ERC News Commentary
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ERC Commends U.S. Efforts to Protect LGBT Rights Internationally
December 7, 2011
The Obama Administration yesterday initiated its effort to protect the rights of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) across the globe. Tuesday morning, President Obama issued a memorandum to heads of government agencies citing the need to protect LGBT rights as “central to the United States’ commitment to promoting human rights.” In the afternoon, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a powerful speech at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, citing widespread abuses against LGBT people around the world; calling for LGBT individuals to receive basic human rights protections against violence, criminalization, and mistreatment; and announcing the creation of a Global Equality Fund to support LGBT organizations worldwide.
The Equal Rights Center applauds the Administration’s efforts to initiate global efforts to address LGBT discrimination and abuse internationally, and its recognition that much remains to be done in the U.S. as well. We hope this new strategy and public commitment bring the desired improvements for members of the LGBT community at home and abroad.
Read more: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/12/06/obama-administration-takes-action-on-intl-lgbt-rights/
¡En Hora Buena!
October 19, 2011
"This morning, Washington, D.C.’s Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed an executive order directing the D.C. Metropolitan Police Departments not to inquire about a person’s immigration status when encountering the police.
The Equal Rights Center congratulates the Mayor for taking such an important step to protect and promote the civil rights of all of its Washington, D.C. residents. Across the country, we have seen that requiring local police to act as immigration officials creates greater distrust among the immigrant community. As a result, individuals who are witnesses to, or victims of crimes are less inclined to call the police, making the greater metropolitan area less safe for everyone.
Today is a great day for D.C. ¡En hora buena!
Read more: http://wapo.st/oNlyHj
ERC Mourns Loss of Trailblazing LGBT Activist
October 12, 2011
"Today, the ERC and our staff celebrate the life of one of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights movement’s greatest champions. Frank Kameny cofounded the Mattachine Society in 1961 and launched an era of activism for the LGBT community that forced the general public to challenge preconceived notions about what it meant to be 'normal.'
In his 86 years, Mr. Kameny was able to bring the first civil rights case based on sexual orientation to the U.S. Supreme Court, run as the first openly gay candidate for Congress, and organized countless marches, protests and campaigns advocating for change on behalf of hundreds of thousands LGBT individuals in the United States. He is a hero and an inspiration for many civil rights activists today. While he will be sorely missed, his contributions to the civil rights movement will be celebrated and remembered for many years to come."
Read more: http://bit.ly/qDa0Lg
ERC Applauds the Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
September 20, 2011
“Today, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – the regulation that prohibited gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans from serving in the military – goes into effect. The Equal Rights Center applauds the long-overdue end of this discriminatory and ineffective policy. Whether seeking to serve in the military, secure housing, or find employment, everyone has the right to equal opportunity, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Read more: http://ow.ly/6zw1a
ERC Comments on Hate Crime Charges in D.C.
August 12, 2011
“It’s been almost two weeks since five women were attacked outside the Columbia Heights Metro station in Washington, DC, apparently because of their sexual orientation. Finally, ten days after the assault, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has taken action, thanks to the intervention of the MPD’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit. The refusal of the responding officers to even take a report is shocking, and sadly indicative of the discrimination regularly faced by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Whether seeking to secure housing, obtain employment, or access government services such as law enforcement, far too often members of the LGBT community are denied resources and assistance based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The ERC is committed to ending this discrimination, in the District and around the country. As the primary law enforcement entity for the nation’s capital, the MPD should join in this effort. As a start, MPD officers could use further training on working appropriately and sensitively with LGBT individuals, and the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit provided with sufficient resources to ensure a swift and appropriate response in all hate crimes against someone who identifies as or is perceived to be a member of the LGBT community.”
