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House votes to protect gay workers

By
November 8, 2007

The Democratic-led House of Representatives on Wednesday defied a White House veto threat and voted to protect millions of Americans by outlawing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“This is truly a historic day,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, told her colleagues. “Discrimination has no place in America.”

The measure passed 235-184, falling far short of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override a possible veto by President George W. Bush.

Democrats vowed to try to mount support, but face stiff opposition from the religious right and others in what’s been a 30-year effort to enact such legislation into law.

While the House-passed bill drew praise from civil rights groups, it elicited the ire of lesbian and gay organizations that sought broader protection for members of their diverse community.

Sent to the Senate for concurrence, the bill would prohibit employers from considering sexual orientation in deciding whether to hire, fire or promote someone.

But the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would not cover transgender men and women — those whose gender identity differs from their birth sex.

In a letter to House members, a coalition of nearly 400 gay, lesbian and transgender groups wrote that it opposed the legislation because it “leaves some of us behind.”

Democrats had initially sought transgender protection. But many backed off when they realized they did not have the votes, and feared transgender coverage could sink the bill.

“I wish we had the votes in this House to ban discrimination of all sorts,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, a chief sponsor of the measure and one of two openly gay members of Congress.

“I wish for a lot of things, but I will not act on my wishes irresponsibly,” Frank said.

Rep. Howard McKeon, a California Republican, opposed the bill, warning it “could result in the exact opposite effect its supporters intend by creating new pressures on employers to consider and even document their employees’ sexual orientation, actual or how it is perceived, in order to guard against litigation.”

It’s now legal in 30 of the 50 U.S. states to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. A recent study found that 16 percent lesbians and gays reported being dismissed or denied a job because of their sexual orientation.

“There are millions of our fellow citizens, gay or lesbian, who live in fear that they could be fired because they live in states where there is no such protection,” Frank said.

The White House has threatened to veto the bill, which has been described as a proposed extension of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned discrimination based on race, sex and national origin.

In a statement, the White House said, “The bill turns on imprecise and subjective terms that would make interpretation, compliance and enforcement extremely difficult.”

Mostly Republican critics also complained the bill, despite Democratic claims to the contrary, would inadequately exempt religious institutions from the proposed law, and could even undermine state laws banning same-sex marriage.

Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council, which opposed the bill, said the proposal would permit “mainstream homosexuality, bisexuality … and provide activists a legal tool for punishing employers who do not approve of these lifestyles.”

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York spoke in favor of ending workplace discrimination, but then announced he would vote against the measure, saying it did not go far enough.

“I believe it is important we take a principled stand now, and speak with a strong and united voice for equal rights for all Americans, whether they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” Nadler said.

10 Responses to House votes to protect gay workers

  1. bryan mcclellan

    November 8, 2007 at 8:15 am

    I can think of many issues that at this time are of greater importance,the wars,our imploding economy etc.If something is not done to first address the rape of the Constitution and this ruinous dictatorship we have fallen under human rights in general will not be worth two squirts of duck shit.PMFOT’s

  2. neveringham

    November 9, 2007 at 4:08 am

    I agree! How about H.R.333? Ya know the bill that would start the proceedings to impeach Cheney. It was swept off the house floor yesterday and into the hands of the judiciary committee. And nancy pelosi (a.k.a. HA HA……as in haha were all really work for the whitehouse) said yet again “impeachment is off the table” Why might I ask? Not to mention as soon as Kucinich introduced the bill house majority leader Hoyer moved to table it. WTF? What democrat in their right mind wouldn’t seize this opportunity? Please somebody…….. help me understand the minds of the stupid. Yesterday an impeachment bill with 21 co-sponsors gets swept off the floor and today this is an achievement? Bush won’t sign it into law. He veto’s bills just to make the democrats look like they can’t accomplish anything. This country needs to start talking revolution!

  3. yarply

    November 9, 2007 at 1:11 am

    Outlawing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation?
    Does this cover pedophiles also?,, and what about thoughs who practice bestiality and necrophilia?

    In mine and many other states sodomy is against the law.
    As is bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia.
    I guess members of NAMBLA and “others” will “love” this ruling.

