discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin,” Judge Hamilton found it does not prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
On Thursday Democrats Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Cory Booker of New Jersey will introduce legislation in Congress on Thursday to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other federal laws to protect LGBT Americans from discrimination,
The Equality Act would amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. Religious beliefs, race, sex, color, and national origin are already protected classes. The bill would not change existing religious exemptions for religious corporations, schools, and associations to make hiring decisions based on religious beliefs if the employee will be performing work connected with their religious activities.
The bill would also update the Government Employees Rights Act of 1991 and the Civil Service Reform Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity protections for federal and District of Columbia government employees.
Other areas covered in the sweeping legislation include nondiscrimination protections for those seeking child welfare, public education, student loans, healthcare or nutrition assistance. LGBT people would also be protected from discrimination in any aspect of purchasing or renting a house.
David Cicilline of Rhode Island, also a Democrat and who will be the lead sponsor in the House. Of Representatives explained the need for the legislation following the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of marriage equality. Cicilline warns lawmakers that the fight for LGBT rights isn’t over; instead, it’s just begun.
“Every day, millions of LGBT Americans face the danger of real discrimination and sometimes even violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Cicilline writes. “In most states, a same-sex couple can get married on Saturday, post pictures on Facebook on Sunday, and then risk being fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment on Monday.”
The Bill would also clarify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be used to defend discrimination against LGBT people and clarifies that sex-segregated facilities must admit individuals in accordance to their gender identity, and that it applies to anyone discriminated against because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or association with a protected class. And while many are applauding the bill there are some in our community that are worried about it also.
Heather Cronk and Angela Peoples, of the small grassroots organization GetEQUAL (It’s hard to call GE an LGBT rights organization now since they actually spend very little time on LGBT/Protection issues any more time and have focused more on immigration and race issues) call The Equality Act “dangerous,” fearing right-wing lawmakers would not only strip the bill of its intended protections with amendments, but also gut the civil rights laws being amended.
Rep. Cicilline and Sen. Merkley will hold a news conference on Thursday to announce the legislation’s introduction.
Today in just a little over 15 minutes, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee voted 15-7 to report the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to the full Senate. The 12 Democrats on the committee were joined by three Republicans — Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.), a co-sponsor of the bill, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Orrin Hatch (Utah) (both a shock) — in voting to advance the bill.
Speaking to reporters, Murkowski said the outpouring of support for ENDA from her constituents helped influence her vote.
“When I was home over the break, I think it was 1,174 postcards were delivered to my office from Alaskans from around the state in support of ENDA,” Murkowski said. “If you listen to your folks back home this is important to them.”
The only GOP senator present who voted against sending the bill t was the ranking Republican on the committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander. The other six “no” votes were cast by proxy. Even Alexander, though, said nothing against the bill. To the contrary, he praised changes and compromises made to the bill already, suggested more that he would like to see, and praised the bill’s sole Republican sponsor on the committee and said that he will put forth three more amendments when the bill finally hits the floor.
One of the compromises made were the very broad religious exemptions written into the bill that if pass unchanged will actually write LGBT discrimination into law by exempting religious businesses, organizations and institutions from obeying it.
It was a big, bipartisan win, and we’re going this ride momentum to 60 votes by September,” Tico Almeida of Freedom to Work who helped write the exemptions said. “We think we can get to 60 votes in the Senate in September — possibly October if it takes that long.
The question is though at what cost.
The exemptions in ENDA mirror those of TitleVII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
This Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution of learning, or society that is exempt from the religious discrimination provisions of title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pursuant (42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.) to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 2000e-1(a), 2000e-2(e)(2)).
The troubling thing is that the exemptions written for Title VII were for differences of faith. Not to discriminate against an entire subset of people. It did not allow religious institutions to discriminate against women or blacks. It only gave hiring preferences to members of the same faith.
In a recent editorial in the New York Times it was made clear that ENDA’s religious exemption “is far too broad and needs to be scaled back.” To quote the New York Times editorial:
…the exemption – extending well beyond just houses of worship to hospitals and universities, for example, and encompassing medical personnel, billing clerks and others in jobs that are not directly involved in any religious function – amounts to a license to engage in the discrimination that ENDA is meant to remedy.
And while Congress did not include a definition of the § 702(a) term “religious corporation” in Title VII, at least one judge has argued that the legislative history indicates that Congress intended “the § 703(e)(2) exemption to require a lesser degree of association between an entity and a religious sect than what would be required under § 702(a).” See LeBoon v. Lancaster Jewish Cmty. Ctr., 503 F.3d 217, 237 (3d Cir. 2007) (Rendell, J., dissenting).
Another dangerous aspect of ENDA’s religious exemptions is that it legitimatizes the statements made by those in the extreme right against the LGBT community that being gay is wrong and sets a precedent for all further LGBT legislation.
