As the world continues to learn more about coronavirus and its spread, it's vital to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. However, it's also important to make sure that the information being distributed is from credible sources. To that end, Between The Lines has compiled, [...]
By Bob Roehr
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing Sept. 5 on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA. The legislation would extend workplace protections covering sexual orientation and gender identification. Passage of the measure has been a central goal of gay rights advocates for more than a decade.
“There is nothing more American than ensuring that people should have equal job opportunities,” Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) said at the hearing. She is one of the lead sponsors of ENDA and the only open lesbian serving in Congress.
Massachusetts police officer Michael P. Carney and Texan Brooke Waits, who worked for a cell phone company, both testified about being fired because of their sexual orientation.
M.V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Laws and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, reviewed the literature documenting the scope of such discrimination.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force policy director Dave Noble called the hearing “a critical first step.” He urged lawmakers “to pass this bill into law, this year.”
“It is time for a federal law that would make it illegal to fire a LGBT person just because of who they are,” echoed Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “ENDA will bring the value of meritocracy to a community that has had to do without for too long.”
Social conservatives continued their campaign against the legislation. “ENDA would radically transform the workplace discrimination law by granting special rights to homosexuals and transsexuals – while ignoring those of employers,” the Family Research Council claimed in a Sept. 5 email to its supporters.
However, the act has a religious exemption for churches. This exemption is not for religious-affiliated commercial operations such as hospitals and public welfare organizations, which is no change from existing non-discrimination requirements attached to recipients of public funds.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, the Senate voted on Sept. 6 to lift restrictions on funding family-planning groups that offer abortion services. However, that provision differs from what passed the House and the final resolution remains unclear.
The Senate also passed $4.2 billion in funding for PEPFAR, or the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief – an increase of $940 million over the current year – as part of the overall foreign assistance bill.
There has been no movement on the nomination of conservative Dr. James Holsinger Jr. to be U.S. surgeon general, despite a hearing in the Senate two months ago. What is likely to be another blow to his candidacy is a detailed indictment of Holsinger’s dealings as a trustee of a hospital foundation that was posted to the Media Transparency Web site on Aug. 31, entitled “Milking a church cash cow.”
In it, the authors detail how Holsinger led a fight to keep the Good Samaritan Foundation, created from the sale of a Methodist hospital in Lexington, Ky., from the control of the United Methodist Church that had owned the hospital prior to the sale. He reportedly chaired the church’s supreme judicial council during the period in which the church was suing the foundation to regain control of the assets.
The report claims that most of the millions of dollars that the foundation disbursed were to organizations favored by Holsinger, chiefly University of Kentucky medical programs that he oversaw as part of his day job. It says that the grants “were awarded in contradiction to the foundation’s own standards of grant-making.”
The foundation dropped its seven-year lawsuit two weeks after Holsinger resigned from it – at the time of his nomination to be the surgeon general. The church had to spend more than $4 million in legal fees in order to recover its own money.