In a new brief from the Center for American Progress (CAP), Crosby Burns and Philip Ross point out that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act would prohibit employers from firing individuals on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, but it still would not offer protections in housing, health care, or public accommodations. This is besides the fact that ENDA, itself, is not expected to pass as long as there is a Republican majority in the House. Even if it did, a restaurant owner would be prohibited from firing a gay employee, but in many states could still kick a gay couple out of the establishment for kissing.
The brief makes the following recommendations:
- Enacting strong federal, state, and local laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and in housing, health care, and areas of public accommodation.
- Extending the Fair Housing Act?s scope to include ?sexual orientation? and ?gender identity? in its list of protected categories.
- State and local agencies strongly enforcing their nondiscrimination protections and investigating any and all complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Health care facilities adopting policies that would help ensure equal access to quality health care for gay and transgender patients.
- Areas of public accommodation ensuring their nondiscrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity.
CAP also released two other publications today related to ENDA: a FAQ about ENDA and a brief on the long history of the bill. The FAQ points out that there is strong public support for employment protections. Hopes were high that it might pass last year, but it wasn’t brought up for a vote. The latest incarnation of the bill is not expected to make any progress because of Republican control in the House.
Our guest blogger is Sarah Margon, associate director for Sustainable Security at the Center for American Progress.
With more than 10.7 million people in desperate need of food assistance across the Horn of Africa, the U.N. is expected to officially declare a famine in parts of Somalia tomorrow. The last time a major famine was declared in the region was 1984-85, when severe drought killed more than 1 million people in Ethiopia.
Pervasive insecurity and cumbersome legal restrictions created to keep U.S. taxpayer dollars from falling into the hands of al-Shabaab, the armed al Qaeda-linked group that controls much of southern Somalia, has made humanitarian access difficult for many aid agencies. As a result, nearly 3 million people throughout southern Somalia are now in need of assistance. In addition, and due in part to the complexities of operating in a terrorist-controlled area, there is a $1 billion funding shortage.
Last week, in a shift that indicates the severity of the humanitarian crisis, al-Shabaab publicly reversed its 2009 ban on international assistance. At a press conference in the embattled Somali capital, a spokesman noted:
“Whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, [if] their intention is only to assist those suffering, [international aid groups] can contact the committee which will give them access to the drought-hit areas. We are standing by to provide any assistance they need if their exact desire is helping the drought affected people. Anyone with no hidden agenda will be assisted…and those who intend to harm our people will be prevented to do so.”
Immediately after the announcement, the U.N. began delivering food and medicine to civilians in al-Shabaab territory. To her credit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent an important signal by pledging to ?test the willingness? of al-Shabaab and re-start programs. The crisis, however, is urgent and many obstacles remain.
For their part, many U.S. governement funded humanitarian groups are eager to return to Somalia and restart programs they?ve had to abandon. As for now, however, these groups are stuck in a bit of a catch-22. The restrictions against working in Somalia — whether the Treasury Department?s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) restrictions or Executive Order 13224 — are still firmly in place.
Given the urgency of the crisis, restarting aid programs will require some quick work by the interagency. The legal obstacles for aid dispersal that are currently in place can be addressed by either removing OFAC restrictions or creating a waiver process that enables relief agencies to apply for exemptions. Both steps will likely encounter bureaucratic hurdles that challenge the Secretary’s stated commitment. So the sooner a path forward can be agreed, the sooner the aid groups can get their programs legally up and running.
At Think Progress, Igor Volsky has an important reminder for policymakers eyeing Medicare for cost savings in debt ceiling and deficit negotations: the plans under consideration just shift costs, they don't actually reduce them.
Rep. Paul Ryan?s (R-WI) budget would find savings in the Medicare program by shifting a greater share of its costs to beneficiaries, who would receive a fixed "premium support" credit to go out and purchase health care in an exchange of private health care plans.[...]
