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One NH Company Make HRC’s Most LBGTQ-Inclusive Workplaces

HRC Scores New Hampshire Company’s LGBTQ-Inclusive Workplace Policies in New Corporate Equality Index

WASHINGTON – Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, announced a record number of the nation’s major companies and law firms are advancing vital policies and practices to protect LGBTQ workers around the world, according to the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), an annual report assessing LGBTQ inclusion in major companies and law firms across the nation, including C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. in New Hampshire.

This year, a record-breaking 609 businesses earned the CEI’s top score of 100, up from 517 last year — a single-year increase of 18 percent. This record sets a new high water mark for corporate leadership over the 15-year history of the CEI.

In total, 947 companies and law firms were officially rated in the new CEI, up from 887 in last year’s. The report also unofficially rated 137 Fortune 500 companies, which have yet to respond to an invitation to participate in the CEI survey assessing their LGBTQ policies and practices. C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. headquartered in Keene scored a 30 out of 100.

“At a time when the rights of LGBTQ people are under attack by the Trump-Pence Administration and state legislatures across the country, hundreds of top American companies are driving progress toward equality in the workplace,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The top-scoring companies on this year’s CEI are not only establishing policies that affirm and include employees here in the United States, they are applying these policies to their operations around the globe and impacting millions of people beyond our shores. In addition, many of these companies have also become vocal advocates for equality in the public square, including the dozens that have signed on to amicus briefs in vital Supreme Court cases and the 106 corporate supporters of the Equality Act. We are proud to have developed so many strong partnerships with corporate allies who see LGBTQ equality as a crucial issue for our country and for their businesses.”

Key national findings revealed in the 2018 CEI:

  • 609 companies earned a perfect 100 points, up from 517 in the 2017 report;
  • Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002;
  •  459 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning;
  • 137 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information.

The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:

  • Non-discrimination policies
  • Employment benefits
  • Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBTQ diversity and inclusion
  • Public commitment to LGBTQ equality
  • Responsible citizenship

The full report, including a searchable employer database is available online at www.hrc.org/cei.

 

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Big Step Forward For People Dealing With Transition-related Medical Care

New Hampshire Advocates Applaud End to Discriminatory Health Care Exclusion of Transition-related Surgeries from Medicaid Coverage

CONCORD, N.H. — –  Transgender nondiscrimination advocates applauded today’s vote by the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR) to approve proposed regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services that will end the discriminatory exclusion from Medicaid coverage of gender transition-related surgeries.

“Transgender people need and deserve access to health care just like everyone else,” said Linds Jakows, Campaign Manager, Freedom NH. “There is no legitimate reason to exclude medical treatment that the health care community agrees is medically-necessary from the state’s Medicaid program. Ending this discriminatory exclusion will make New Hampshire a healthier and more free place for transgender residents. When the next legislative session resumes in January, we call on our lawmakers to continue fighting discrimination by updating the state’s nondiscrimination law to explicitly include transgender residents.”

Gender reassignment surgery is medically necessary for some transgender people experiencing gender dysphoria. Ending the exclusion of gender reassignment surgery from covered services under the state’s Medicaid program brings New Hampshire into consensus with the medical professional community – including major medical organizations such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Health Organization – and into compliance with federal regulations under the Affordable Care Act.

“We applaud New Hampshire for taking this straightforward but important step to ensure that transgender people in the Granite State have equal access to medically-necessary health care,” said Devon Chafee, Executive Director, ACLU-NH.

“With the adoption of these regulations today, New Hampshire is not only ending a discriminatory practice, it is ensuring that the state Medicaid program is in compliance with federal requirements under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act,” said Janson Wu, Executive Director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders.

The new regulations will go into effect one day after being signed by Health and Human Services Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas, which is expected this week.

Freedom New Hampshire is a nonpartisan coalition working to educate people about what it means to be transgender, the unique hardships that transgender people face and to grow support for fair and equal treatment of transgender Granite Staters under the law.

