by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Washington's senior US senator, Patty Murray, spent a whirlwind Pride month, promoting three signature pieces of legislation and meeting with LGBT constituents in Seattle.
On June 28, Murray was in Seattle for a roundtable discussion on her BE HEARD Act, a measure that would help protect LGBT workers.
Joining the senator for the discussion - held at Repair Revolution auto repair in Seattle - were GSBA CEO Louise Chernin, QLaw Foundation executive director Denise Diskin, Repair Revolution owner Eli Allison, Minority Veterans of America's Lindsay Church, Seattle-King County NAACP's DeAunte Damper, and Tobi Hill-Meyer, co-executive director of the Gender Justice League.
'No matter who you are or where you work - whether you are the only woman on the board, or a janitor, or farm worker - you should be treated fairly, respectfully, and with dignity. This should be true no matter your gender or race, your religion or sexual orientation or age, and regardless of whether you have a disability or are a veteran,' Murray said in a statement about the bill.
'For far too long and for far too many people in our country, this hasn't been true. So today, I'm proud to be standing up to fight for change and make clear that time is up.'
The BE HEARD Act will:
" Strengthen understanding of workplace harassment and help businesses prevent it: The BE HEARD Act invests in research about the economic impact of workplace harassment, requires regular reporting on the prevalence of workplace harassment, and ensures that workers have access to more information and training about what constitutes harassment and their rights if they are harassed.
" Help ensure transparency: The BE HEARD Act puts an end to mandatory arbitration and pre-employment nondisclosure agreements, which prevent workers from coming forward and holding perpetrators and businesses accountable.
" Broaden and expand civil rights protections to all workers: The BE HEARD Act builds on and strengthens existing civil rights laws by expanding protections for workers, while also safeguarding existing antidiscrimination laws and protections. It strengthens civil rights protections for all workers and makes clear that the Civil Rights Act protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the context of workplace discrimination. It also ensures that no matter where you work - and whether you are an independent contractor or an intern - your rights are protected.
" Empower workers who come forward with reports of harassment or retaliation to ensure they get support: The BE HEARD Act allows workers more time to report harassment, authorizes grants to support legal assistance for workers who have low incomes, invests in delivering more resources to the state level to help workers ensure that their rights are protected, and lifts the cap on damages when workers pursue legal action and win their cases.
" Eliminate the tipped wage: The BE HEARD Act eliminates the tipped minimum wage, because tipped workers are disproportionately vulnerable to sexual harassment and discrimination by both clients and supervisors.
In addition to Sen. Murray, the Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
The House bill is being introduced by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA-5), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Elissa Slotkin (D-MI-8), and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26).
Ban on conversion therapy
Sen. Murray also reintroduced legislation to ban conversion therapy, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act.
Eighteen states, including Washington state, and the District of Columbia have already banned conversion therapy. Murray's legislation would have federal government follow suit.
'This year - as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall protests that sparked the modern movement for LGBTQ equality - I am proud to stand here on the floor of the United States Senate as an unapologetic ally of this vibrant community,' Murray said in a June 27 Senate speech.
'In 2019, we know that being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community isn't an affliction, a disease, or some chronic condition requiring medical treatment but, rather the politicians who say it is are on the wrong side of history.'
Taking on harassment
In May, Murray also reintroduced her Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which would require colleges and universities to establish policies to prohibit harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity), disability, or religion.
'No student should have to put their well-being, their safety, or their life in jeopardy just to access an education, but sadly we're seeing students around the country take drastic measures because of bullying and harassment,' Murray said.
'In introducing this legislation, I'm calling on colleges and universities to step up and start taking responsibility for students' safety, and I'm so thankful for the support and partnership of advocates like Jane Clementi, who is fighting to ensure every student - no matter who they are, what they believe, or who they love - can pursue higher education free from discrimination, harassment, or bullying.'
The measure is named after Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide after being harassed by his college roommate.
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