The Commonwealth Comment

Friday, November 09, 2007

We're Here! We're Queer!

In a 235-184 vote, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would make firing, hiring, promoting, or paying someone based on sexual orientation a crime.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act faces an uphill battle in the narrowly divided Senate. Senator Kennedy is planning on introducing a similar plan. If the bill does pass a Senate vote, it is likely to be vetoed by President Bush.
CNN reports Bush and the White House have cited constitutional concerns and that this bill could infringe religious rights. Many Republicans share these concerns saying that the bill may undermine people who oppose the lifestyles based on religious reasons.
However, supporters of the bill call it a major step in civil rights for the homosexual community. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) said, "Bigotry and homophobia are sentiments that should never be allowed to permeate the American workplace."
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) is one of only two openly gay members of Congress. He said this bill tells "...millions of Americans who are gay and lesbian that they are not bad people, that it is not legitimate to fire them simply because of who they are."
This bill did face some criticism from the GLBT community because it does not guarantee protection of transgender people. A measure for transgender rights was in the bill's original draft, but leaders felt it would cause many conservative and moderate Democrats to vote against the bill. Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Virginia) said, "It's better to take this one step at a time."
Federal law forbids job discrimination based on race, gender, and religion. Nineteen states have their own laws in place banning discrimination due to sexual orientation, and nine have laws banning discrimination of transgender people.

My Opinion: I am pro-gay rights in case you haven't figured it out by now.
What I don't understand is what the GOP means when it says the bill would trample religious rights. The bill doesn't apply to churches or the military, so its hard for me to see their logic. Maybe they mean the religious right?
The Republican party's argument is flawed, and in 2008 when the Democrats are running the show again, I think we will see major advances in Gay and Lesbian and possibly Transgender rights.
I believe this is a good bill. It is just a shame that it will be vetoed by the bigot in the White House, and the Democrats won't have the votes to override him this time. We'll see what Senator Kennedy's bill brings when he introduces it in the Senate. Sadly, I feel it will fall in a similar fashion.


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