Tag Archives: Illinois

Victories for the LGBT Community and for Humanity

8 Nov

ENDA copyThe past week has seen a number of big events in LGBT news and the majority have been very positive. It’s nice to have a chance to celebrate!

A major milestone happened yesterday when the U.S. Senate finally passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Some version of the law — which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — has been in the works for nearly 40 years. The current ENDA has been floated in almost every Congress since 1994; the inclusion of gender identity has been a point of contention and has been in and out of the bill. The current version is the most comprehensive, requiring most employers with more than 15 employees to comply and with a very narrow religious exemption. ENDA was a lifetime goal of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D – MA). Just before he died, he passed the torch to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D – OR), who was instrumental in similar legislation in this state. I’m very proud of our Senator for pushing so hard to make this a reality.

I feel that such discrimination is wrong and our vision of equality in the Constitution, our vision of the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution and kind of a fundamental sense of fair play—all of those things mean that it is just wrong for people not to have a fair shake at getting or retaining a job.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid built on the post-shutdown debacle momentum and rounded up enough Republican support to break a filibuster. In fact, when opposition voices were invited to speak, no one stepped forward, not even rabid opponents like Ted Cruz. After a bit of amendment posturing, the bill got a full vote and passed by an impressive  64 – 32 vote. Now it’s up to House Speaker John Boehner to move it forward. He has expressed skepticism, saying that ENDA would lead to “frivolous lawsuits.” Points to Sen. Reid for this sharp rebuke:

Speaker Boehner opposes ENDA for fear of frivolous lawsuits? He led a frivolous lawsuit defending DOMA that cost taxpayers over $2 million!

Well said, Sen. Reid. Let’s hope the House can help move equality forward. President Obama has expressed his full support and encouraged Boehner to do the right thing.

On the marriage front, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to have full equality for same-sex couples. The Illinois House finally passed a Senate bill from May. Gov. Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill soon. When he does, another 13 million Americans will live in a place with marriage equality, moving the nation up to 37%. In Hawaii, a similar bill is moving forward and seems likely to pass by the end of the year. True equality is never piecemeal, but this is certainly movement in the right, inevitable direction.

Also in workplace protection news, Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has said that his first act after being sworn in will be to reinstate an Executive Order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for state workers. How nice to see him living up to his promises already!

Also on the gubernatorial front, things heated up in Maine this week. Toxic Governor Paul “Tea, please” LePage tried to start a smear campaign against his chief competitor, Rep. Mike Michaud. Showing his rabid disregard for many of his constituents, he hinted that Michaud was gay and that this was sufficient grounds to vote against him. Merging the kindergarten playground with McCarthyism — how lovely! Michaud’s response was flawless:

Yes, I am. But why should it matter? […] I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.

Well said, Rep. Michaud, and best of luck in next year’s election.  I guess current Gov. LePage is only interested in serving selected residents of his state.

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Hero of the Week Award: January 4, Pat Brady, Illinois Republican Party Chair

4 Jan
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

It’s always nice to recognize the best behavior in unexpected places. The Illinois General Assembly is considering a bill that would make the Land of Lincoln the tenth state to legalize marriage equality. Governor Pat Quinn (D) is pressing lawmakers to complete pending legislation before the new Assembly is sworn in on January 9, requiring a fresh start on the process.

Things look fairly promising for the bill, but there are enough recalcitrant Republican state senators that it could be derailed. Enter Pat Brady, Chair of the state’s Republican Party since 2009. Bucking his party’s national platform and its codified homophobia, Brady is encouraging his party members to support equality for all citizens of their state. He’s not just issuing a press release, either; he’s making individual calls to each Republican Senator.

What’s Brady’s message? It’s pretty simple.

It’s time for people to support this. […] Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value – that the law should treat all citizens equally.

Bravo!! How wonderful to see the word “conservative” used in a meaningful way rather than a destructive one! Some people still use the Tea Party dictionary, however. NOM, a recognized HATE group by the SPLC, not content with the money they wasted in the November elections, has pledged $250,000 to defeat any Republican who votes for equality and has called for Brady’s resignation. That’s just one more sign he’s doing the right thing.  Thank you, Chair Brady, and well done.

Bigot of the Week Award: July 6, Rep. Joe Walsh

6 Jul

Bigot of the Week

Today a familiar face returns to bigotopia. Regular TSM readers may remember Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) who sat out a chance to work with the President on jobs for Americans and played the racist elected-while-black card when criticizing the President. This week he sank to a new low in his bid for re-election.

Walsh’s opponent for IL-8 is Tammy Duckworth. A Black Hawk helicopter pilot, she was one of the first women to fly combat missions in Iraq until November 12th, 2004 when her helicopter was hit by an RPG. She lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion, and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries. Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006 and narrowly lost. Since then she has served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and as Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walsh, whose career consists of venture capitalism and lobbying for school voucher schemes, has no record of public or military service until the Tea Party swept him into office in 2010 (after three failed election attempts). He has mounted an attack on Duckworth because she has the audacity to mention that she served her country and was injured.

Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.

Bizarrely, Walsh was comparing Duckworth to the supposedly reticent John McCain, who has mentioned his military service and injuries just as prominently in every campaign he has ever run. This is nearly identical to the sadly successful campaign run against Sen. Max Cleland, a disabled U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, by Saxby Chambliss, who sat out the war on deferments. Clearly, these Republicans believe serving your country only counts if you preach the Republican gospel.

As a delightful side note, musician Joe Walsh (Eagles, James Gang, etc.) has endorsed Duckworth, disgusted by his namesake’s behavior.

United Kingdom Does Not Tolerate Anti-Gay Hate…

3 Mar

UK Takes Lead in Protecting LGBT Community

Thanks to my friend Larry Scott for sharing this story with me and inspiring me to write this article.  Here in the United States, where our elected civil servants attack its LGBT citizenry, a la John McCain, John Boehner, Bobby Franklin, Newt Gingrich, just to name a few, just the opposite is happening in England. Here in the U.S. it is illegal in many states for same-sex couples to adopt children, or to even be foster parents. However, it is completely legal for right wing “christians” to adopt and have foster children and to inculcate these children in a culture of hate and bigotry.

What an enormous relief to see that the United Kingdom’s Royal Courts of Justice  have ruled that Christians who disapprove of homosexuality may no longer serve as foster parents in the country.  Notice, no poll was taken, the government decided to LEAD and not allow hate and bigotry!   More potential good news. The state of Illinois is also looking into adopting a similar law that would not allow homophobic bigots to have foster children. Click here to see the full article.

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