After 90 years, it’s time for the ERA

Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Jackie Speier (D-CA)gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Thursday morning to demand that the Equal Rights Amendment  finally pass.

As Ms Magazine writes, “The congresswomen, along with Feminist Majority president (and publisher of Ms.) Ellie Smeal, NOW president Terry O’Neill and other feminist leaders and activists, called on legislators to codify women’s equality in the constitution. As a reminder of the anti-woman rhetoric that has lately informed public policy, Rep. Speier quoted Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia, “Certainly the constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex, the only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

“She continued,

A justice of the Supreme Court has said publicly that the constitution does not prohibit discrimination based on sex, and that is precisely why we need the ERA. Those words should haunt every woman in this country.

“The good news, she said, is that “equality is only 24 words away,” referencing the text of the ERA:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

“The congresswomen have each introduced ERA-related legislation. In March, Rep. Speier called on legislators to remove the deadline by which states must ratify the amendment (the last deadline was June 1982, and by that date the ERA was just three states shy of passing). If passed, her bill would give those last three states a chance to ratify the amendment. Continue reading “After 90 years, it’s time for the ERA”

Guns and mental illness

imgresLawmakers who refuse to support effective gun safety measures often prefer to talk about better screening of the mentally ill to identify deranged would-be perpetrators before they can carry out mass shootings. As a New York Times Op Ed entry today reads:

“This is, of course, a political dodge. Even in the handful of states where law enforcement agencies are trying to confiscate the guns of unstable individuals, state and federal laws too often enable the mentally ill to reclaim their guns as a right under the Second Amendment.

“In Connecticut, which has gun confiscation laws that were tightened after the Newtown school massacre, an angry man who was off his medications for paranoid schizophrenia threatened to shoot his mother and the police if they confiscated his weapons. The police managed to seize his 18 rifles and shotguns and seven high-capacity magazines. But the man expects to reclaim his arsenal in April, asserting he is back on his medications and has had no further police incidents (although he told Michael Luo and Mike McIntire of The Times that he has experienced paranormal activities).

“Similar cases from other states and cities show that seriously troubled individuals are able to reclaim their weapons, despite serious concerns about the threat to public safety. “There is no common-sense middle ground to protect the public,” a law enforcement adviser in Ohio warned.

“Most mentally ill persons are not violent, though The Times’s analysis of 180 confiscation cases in Connecticut (dealing with people posing an imminent risk of injury to themselves or others) found that close to 40 percent of those cases involved people with serious mental illness. The common denominator in gun violence, however, is not deranged individuals; it is the easy access to assault rifles and other high-powered weapons afforded all Americans. A few determined states are attempting to deal with this issue, but real solutions must involve federal legislation and national standards, which are nowhere in sight.”

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Transgender employment remains unprotected

The are only 16 states where one can’t be fired for being transgender.

In the modern era of LGBT civil rights, transgender inclusion in employment nondiscrimination bills has been the proverbial elephant in the room, writes  Brynn Tannehill in Huffington Post: “The subject drove a deep wedge between the transgender community and the LGB community in 2007, when the Employment Non-images-2

Discrimination Act (ENDA) bill was stripped of gender identity language in order to get it to the floor for a vote. Proposed ENDA bills since then have included gender identity but have not had the support necessary to make it to a vote in the House or Senate.

“There has been some progress in the past decade for transgender people in the workplace. In 2002 only 5 percent of the companies that participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index (CEI) had gender identity included in their corporate equal opportunity statement. By 2013 it has risen to 84 percent. Since 2002 a host of legal cases have begun to clearly establish that discriminating against transgender people falls under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex. Smith v. City of SalemBarnes v. City of CincinnatiSchroerer v. Library of Congress and Macy v. Holder have more or less established this as the dominant narrative in case law. Glenn v. Brumby took it a step further, with the 11th Circuit ruling that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment also applies.

“Those who oppose ENDA or oppose transgender inclusion in it for political purposes ask why we need it when it seems like the transgender community has all these things going for it as it is. The short answer is that we desperately need it because what we have in place is not preventing massive and widespread discrimination against transgender people.

” Transgender people are more than twice as likely to hold advanced degrees as the general population. They’re 50-percent more likely to hold an undergraduate degree. And they’re also making far, far less money than the rest of the population. The same study also revealed that the transgender unemployment rate is twice the national average

“Better-educated but making much less? It is not supposed to work like that. Statistically, there is usually a strong correlation between education and income level, but not for transgender people. The system is broken, and Occam’s razor tells us that the answer is likely what we would expect: Bias against transgender people prevents us from getting jobs, gets us laid off when we transition and keeps us from being paid our fair market value.”


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California schools & gender non-conformity

A California lawmaker has introduced legislation aimed at guaranteeing transgender students the right to use public school restrooms and participate on the sports teams that correspond with their expressed genders, reports USA Today.imgres-1

“The bill reflects the accommodations that a number of U.S. schools are being asked to make as Americans start identifying as transgender at younger ages. Continue reading “California schools & gender non-conformity”

Majority back Obama on guns

imgresSurvey results just in say the majority of the U.S. population supports President Obama’s wide-ranging proposals to reduce gun violence

“Americans’ immediate reaction to President Barack Obama’s proposals for new laws designed to reduce gun violence is more positive than negative, with 53% saying they would want their representative in Congress to vote for the set of proposed new laws, while 41% say their representative should vote against them,” says the Gallup organization

“These results are from Gallup polling conducted Thursday, Jan. 17, the day after Obama’s announcement. The question asked Americans about the “set” of new laws, even though in reality, to the extent the House and the Senate pursue these proposals, it could be on a one-by-one basis. The results suggest that Obama begins his campaign for passage of the laws with a majority — but not a supermajority — of the public behind him.

“The question explicitly identified the gun proposals as those that President Obama announced on Wednesday, making it not surprising to find that the strongest support for the proposals comes among Democrats and liberals, and the weakest support comes among Republicans and conservatives. Additionally, groups that traditionally lean more Democratic — nonwhites, Easterners, and those with postgraduate educations — are significantly above average in support. Continue reading “Majority back Obama on guns”