Read more: http://wapo.st/pREvCD
ERC Finds Recent ICE Actions Disheartening
August 8, 2011
"The recent decision by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to unilaterally terminate all agreements with jurisdictions participating in Secure Communities, thereby mandating state and local government participation in the program, is disheartening. What had started as a voluntary program, Secure Communities was intended to identify immigrants who have been convicted of “serious” criminal offenses. However, this program has inevitably ensnared countless numbers of minor offenders, and more importantly, has created fertile ground for ethnic profiling and will continue to create increased distrust between immigrant communities and law enforcement.
At a time when Congress has not come to any consensus on how best to approach the immigration dilemma, it is unfathomable that the Department of Homeland Security would force state and local governments to comply with this program. This mandate not only calls into question the ongoing debate of whether it is constitutional for local authorities to engage in immigration enforcement, but also stifles state and local governments’ ability to determine whether the program is in the best interests of their communities.
This latest move by DHS undermines the choice of those jurisdictions that have already opted-out of the program and those jurisdictions who took care to negotiate an agreement that would continue to protect the victims of violent crimes in their communities. Rather than locating and deporting violent offenders, this approach to enforcing immigration only leads to more immigrants living in the shadows."
Happy 21st Birthday to the ADA
July 28, 2011
"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) just turned 21! As we attended an anniversary event on Capitol Hill yesterday, hosted by the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD), it was amazing to see the champions of the Act such as Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and advocates come together. So much progress has been made in the past 21 years and sitting in the same room as other leaders in this cause was both humbling and gratifying.
Despite all of the progress made, it is clear, both to the ERC and to the community, that much work still must be done. Most notably, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities remains between 60-70 percent. If this community is truly to be granted equal rights, we must focus on creating more accessible and inclusive workplace communities.
As we celebrate the birthday of this amazing piece of legislation, we must commit to looking toward the future and working even harder to end discrimination in the next 21 years."
EEC Supports Reccomendations of New U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Report
July 14, 2011
"The ERC strongly agrees with the
recommendations provided in the report, ‘Affirmatively Furthering Fair
Housing in the District of Columbia,’ released today. Combined with
education and training, the ERC believes that testing is the most
effective tool to examine, document, and redress discriminatory fair
housing practices in the nation’s capital.
As the ERC stated in our testimony before the District of Columbia
Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, while the
District government has made progress in furthering fair housing,
serious impediments do remain.
Since the ERC testified last fall, we have completed testing
investigations and released a report that documented a 45% rate of
discrimination against individuals attempting to use Housing Choice
Vouchers in the District. Additionally, despite the D.C. Department of
Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ assurances that neither they nor any
certified third-party site inspectors has issued any building permits to
multifamily projects that did not meet accessibility requirements, more
than a dozen ERC surveys conducted in recent years documented multiple
accessibility violations at every property.
The ERC supports the Committee’s call for additional testing—not just
involving Source of Income and Accessible Design and Construction, but
every protected class in D.C.—and we stand ready and willing to work
with the D.C. government, and particularly the D.C. Office of Human
Rights (DCOHR), on future testing projects.
We hope the D.C. Government accepts the Commission’s recommendations
and acts to ensure that the DCOHR has adequate funding to realize its
mandate of protecting the civil rights of all the District’s residents."
New York Votes for Marriage Equality
June 27, 2011
"More than forty years after the Stonewall riots, often referred to as the genesis of the modern gay rights movement, the call for LGBT equality continues to grow stronger. In recent months, the LGBT community has witnessed some incredible achievements, such as the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and now with the State of New York becoming the 7th jurisdiction in the U.S. to recognize marriage equality, following five other states and the District of Columbia. The community remains steadfast and dedicated to the continued advancement of equal rights.
New York’s decision to legalize same sex marriage this past Friday makes it the largest state where gay and lesbian couples are now able to wed, and will potentially double the number of same sex marriages in this country. Polls continue to show that the majority of Americans support marriage equality, and New York’s actions reinforce a founding U.S. tenet – that it is unfair to treat one group of residents differently than others.
Coming at the close of June, LGBT Pride Month, the ERC hopes New York’s endorsement provides new impetus and hope for marriage equality across the country."