Trump Administration Continues to Erode Federal LGBTQ Protections  

CONCORD, N.H. —The Department of Justice (DOJ) today released new guidance that gives federal agencies, employees, and government contractors unprecedented leeway in discriminating against LGBTQ people. The guidance represents a radical departure and sweeping reinterpretation that far exceeds the original modest intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed to protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their religion.

The guidance comes just one day after the administration also announced its intention to no longer interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as protecting transgender people from workplace discrimination.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, released the following statement regarding the discriminatory ban:

“Protections for LGBTQ Americans are facing increasing threats at the federal level. The recent actions out of the Department of Justice in Washington are particularly dangerous for transgender Granite Staters, because we don’t have any explicit laws on the books to protect us from discrimination. Transgender people can – and too often, do – face discrimination in their workplace, in access to housing, and in public spaces.

“The good news is, we can do something about this. Our state representatives and senators can and must take up legislation that would ensure transgender people are protected from discrimination in all its insidious forms. Action at the state level is more urgent now than it’s ever been before.”

Freedom New Hampshire is a nonpartisan coalition working to educate people about what it means to be transgender, the unique hardships that transgender people face and to grow support for fair and equal treatment of transgender Granite Staters under the law.

Both NH Congresswomen Join 190 US Reps To Support For The Equality Act of 2017

As President Trump prepares to sign an executive order tomorrow that would sanction discrimination against Americans based on sexual orientation, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) is highlighting her support for the Equality Act of 2017, introduced by Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), and expressing her opposition to discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community. Kuster is a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, an organization dedicated to promoting equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Americans.

“I’m deeply troubled by reports that the Administration plans to issue executive orders tomorrow that would allow discrimination against Americans simply based on who they love,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I strongly support the Equality Act of 2017 because our nation is fundamentally an accepting and open society. LGBTQ Americans should be extended the same protections from discrimination as other protected classes and I urge my colleagues to join me in calling for policies to create more freedom in our nation, not less.”

Congresswoman Kuster has long advocated in favor of equal rights for every American. In advance of the historic 2015 Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, she joined with over 200 of her colleagues in Congress to submit an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of equal protection in the eyes of the law.

She previously co-sponsored the Equality Act in the last Congress, as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and she has long been committed to passing legislation to ensure that employees cannot be discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01)  joined with Congresswoman Kuster and more than 190 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce the Equality Act of 2017.

“In 2017, nobody should face discrimination and bigotry because of who they are and who they love,” said Shea-Porter. “I’m proud to co-introduce the Equality Act of 2017, which would finally ensure that federal civil rights protections cover LGBTQ Americans.”

 

The Equality Act of 2017 would extend the same protections already in place for other protected classes to LGBTQ Americans. It would explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds in Federal civil rights law.

Despite significant advances, LGBTQ people across the country remain vulnerable to discrimination and too often have little recourse. With the advent of nationwide marriage equality, in many states, same-sex couples have the right to marry but have no explicit non-discrimination protections. In most states, this means that a same-sex couple could legally marry one day and risk being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartment – simply because of who they are.

The Equality Act ensures that the same protections already extended to other protected classes are equally available to LGBTQ Americans. It amends existing federal civil rights laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, Federal jury service, public accommodations, and the use of Federal funds.

 

In some of these areas, federal law prohibiting sex discrimination has already been properly interpreted by federal courts and administrative agencies to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Equality Act affirms that understanding of existing law and makes the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity explicit, in order to provide greater clarity to members of the public, employers, schools, businesses and other affected parties. In areas where sex discrimination is not already prohibited, the bill amends existing law to bar discrimination on the basis of sex as well as sexual orientation and gender identity.

Human Rights Campaign Highlights NH LGBTQ Protections, Laws and Legislative Proposals in New National Report

HRC’s State Equality Index finds that, despite historic federal progress, anti-LGBTQ state bills seek to undermine rights and target vulnerable populations, such as transgender youth 

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation, today released its third annual national report assessing the status of state legislation affecting LGBTQ equality across America, including in New Hampshire.

HRC’s State Equality Index reveals that in many states opponents of equality are ramping up efforts to sanction discrimination against LGBTQ people by proposing state-level laws that would undermine existing protections, erode marital rights of legally-joined same-sex couples, target transgender people — including youth — and limit the ability of cities and towns to pass their own inclusive laws.

New Hampshire falls into the category, “Building Equality.” New Hampshire is one of 30 states in the country that lack explicit state-level workplace protections for all LGBTQ employees.

“State governments have a clear choice between sowing the seeds of division and discrimination or building an economy that works for everyone by fostering fairness and inclusion,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, “Unfortunately, too many lawmakers have decided to target LGBTQ people for state-sanctioned discrimination and to interfere with local protections for workers, customers, and residents. Now more than ever, it is crucial that legislators across the country stand on the right side of history and ensure full equality for all their citizens – nothing more and nothing less.”

“Last year our community faced a barrage of attacks on our freedoms, but we are more united and better prepared than ever to continue our momentum toward equality for all,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation Institute. “This report serves as an important tool for advocates to keep pushing forward. We’re not going to stop until all LGBTQ people and their families are able to reach their full potential, free from discrimination, no matter what state they live in.”

While more than 111 million people live in states where LGBTQ people lack clear state-level protections against discrimination in the workplace, the SEI points to a few encouraging signs — particularly in areas related to LGBTQ youth, health and safety and protections for the transgender community. States like Vermont and New York took steps to protect LGBTQ youth by banning conversion therapy. Massachusetts expanded the state’s non-discrimination law to include gender identity in public accommodations.  Hawaii passed a law to make it easier for transgender residents to update their name and gender marker on a birth certificate or driver’s license. Five states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania banned transgender exclusions in health care insurance, a sizable increase from 2015.

The SEI assesses statewide LGBTQ-related legislation and policies, good and bad, in five areas: parenting laws and policies; non-discrimination laws and policies; hate crimes laws; youth-related laws and policies; and health and safety laws and policies. Based on that review, the SEI assigns states to one of four distinct categories.

Nine states and the District of Columbia are in the highest-rated category, “Working Toward Innovative Equality

California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington

These states and the nation’s capital have robust LGBTQ non-discrimination laws covering employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as protections in the areas of credit, insurance and jury selection. Most allow transgender people to change official documents to reflect their gender identity, and almost all bar private insurers from banning transition-related healthcare. LGBTQ youth are protected by anti-bullying laws, as well as innovative measures in some states that address conversion therapy, inclusive juvenile justice policies, homelessness and sexual health education.

Seven states are in the category “Solidifying Equality

Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island

These states have non-discrimination protections and are considered high-performing, but have not yet adopted innovative equality measures. Many of these states allow transgender individuals to change gender markers on official documents and more than half do not allow second-parent adoption. These states have relatively robust anti-bullying laws, but bad laws begin to crop up in this category.

Six states are in the category “Building Equality

Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin

These states have taken steps toward more robust LGBTQ equality, including passing basic non-discrimination and hate crimes laws. They allow gender markers to be changed on official documents, but have few protections guaranteeing access to transgender health care. Some lack explicit gender identity protections and several lack comprehensive anti-bullying laws. Bad laws are more common, so advocates are working to stop bills that could undermine LGBTQ equality and pass more comprehensive non-discrimination laws.

Twenty-eight states are in the lowest-rated category “High Priority to Achieve Basic Equality

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming

Most of these states, including Arizona, North Carolina, South Dakota and Florida, have many laws that undermine LGBTQ equality, from those that criminalize HIV and sodomy, to measures allowing religious-based discrimination against LGBTQ people. None have non-discrimination laws that explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity protections; few have hate crime laws with those protections. LGBTQ advocates largely work to defeat bad bills and pass municipal protections for LGBTQ people.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every state, as well as a comprehensive review of 2016 state legislation, is available online at www.hrc.org/sei

Shea-Porter Receives Endorsement From President Obama And LBGTQ Gun Violence Prevention PAC

Today, former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter received to major endorsements in her election campaign in New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District.  Shea-Porter received the endorsement of President Barack Obama and the nationwide LGBTQ organization, Pride Fund To End Gun Violence.

Obama called Carol Shea-Porter a “fighter for the middle class,” and cited her work making the country “stronger, safer, and fairer for Granite State families.” 

“I’m proud to endorse Carol Shea-Porter for the United States House of Representatives,” said Obama. “Carol is a fighter for Granite State working families, and will be the kind of independent leader we need to build on all of the progress we’ve made over the last eight years to create a stronger, safer, fairer country for our children. In Congress, I know that Carol will push to make sure veterans get the care they deserve, secure equal pay for equal work for women, and fight for affordable childcare and paid family leave. All Granite State families know that Carol will stand up for them.”

“I’m deeply humbled to have earned Barack Obama’s support,” said Shea-Porter. “In Congress, I’ll continue working to protect Social Security and Medicare, make sure veterans get the care they deserve, and focus on keeping jobs here in New Hampshire.”

Ending gun violence in our communities is a pilar of Shea-Porter’s campaign.  She has already received the endorsement from Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Gun Solutions, for her commitment to “stand against the Washington gun lobby.”

Today, the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC, America’s only LGBTQ organization focused solely on gun violence prevention, announced its endorsement of Carol Shea-Porter, Tammy Duckworth for U.S. Senate, and 15 House candidates. 

“We support these candidates because of their demonstrated commitment to support equality and safety for all, and for their commitment to acting on common sense gun reforms,” said Jason Lindsay, founder and Executive Director of Pride Fund. “We need elected officials who will stand up for people – not for the profits of the corporate gun manufacturers.” 

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. This organization is committed to mobilizing the LGBTQ community and allies to help eliminate senseless gun tragedies and hate crimes, and I am proud to stand with them. We need to work together to pass common-sense legislation that reduces gun violence while protecting our Second Amendment rights, so that massacres like the Pulse night club shooting never happen again,” said Carol Shea-Porter.

With this election, we have an opportunity to reclaim our communities from the threat of gun violence. Pride Fund is turning anger into action by working to elect candidates who have committed to making our cities, our states, and our country safer for everyone.  

Pride Fund’s endorsed candidates have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ equality during their service in office, in their communities, or in their personal lives. All Pride Fund endorsed candidates have pledged to support the following key issues:

  • Expanding background checks to cover all gun sales
  • Prohibiting suspected terrorists from purchasing guns
  • Restricting access to assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Supporting federally funded research on gun violence
  • Preventing individuals convicted of committing hate crimes from purchasing guns

In the House, Pride Fund endorses Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Terri Bonoff (MN-03), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Eliot Engel (NY-16), Bill Foster (IL-11), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Sander Levin (MI-09), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), John Sarbanes (MD-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Carol Shea Porter (NH-01), Adam Smith (WA-09), and Brady Walkinshaw (WA-07). 

Pride Fund to End Gun Violence is a political action committee organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect pro-LGBTQ candidates who support sensible gun reforms. Pride Fund is America’s only LGBTQ organization solely focused on gun policy reform to ensure safety for all.

