Daily news

Senate Republicans Blindly Advance Trump-Pence-McConnell Agenda to Repeal ACA

Today, HRC released the following statement strongly condemning a procedural vote by Senate Republicans to pave the way for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

“We are deeply disappointed in the continued reckless attacks on millions of Americans and their access to critical health care,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “It is unconscionable that any Senator would vote in favor of the Motion to Proceed without knowing what the underlying bill to repeal the ACA actually includes, without any public committee hearings, or even a score from the Congressional Budget Office. The Trump-Pence-McConnell plan would result in millions of Americans losing their health care and billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest in our country — this is unacceptable. This dangerous proposal would be especially harmful to millions of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. We urge the Senate to reject this disastrous proposal and work to improve our health care system through an open and democratic process.”

BREAKING: Trump-Pence Administration Asserts Civil Rights Laws Won’t Apply to LGBTQ People

Today, HRC issued the following statement in response to an amicus brief filed by the Department of Justice arguing that Title VII does not protect lesbian, gay, or bisexual people on the basis of sex:

“Attacks against the LGBTQ community at all levels of government continue to pour in from the Trump-Pence Administration,” said Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director. “In one fell swoop, Trump’s DOJ has provided a roadmap for dismantling years of federal protections and declared that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people may no longer be protected by landmark civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act, Title IX, or Title VII. For over a decade, courts have determined that discrimination on the basis of LGBTQ status is unlawful discrimination under federal law. Today’s filing is a shameful retrenchment of an outmoded interpretation that forfeits faithful interpretation of current law to achieve a politically-driven and legally specious result.”

Tremendous Bipartisan Outrage Over Trump’s Transgender Military Ban

President Trump’s move to reinstate a ban on qualified transgender people serving in the military is dangerous and unpatriotic. Members of Congress across party lines are taking a stand to remind Trump of this — and pledging to fight back in all the ways they can.

BREAKING: Texas Senate Advances Anti-LGBTQ SB3

Today, HRC strongly condemned some radical members of the Texas Senate for advancing the patently anti-LGBTQ SB3, introduced by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst with support from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. This egregious measure is part of a discriminatory agenda being pushed by Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott during a costly, unnecessary special legislative session.

The anti-LGBTQ SB3 mandates HB2-style anti-transgender discrimination in any multiple-occupancy restroom or locker room in any property owned by a city, county, school district, or other political subdivision. Additionally, it would overturn LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances protecting millions of people across Texas in cities including Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth insofar as those ordinances protect people from discrimination in bathrooms. It also prohibits these entities from forbidding discrimination in athletics on the basis of any characteristic not currently reflected in state law — an obvious jab at transgender athletes.

“The Texas Senate just approved a blatantly discriminatory bill, demonstrating yet again that these lawmakers care more about pursuing cheap political points than protecting the lives of transgender Texans,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign. “It is appalling that after hearing more than 10 hours of testimony, overwhelmingly from Texans who oppose this legislation, the Texas Senate still voted to move SB3 forward. Despite this broad opposition — including from businesses, sports leagues, parents, and faith leaders — the Texas Senate and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appear to be fine with establishing Texas as the next North Carolina. HRC will continue to fight this harmful bill as it moves to the House.”

During the 2017 regular session, the Texas Legislature has pursued a slate of unconscionable anti-LGBTQ bills as part of a systematic effort to roll back the rights of LGBTQ Texans, piece by piece. This session, the Texas legislature introduced at least 30 anti-LGBTQ bills, and 11 passed at least one chamber. By comparison, all other states combined passed only 13 bills through at least one house during their 2017 legislative sessions.

HRC has more than a dozen staff on the ground in Austin, and, working with scores of volunteer organizers, has been leading field organizing efforts around the state to defeat these anti-LGBTQ bills. HRC continues to work alongside Equality Texas, ACLU of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, the Transgender Education Network of Texas and others to defeat dangerous or harmful bills that seek to undermine the rights and dignity of LGBTQ Texans. This coalition is committed to standing together to defeat every bill this session that discriminates against LGBTQ Texans.

