March 25, 2010 | by Staff reports
National news in brief

Frank called ‘faggot’ during health care protests

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) said protesters opposed to health care reform did “more harm than good” last weekend when they used slurs against him and another congressman.

Frank told Talking Points Memo that the March 20 protesters on Capitol Hill, which included Tea Party members and others rallying against the health care reform bill, demonstrated an “unwillingness to be just civil.”

In separate incidents, one man called Frank a “faggot” and a group punctuated chants of “kill the bill” with the word “nigger” in the presence of Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who’s black.

“[T]he objection to the health care bill has become a proxy for other sentiments,” Frank told Talking Points Memo. “Obviously there are perfectly reasonable people that are against this, but the people out there today on the whole — many of them were hateful and abusive.”

Frank said it’s incumbent upon “the leaders of the movement” to condemn such behavior.

“If this was my cause, and I saw this angry group yelling and shouting and being so abusive to people, I would ask them to please stop it,” Frank told Talking Points Memo. “I think they do more harm than good.”

House Republican backs ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal bill

WASHINGTON — Legislation in the U.S. House that would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” gained a Republican co-sponsor last week, according to the Log Cabin Republicans.

Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.) signed on March 17 in support of the bill, making him one of two Republican co-sponsors. The other GOP co-sponsor is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

In a statement, Cao said he supports the bill in part because “discrimination that puts our national security in jeopardy is a double threat.”

“America is a land where we embrace our diversity as a sign of strength, and where anybody can work hard and be judged solely on the basis of their ability to do the job,” he said. “Nothing about one’s sexual orientation impacts the ability to perform to the highest expectations that we hold for our men and women in the armed forces.”

Representing a traditionally Democratic district, Cao could face a difficult fight for re-election this year. Since he joined Congress last year, he’s voted for what are sometimes seen as Democratic partisan bills. When the health care reform first came to the House floor, Cao was the lone Republican vote in favor of the legislation.

In a statement, Terry Hamilton, Log Cabin’s board chair, commended Cao for his support and said Log Cabin would continue working to build Republican support for the repeal bill.

“Congressman Cao’s commitment to the health and strength of our national defense and speaking out against one of the last forms of state-sanctioned discrimination shows his strong character, something that is missing in too many debates in Washington,” he said.

Cao’s support brings the number of co-sponsors for “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation to 190.

Tales of LGBT housing discrimination sought

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development last week launched a web site to collect public comments for a national study on LGBT discrimination in housing accommodation.

The web site is at http://portal.hud.gov/portal/page/portal/HUD/LGBT_Discrimination_Study.

On the web site, HUD says a national study on discrimination against LGBT people in the sale and rental of housing has never been conducted, although state and local studies “have suggested this sort of bias exists.”

Leading the study is Raphael Bostic, assistant secretary of housing and urban development for policy development and research. In a statement, he said it’s critical for researchers to hear from people “who may have been denied housing based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“The comments we received in our town hall meetings, and those we will gather from this new web site, will help inform how we might test for housing discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on LBGT status,” he said.

In addition to seeking comments through the web site, HUD has held a series of town halls to hear potential stories of discrimination. Events have taken place in Chicago, San Francisco and New York City.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has introduced legislation that would amend the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

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