    I liked the play on words used in the article,,,
    Democrats vowed to try to “mount” support.
    But face “stiff” opposition from the religious right.

    The truth is, That this act creates a specially protected group of people who can claim discrimination for and on any perceived “slight”.
    The statements by lesbian and gay organizations saying they sought broader protection for members of their diverse community show that they will not stop at equality but want further
    “rights”. “I wish we had the votes in this House to ban discrimination of all sorts,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts who also said, “I wish for a lot of things, but I will not act on my wishes irresponsibly,”

    Just think about it,,, the bill prohibits employers from considering sexual orientation in deciding whether to hire, fire or promote someone AND that is not enough for the lesbian and gay organizations who want broader protections.
    Equality isn’t enough. Huh….

  4. Jerry

    November 9, 2007 at 2:35 am

    Ooooh, Yarply, you’ve surely exposed yourself as a missionary-position man, just like …. Ted Haggard.

    He’s straight too.

  5. yarply

    November 9, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Jerry, My point was that the no discrimination based on sexual orientation phrase is a pretty broad statement which could cover anything,, from gays to,,, just about anything.. You can quibble all you wish and even insinuate I’m a closet case, with the ted haggard comment. Insult me all you wish.. But my other point,, in case you could not glean the other point to my comments were that by their own statements, which were reported in the article, which said;
    While the House-passed bill drew praise from civil rights groups, it elicited the ire of lesbian and gay organizations that sought broader protection for members of their diverse community.
    They do not just wish equality, but something more. Like I said equality is not enough.
    No unfortunately it is YOU who has exposed your self, because just like them it is obvious you wish more than just equality, For attacking me
    you have shown yourself. I had the decency to just comment on the article, You did not.

  6. bryan mcclellan

    November 9, 2007 at 2:39 am

    Huh is right YARP,Pop said ,a Man is a Man until he proves different,His philosophy was work and you will eat and be respected if you leave out the lewd.He never had to endure a short arm inspection because things were falling off the shelves(born 1903).Here comes that dangerous territory, Assimilation of belief……….

  7. duckie2k7

    November 9, 2007 at 5:28 pm

    Yarply, I love how, when we don’t agree with something, we choose to twist the words of others to support our own point of view. Case in point, your post here…

    “Does this cover pedophiles also?,, and what about thoughs [sic] who practice bestiality and necrophilia?”

    Why would you infer this from the article? You actually sound a little hopeful that it might be true. Are you looking to come out of your own closet? LGBT’s are not pedophiles, necrophiliacs, nor practitioners of bestiality, and as you are hopefully well aware, this bill does not protect those who are.

    “That this act creates a specially protected group of people who can claim discrimination for and on any perceived “slight”.”

    First off, it protects a group from being fired from their job or harassed by their lunkhead bosses and coworkers. As for being a specially protected group, this bill does nothing of the sort – it ADDS LGBT’s into an already protected group, namely women, the disabled, and ethnic minorities.

    “The statements by lesbian and gay organizations saying they sought broader protection for members of their diverse community show that they will not stop at equality but want further “rights”.”

    No, this is not what it shows at all. Had you read the article and understood it, you’d have learned that the transgendered community has been excluded from the bill for political expediency. The LGBT organizations have sought to include transgendered people in this bill. They are not seeking broader protections than those proposed by the bill, but broader application of these protections.

    “…the bill prohibits employers from considering sexual orientation in deciding whether to hire, fire or promote someone AND that is not enough for the lesbian and gay organizations who want broader protections.”

    This has nothing to do with broader protections than workplace equality – it has everything to do with more broadly applying those protections to everyone in the workplace.

    Thank goodness I live in a state that is already enlightened enough to prohibit such discrimination already.

