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

Lieberman, colleagues introduce DADT repeal in Senate

A coalition of U.S. senators led by Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman today introduced the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010 that would repeal the anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, that keeps lesbian and gay people from serving openly in the U.S. military.

The new bill would also prohibit discrimination against current and prospective servicemembers on the basis of sexual orientation, and it would “promote the ability of college students who wish to serve our country to join Reserve Officer Training Corps units at universities that currently prevent the establishment of ROTC units on campus.”

In a press statement released jointly by the 13 senators cosponsoring the measure, Lieberman said: “The bottom line is that we have a volunteer military. If Americans want to serve, they ought to have the right to be considered for that service regardless of characteristics such as race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.  Repealing the current policy will allow more patriotic Americans to defend our national security and live up to our nation’s founding values of freedom and opportunity.”

The other 12 cosponsors, all Democrats, are Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark Udall of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Roland Burris of Illinois, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Barbara Boxer of Callifornia, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Dianne Feinstein of California, and Al Franken of Minnesota.

Levin is also chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sen. Udall, in explaining his support for repealing DADT, quoted combat veteran and five-term U.S. senator from Arizona Barry Goldwater, who once said, “You don’t have to be straight to shoot straight.” And, Udall added, “you certainly don’t have to be straight to recognize who the enemy is.”

—  admin