BREAKING: Senate Republicans Blindly Advance Trump-Pence-McConnell Agenda to Repeal ACA

Today, HRC released the following statement strongly condemning a procedural vote by Senate Republicans to pave the way for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

“We are deeply disappointed in the continued reckless attacks on millions of Americans and their access to critical health care,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “It is unconscionable that any Senator would vote in favor of the Motion to Proceed without knowing what the underlying bill to repeal the ACA actually includes, without any public committee hearings, or even a score from the Congressional Budget Office. The Trump-Pence-McConnell plan would result in millions of Americans losing their health care and billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest in our country — this is unacceptable. This dangerous proposal would be especially harmful to millions of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. We urge the Senate to reject this disastrous proposal and work to improve our health care system through an open and democratic process.”

HRC Urges Senators to Take Active Role in Vetting Federal Court Nominees through Blue Slip Process

Post submitted by HRC law fellow Cameron Redfern.

President Trump currently has 21 United States Court of Appeals and 107 United States District Court vacancies on his “to fill” list. A nomination by the President, confirmation by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the participation of Home-State Senators in the vetting process of new judges are all crucial aspects of filling these federal judicial seats. The blue slip process, a pivotal part of nomination and confirmation, is currently facing criticism by Republican senators who hope that President Trump faces little resistance in appointing new judges from a list prepared by the Federalist Society. The Human Rights Campaign urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to respect the blue slip process and for senators to withhold blue slips for nominated judges until they receive adequate information regarding nominees’ judicial records.

Despite a lack of codification into the Senate rules, the blue slip process has been used since the early 1900’s as a way to promote bipartisan support for judicial nominations. The process is utilized as a way to engage Senators from the opposite party of the President, in the vetting process of nominees. Traditionally, the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee notifies Home-State Senators of the nomination of a judge to a court in their state by sending them a blue slip. Home-State Senators then provide their feedback by returning the slip with a positive recommendation for confirmation, a negative recommendation for confirmation, or refusing to return the slip all together.

The Senate Judiciary Committee typically waits to receive two positive blue slips from Home-State Senators before commencing a confirmation hearing on behalf of a proposed judge at either the District Court or Court of Appeals level. This process ensures that the Administration consults with opposite party Senators before making nominations, or risk blue slips being withheld. Deference to Home-State Senators has not always been as respected – some Judiciary Committees have required only one positive slip to proceed, or in some instances Committees have proceeded without either blue slip. Former Senate Judiciary Chairs, Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) and Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), each expressed the importance of consulting with Home-State Senators through the Blue Slip Process prior to moving forward with confirmation hearings in letters to President George H.W. Bush and President William J. Clinton respectively.

Presently, Senate Republicans are advocating to ignore the blue slip process in order to keep Democrats from blocking President Trump’s nominees. Circumventing the blue slip process would directly disregard established senatorial practice and allow more anti-LGBTQ judges to receive appointments. It is clear that the fear of President Trump’s appointees being anti-LGBTQ is well founded following Justice Gorsuch’s clear opposition to the LGBTQ community in his dissent in Pavon v. Smith, in which he noted that post Obergefell there is no reason to conclude that a parentage regime which excludes same-sex parents violates the U.S. Constitution.

When respected, the blue slip process ensures that Home-State Senators are able to properly research and vet judicial nominees and provide feedback. It is necessary that Senators take the time to actively participate in this process. Democratic Senators have had recent success in blocking the nomination of Joan Larsen, a Federalist Society recommendation, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit who has a record that raises red flags, in the areas of executive power and interest in corporations, as well as anti-LGBTQ sentiment. As of July 4, 2017, neither Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) nor Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) have returned a blue slip on behalf of Larsen, thereby halting her confirmation. This success can continue with the Judiciary Committee’s respect for the blue slip process and investment by Democratic Senators in withholding blue slips until nominees are properly researched.

Many Senators have an understanding of the importance of bipartisan support for judicial nominees. Presently Senators from 18 states–CA, CO, FL, HI, IL, MA, MI, MN, MT, NC, OH, OR, PA, TX, VT, WA, and WI–use nominating commissions to screen candidates for federal court vacancies. The commissions, and the blue slip process, are vital in ensuring that individuals with proven animus for the LGBTQ community do not reach the federal Judiciary.