Al Franken asks public for help passing Student Non-Discrimination Act

Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken

Sen. Al Franken, D – Minnesota, is asking the public for help passing S. 555, The Student Non-Discrimination Act, a bill that would prohibit discrimination against public school students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Under the provisions of S. 555 students who experienced discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or because of their association with LGBT people could bring a civil suit against the school officials or districts responsible for the discrimination. The bill currently has 34 co-sponsors (none from Texas) and its House companion (H.R. 998 by Rep. Jared Polis, D – Colorado) has 150 (with 7 Texan co-sponsors including Houston’s own Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green) . Both bills have been referred to committee but neither has received a hearing, a crucial step towards becoming law.

In the video requesting the public call their Senators (after the break) Franken points out that federal law already provides protection for school children harassed because of race, color, sex, religion, disability, and national origin, but that no protection exists for sexual orientation or gender identity.

The inclusion of “association” in S. 555 is particularly well thought out. According to the Williams Institute nearly 1 in 5 same-sex couples in the United States is raising children, in Harris County 18% of same-sex couples are.  As these children enter school it’s important that they be able to receive an education without harassment or bullying due to who their parents are.

Franken is asking people to call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and encourage their Senator’s to support the bill.

—  admin

Great Spaces: Conditioner love

Yes, you can have a cold house without the big bills — and that’s not hot air

By David Taffet

Perhaps the one thing we loathe the most besides triple digit temps in summer is that dreaded electric bill. The air conditioner is a must for summer in Texas, but the wallet sure takes a beating. One local expert recommends these simple tips to help you keep your cool and some green.

Todd Ylen of TNS Mechanical in Arlington said that only half the air conditioning complaints his company receives could be traced to the main unit. The first thing he checks is the overall cleanliness of what he calls “the guts.” He recommends a professional cleaning with caustic chemicals.

“It should be done professionally,” he says, “The chemicals won’t hurt the plants but it can melt the rubber off your sneakers.”

During the season, he said, don’t be afraid to wash the unit with a hose, but not a pressure washer. A garden hose will not damage an outdoor air conditioning system. They’re made to withstand gale-force winds.

Keep grass and weeds off outdoor condensers. They clog the system and decrease efficiency.

Next, Ylen said he checks the house.

“How efficient is the ductwork?” he says. “How efficient is your house?”

The outer lining of much of the ductwork installed in the 1980s has deteriorated. Squirrels, raccoons and other animals that get into the attic can cause a tremendous amount of damage to the ducts as well.

Cold air will blow in the attic but never reach the living areas of the house if the ducts are torn or worn. He recommends modern, high-insulated ductwork.

Next, he suggests an energy audit company to check for leaks around doors and windows.

“Seal the house,” he says. It pays off in lower energy bills quickly.

And ventilate, he said. Ylen called the old whirlybirds on most roofs worthless.

He recommends solar-powered, fan-driven ventilators. A year ago, he said, they were $1,800. Today they sell for $400, an amount that will pay for itself in one season. He calls it an upfront investment that continues to pay off by lowering electric bills on air conditioning and never costing a cent to operate.

Filters should be changed monthly. Dirty filters prevent the system from drawing air easily, making it work harder and use more energy.
Programmable thermostats are also useful in keeping the system from cooling the house when not needed.

Ylen calls radiant barriers ineffective with a 50-year payback, but insulation very useful.

“A preventive maintenance program is crucial,” he says. He sums up his energy-saving tips to all homeowners — insulate, ventilate and stop air leaks.

TNS Mechanical services homes throughout Texas and has other tips at AirConditioningRepairArlington.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

New Mexico House Committee Says “NO” to DOMA Bills

Today, three anti-marriage bills being considered by the New Mexico legislature encountered a major setback in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee.  Three Democrats from Bernalillo County (Albuquerque) voted to table the measures, effectively stalling, if not killing the bills for the session.  The final vote was 3-2.

The bills, HJR 7 and HJR 8 which are constitutional amendments that would define marriage as between only between one man and one woman, as well as HB 162, the “Retroactive Bar on Same Sex Marriages” bill, were attempts by social conservatives in the state to enshrine discrimination in the state’s constitution.  These bills would deny thousands of New Mexican families the dignity that comes from having their relationships recognized.

Similar legislation was defeated last year, but with a more socially conservative slant at the Roundhouse following the 2010 elections, fending off this discriminatory legislation could have proved more difficult.  To counter these efforts, HRC worked with a broad coalition in the state, and launched two statewide action alerts to thousands of members and supporters, which generated several thousand messages to legislators and Gov. Susana Martinez.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

VA: Nondiscrimination bills to be heard in Senate on Wednesday

Senate Bill 747 (McEachin) and SB 797 (Locke) will be heard in the Senate General Laws Committee on Wednesday, January 26th at 2pm. 

SB 747 would codify protections against discrimination for all state employees, including protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

 


  • Governors since Linwood Holton have signed executive orders protecting state employees from discrimination in employment.  Warner and Kaine extended this protection to GLBT employees; Governor McDonnell did not include this protection in his equal opportunity executive order substituting an executive directive without the force of law.  It is now time to make nondiscrimination against GLBT employees a codified state policy and extend the protection to all state employees.
  • It is a fundamental American and Virginian value that people who do their jobs, pay their taxes and contribute to their communities should not be singled out for unfair workplace discrimination.
  • 90% of Virginia voters support ending discrimination against GLBT people in government employment.
  • Of Virginia’s 50 largest employers, 24 of the 27 private employers on the list (88%) have nondiscrimination policies.

SB 797 would simply and clearly state that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is against the public policy of the Commonwealth.

  • The Virginia Human Rights Act states that it is the “policy of the Commonwealth” to “safeguard” all individuals in certain enumerated classes from discrimination.  Adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the Virginia Human Rights Act will make clear that it is against Virginia’s public policy for its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) residents to be subjected to discrimination just because of who they are. 


What You Can Do
Call or send an email to the offices of the Senators on the General Laws Committee today telling them that you support SB 747 and SB 797!

The names and contact information for the Senators on the Committee are available on live links here.

If you are available and want to testify before the committee on Wednesday, please let our lobbyist, Claire Gastañaga, know by calling her office at 804-521-4067.   That will help us organize our presentations, since we will only have a limited time for our side to present our case.  Keep in mind that you will want to prepare your testimony in advance and limit it to no more than 250 words.

To make a contribution to support our direct lobbying at the General Assembly, click here.

Thanks for your help!

For Equality,

Equality Virginia

Equality Virginia | equalityvirginia.org
403 N Robinson St, Richmond, VA 23220
T: 804.643.4816 F: 804.643.1554
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Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Top gay bills likely won’t advance under GOP House

That would be the same bills that haven’t advanced under a Democratic Congress.

I don’t mean to belittle how anti-gay the Republicans are, but let’s face it – the gay rights agenda hasn’t exactly been parading through a Democratic Congress and Democratic White House either.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Watch: John McCain Enraged Over DADT, Hate Crimes on the Defense Bills

Mccain

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) obstructed Senator Carl Levin's (D-MI) attempts to schedule floor debate on the Defense Authorization bill for when the Senate returns from its one month recess, because he's angry that last year hate crimes was attached to the bill, and this year "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is attached.

Those gays!

"Filled up the tree! Filled up the tree!"

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright