Civil Rights

A new mission to deliver increased value to the industry and consumers

Over the course of the last year, the financial industry has been focused on staying one step ahead of the curve-–looking forward to the next great opportunity not only for our own interests, but those of the consumers we work with each day building a lifetime of trust.

Today, the industry faces a critical moment, one that requires a reinvigorated approach. As the industry has evolved, so have our needs and goals. To help better serve the financial industry's growing priorities and to help chart a successful course for our continued advancement, NAVA has undergone a complete rebranding–-becoming the Insured Retirement Institute (IRI).

Stop the Fairness Doctrine from censoring American airwaves (Rep. Mike Pence)

Congressman Greg Walden and I have offered an amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations Bill. This amendment would prevent any funding to the FCC from being used to either reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine" or enact proposed broadcast localism regulations during the next fiscal year.

The American people cherish freedom, especially freedom of speech and of the press. That was why President Reagan repealed the so-called Fairness Doctrine back in 1987. For more than four decades, the federal government actually regulated the content of American talk radio and the chilling effect of this regulation was undeniable.

Ending the "widow penalty" (Sen. Bill Nelson)

Just a few weeks ago I met with several women here in Washington, who were caught in a hole in our immigration laws I’ve been working to close, commonly called the widow penalty. In the country legally, they were married to an American and on their way to permanent residency when the unthinkable happened, their spouse died. On top of their heartbreak, these women also face the fear of deportation and leaving behind their spouses’ families, and in some cases, their own American-born children.

Under the current law, a foreigner must be married to an American for at least two years before becoming eligible for legal residency. If the American spouse dies before then, the surviving spouse may be deported—a situation that affects hundreds of widows and widowers.

Conspiracy of silence about Roe v. Wade at confirmation hearings

When Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, she is all but certain to be asked, and to answer, questions about many of the high-profile cases the Court has decided in recent decades. If past hearings are prologue, these will include questions about Brown v. Board of Education (school desegregation) and Griswold v. Connecticut (access to contraception and the right to privacy).

This makes sense. As many commentators have noted, questions about past cases can tell us much about a nominee’s understanding of current jurisprudence and her approach to legal interpretation. (It is not, however, necessarily an auger for future decisions. Most recent nominees, for example, have agreed that Brown was correctly decided, although they went on to curtail its impact in the 2007 case Parents Involved in Community. Schools v. Seattle School Dist. No. 1.)

Time to fix problems for military voters (Sen. Ben Nelson)

Yesterday, I joined my colleagues Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Saxby Chambliss to introduce the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, which will ensure that all ballots cast by US troops deployed overseas are counted in upcoming elections. The MOVE Act sets minimum, uniform standards to ensure that members of the military and overseas voters have a process that works, allows them time to vote, and provides for contingencies if the regular absentee voting process fails.

Study after study has shown problems with the voting system for military and overseas voters as it stands.  A Rules Committee survey last May of seven key states showed that as many as one in four ballots cast by military voters went uncounted in last year’s presidential election.  In a 2009 survey by the Overseas Vote Foundation, more than half of overseas and military respondents tried to vote but failed to do so because they either received a late ballot or never received a ballot at all. 

Gay and lesbian federal employees' partners deserve benefits (Sen. Joe Lieberman)

The nation recently took a long-overdue step forward in the fight for equal rights when President Obama signed a presidential memorandum that puts gay and lesbian federal employees on more equitable footing with their heterosexual co-workers. Partners of gay and lesbian federal employees will now have access to medical centers abroad and can be added to long-term care insurance, while gay and lesbian federal employees will be able to take leave to care for their partners, without fear of job loss.

But current law does not allow the President to confer all of the benefits to gay and lesbian federal employees and their partners that other federal employees and their spouses receive.

We support the people of Iran (Rep. Mike Pence)

It has been said on numerous occasions and by various politicians and pundits that it was an extraordinary week in the life of the nation of Iran. On June 12, from the very moment that the Iranian presidential election results were announced, the international community and the international press questioned the results. The primary reason for our disbelief in the declared result is that millions of paper ballots were collected and counted in mere hours. This occurred even before the extraordinary demonstrations in the street began.

The disbelief on the part of the international community was shared by many Iranian citizens. And while the defeated candidate launched a legal appeal, what ensued on the streets of Tehran, at least according to the BBC, were the largest public demonstrations in the Islamic republic’s 30-year history. It seems that many Iranians have gotten a whiff of freedom and are willing to lay down their lives in the streets of Iran to secure that freedom.

25 years in prison for pot? Congressman's proposal is just plain dumb

"What politicians call 'youthful indiscretions' should not become life-destroying crimes for everyone else."
--Froma Harrop

They say that every action spurs an opposite reaction. Well, that certainly seems to be the case in Congress.

Just days after Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Barney Frank, along with 13 cosponsors, reintroduced HR 2835, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act of 2009 in Congress, Republican Rep. Mark Kirk (Illinois) has called for federal legislation to sentence certain first-time marijuana offenders to up to 25 years in prison.

Condemning the assassination of Dr. Tiller (Rep. Mike Honda)

As millions of Americans are now aware, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in his church on Sunday, May 31st, 2009 because of his political beliefs and profession. Dr. Tiller provided legal abortions and his dedication to his profession, to the health and well-being of the women he cared for, cost him his life. I join President Obama, members of Congress, and millions of Americans in professing horror, shock, and sadness over this blatant act of terror. I hope that all residents of the 15th Congressional district – regardless of their personal stances on the issue of abortion – will join in opposing those who would seek to control the actions of women and doctors through the use of violent intimidation.

Abortion doctors and women’s clinics across this country which provide a range of women’s health services including abortion face threats and violent acts every day. I sincerely hope that in the wake of this terrible event, the Department of Justice and law enforcement agencies across this country take future threats directed toward women’s health providers seriously. Justice and the rule of law demand nothing less.

Nevada domestic partnerships an important civil rights issue

Perhaps the most important policy legislation passed by the biennial Nevada legislature this session was the creation of Domestic Partnerships (SB 283).  Despite the strong libertarian leanings in Nevada, as portrayed by the state’s endorsement of legalized prostitution in some counties and an absence of a personal income tax, the battle over gay rights in recent years produced a voter-approved amendment banning gay marriage, currently enshrined in the state’s constitution.

Nevertheless, this year the Legislature voted to override a Governor’s veto to pass Domestic Partnerships at the bare minimum of a 2/3 majority in both the Assembly and the Senate.