Connect with us

News

Lesbian EEOC commissioner confirmed for 2nd term

Feldblum credited with decision granting non-discrimination protections for trans workers

Published

on

Chai Feldblum, gay news, Washington Blade
Chai Feldblum, gay news, Washington Blade

Chai Feldblum was confirmed for a 2nd term on the EEOC (Photo courtesy of Feldblum)

The U.S. Senate confirmed on Thursday a lesbian with a history of civil rights activism to another term on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

By a largely party-line vote of 54-41, the Senate confirmed Chai Feldblum for a five-year term on the bipartisan panel, which enforces federal laws against workplace discrimination.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who are known for their support for LGBT rights, were the only Republicans to break from the GOP caucus to vote in favor of Feldblum’s confirmation.

President Obama nominated Feldblum for another term on the EEOC in May.

The Senate invoked cloture to the proceed to the nomination on Tuesday by a 57-39 vote. Under this vote, the Feldblum nomination wouldn’t have been able to proceed if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hadn’t exercised the nuclear option to lower the vote threshold necessary for proceeding to presidential appointments.

Feldblum, the first openly LGBT person to serve on the EEOC, is credited with coordinating a unanimous decision last year in the case of Macy v. Holder that interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to protect transgender people. The commission reasoned the existing prohibition against gender bias in the workplace applies to transgender people.

Tico Almeida, president of Freedom of Work, commended the Senate for confirming Feldblum to the EEOC, where he said she “has worked tirelessly to build bi-partisan consensus on improvements to America’s laws that give all workers a fair shot at the American Dream.”

“Feldblum deserves our praise not only for her leading role in the unanimous EEOC decision in Macy v. Holder, but also for her leadership in drafting the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, which explicitly lists workplace protections for LGBT Americans among the commission’s national priorities,” Feldblum said.

Prior to serving on the EEOC, Feldblum was a nationally recognized gay rights attorney. She’s credited with the drafting the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law in 1990. She also wrote the base version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which was recently passed by the Senate, but remains blocked in the House.

She’s also had experience in LGBT activism. Feldblum was the legal director for the Campaign for Military Service, a group that unsuccessfully fought in the early 1990′s against the enactment of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Feldblum is the partner of Nan Hunter, a Georgetown University law professor with experience in LGBT cases.

Her initial nomination to the EEOC faced difficulties in the Senate. One or more unidentified senators placed a secret hold on her and four other EEOC nominees. In March 2010, Obama cleared the way for her to serve by making a recess appointment. The Senate later confirmed her in December 2010.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Florida

Over 100 LGBTQ-themed books in a Florida school district labeled with advisory warning

They warn: “this book has been identified by some community members as unsuitable for students.”

Published

on

Advisory Notice (via Twitter)

A southwest Florida district put parental “advisory notice” on over 100 books, many of which are race or LGBTQ-themed. 

A great number of books in Collier County Public Schools, either digital or physical, now have warning labels writing “Advisory notice to parents,” according to an NBC report,

The label, tweeted by nonprofit free-speech-promoting group PEN American, states, “This Advisory Notice shall serve to inform you that this book has been identified by some community members as unsuitable for students. This book will also be identified in the Destiny system with the same notation. The decision as to whether this book is suitable or unsuitable shall be the decision of the parent(s) who has the right to oversee his/her child’s education consistent with state law.” 

Stephana Ferrell, co-founder of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, which means to fight book banning, told NBC that she had a call from Elizabeth Alves, the associate superintendent of teaching and learning for Collier County Public Schools. In the call, Alves told her that the district added the labels starting in February. 

These measures, which Alves described as a “compromise,” happened after the district’s legal representative talked with the Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group which initiated a “Porn in Schools Report” project last year. The report included a list of books that “promote gender self-identification and same-sex marriage” as well as titles that include “indecent and offensive material,” as the group explained. 

Chad Oliver, the Collier County Public Schools spokesperson, on the other hand offered a different story. 

Oliver sent an email to NBC News and said, “Based upon advice from the General Counsel, we placed advisory notices on books about which parents and community members had expressed concern and in accordance with the recently passed Parents’ Bill of Rights Law (HB 241).” 

The law referred by Oliver is also known as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

According to PEN America, there are 110 labeled books in total, and the list greatly overlaps with the one Florida Citizens Alliance inquired about with Collier County Public Schools. 

Continue Reading

National

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney introduces bill to make monkeypox testing free

Health insurers would be required to cover costs

Published

on

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has introduced legislation to make monkeypox testing free to the public. (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), amid the ongoing monkeypox affecting gay and bisexual men, has introduced legislation in the U.S. House seeking to make testing for disease free to the public.

Maloney, one of seven openly gay members of Congress and chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement the measure, called the No Cost for Monkeypox Testing Act, would testing amid the monkeypox outbreak would be accessible to all.

“It is critical that we eliminate cost as a barrier to testing for monkeypox to ensure we can identify cases and prevent further spread,” Maloney said. “This legislation takes the lessons we learned from past public health emergencies and protects those at risk of contracting monkeypox by making tests accessible to everyone.”

The legislation would require private health insurers as well as Medicare and Medicaid to cover the costs of monkeypox testing at no expense to the patients, either through deductibles, co-payments, and co-insurance.

The bill introduction comes the week after the Biden administration declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency and the same it has issued new guidance to enhance to the accessing of existing vaccines doses amid criticism federal officials were too slow in distributing shots.

The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the Centers for Disease Control seeking comment on the legislation. Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra said Tuesday the federal government has the capacity to conduct an estimated 80,000 tests each week.

Maloney has been representing New York’s 18th congressional district, but after redistricting is now seeking re-election in the 17th district. Amid controversy over a potential showdown between Maloney and Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), who’s Black, another openly gay member of Congress and the current representative of that district, Jones has since opted to run for re-election in the New York’s 10th congressional district. Maloney is now running unopposed in the 17th.

Continue Reading

Politics

Out Vermont state senator wins Democratic primary race

Tuesday’s victory makes her likely to become the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person to represent the heavily Democratic state in Congress

Published

on

Screenshot via Becca Balint for Congress

The Green Mountain State’s state Senate president pro tempore has won the Democratic nomination for the state’s at-large congressional seat, the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Becca Balin is running to succeed U.S. Rep. Peter Welch and Tuesday’s victory makes her likely to become the first woman and openly LGBTQ+ person to represent the heavily Democratic state in Congress if elected in November. Vermont is the only state that has never had a female member of its congressional delegation.

The VTDigger, a statewide news website, reported; “Balint, 53, is the first openly gay woman elected to the Vermont Senate and the first woman to serve as its president. The former middle school teacher and stay-at-home mother won her first political contest in a race for her southeastern Vermont Senate seat in 2014

She rose quickly through the ranks of the Democrat-controlled chamber, becoming majority leader in 2017, at the start of her second term. Four years later, in 2021, she was elected pro tem — the top position in the Senate.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]