And there are other problems.
In 2001 ,President Bush’s Executive Orders 13198 and 13199 created and set out organizational guidelines for a White House Office of Community and Faith-Based Initiatives.
In 2002, the most controversial Executive Order was issued – Executive Order 13279 – made it easier for churches and other faith-based organizations to receive federal money by letting them circumvent certain anti-discrimination laws. Under the umbrella of the Faith-Based Initiative, the Bush administration began allowing discrimination with federal money for the first time since the 1960s. Executive Order 13279, Equal Protection of the Laws for Faith-Based and Community Organizations, issued on December 12, 2002, provides that certain faith-based organizations that provide social programs can deliver those services and make hiring decisions on the basis of their religious beliefs even if they receive federal funding.
But none of this you are hearing from either Freedom to Work or the Human Rights Campaign who both 100 percent support the religious exemptions so that ENDA passes using the “Its better to pass something rather than nothing at all” mentality.
Id this reallt the ENDA that we have fought over 30 years for?
I’ll be on The Becky Juro Show, July 11th at 8:00 p.m. to discuss the religious exemption problems as well as others that are not being reported by our gay media.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has released a study on housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Because they REALLY needed a study to know that LGBT ppl are discriminated against.
“This is the first large-scale, paired-testing study to assess housing discrimination against same-sex couples in metropolitan rental markets via advertisements on the Internet. The research is based on 6,833 e-mail correspondence tests conducted in 50 metropolitan markets across the United States from June through October 2011. For each correspondence test, two e-mails were sent to the housing provider, each inquiring about the availability of the unit advertised on the Internet. The only difference between the two e-mails was the sexual orientation of the couple making the inquiry. Two sets of correspondence tests were conducted, one assessing the treatment of gay male couples relative to heterosexual couples and one assessing the treatment of lesbian couples relative to heterosexual couples. This methodology provides the first direct evidence of discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples compared with the treatment of heterosexual couples when searching for rental housing advertised on the Internet in the United States.
The study finds that same-sex couples experience less favorable treatment than heterosexual couples in the online rental housing market. The primary form of adverse treatment is that same-sex couples receive significantly fewer responses to e-mail inquiries about advertised units than heterosexual couples. Study results in jurisdictions with state-level protections against housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation unexpectedly show slightly more adverse treatment of same-sex couples than results in jurisdictions without such protections. This study provides an important initial observation of discrimination based on sexual orientation at the threshold stage of the rental transaction and is a point of departure for future research on housing discrimination against same-sex couples.”
We not only need ENDA – WITHOUT THE RELIGIOUS EXEMPTIONS, And quite simply we need LGBT’s amended to the Civil Rights Act which includes housing protections and stop this time piecemeal legislation strategy that is dragging out the fight LGBT equality for decades past and most probably decades to come.
New York City gay activist Alan Bounville who has been trying to persuade Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to file a bill adding gays and lesbians to the 1964 Civil Rights Act has gone on a hunger strike.
Bounville has been trying to to persuade Gillibrand, a staunch supporter of marriage equality and a proactive advocate of DADT repeal, to file the bill for weeks by holding daily vigils in front of her campaign office to no avail. So on election day Bounville began his hunger strike.
On Oct. 11, the vigil was expanded to a 24-hour protest and ended early Tuesday morning when Bounville started his hunger strike at an undisclosed location.
“I have a bit of a headache,” he said. “What’s keeping me going is these visualizations of Tyler Clementi jumping off that bridge. I keep replaying that in my mind.”
“The issue is full civil rights right now,” he explained, in contrast to the more narrow, targeted battles favored by many mainstream LGBT advocacy groups such as marriage equality, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and anti-bullying bills.
“None of this piecemeal, convoluted stuff,” he said.
But even within the LGBT community, many believe that a campaign like Bounville’s should wait for a time when there is broader congressional support.
“You can count on one hand the number of members of the Senate that supports this idea,” Richard Socarides, a Chelsea-based gay and lesbian civil rights attorney and former White House advisor to President Clinton, said at the start of the vigil.
“Senator Gillibrand has been probably our strongest advocate for gay and lesbian civil rights in the entire federal government,” he added
As for Socarides that whole “wait till more are on board” is a such a disastrous plan because we will be waiting forever. The whole point is to write up the bill and THEN get people to support it. make deals, exert pressure. We march, picket, rally. Did none of these people ever take a Political Science Class?
And for all of you out there going but Kristen is our friend. Yea maybe she is. But whats the harm in writing up the Bill? There is none.
I admire his passion and there’s certainly room for radicalism (which also makes the left of center look more centrist). And while he’s certainly correct that our representatives are our employees, just like other employees they are people and they respond to relationships. But there is a point when you have to scream at every friend to do something or make a REAL STAND for you.