Marriage Equality Bill to Be Introduced Today in Rhode Island

Hot on the heels of Governor Lincoln Chafee's call for marriage equality in the state, a bill will be re-introduced in the Rhode Island House to legalize same-sex marriage there, and they plan to move it quickly, the Providence Journal reports:

Handy In a brief interview on Wednesday, Rep. Arthur Handy (pictured), D-Cranston, said he had already lined up 27 co-sponsors and was hoping for more, but would introduce the bill no matter what the number on Thursday in hopes of spurring an early-session hearing and vote on the measure.

Besides Handy, the other lead sponsors include Representatives Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, Edith Ajello, D-Providence, Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, and the openly gay House Speaker Gordon D. Fox, D-Providence, who had said in the days leading up to the start of the 2011 General Assembly session that he hoped for a House vote on same-sex marriage early in the session, before the lawmakers get wrapped up in the budget and other issues.

“I would like it done earlier than later, only because later you get into budget issues and your focus sort of changes,” Fox said.

Ri The bill's language:

It says: “Any person who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements [in law] may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender.” It also says: “No person shall marry” a long list of relatives, including a parent, grandparent, sibling or child of a sibling, and makes clear that no religious institution would be required to perform a civil marriage if it conflicted with its teachings.

A Democrat, Rep. Jon Brien of Woonsocket, is already planning to counter the bill with legislation that would require a public referendum on the issue.

The bill's chances in the state senate are not yet clear at this point, but certainly better than when gay-hating Governor Donald Carcieri was in power, with a veto threat waiting.


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DADT Repeal Stand-Alone Bill Introduced in the House

Today House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Rep. Patrick Murphy introduced a free-standing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) repeal bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the companion bill, S.4023, last week after the failed Senate vote to proceed to debate on the National Defense Authorization Act.  The Senate bill currently has 40 bipartisan cosponsors.

Today’s announcement by Leader Hoyer and Rep. Murphy shows that momentum is on the side of DADT repeal. 

HRC praises the leadership of Leader Hoyer and Rep. Murphy, who have been champions of repeal.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Housing Opportunities Made Equal Act Introduced

Yesterday, Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, introduced the Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act, a measure that would modernize the Fair Housing Act in a number of ways – including extending that law’s protections against housing discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity.  Adopted in 1968, the Fair Housing Act (also known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act) makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious, national origin, gender, disability, or familial status.  The HOME Act is supported by the National Fair Housing Alliance and a number of other fair housing and civil rights groups.

As you’ll recall, early this year Chairman Nadler introduced a bill solely to address LGBT housing discrimination – the Fair and Inclusive Housing Act of 2010.  The measure introduced yesterday embodies a broader set of reforms to the Fair Housing Act, and we thank the Chairman for ensuring that equality for our community is a central part of it.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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New DADT Repeal Bill Introduced

SENATORS JOSEPH LIEBERMAN AND SUSAN COLLINSTwo prominent senators introduced a bipartisan bill Friday to end the ban on gay and lesbian troops serving in the military.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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Legislation Introduced to Defund Abstinence-Only Sex Education

Yesterday, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act (the  Act), which would end abstinence-only-until-marriage programs once and for all.  HRC has long opposed federal funding for abstinence-only programs because they exclude, or even denigrate, LGBT students.  These programs are prohibited by law from discussing contraceptive use and exclude, by design, LGBT youth because marriage is unavailable to LGBT individuals in most parts of the country.

Since 1996, Congress has spent almost .5 billion on abstinence-only programs, despite a wealth of evidence that they are ineffective.  In fact, no study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found abstinence-only programs to be broadly effective.  While our Congress searches to ensure that every tax dollar is spent in an effective manner, the Act furthers this pursuit by defunding a program that has not been proven effective.

The Act would strip Title V from the Social Security Act, and rescind million that has been appropriated to abstinence-only programs.  In addition, it would provide for 5 million in funds for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), which provides for comprehensive, evidence-based efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce sexually-transmitted infections.  Currently, PREP is funded at million, so the Act would increase this funding by million.

Our nation’s youth deserve the facts about how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.   It is time for Congress to ensure that our students are no longer subjugated to ineffective abstinence-only programs.  HRC thanks Senator Lautenberg and Representative Lee for their continued support of comprehensive and medically accurate sex education.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Gay inclusive immigration reform bill introduced

It remains to be seen whether this legislation goes anywhere. The Congress is basically done for the year, at least until after the elections, and during the lame duck session we’ll see if anything “controversial” is even touched. I can’t help wondering if this isn’t being done simply to “buck up” Democrats before the election. And that’s fine. But I’d prefer a real effort to pass the bill, not window dressing to make people feel like something is happening. Introducing a bill isn’t “something happening” unless there’s a plan to get the bill moving and passed, pronto. And unless it’s going to happen during the lame duck, it isn’t going to happen for a long while, I fear.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Comprehensive LGBT-inclusive immigration legislation to be introduced this week

How about some good — or at least hopeful — news for binational couples… (The Advocate):

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is expected to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation before the Senate adjourns this week for the midterm recess, according to Politico, and a source tells The Advocate that the legislation will be LGBT-inclusive.

“We fully expect that the Menendez comprehensive immigration reform bill will be inclusive of the Uniting American Families Act,” said Steve Ralls, director of communications for the pro-LGBT Immigration Equality. UAFA would allow American citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for residency. “We have been in constant communication with Senator Menendez’s staff to ensure that the legislation will include lesbian and gay families,” Ralls added.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Safe School Improvement Act Introduced in Senate for First Time

Today, Senator Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) in the U.S. Senate.  The SSIA would amend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (part of the No Child Left Behind Act) to require schools and districts receiving federal funds to adopt codes of conduct specifically prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and religion.  It would also require that states report data on bullying and harassment to the Department of Education.  This is the first time the SSIA has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.  However, earlier this Congress, Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) introduced the SSIA in the House (H.R. 2262).

“Too many kids have dropped out of school, hurt themselves, or even taken their own lives because they were bullied or harassed at school,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “We place our children in grave danger when we fail to adequately help school administrators and teachers create safe learning environments for all students, including those who are actually or perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or  transgender.”

Bullying and harassment of students who are actually or perceived to be LGBT is widespread. While current federal law provides important support to promote school safety, it does not comprehensively and expressly focus on issues of bullying or harassment, and in no way addresses the challenges faced by LGBT youth in our nation’s schools.

According to a 2007 School Climate Survey by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation; more than 60 percent of LGBT students said they felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation and more than a third of LGBT students felt unsafe because of their gender expression; nearly 45 percent of LGBT students reported being physically harassed in school because of their sexual orientation; and nearly one-third of LGBT students nationwide said they had missed a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.  Numerous education, health, law enforcement and youth development organizations support this federal legislation to combat bullying and harassment, including the American Federation of Teachers, American School Health Association, National Association of School Psychologists, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, American Association of University Women, Asian American Justice Center, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, and the National Council of La Raza.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright