These are the bills we use as a reference to generate our Senate Scorecard on issues of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equality:
In instrumental terms, the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy is a problem, weakening 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. At the end of the 111th Congress, the Senate finally voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Since the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in the 1990s, Congress has made it clear that it has no intention of giving same-sex couples the right to marry at the federal level. But some members of Congress have been making efforts to address discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in other regards. S. 1102, 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, if not a step across the finish line.
To a person only following expressions of popular culture, it might seem that the United States has moved beyond discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals. But in the workaday world, it's still legal for people to be fired from their jobs for no other reason than than their choice of whom to love. And a dirty not-so-secret secret of labor unions has been their historical practice of excluding gay and lesbian workers from full participation and leadership.
ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, would make workplace discrimination in hiring and promotions illegal, and would also prohibit discriminatory behavior against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of American labor unions. If passed, ENDA would bring the law into the 21st Century along with the majority of Americans who have realized what matters at work is what you do, not who you love.
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? S. 424 is a test.
S. 424, 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 Senator Patrick Leahy, 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.
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LGBT Equality Scorecard for the U.S. Senate from That's My Congress
House Scorecards: Overall | Discrimination | Environment | Constitution | Economy | LGBT
Senate Scorecards: Overall | Discrimination | Environment | Constitution | Economy | LGBT
This is a historical record. Current Scorecards for the House and Senate are also available.
Equality under the law, promised by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, has been a long time coming for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Americans. But equality is coming. Itís come to states like Iowa and Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Itís come to cities like Washington, DC. As generations change and minds open, equality in marriage, hiring, benefits and more is coming, but its final arrival is not guaranteed. That goal will be achieved when LGBT Americans are joined by their straight friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to stand up visibly and say that theyíve had enough of the anti-gay discrimination in this country. But that's not enough. Social movement work must be brought to fruition with the action of sympathetic (or just plain smart) legislators on Capitol Hill who place themselves on the side of equality in their votes on the floor and in committee. On this page, we track Senators as they slowly drift into the future, congratulating the equality-minded and chastising the 20th Century thinkers to hurry up already.
The Top LGBT Friendly Senators on Capitol Hill
The following members of the Senate had the strongest record of support for LGBT equality during the 111th Congress of 2009 and 2010, acting to support at least three of the major bills in the equality platform. Click on a senator's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
Anti-Equality Dead Weight in the Senate
The following senators have failed to support any major elements of the LGBT Equality Agenda in the 111th Congress of 2009-2010. Click on a senator's name to discover more about his or her specific record of action and inaction.
If you can't find your senator's name on either the honor roll or the dishonor roll, she or he belongs neither to the most open-minded nor the most bigoted wings of the Senate.
To find out more about your senator's record of voting and cosponsorship, access our overall U.S. Senate rankings here.
News on the Constitution and Politics
Read below for the latest coverage of discrimination-related political developments from That's My Congress and Irregular Times: