VIRGINIA: Judicial Activist Rules Parts Of Health Care Reform Unconstitutional

A Virginia federal district court judge appointed by Dubya has ruled that parts of President Obama’s health care reform plan are unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

In a 42-page opinion issued in Richmond, Va., Judge Hudson wrote that the law’s central requirement that most Americans obtain health insurance exceeds the regulatory authority granted to Congress under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The insurance mandate is central to the law’s mission of covering more than 30 million uninsured because insurers argue that only by requiring healthy people to have policies can they afford to treat those with expensive chronic conditions. The judge wrote that his survey of case law “yielded no reported decisions from any federal appellate courts extending the Commerce Clause or General Welfare Clause to encompass regulation of a person’s decision not to purchase a product, not withstanding its effect on interstate commerce or role in a global regulatory scheme.”

Two other district court judges have previously upheld the law and some expect the issue to reach the Supreme Court before the end of Obama’s term. Dozens of similar lawsuits are still working their way through the system.

RELATED: As in the case with the judicial overturn of DADT, the Obama administration has the option of appealing this ruling.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Health Insurance Lobby Gave $86M To Fight Health Care Reform

A coalition of insurance companies donated over M to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to fight the passage of health care reform. The Chamber is notoriously run by GOP-insiders.

The spending exceeded the insurer group’s entire budget from a year earlier and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber’s 4.6 million in 2009 spending. The expenditures reflect the insurers’ attempts to influence the bill after Democrats in Congress and the White House put more focus on regulation of the insurance industry. The .2 million paid for advertisements, polling and grass roots events to drum up opposition to the bill that’s projected to provide coverage to 32 million previously uninsured Americans, according to Tom Collamore, a Chamber of Commerce spokesman. The Chamber used the funds to “advance a market- based health-care system and advocate for fundamental reform that would improve access to quality care while lowering costs,” it said in a statement.

“Grass roots.” Right. The companies in the coalition include UnitedHealth and Cigna.

(Via – Alan Colmes)

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Same-Sex Partners Included in Menendez Immigration Reform Bill

Yesterday, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced  a comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, which reports indicate includes the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).  UAFA allows United States citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their same-sex partners for family-based immigration.

UAFA would provide lesbian and gay individuals the same opportunity as different-sex, married couples to sponsor their partner.  The United States lags behind 19 countries that recognize same-sex couples for immigration purposes: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

UAFA, as a standalone bill, was introduced in the 111th Congress by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in the Senate and by Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House.  On June 3, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever congressional hearing on UAFA.  UAFA was also included in the outline of a CIR proposal (known as REPAIR) by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Robert Menendez that was released on April 29, 2010.

Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) included UAFA in the Reuniting Families Act introduced in the House in 2009.  Senator Menendez’s CIR bill marks the first time UAFA has been included in a CIR bill in the Senate.  HRC thanks Senator Menendez for his continued leadership in the Senate on this issue.


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

Like DADT Repeal, Immigration Reform Deserves Congressional Attention

As HRC fights to get the Senate to take up the FY 2011 Defense Authorization bill, which contains language to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), Senate Majority Leader Reid has also made clear that he wants to offer an amendment to the Defense bill that would make undocumented youth eligible for a path to citizenship as they complete a college degree or two years of military service (the “DREAM Act”).  While it is obvious why repealing DADT is important to the LGBT community, reforming our nation’s broken immigration system is important to our community as well.

On Sunday, March 21, 2010, members and supporters of HRC joined hundreds of organizations in the March for America to call on Congress and President Obama to fix our country’s broken immigration system.  Since then, HRC has loudly spoken out against the draconian measures taken in Arizona to criminalize an entire class of human beings.  When four students from Florida – Felipe Matos, Gaby Pacheco, Carlos Roa, and Juan Rodriguez – embarked on a 1500-mile journey from Miami to our nation’s capitol to spotlight the DREAM Act, HRC hosted these students in DC. 

Why is HRC interested in these issues?  Because, like the LGBT community, the undocumented immigrant community is often marginalized by society.  It is exposed to deep-seeded hatred, discrimination and hate violence – issues that are all too familiar to the LGBT community.  In addition, much like the pre-Lawrence sodomy statutes that criminalized lesbian and gay relationships, measures such as the draconian Arizona law dehumanize and criminalize an entire community of people based on their actual or perceived immigration status.  Like DADT repeal, immigration reform proposals, such the DREAM Act, deserve the attention of Congress.  As we at HRC work to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, we will continue to support our friends working to reform our broken immigration system.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Charlie Crist Isn’t Sure Whether He Loves or Hates Health Care Reform

Depending on how, or when you ask Florida Gov. Charlie Crist whether, as a U.S. senator, he would've voted for or against Obama's health care plan, he'll give you a different answer. Though that's to be expected when you continue changing your position on the issues whenever Marco Rubio polls higher.


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Good news for gay couples in health reform bill

On Top magazine, in an article by Carlos Santoscoy posted to its Web site, is reporting that the historic health care reform bill approved by the U.S. House on Saturday night includes some good news for same-sex couples:

“The Affordable Health Care for America Act extends Medicaid to subsidize moderate-income people who otherwise could not afford quality health insurance. Also tucked inside the bill is Representative Jim McDermott’s Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act of 2009 introduced in May.

“McDermott, a Democrat from Washington, introduced the bill along with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Florida. The bill alters the tax status of health benefits granted to the spouses of gay employees. Under the bill, such benefits would no longer be considered taxable income for the employee.

“McDermott told the New York Times that the bill would ‘correct a longstanding injustice, end a blatant inequity in the tax code and help make health care coverage more affordable for more Americans.’

“A report released in 2007 by M. V. Lee Badgett, research director at the Williams Institute, found that gay employees with partners pay, on average, $1,069 per year more in taxes than would a married employee with the same coverage.

“‘Collectively, unmarried couples lose $178 million per year to additional taxes,’ the report says. ‘U.S. employers also pay a total of $57 million per year in additional payroll taxes because of this unequal tax treatment.’”

—  admin