Equal Rights Center Objects to Alabama Immigration Law
June 16, 2011
"The recent passage of Alabama’s immigration law is unsettling and yet another example of how the vitriolic debate over immigration continues to harm more and more families. One particularly problematic aspect is the requirement that schools verify a child’s immigration status; this law targets an exceptionally vulnerable population and will undoubtedly lead to civil rights violations.
Another unfortunate consequence of this law will be an increase in racial profiling and increased distrust between the Latino community and law enforcement. This strained relationship has far reaching consequences—no matter an individual’s documentation, no one should be terrified to report a crime."
ARC's New Report Highlights Need for ERC's Disability Initiative
June 14, 2011
"This morning, The ARC released a new report, “Still in the Shadows with Their Future Uncertain,” detailing findings from their research on how people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are faring in school, the workplace, and throughout their lives. Among many important calls to action, I was especially excited to see their call to ensure all people with developmental disabilities have access to employment support strategies, job training resources, and improved work incentives.
The ERC has been very concerned with people with disabilities’ ability to find fitting and lasting work. As 70% of this population is unemployed or underemployed, education and resources are at critical need. Through tools such as the ERC’s, “Americans with Disabilities Act Employment Pocket Toolkit” – which provides people with disabilities an overall understanding of their employment rights – the ERC remains committed to advancing the right of all people with disabilities to gain employment, provide for their own lives, and be contributing members of our society."
Read more about The ARC’s new report: http://www.thearc.org/document.doc?id=3145
Read the ERC’s “Americans with Disabilities Act Employment Pocket Toolkit”: www.equalrightscenter.org/adaemployment
Read an accessible version of the ERC’s toolkit: www.equalrightscenter.org/adaemploymentaccessible
ERC Comments on Proposition 8, Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia
June 13, 2011
"In the midst of LGBT pride month, civil rights advocates celebrate a landmark decision in the right to marry the person of one's choice. This week marks the 44th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, in which the Supreme Court struck down laws forbidding marriage between African-Americans and whites. The ERC recognizes that advancing the fundamental right to marry is just as important today as it was in 1967.
Today, a federal district judge in California hears arguments once again on the legality of Proposition 8 -- which declared that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman. The progressive individuals who championed marriage between two consenting adults of different races must look at this new impediment to equality as the same type of unlawful discrimination. The face and scope of discrimination is constantly evolving and those who truly value equality must do the same."
Read more: http://usat.ly/mfAR7i
ERC congratulates Mark Perriello, AAPD
June 2, 2011
"The ERC is very excited to see Mark Perriello take the helm of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD). Mark is an exceptional advocate and leader. With the ERC’s and AAPD’s long history of successful collaborations, we look forward to advancing civil rights with AAPD under Marks’ leadership."
Read more: www.AAPD.com/PresidentandCEO
President Obama Declares June LGBT Month
June 1, 2011
"For nearly 30 years the ERC has supported the advancement and protections for the civil rights of previously marginalized groups. This June we are happy to join advocates and individuals across the country to celebrate the advances and achievements of the LGBT community.
Despite the breakthroughs in the area of civil rights for the LGBT community in many states and local jurisdictions across the county, we recognize there is much work to be done—including ensuring fair housing rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. We hope advocates not only celebrate LGBT Pride this month, but also take steps throughout the year to ensure equal opportunity in housing for all people."
Read more: http://1.usa.gov/j6Qhhq
Deaf Professor Wins Suit Over Firing
May 28, 2011
"Although it is incredibly disheartening to see that employment discrimination against people with disabilities still occurs, the ERC is encouraged that the courts recognized this clearcut violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are approximately 60 million people with disabilities in the United States and about 70% of this population is unemployed or underemployed. It is crucial that employers and employees understand that protections are provided to workers with disabilities under Title I of the ADA.
Since the ADA was passed 20 years ago, the ERC has utilized this progressive law to advance rights for people with disabilities, yet we continue to see blatant violations of the ADA and are proud to take a stand against this unlawful behavior."
Read more: http://bit.ly/mMosMP