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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 11, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 24
National News
Section One
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National News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Senate could consider DADT repeal June 18
The full U.S. Senate could take up repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell ban on open Gays in the military as soon as June 18.

The measure, which is attached to the bill that funds the U.S. military for 2011, has passed a Senate committee and the full House of Representatives, but still could encounter resistance.

"Even with a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority, SLDN and our repeal allies will be closely watching for any crippling amendments offered on the (Senate) floor and a 'motion to strike' that could allow repeal opponents to remove the repeal language from the defense bill," said the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has threatened a filibuster.

At the same time, President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the entire military spending bill because he opposes an item in it unrelated to Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

If Obama vetoed the bill, it would start its journey through Congress anew and could need new votes on amendments to repeal DADT.

If Congress passes DADT repeal and Obama signs it, nothing will happen right away. That's because of language in the bill that delays repeal until three things take place: the Pentagon completes a study by Dec. 1 on how to implement DADT repeal; Obama, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael Mullen certify that the military will not be harmed by implementing DADT repeal in accord with the Pentagon's plans; and 60 additional days pass after the certification.

The earliest that Gay people in the military might be able to safely come out of the closet would be sometime in February of next year.

HRC report: Kaiser Permanente is most Gay-friendly
Kaiser Permanente is America's most Gay-friendly large health-care network, according to a report released June 7 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

But many other providers are about to catch up, HRC said.

On June 1, Kaiser changed its Patients' Bill of Rights to fully protect LGBT patients and their families from discrimination at its 430 medical offices and 36 hospitals.

"These changes ... make Kaiser Permanente the first large health network to have a fully inclusive non-discrimination policy for LGBT people," HRC said. "They are also the first health network to achieve Top Performer status in the HRC Foundation's Healthcare Equality Index."

Kaiser's move comes on the heels of President Barack Obama's April memorandum that directed the Department of Health and Human Services to require hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding - nearly every hospital - to protect visitation and health-care decision-making rights of LGBT people.

HRC said that, at present, "the vast majority of U.S. healthcare facilities don't have fully inclusive policies toward LGBT people, but that sweeping new changes will soon dramatically transform the entire healthcare system."

In addition to the HHS rules, the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies health-care facilities, is adding LGBT-non-discrimination requirements to the accreditation process.

"Together, these developments mean that LGBT health-care equality is going to improve nationwide, in towns big and small, from New York to Mississippi to Utah to San Francisco," HRC said.

"We all know horror stories of loved ones torn apart, already heart-wrenching decisions made even harder, and basic human rights denied," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "Bold action by the president and the Joint Commission mean many of those stories will be a thing of the past."

HRC reviewed a representative sample of 200 of the largest health-care facilities in all 50 states. It found that 93 percent of health-care facilities included in the study do not have fully inclusive policies toward LGBT people, and 42 percent don't include "sexual orientation" in their non-discrimination policy.

The report also noted that Gay people encounter unfair income taxation on employer-provided domestic-partner health benefits and that many health insurance plans do not offer domestic-partner benefits or benefits for Transgender people.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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