The following are the bills we use as a reference to generate our House Discrimination Scorecard:
H.J. Res 37
The history of American liberty is expansive; over time we have come to recognize and respect the equality of citizens under the law to a greater degree, by treating non-whites as full citizens, by permitting women to vote, by ending Jim Crow segregation, by ending laws against interracial marriage, and by adding the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which mandates that all people shall receive "the equal protection of the laws."
H.J. Res 37 is a constitutional amendment that would reverse this American expansion of nondiscrimination. It would reverse the 14th Amendment by specifically mandating that same-sex couples be excluded from the right to marry everywhere in the United States. The amendment would also prevent same-sex couples from attaining the same legal status as married couples by an arrangement having a name other than marriage.
H.J. Res. 37, in short, writes discrimination back into the Constitution. That is a step backward.
H.J. Res 6
H.J. Res 6 is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution that reads:
"Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to prohibit individual or group prayer in public schools or other public institutions. No person shall be required by the United States or by any State to participate in prayer. Neither the United States nor any State shall prescribe the content of any such prayer."
The words Nothing in this Constitution are crucial, because they overrule all other previous elements of the Constitution, including ones that safeguard American minorities against the tyranny of pushy, proselytizing majorities. The 1st Amendment, which prohibits the use of government to establish religion? Gone, to be overruled by this Amendment. The 14th Amendment, which promises equal protection under law? Gone, to be overruled by this Amendment. The demand in Article VI of the Constitution that there be no religious test for office or public trust in the United States? Gone, to be overruled by this Amendment.
This Amendment states that no individual person shall be forced to engage in prayer, that's true. But that doesn't mean that students at public elementary schools, for instance, couldn't be forced to witness such prayer over and over again on stages and over loudspeakers and through distributed tracts. And if this Amendment were to become part of the Constitution, there would be nothing to bar public school principals from being hired on the basis of their willingness to stand in front of the school every day and offer loud, public prayers to Jesus. There would be nothing to bar public school principals from hiring teachers on the basis of their willingness to stand in front of their classes every hour to offer prayerful thanks to the principal's parochial understanding of God. There would be nothing to bar public school districts from allocating large sums of public money for proselytizing prayer-based religious education of students in public schools. All "voluntary" nominally, to be sure. All meant to push a religion upon others... ...because prayers that do not impose upon others are already constitutionally protected. Jo Ann Emerson, the principal sponsor of this Constitutional Amendment, mentions schools in particular because she knows that the minds of school children are malleable to influence. Even when school prayer is "voluntary," if it is ever-present it will have its effect. Government schools (and other public institutions) will be turned into agents of whichever church has the greatest numbers, the most money and the most powerful lobbyists.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Nor shall any State deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. These are the American standards of nondiscrimination, chiseled into our legal bedrock in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. How seriously do members of Congress take this section of the U.S. Constitution? H.R. 1024 is a test.
H.R. 1024, the Uniting American Families Act, is a bill which aims to put into closer compliance with the U.S. Constitution by removing discrimination according to the status of permanent couples. According to law, same-sex couples in permanent relationships cannot marry; only different-sex couples can. The creates two classes of couple in the United States. They are separate. Are they equal? Not currently. Under current immigration law, married immigrant spouses of citizens and permanent residents have a preferred route toward gaining permanent resident status themselves. Unmarried partners of citizens and permanent residents have this avenue closed to them. That is unequal treatment under law for immigrants under American jurisdiction, and it is an unequal abridgment of legal privilege for the citizens whose permanent partners wish to join them.
Introduced by New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler, the Uniting American Families Act would end this status discrimination by amending various the immigration laws that discriminate against same-sex couples when one member of a couple is a citizen or permanent resident and the other is seeking citizenship or residency status.
The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a decent bill that seeks to amend an injustice and provide a fair shot at equality in the workplace. It simply says that workers cannot be expected to file suit for compensation for wage discrimination before they actually find out that theyíve been discriminated against. A previous court case, decided against a worker named Lilly Ledbetter, had declared that workers must file a lawsuit within a few months of the time that wage discrimination begins, even if they are unaware of the discrimination at the time. H.R. 11 seeks to remove this preposterous restriction on workplace equality.
The way that U.S. citizenship works is pretty simple when you get down to it: if you are born in this country, you are a citizen. That's the standard set out in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. But some members of the House of Representatives are not happy with the Constitution. They want to deny the constitution's presumption of citizenship rights, to take away the citizenship of kids born in America.
That's not an exaggeration. H.R. 1868 is a bill designed to remove the guarantee that what makes you an American is being born in the USA. This bill, inappropriately named the Birthright Citizenship Act, actually takes away birthright citizenship from people born in the USA if their parents aren't permanent residents or citizens. This is the old German Heimatland model of citizenship rights guaranteed by proper bloodline. Should America go down that road?
Since the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s, successive Congresses have made it clear, either loudly or meekly, that there is no intention to give same-sex couples the right to marry at the federal level. H.R. 2517, also known as the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009, would grant same-sex domestic partners of federal workers the same benefits as federal workers' different-sex spouses. For proponents of equality under law in America, this is a step forward for same-sex couples, albeit at a less ambitious scale than full-fledged same-sex marriage.
In mid-December of 2009, the government of Washington, DC voted to approve same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. H.R. 2608 seeks to overturn the local decision of DC government by imposing a congressional prohibition on same-sex marriage in Washington, DC. Dozens of members of Congress, none of whom hail from Washington DC, through their support of this bill, support the nullification of DC marriages and the reinstatement of discrimination.
Substantively, the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy weakens the strained U.S. military by kicking people out with good service records. There is a more formal problem with DADT as well: the policy to discriminate, to kick people out of the military because of their sexual orientation, is a violation of the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Donít Ask, Donít Tell Repeal Act of 2010 not only lends substantive benefit to the military and to lesbian and gay servicemembers, but also strengthens constitutional government.
It might seem that the USA is moving beyond discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals. Yet, it's still legal for people to be fired from their jobs for no other reason than that they aren't heterosexual.
H.R. 3017 would make it illegal to engage in discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
H.R. 310, passed by the House of Representatives on September 8, 2009, is regressive in many senses. Environmentally, it hands over a public lands to an organization that seeks to develop them for its own private uses. The bill assaults the separation of church and state by doing special favors for an organization that discriminates against non-religious Americans, refusing them employment and membership. The bill is also a blow against equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, because the organization discriminates in hiring and membership against them as well. Finally, the bill is an insult to Native Americans, giving over public lands so that they can be used in the mock rituals of an organization that encourages young boys to dress up in cartoonish versions of Native American costumes and pretend to be Indians.
The discriminatory organization this bill was designed to assist: The Boy Scouts of America, which seems to believe that it can attack the civic values of equality and respect for diversity, and still claim that any politician who dares protest is unpatriotic. Only seven members of the House of Representatives had the courage not to vote for this bill to coddle discrimination, and they only had the courage to vote "present".
If passed, the Respect for Marriage Act of 2009 (H.R. 3567) would repeal DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. Enacted in the 1990s, DOMA removed the presumption (based in the "Full Faith and Credit" clause of the Constitution) that same-sex marriages carried out in one state would be recognized in other states or by the federal government. H.R. 3567 would restore cross-state and federal recognition, recognition that different-sex marriages continue to enjoy.
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Discrimination Scorecard for the U.S. House of Representatives from That's My Congress
House Scorecards: Overall | Discrimination | Environment | Constitution | Economy | LGBT
Senate Scorecards: Overall | Discrimination | Environment | Constitution | Economy | LGBT
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees all people will be granted equal protection under law. But a century and a half after the enactment of the 14th Amendment, some Americans are still unequal under the law, and some politicians struggle to keep discrimination on the books. What are the moral values of your member of Congress? Does he or she stand on the side of group-based bigotry? This page is dedicated to tracking members of the U.S. House of Representatives as they either vote to expand the domain of equality in America or act to protect the privileged.
The following Representatives have put their support behind at least five anti-discrimination efforts in the U.S. House during the 111th Congress of 2009-2010. Click on a representative's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
The following members of the House have dug in their heels and supported discriminatory policy at least four times during the 111th Congress of 2009-2010. Click on a representative's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
If you can't find your representative's name on either the honor roll or the dishonor roll, she or he belongs to the mushy middle in Congress: those who may not rank among the worst backers of discrimination in America, but also those who haven't done as much as they could to bring inequality under law to an end.
To find out more about your representative's record of voting and cosponsorship, access our overall House rankings here.
Political News on Discrimination and Equality
The following are the latest political headlines from That's My Congress and Irregular Times: