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Supreme Court Slams the Door; Hillary Speaks about LGBT Rights

June 28, 2011

The Supreme Court Slams the Door on working women

In our last newsletter we wrote about the importance of economic empowerment for women and families. But last week the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a huge blow to working families, by siding with Wal-Mart in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes gender discrimination case.

Through this ruling, the Supreme Court blocked the biggest potential class-action lawsuit in history, prohibiting 1.5 million women from filing suit together in gender discrimination charges against Wal-Mart.

The charges were substantial: women earning nearly a quarter less, on average, than men, despite greater average seniority and higher performance ratings; women concentrated in lower-paying hourly jobs and being paid less even when they held the same jobs as men; women receiving raises at a slower rate than men; women waiting longer for promotions and serving in management in proportions dramatically lower than the retailer's competitors.

The Supreme Court determined that evidence of institutional discrimination was insufficient, for the first time putting up a hurdle for groups working together to go to court.

What's next? The women of Wal-Mart will continue their fight for justice. Friends and advocates are now working on how best to counter this decision, like the Paycheck Fairness Act, below. Here are some photos of the rally held at the U.S. Supreme Court last week.

US Supreme Court Rally

Congress: Fair Pay Deserves a Vote

The devastating ruling in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case highlights the importance of The Paycheck Fairness Act, which calls for an end to pay secrecy and sex-based pay discrimination. The bill, reintroduced this year by Senator Barbara Mikulski and Representative Rosa DeLauro, would strengthen the equal pay laws, and help take equal pay from the law books to our checkbooks.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would prohibit punishment of employees who voluntarily share wage information; require gender-based data collection, allow employees to compare their wages to the wages of others who hold their job, even outside the workplace, and strengthen compensation and punitive damages for victims of sex-based wage discrimination.

Think of the impact that The Paycheck Fairness Act would have had on Lilly Ledbetter and the women of Wal-Mart. Let's pass The Paycheck Fairness Act for millions of working women in the U.S.

Click here to contact your representative about The Paycheck Fairness Act.

Stripping Women's Health Services

Just weeks after efforts from the U.S. House of Representatives to defund Planned Parenthood clinics, we saw the same effort spreading to state houses throughout the country. Last month, Indiana was the first to pass a bill that blocks Medicaid patients from being reimbursed for health services at Planned Parenthood clinics.

The impact of this bill is devastating; it prohibits over 20,000 Medicaid patients from seeing their primary health provider - ending coverage of pap smears, cancer screenings and family planning. Due to the cuts, Planned Parenthood of Indiana will be forced to close clinics, especially those in poor, rural areas and lay off thousands of health center employees.

Fortunately, a federal judge in Indiana sided with Planned Parenthood against the defunding law on Friday, blocking its implementation. But Indiana is just the first - these anti-woman bills are cropping up throughout the country. We have seen similar bills in Kansas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Texas.

You can help secure women's health clinics. Click here to find your state reps and tell them that you support Planned Parenthood!

United Nations: Human Rights are Universal

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the first-ever resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity, affirming that human rights are universal. The resolution calls for the first-ever UN report on the challenges and threats that LGBT people face around the globe. We have seen much evidence of this discrimination which results in torture, rape, criminal sanction and killing. Read more about it here.

Secretary Clinton Affirms LGBT Rights

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks on human rights of LGBT individuals and U.S. Foreign Policy at an event co-hosted by the State Department and Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA).

In reference to the UN Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation, she remarked that, "we made it absolutely clear that, so far as the United States is concerned and our foreign policy, and our values - that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights."

Secretary Clinton spoke about the U.S. Department of State's commitment to LGBT rights, saying they have "made the message very consistant and of a high priority: All people's rights and dignity must be protected whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity."

Click here to read or watch the speech.

New York Passes Marriage Equality

Last Friday, the New York state government passed and signed into law a bill extending marriage rights to LGBT individuals. It is the sixth state to do so.

New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said, "No longer will families in New York have to worry about medical decision-making authority, inheritance rights, presumption of parenthood among many other rights and responsibilities. Today true equality is closer than ever."

Hillary Speaks Against Trafficking

Yesterday, Secretary Clinton spoke at the release of the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report, a country-by-country report on human trafficking with rankings and recommendations. She said:

"Trafficking isn't just a problem of human bondage; it fuels the epidemic of gender-based violence in so many places – here in our country and around the world."

"Unfortunately, because of the ease of transportation and the global communications that can reach deep into villages with promises and pictures of what a better life might be, we now see that more human beings are exploited than before. There are as many as 27 million men, women, and children."

Hillary Speaks about Human Trafficking

Click to watch the video.

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LAST WORD

"What these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right. The effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I support them."

- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking about the efforts of Saudi women seeking to repeal the driving ban, June 21, 2011.

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