Ryan?s isn?t the only proposal to lower the growth in Medicare spending that?s asking seniors to pay more, and that?s precisely what has health care advocates so concerned. They point out that nearly ?half of Medicare recipients have incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty?$21,780 for an individual, $29,420 for a couple? and that many simply can?t afford to spend more on health insurance:Only 5 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have incomes of $80,000 or above, a figure that includes any income from a spouse. As for the 47 percent who are at or close to poverty, on average they are already spending nearly a fourth of their budgets on health care, according to an analysis of Medicare survey data by the Kaiser Family Foundation.[...]
Last week, the LA Times? Noam Levey observed that saving costs by shifting them from the federal government to beneficiaries?once seen as taboo?has become all the rage in Washington, with pundits eagerly applauding the bold ?leadership? and ?tough decisions? of such proposals.
It's not bold or tough to make the beneficiaries of these programs pay more. What would be bold and tough would be to take on the big health care industry special interests to force cost reductions in things like pharmaceuticals and medical equipment and devices. There's cost savings to be had in the program itself in addressing the actual costs of care. Those are what policymakers should be looking for instead of just passing the buck on to America's seniors.
Today was the day Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks testified before a parliamentary hearing. Short version: nobody knew anything. And they are really sorry. And about halfway through it there was a pie.
There you go. Whether any of that (aside from the pie) makes bigger news depends in large part on whether any of their statements proves to be ... not intended as factual statements, I guess, is the phrase we use now? It may seem cynical to be suspicious of the trustworthiness of company executives whose operations are embroiled in charges of phone hacking, evidence tampering, police bribery, impeding investigations and the like, but, you know ... that stuff I just said.
There will be a special meeting of Parliament tomorrow to discuss the widening scandal. You know your company is in trouble when Parliament is called into session specifically to discuss how much you suck.
Is the president continuing to evolve on marriage equality? It looks like it. Via the National Journal:
President Obama is throwing his support behind the Respect for Marriage Act - the bill to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage even for couples married under state law. [?]
On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the new bill, which would repeal all three sections of DOMA -- which federally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman -- including section 1, which is the name; section 2, which instructs states not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states; and section 3, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing legally performed same-sex marriages.
Not only does the Respect for Marriage Act repeal the blatantly bigoted Defense of Marriage Act, but it specifically grants federal rights and protections to gay couples and families living in states that recognize marriage equality:
Under the RMA, same-sex couples and their families would be eligible for important federal benefits and protections such as family and medical leave or Social Security spousal and survivors? benefits, but the federal government could not grant state-level rights. The bill does not require states that have not yet enacted legal protections for same-sex couples to recognize a marriage. Nor does it obligate any person, state, locality, or religious organization to celebrate or license a marriage between two persons of the same sex. This legislation only requires the federal government to equally apply its policy of looking to the states in determining what legal relationships are eligible for federal benefits.
As Adam Bink points out:
Why is this a big deal? Because the White House rarely, if ever, endorses legislation that hasn?t passed a house of Congress? and this one hasn?t even passed committee yet. It underscores the urgency of this issue, and it also generates huge momentum to our efforts to bring more Senators on board.
Of course, the bill has a long way to go before it becomes law, and it seems unlikely to pass in the current House of Crazy, aka Congress. So add this to the long list of reasons we need to make sure Democrats keep the Senate take back the House next year. Because this could be, in the words of Vice President Biden, a big fucking deal.
(h/t Pam Spaulding)
Ever since WWII it has been more and more difficult to define our "wars". The line tends to get blurry when the President doesn't have to consult Congress before sending in troops. However, when you are bombing a nation, and[...]
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As I first mentioned in an e-mail alert last week, the ongoing debt negotiations in Washington now include serious talks about alterations to the Social Security program.
A number of you have since been asking questions about how things might shake out, so I’d like to address some of them today.
Let’s start with the biggest question …
“What will happen to current Social Security recipients if an agreement isn’t reached in time?”
Put simply: Their checks may not go out!