  8. yarply

    November 9, 2007 at 6:41 pm

    Enlightened? en-darkened is more like it.
    Your reasoning is the most illogical and absurd.
    How is one supposed to define which sexual orientation, that sexual orientation means. It could mean anything. Why would I infer this? How could one not.
    There are groups out there like NAMBLA pushing for equal rights too, and they say its normal to have sex with little boys and there are people out there who have sex with animals and dead people also. ( hey give them equal rights )
    No you are the unenlightened one. You either can not discern the truth or you are one of them yourself. As the other fellow who attacked me because of my comments ON THE STORY, you have revealed yourself. You as he can not comment on the story as I had, but feel compelled to attack my comments and myself personally. Evidently what I said is threatening to you in some manner that you feel it necessary to insult me personally and make me respond to defend my position. Mostly If I disagree with some one I would just make my comments TOWARDS THE STORY and not attack others personally. Evidently you took my comments on the story as a personal attack on you. They weren’t. Next time I will be more careful where and how I cast my pearls.

  9. duckie2k7

    November 9, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    Absolutely, what you wrote ABOUT the story and your interpretation of it is threatening to me because people who seek to twist the words of others to perpetuate and justify their antiquated and dangerous views are a danger to the enlightenment of our society. A loving, mutually consenting, adult sexual relationship with another man or with another woman is NOT equivalent to that with a boy or girl or animal or the dead, and that you continue to perceive it as such is insulting, degrading, and WRONG. It also has no bearing on whether someone ought to be able to work somewhere or not. However, that some people, like you, do seem to believe that it does have bearing, the LGBT community needs to be added to existing workplace discrimination law.

    OK, let’s look at your comments TOWARDS THE STORY, shall we?

    “Outlawing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation? Does this cover pedophiles also?,, and what about thoughs who practice bestiality and necrophilia?

    “In mine and many other states sodomy is against the law. As is bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia. I guess members of NAMBLA and “others” will “love” this ruling.”

    Nowhere in the story are these mentioned or inferred, yet somehow you find them relevant to the discussion of the story and require two paragraphs to discuss them. As they are completely separate from and irrelevant to the argument, I view these comments as wild extrapolation and a personal attack.

    “I liked the play on words used in the article,,,
    Democrats vowed to try to “mount” support.
    But face “stiff” opposition from the religious right.”

    How is this relevant to anything more than the writing style of the author of the story? Completely irrelevant to the discussion.

    “The truth is, That this act creates a specially protected group of people who can claim discrimination for and on any perceived “slight”. The statements by lesbian and gay organizations saying they sought broader protection for members of their diverse community show that they will not stop at equality but want further “rights”. “I wish we had the votes in this House to ban discrimination of all sorts,” said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts who also said, “I wish for a lot of things, but I will not act on my wishes irresponsibly,

    “Just think about it,,, the bill prohibits employers from considering sexual orientation in deciding whether to hire, fire or promote someone AND that is not enough for the lesbian and gay organizations who want broader protections.
    Equality isn’t enough. Huh….”

    As in my post above, in refuting your argument as one perpetuated by someone who did not fully understand the story they were reading, these two paragraphs are false arguments and as such, should be discounted out of hand.

    So, as you can see, your comments on the story are i) personal attacks on the LGBT community in perpetuating the link between gays and pedophiles and necrophiliacs, and ii) false arguments. Because your comments are nothing more than a personal attack, you should expect to receive personal attacks in return and not cry foul when it happens.

  10. Jerry

    November 10, 2007 at 4:08 am

    Hi Yarply,

    Like duckie2k7, I just read your response as a completely over-the-top argument, lumping gays in with necrophiliacs and those who enjoy sex with dogs. Personally, I don’t even think about bestiality on a day-to-day basis, unless some whacko Christian like Senator Rick Santorum mentions it in the same breath as gays. I don’t go around thinking about sex with dogs — why do you?

    No, seriously, I think your train of argument opened up legitimate questions about just which part of the left field you were coming from.

    There are times when the rulebook (argue only about the subject) must be ignored and the people who wrote the rulebook should be challenged. The Christian Right (Wrong) would love us all to play by their rulebook and just accept the axiom that gays = necrophiliacs, pedophiles, and dog-humpers, but it is a false position to start from, and I refuse to accept your demand that we start from it. **You** become the legitimate subject of inquiry by asking us all to accept such nonsense.