Archive for the ‘housing’ Category
There’s little happening in Congress these days – everyone is waiting for the outcome of the election. [PLEASE don't forget to VOTE on Tuesday November 2nd, if not earlier!]
Nonetheless, this week I found interesting tidbits about two federal bills we’re tracking. Both hint that the bills could start moving again soon.
First, our friends at the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force sent their members an email calling for “federal fair housing protections for marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.” It’s very exciting to see the Task Force including marital status in their list, and we look forward to working with them to amend and pass HR 4820, the Fair and Inclusive Housing Rights Act.
Second, a kerfuffle over pet insurance for federal employees led the Office of Personnel Management to cite “the President’s strong support of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which will provide full benefits to same-sex partners of federal workers.” Maybe that means HR 2517, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, will get moving again. Here’s what I posted on a discussion site. If you’re a federal employee, please weigh in!
What we all have in common is our ability to care for others and our desire to be respected for our caring relationships. Employers really don’t want to know whom we’re caring for; rather, they want to know that we’ll be productive on the job. Sometimes that means helping us fulfill our caring responsibilities so we’re not distracted, absent, or looking for extra money to cover costs. Like all employers, the federal government should seek a solution to helping employees care for *whomever* they define as family. It is not an employer’s place to say that some families are better than others.
Today’s news is that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan once approved marital status discrimination in housing, saying that a landlord’s religious views trumped an unmarried couple’s fair housing rights. AtMP opposes her nomination unless she recants.
In addition to the obvious parallels with discrimination against LGBT people, I hope the public conversation highlights the fact that many people see marital status as a matter of religious expression.
To be truly empathetic with the American public, Supreme Court Justices must understand that some individuals and couples eschew marriage because they believe that it is a purely religious institution. For example, in a discussion posted on AtMP’s Facebook page last month, Carmen in Tennessee said “we feel it is very wrong to tell us that we HAVE to be married in order to [live together with children, under a divorce decree]. We do not believe in marriage. I feel this clause has been ordered based on religious views which I absolutely do not believe in … never in my life have I felt my rights as an American citizen have been so meaningless.”
AtMP is currently tracking three important measures:
1) S.3182 Equal Access to COBRA Act: a federal bill that would give same-sex partners, same and different-sex domestic partners, as well as qualified siblings, parents and grandparents the ability to purchase health insurance through COBRA.
2) H.R. 4820 The Fair and Inclusive Housing Rights Act : a federal bill that would prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
3) Presidential Memorandum on Hospital Visitation (4/15/10): an order to instruct hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid to make
clear that designated visitors, including individuals designated by legally valid advance directives (such as durable powers of attorney and health care proxies), should enjoy visitation privileges that are no more restrictive than those that immediate family members enjoy. [And] that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
While AtMP really likes the COBRA bill, we believe the visitation and housing items should include the term, “marital status.” We’ll request this change in the visitation rule during the 60-day public comment period expected to start at the end of June. My conversations with Congressional staff suggest they will be open to adding “marital status” to the housing bill; however, that bill is not moving at the moment.
***PLEASE STAY TUNED FOR YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO TAKE ACTION!***