UFCW President Perrone: “We Will End LGBTQ Discrimination in the Workplace”

UFCW_logo.svgUFCW Vows to Fight for LGBTQ Rights at Work and Advocate for Comprehensive Healthcare for Transgendered Workers

ORLANDO — Today, Marc Perrone, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), the largest private sector union in the nation, addressed LGBTQ union members at the AFL-CIO Pride at Work conference in Orlando, Fla. The UFCW was the first labor union to endorse the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would prohibit discrimination in hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The UFCW also implemented a policy of including gender reassignment surgery as part of a comprehensive Health and Welfare plan for union employees:

“Even though we are celebrating marriage equality this summer, too many LGBTQ workers still endure discrimination in workplaces that are far from equal. Today, in 29 states, it is still legal to fire a worker on the basis of their sexual orientation. In 33 states, a worker can be fired for being transgendered.

“Right now, the only way for these workers to gain the protection at work that we all deserve is through a union contract.

“In this spirit, I am proud to say that as part of our long commitment to equality for all workers, the UFCW is changing our Health and Welfare plan to include gender reassignment surgery. While this is a change that should have been made long ago, it is a change that I am proud of.

“The UFCW is committed to putting an end to discrimination in the workplace. We will stand up, speak out and fight for what is right when companies disregard the value of hard-working men and women, based on whom they may love or who they are.”

Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

We are 1.3 million families standing together to build an economy that every hard-working family deserves.

www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational   @UFCW

Love Is Love: Supreme Court Hears Case That Could End Laws Banning Marriage Equality, GOP Continues To Oppose Equality

Image by Purple Sherbet Photography FLICKR

Image by Purple Sherbet Photography FLICKR

Like many of you, I have a close family member who is gay, my cousin Mark. I remember talking to him on the phone when we were both in college and he told me he was gay. Mark being gay has never been an issue to me or to most of my family.

I remember visiting Mark and meeting his partner Austin for the first time in California in summer of 2006. They were so happy together, living in San Francisco, and just enjoying their life together.   After being together for over five years, they were officially married in Massachusetts in 2008.

In 2010, Mark and Austin were given the opportunity to adopt to amazing boys, saving them from a broken home and a life in the foster care system. Mark and Austin are great parents and have helped their two boys grow up in a loving and caring household.

This is what a marriage is, true love between two people. Their love has built a strong family bond with their adopted sons. Above all else, love is love.

There is no doubt that I am a strong and outspoken supporter of marriage equality and the LGBT community. Last year I wrote a piece about how the labor movement helped to propel the equality movement. Unions were the first to push for benefits that would apply to gay and lesbian couples, and have been pushing for equality ever since.

Of course I would be remiss if I did not mention the fact that legally, marriage is a contract between two people that triggers hundreds of spousal benefits. Benefits like being allowed to be on your spouse’s insurance plan, making healthcare decisions for your spouse in an emergency or collecting retirement benefits after a spouse passes away.

These are just a few of the simple benefits that married couples never think about, but those who are prohibited from a legal marriage, because the state does not recognize their union, must continue to fight for.

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court heard the case of Obergefell v. Hodges that could put an end to laws prohibiting marriage for lesbian and gay couples. This case is being touted the case that would force all states to adopt and recognize marriage equality.

“In America, every citizen has an inalienable right to equal protection under the law, and no one should be discriminated against simply because of whom they love,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH-02). “Today, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on four cases that will help determine whether same-sex couples will be treated fairly in the eyes of the law. It’s time to uphold our American ideals for every citizen, and repeal discriminatory policies that prohibit some of our fellow country-men and women from accessing one of their rights as citizens of this country – the right to marry. I urge the Supreme Court to rule on the side of justice and equality for all, so we can ensure that every American, regardless of their sexual orientation, has that same legal right in every state across the country.”

“Far too many same-sex couples have lost out on the benefits granted through legal marriage. But if we continue to discriminate and refuse the right to marry to all same-sex couples, no matter what state they reside in, we are doing something much worse. We are telling millions that their love is invalid. That is not what our nation is about,” stated Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA-41), one of only seven openly gay Members of Congress.

