The U.S. Senate Discrimination Scorecard for the 111th Congress is brought to you by That's My Congress, a journal of congressional campaigns and legislation maintaining independence from any political party.

The following are the bills we use as a reference to generate our Senate Discrimination Scorecard:
H.R. 2965
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.
S. 1102
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.
S. 1584
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.
S. 181
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.

S. 424
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.

Receive our This Week in Congress Newsletter by e-mail:

Our Privacy Commitment: We will not sell or give your e-mail address to any other person or company. We will only send you our This Week in Congress Newsletter, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

 Affirm your support for gay marriage or celebrate your own same-sex marriage with this shirt (made ethically in the USA) featuring two tuxedos, symbolizing men holding hands and preparing to take their vows of life-long commitment to one another.

When you buy this t-shirt supporting same-sex marriage equality, you support other progressive causes too.For each shirt sold, Irregular Times will chip in $1 in low-interest microloans to poor folks in the developing world, and will also donate $1 to progressive political causes right here in the USA.
Two Tuxedos Shirt Supporting Gay Marriage

Your mother is in a committed same-sex relationship, and that does NOT make her a 2nd class citizen!Equality for all under the law means that her marriage should be recognized too.Show support for lesbian marriage with this t-shirt... it's only asking for equal rights, after all.
My Mother is Not a Second Class Citizen Shirt

Say it with assertiveness: my brother is not a second class citizen because he loves another man.Then stand for equality for all under the law when you wear this affirmative t-shirt.Marriage equals love plus love, everywhere, for everyone.
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

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.

Anti-Discrimination Heroes
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.

Pro-Discrimination Zealots
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:
  • House Democrats Who Defend Don't Ask Don't Tell Are Mostly Lame Ducks
    Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to end the discriminatory policy of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which requires the military to fire homosexual soldiers, regardless of their professional qualifications. 15 Democrats crossed the aisle to defend the discrimination and vote NO. What's remarkable about this group of anti-gay Democrats in the House is that most of them have been politically unable to hold their seats. Out of the 15 Democrats who crossed the aisle on the... [more]

  • Gay and Lesbian Backlash Against Democratic Inaction
    Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered Americans have been a political force steadily rising in national politics. That trend has been a benefit to the Democratic Party, because the Republican Party has been perceived as the party of anti-gay bigotry. A small number of GLBT-friendly Log Cabin Republicans exist, but the GOP gets only about 5 percent of money from GLBT political action committees and affiliated individual activists. more]

  • Obama's Promise To Stop Religious Discrimination Broken, Congress Reminded
    This week, the House Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, a part of the Judiciary Committee chaired by Jerrold Nadler, held a hearing on the state of the government-funded religious programs ("faith-based initiatives") established by George W. Bush. Barack Obama has expanded those programs, promising to institute reforms that would somewhat diminish the unconstitutional violation of the separation of church... [more]

  • Obama Folds, 19 Senators Stand Firm On Discrimination
    There was good news for people who have been fighting for the legal recognition of the equality of heterosexuals and homosexuals yesterday: District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ordered the U.S. military to stop enforcing the discriminatory Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, which allows the military to kick out soldiers simply because they engage in homosexual activity on their own time. There's bad news looming in that case, however: President Barack Obama can order the Department of Justice to... [more]

  • Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln Help GOP Kill Military Equality
    Today, the U.S. Senate voted on whether to advance an amendment to repeal the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy of military discrimination against homosexuals. The vote failed to bring the amendment forward to a full vote, thus blocking the repeal from passage. In spite of some hopes that the Republican Party might be moving toward a more up-to-date vision of America, accepting gays and lesbians as equal citizens, not one single Republican senator voted to help the repeal of Don't Ask Don't... [more]

  • Military Chaplains Fret They Won't Be Able To Discriminate
    NPR reports this morning that military chaplains are beginning to protest against the idea that Don't Ask Don't Tell may soon be repealed. Don't Ask Don't Tell requires the military to fire anybody who openly admits to being an active homosexual. The chaplains are worrying that, if all gays and lesbians aren't kicked out of the military, they won't be able to engage in judgmental preaching... [more]

  • Democrats Throw Gays And Lesbians Under The Billionaire Bus
    Over the last few weeks, President Barack Obama has been working overtime to to ensure that deficit-expanding tax cuts, including tax cuts for billionaires, are passed through Congress. Apparently, one of the dreams of Obama's father was that very rich people would be able to keep more of their wealth held tight in their greedy little fists. The Democratic leadership in Congress has pushed hard for the Republicans' beloved tax cut legislation forward as well. Equal fervor has not been applied... [more]

  • When a Conservative isn't Conservative Enough: the case of Bob Inglis
    Is Kathleen Parker right? Is ousted congressman Bob Inglis a "moderate" "centrist"?
    In a political culture where moderation is the new heresy, centrism is fast becoming the new black. Political outliers - not quite Republican, not quite Democrat - are forming new alliances in a communal search for "Home." Exhausted... [more]