Civil Rights

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.

Virginia’s Indians recognized by House; closer to ending historic injustice (Rep. Jim Moran)

We took a major step yesterday with House passage of legislation (H.R. 1385) granting Virginia's Indians their long awaited federal recognition.

Virginia's Tribes greeted the English settlers when they landed at Jamestown, the first permanent colony in the New World, in 1607. In those early days of America’s history, Virginia’s Indians played an integral role, helping the settlers survive those first harsh winters. Unfortunately, beginning with colonization, the next 400 years saw Virginia’s Native Americans brutally and systematically mistreated.


Sebelius should rescind conscience protection regulation (Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner)

Recently, 28 Members joined me in sending a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, asking her to rescind the review of the current conscience protection regulation.

Given President Obama’s commencement address last month at the University of Notre Dame, where he spoke about abortion, it was necessary to send the letter to the HHS Secretary, as she runs the department that oversees the enforcement of conscience protection laws.  We need to hold this Administration’s feet to the fire and ensure President Obama’s actions match his well-scripted rhetoric.  If he is declaring his Administration to be one of choice, then health care workers should have the choice to not perform an abortion without fear or coercion

California high court perpetuated license problem in Prop. 8 decision

Opponents of marriage as the union of a man and a woman are outraged at the California Supreme Court's unsurprising ruling that the voters have the right to amend the state constitution. In America, we respect the results of fair elections, and the passage of Proposition 8 was fair. If anything, the odds were tilted against Proposition 8 by the court's refusal to stay its decision redefining marriage and the attorney general's biased ballot title.

Indeed, it would have been beyond the pale for the court to have struck down Proposition 8, as Justice Moreno wanted to do. The California Constitution itself has embodied the concept of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in its provision about the separate property of husbands and wives from the beginning of statehood. Instead of revising the constitution, Proposition 8 merely restored the historical meaning of marriage in California.

Understanding Catholic Bishops’ Support of Prop 8

Marriage, the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union between one man and one woman, is the most recognized institution throughout history and across societies. It existed long before the State and prior to the formalizing of religious practice. Marriage is grounded neither in a piece of legislation nor solely in a religious teaching but rather in human nature itself.

As such, marriage is necessarily founded upon sexual difference, man to woman and woman to man, and is for the good of children and the well-being of spouses. The State needs to uphold the reasonable expectation that children deserve a mother and a father, that mothers and fathers are indispensable, that the marital union is unique and incomparable, and that husband and wife should be recognized and protected for their unique status and responsibilities in society. This can and should be done without denying basic human rights to anyone. Sexual difference is beautiful and essential, and the good of society depends upon it and upon the corresponding fruits of strong, healthy, and faithful marriages made possible by this difference. It is not unjust discrimination to treat different things differently.

The Road from Here to Marriage Equality

Today we must turn anger into action.

It's cold comfort to many that history is moving in the right direction, with five states already on their way to marriage equality. But it's our job to make sure history moves faster towards equality here in California.

We must redouble our efforts in California to finally win this fight for equal rights. Please, take a moment today and lend your voice to this just cause.

Sign our petition for marriage equality.

Join the tireless efforts of the Courage Campaign and Equality California.

Cross-posted from The Huffington Post.