“By ruling in favor of marriage equality, the Justices would confirm what millions already know – that a person’s gender or sexual orientation does not matter when it comes to marriage. All that matters is what is in one’s heart. However, I encourage them to go one step further and do as Supreme Court Justices of years past have done in landmark cases, and return with a unanimous decision. Doing so would not only keep the court on the right side of history, but it would help it maintain its legitimacy in the eyes of the American people,” concluded Takano.

It will be a few months before we hear what the Supreme Court has to say about this case, but until then we can only look at what our elected leaders are saying about marriage equality.

New Hampshire was a leader in the fight for marriage equality. Our legislature was the first to pass an equal marriage law. The fight for marriage equality was not easy. Wining over the hearts and mind of a large section of the population take time and dedication.

Now marriage equality is supported by over seventy-five percent of Granite Staters. This overwhelming support for marriage equality could play a role in choosing the next President of the United States.

There are currently between 18-23 potential Republicans all gunning for the chance to be the next GOP Presidential nominee. Where do they stand on marriage equality?

Just take a look at some the GOP’s opinions on the subject:

  • Rand Paul – same-sex unions marriages “offends myself and a lot of people”
  • Jeb Bush – “I believe in traditional marriage”
  • Bobby Jindal – “I’m holding firm against gay marriage”
  • Marco Rubio – “I believe marriage is between one man and one woman”
  • Chris Christie – “I am not a fan of same-sex marriage”
  • Scott Walker – “Our state passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman. I voted for it.”

“As the Supreme Court hears arguments for marriage equality today, the New Hampshire Democratic Party is proud to stand with ALL New Hampshire families because love is love,” said Ray Buckley, Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “Granite Staters overwhelmingly support marriage equality, but the Republican candidates for President continue to stand on the side of discrimination. Their disgraceful attempts to pull us backwards won’t be successful in New Hampshire – it’s time they dropped their campaign against progress.”

These hopefuls will be leading the Republican Party nationally for the next year-and-a-half until the 2016 elections. If any of these men win, they would undoubtedly do everything within their power to reverse gains made by the equality movement.

I for one am determined, not to let that happen.

Dept Of Justice Report Reveals Severe Inequalities In Federal Benefits For Same Sex Military Couples

Underscores need for legislation to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples

Gay Couple from back Holding HandsU.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reacted with disappointment today to a Department of Justice announcement that declared that some federal agencies have been unable to extend benefits to same-sex couples in spite of last year’s Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), further underscoring the need to pass her Charlie Morgan Act. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one department that because of current law is unable to grant important benefits to same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize such marriages even if they are legally married in another state. This has created a situation in which veterans who have volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces are discriminated against and can be denied benefits based simply on geography.

“In the year since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act we’ve seen significant progress toward ending discrimination in federal policy on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity but more work remains,” Shaheen said. “Today’s announcement underscores the need for legislative action. It is unconscionable that same-sex couples in half the country are denied services extended to all couples in the other half and we cannot allow this to continue, particularly for our veterans who have already sacrificed so much for our country. We need to pass the Charlie Morgan Act because all veterans deserve access to the benefits they have earned.”

“Every legally married, same-sex couple deserves to have their marriage fully recognized by the federal government regardless of where they live or what federal benefits they have earned,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign. “Senator Jeanne Shaheen didn’t wait while VA was deciding whether they would act to ensure our veterans marriages are respected by their country—she took the lead in introducing legislation to guarantee them the benefits they earned. With Senator Shaheen leading the fight, soon every citizen will be treated equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act would require the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to honor any marriage that has been recognized by a state and provide a number of key benefits to the spouses of all servicemembers. By allowing for an individual to be considered a “spouse” if their marriage is valid in their state, Shaheen’s bill ensures that same-sex military families receive many of the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples regardless of where they live.

Shaheen’s amendment honors New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan who passed away last year after a battle with breast cancer. Morgan’s wife and daughter have not been able to receive certain survivor benefits due to restrictions in the federal code prohibiting the VA from administering benefits.

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