President Obama has already said as much to major media outlets. Heck, here were his exact words to CBS News last week:
“I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3 if . . . → Read More: Important Update on Social Security and the Debt Ceiling..
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By capping spending and forcing cuts the Gang of Six proposal is short on details but it is long on the chances it will cause a economic depression. It will impose a 2/3 super majority to raise spending, which means that not only would the Recovery Act[...]
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Stage 16 is a perfect example of how you can never tell what's going to happen in any stage of the Tour. The 162.5 kilometer stage from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap was a mostly uphill course with a category 2 climb near the end. It was expected that the category 2 climb was big enough to prevent the sprinters from dominating the stage, but not big enough for the leaders to attack on -- but attack they did.
It was a difficult day for breakaways to happen as the peloton kept immediately chasing them down, but about halfway through the race a breakaway of 10 riders was finally able to separate themselves and build up a time gap. At the beginning of the category 2 climb, three riders in that breakaway left the others behind and finished the stage in the top three places. They were Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) who won the stage, Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling) who finished second, and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Cervelo) who finished in third place.
But the real excitement took place among the leaders. Surprising everyone, Spanish rider (and defending champion) Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) took off on the final climb. Australian Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Spaniard Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) went with him, and the three of them were able to separate and pick up some time on the race leader. Even more surprising, Luxembourg's Andy Schleck (Leopard-Trek) was unable to go with them or stay with the yellow jersey, and he lost over a minute to his main competitors.
Tomorrow the race returns to the really high mountains -- this time it's the Alps. Stage 17 is a 175 kilometer ride from Gap to Pinerolo. It has two category 3 climbs, followed by a category 2 climb and a category 1 climb. Then there is another category 2 climb near the end of the race. With only five days left in this year's Tour there is likely to be a lot of attacks tomorrow among the leaders to position themselves for a podium finish in Paris.
Here are the current standings:
YELLOW JERSEY (INDIVIDUAL LEADER)
1. Thomas Voeckler, France (Europcar)
2. Cadel Evans, Australia (BMC Racing)..........1' 45"
3. Frank Schleck, Luxembourg (Leopard-Trek)..........1' 49"
4. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg (Leopard-Trek)..........3' 03"
5. Samuel Sanchez, Spain (Euskaltel-Euskadi)..........3' 26"
6. Alberto Contador, Spain (Saxo Bank)..........3' 42"
7. Ivan Basso, Italy (Liquigas)..........3' 49"
8. Damiano Cunego, Italy, (Lampre)..........4' 01"
9. Tom Danielson, USA (Garmin-Cervelo)..........6' 04"
10. Rigoberto Uran, Colombia (Sky Procycling)..........7' 55"
GREEN JERSEY (SPRINTERS)
1. Mark Cavendish, Great Britain (HTC-Highroad)........319 pts
2. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Spain (Movistar)........285 pts
3. Philippe Gilbert, Belgium (Omega-Lotto)........250 pts
4. Thor Hushovd, Norway (Garmin-Cervelo)........235 pts
5. Andre Greipel, Germany (Omega-Lotto)........170 pts
POLKA DOT JERSEY (CLIMBERS)
1. Jelle Vanendert, Belgium (Omega-Lotto)..........74 pts
2. Samuel Sanchez, Spain (Euskaltel-Euskadi)..........72 pts
3. Jeremy Roy, France (FDJ)..........45 pts
4. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg (Leopard-Trek)..........28 pts
5. Cadel Evans, Australia (BMC Racing)..........26 pts
1. Garmin-Cervelo (USA)
2. Leopard-Trek (Luxembourg)..........7' 01"
3. Europcar (France)..........8' 14"
4. AG2R (France)..........10' 04"
5. Katusha (Russia)..........13' 05"
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Aw, come on, boys. If John F. Kennedy can do it on all the drugs he chugged, so can Michele Bachmann. The Daily Caller headline is the tell: Stress-related condition ?incapacitates? Bachmann; heavy pill use alleged. It cannot possibly be a coincidence[...]
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