The following are the bills we use as a reference to generate our Senate Discrimination Scorecard:
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.
On January 22, 2009, the U.S. Senate voted on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that seeks to amend an injustice and provide a fair shot at equality in the workplace. The law stems from a lawsuit filed by Lilly Ledbetter, who discovered after years of working for Goodyear Tire that she was being paid less than her coworkers because she was a woman. Her suit was denied all the way up to the Supreme Court, not on the grounds of her complaint, but on the grounds that Ledbetter had not filed suit within a few months of being employed.
Anyone with a sense of basic fairness can see the problem with this ruling. How on earth could Lilly Ledbetter have filed suit in the first few months after she was hired, if she didn’t find out about the pay discrimination until years later? Gathering evidence of pay discrimination takes time, especially when a corporation conceals the evidence as Goodyear Tire did.
S. 181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, simply remedies the problem behind the injustice to Ledbetter - and other workers like her. It says that workers cannot be expected to file suit for compensation for wage discrimination before they actually find out that they've been discriminated against.
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.
S.J. Res 6
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 U.S. Senate are not happy with the Constitution. They want to change it to deny citizenship rights.
S.J. Res 6 is a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would deny citizenship to American-born babies if their parents are not themselves citizens. Such a change would move us toward the German model of citizenship, in which families who have lived in Germany for generations were denied citizenship because they lacked the so-called "virtue" of a German bloodline.
Do you think a German Heimatland notion of blood purity in citizenship belongs in our Constitution? Unfortunately, some of our Senators do.
Two Tuxedos Shirt Supporting Gay Marriage
My Mother is Not a Second Class Citizen Shirt
My Brother is not a 2nd Class Citizen T-Shirt
Discrimination 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.
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. This page is dedicated to tracking members of the U.S. Senate as they either vote to expand the domain of equality in America or act to protect the privileged.
The following members of the Senate have put their support behind at least four anti-discrimination efforts in the U.S. Senate during the 111th Congress. Click on a senator's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
The following members of the Senate have dug in their heels and made unabashed pro-discrimination stands at least twice during the 111th Congress of 2009-2010. Click on a senator's name to discover more about his or her voting and cosponsorship record in detail.
If you can't find your senator'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 senator's record of voting and cosponsorship, access our overall U.S. Senate rankings here.
Political News on Discrimination and Equality
Read below for the latest coverage of discrimination-related political developments from That's My Congress and Irregular Times: