December 18, 2009 at 2:40 pm EST | by Staff reports
U.S. Senate committee backs DP benefits bill

Sen. Joseph Lieberman is the sponsor of a bill that would provide benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee has reported out legislation that would provide benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees.

The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee voted 8-1 on Wednesday to report out the bill, known as the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), who chairs the committee, is the sponsor of the legislation. It currently has 26 co-sponsors.

On the House side, the Oversight & Government Relations Committee reported out its version of the bill last month, 23-12. Lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) is the sponsor of the bill, which has 138 co-sponsors.

N.Y. governor to bar job bias against trans employees

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. David Paterson was preparing this week to issue an executive order that would include transgender people in anti-discrimination policies that govern state agencies, according to the New York Times.

The order, which the governor reportedly planned to sign after DC Agenda’s deadline, would represent the broadest protections ever extended to transgender public employees in New York State.

The New York Times reported that a number of cities throughout the state, including Buffalo, Albany, Rochester and New York City, already prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression, but that no equivalent state law exists.

Several sources with direct knowledge of the governor’s executive order spoke of it only on the condition of anonymity, so that they would not be seen as upstaging his announcement, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper reported that while supporters of transgender legal protections were encouraged by Paterson’s order, they said it placed New York only in the middle of the pack among states that already make it illegal to discriminate against transgender people in the public and private sectors.

“It has been a long road, and I think New York is behind,” Dru Levasseur, a transgender rights attorney for Lambda Legal, told the New York Times. “So this will bring New York up to par with other states that are taking the lead on workplace fairness.”

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia outlaw discrimination based on gender expression or identity, according to gay and transgender rights groups. In addition, more than 100 cities and counties across the country provide similar legal protections.

Pelosi praises California’s first openly gay speaker

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week congratulated John Perez as the new Speaker of the California State Assembly.

“As the first LGBT speaker in state history, Perez will serve as a symbol of progress for California and a tribute to the ideal of equality nationwide,” she said. “His election is a sign of our hope for a future where people of all backgrounds, races, religions, and sexual orientations can enjoy the full rights and responsibilities of citizenship.”

Assembly Democrats unanimously backed Perez, the Assembly Democratic Caucus’ chair, on Dec. 10 to be the next speaker.

“As a California labor leader and member of the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, John Perez and I have worked together on a number of issues critical to Californians,” Pelosi said. “He will follow in the footsteps of a great leader for our state, Speaker Karen Bass. She has exhibited courage, conviction, and strength during challenging times. I look forward to working with Speaker Perez to continue this legacy and build a better California for generations to come.”

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