Thursday, June 18, 2009

EHEA and the Obama Memo

I'm almost through! By this time tomorrow, I will be done with my summer semester at school and will have 8 weeks off -- just enough time to complete all my clinical prep for year two at school! WHOO!!! Many thanks to my contributors for making sure the blog is updated in my intermittent involvement this week! You guys are the best!

But I wanted to just post two bits from the queerrevolution that you should know about:

First, the Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA) made it out of the State Government Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives. The EHEA (HB 176), as you may remember, is the law that will prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity/expression, making Ohio the 21st state in the union to do so (in a related note, I wonder if, with all the marriage talk lately, we will confront a situation in the near future where we have more states with equal marriage than equal protections :-)). According to Equality Ohio's email, it was recommended to a vote by the whole House in a 8-5 vote. The vote breakdown:
  • For: Gerberry (D), Lundy (D), Sykes (D), Williams B. (D), Stewart (D), Mallory (D - hell yea Cincinnatian!), Sayre (D), and Hite (the only Republican to vote for it).
  • Against: Adams (R), Daniels (R), Grossman (R), Hall (R), and Stebelton (R).

What next? Well, it goes to a floor vote. If it passes there, onto the state Senate, where there are some questions as to whether it can pass but Lynne Bowman, Executive Director of Equality Ohio, says that she is confident that fairness will come to Ohio. Gov. Ted Strickland is likely to sign the bill due to a long history of standing with queer Ohioans.

This is the first time the Ohio legislature has voted for fairness for LGBTQ individuals... ever.

Second, Obama signed the partners memorandum, giving very limited benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees and, by very limited, we mean very limited. In fact, it has sent the world into a small uproar seemingly for two reasons:

  • It doesn't go far enough, failing to provide for health, retirement, or pension benefits for same-sex partners and is probably equitable to little financial benefit other than relocation costs. It seems that anything else would be against the law, per the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • It is a memorandum -- not an executive order -- which means that it expires when Obama leaves office.

A fact sheet provided by the White House is available on the Advocate website detailing the benefits covered. It confuses me, the whole hubbub, as everyone is still cursing Obama's name, saying that it's too little too late.

I seriously wonder if homosexuals have forgotten the last 8 years, and we are just so hungry for someone to listen to us, that we are willing to go rabid at the mouth, screaming shouting and cursing our President, for not doing everything right now. You know, through the Bush years, no one would listen to us. I don't remember the HRC -- for once, I'm kinda standing up for them -- getting a personal meeting with Bush II to reassure them that the President was still on their side, unless I missed it? I know, I know. I want more now, too; I think Obama should put an immediate stop on discharges from the military under Don't Ask, Don't Tell pending legal review, and I think the DOJ-DOMA brief was shameful... and I think Obama's ongoing silence on LGBT issues makes him somewhat of a political coward.

But this is the first time any rights were granted to LGBTQ people since, well, since Bill Clinton. And Mr. Clinton, I might remind you, signed DOMA and DADT, so maybe Obama ain't so bad... but I am still rather bored by the ongoing expectation that we, as queers, will pay for politicos campaigns, whilst they are never willing to step up and do anything for queers. Maybe that's the reason nothing has been done? If the carrot is still hanging in front of us, will we still work as hard for the Democrats?

But that's just my thoughts.

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