federal law

Miss. lawmakers pass religious-practices bill

Miss. lawmakers pass religious-practices bill

 A bill that opponents say would legalize discrimination in Mississippi was approved by the state Legislature on Tuesday and now awaits action by the governor.

The measure, titled the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was approved 79-43 in the House and 37-14 in the Senate.

It's the third iteration of the bill, which started out similar to an Arizona proposal that was dubbed the "turn away the gays" bill because opponents said it would allow business owners to refuse service to gay couples or interracial couples on religious grounds. The Arizona bill was vetoed by the state's governor in February. Read more »

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National Guard ends holdout on same-sex marriage benefits

National Guard ends holdout on same-sex marriage benefits

Same-sex spouses of National Guardsmen can officially obtain benefits in any state, the Department of Defense announced on Friday, ending a period of resistance among several conservative holdouts.

“All military spouses and families sacrifice on behalf of our country,” said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a statement. “They deserve our respect and the benefits they are entitled to under the law.” Read more »

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Federal Officials Protect Transgender Student Against Discrimination

Federal Officials Protect Transgender Student Against Discrimination

WASHINGTON — School districts cannot discriminate against transgender students without violating federal law, Education and Justice department officials stated Wednesday in a settlement agreement resolving a complaint filed on behalf of a transgender student who faced discrimination in middle school.

The agreement is the latest mark of a growing legal and administrative trend to interpret bans on sex discrimination as including discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status, and Wednesday’s settlement applied that definition to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that bans sex discrimination in education. Read more »

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Goldman Sachs to Microsoft's Support for Gays Pressures States

Goldman Sachs to Microsoft's Support for Gays Pressures States

Support for gay marriage by companies as varied as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Starbucks Corp. is gathering steam to change policies in states that bar same-sex couples from tying the knot.

Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions on June 26 heartened supporters of the cause while showing an increased willingness of business to back the effort. In one case, more than 200 companies signed a brief against a federal law that denied benefits to same-sex couples. Five years ago, only a handful had lobbied against California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriages, the target of the high court’s other decision. Read more »

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After Rulings, Same-Sex Couples Grapple With Diverging State Laws

After Rulings, Same-Sex Couples Grapple With Diverging State Laws

WASHINGTON — In the dining room of their townhouse here, David Huebner and John Barabino were the picture of prosperous domesticity this week. A housekeeper padded about, work on their outdoor patio continued and their 3-year-old son, Miles, napped upstairs.

But together, they put a human face on an uncomfortable truth: Mr. Huebner and Mr. Barabino’s union, although legal, is still not equal to that of their heterosexual friends, even after historic Supreme Court rulings to grant federal benefits to legally married gay couples and restore same-sex marriage in California. Read more »

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Finishing the Job: DOMA Repeal Bill Reintroduced

Finishing the Job: DOMA Repeal Bill Reintroduced

Now that the U.S Supreme Court has struck down one part of the Defense of Marriage Act, members of Congress have reintroduced legislation to finish the job.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House today, and Dianne Feinstein of California introduced it in the Senate. Both are Democrats, but the measure does have some Republican support. The 160 House cosponsors include Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of New York. The 41 Senate cosponsors are all Democrats or independents. Read more »

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Supreme Court strikes down federal marriage law in win for gay rights

Supreme Court strikes down federal marriage law in win for gay rights

The Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a central portion of a federal law that restricted the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples in a major victory for the gay rights movement.  The ruling, on a 5-4 vote, means that legally married gay men and women are entitled to claim the same federal benefits that are available to opposite-sex married couples.

The court was due to decide within minutes a second case concerning a California law that bans same-sex marriage in the state.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection. Read more »

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Faith in Values: Marriage Equality Will Not End LGBT Discrimination

Faith in Values: Marriage Equality Will Not End LGBT Discrimination

It’s June, and marriage equality is in the air. As gay and lesbian couples add to this month’s wedding celebrations, many are also paying attention to two Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality that will come down later this month. The Court’s decisions will determine a number of critically important issues for gay and lesbian Americans, such as whether they have a constitutional right to marry and whether it is discriminatory to deny federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples. Read more »

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A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers

A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers

Ask 10 Americans whether it's legal under federal law to fire an employee just because that employee is gay or lesbian, and only one of them will provide the correct answer: Yes, it's legal.

This fact is so hard for most Americans to believe that it bears repeating. It is legal under federal law to fire an employee just because that employee is gay or lesbian. Surprised? Consider these three alarming facts. Read more »

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US asks Supreme Court to strike down law denying benefits to same-sex couples

The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court on Friday to throw out a section of a 1996 federal law that prohibits recognition of same-sex marriage.

The brief was filed Friday in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the law that legally declares marriage to be only between a man and a woman. That section allows state and federal authorities to deny benefits to same-sex couples that are commonplace for heterosexual couples, like insurance for government workers and Social Security survivors' benefits.
Oral arguments are scheduled for March 27. Read more »

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