Mark Kirk on Civil Rights
Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (IL-10)
"Our time on this earth is limited, I know that better than most," continued Kirk, who returned to the Senate earlier this year after a lengthy absence to recover from a stroke. "Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back-- government has no place in the middle."
The Human Rights Campaign, a pro-same-sex marriage group, praised the announcement. "Sen. Kirk has shown tremendous leadership in announcing support for marriage equality. Democrat or Republican, there can simply be no excuse for standing on the wrong side of history when it comes to this basic question of justice." Kirk joins Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who switched positions in March, as the only sitting Republican senators to support gay marriage.
Opponent's Argument for voting No (The Week; Huffington Post, and The Atlantic): House Republicans had objected to provisions in the Senate bill that extended VAWA's protections to lesbians, gays, immigrants, and Native Americans. For example, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH) voted against the VAWA bill because it was a "politically–motivated, constitutionally-dubious Senate version bent on dividing women into categories by race, transgender politics and sexual preference." The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas--that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a "feminist" attack on family values. The act's grants have encouraged states to implement "mandatory-arrest" policies, under which police responding to domestic-violence calls are required to make an arrest. These policies were intended to combat the too-common situation in which a victim is intimidated into recanting an abuse accusation. Critics also say VAWA has been subject to waste, fraud, and abuse because of insufficient oversight.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. CASTOR: The march towards equality under the law for all of our citizens has sometimes been slow, but it has been steady. Over time, Congress has outlawed discrimination in the workplace, based upon a person's race, gender, age, national origin, religion and disability, because when it comes to employment, these decisions are rightly based upon a person's qualifications and job performance. This legislation that outlaws job discrimination based upon sexual orientation was first introduced over 30 years ago. A broad coalition of businesses and community organizations strongly support this landmark civil rights legislation, including the Human Rights Campaign; the Anti-Defamation League; and the NAACP.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. HASTINGS: Federal law bans job discrimination based on race, color, national origin, or gender. In addition, 19 States have passed laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. I strongly oppose discrimination in the workplace. However, I do not think it is the place of the Federal Government to legislate how each and every workplace operates. A number of States have enacted State laws in this area. That is their right. Many businesses have chosen to adopt their own policies. That is appropriate as well. This bill as written would expand Federal law into a realm where PERCEPTION would be a measure under discrimination law [which I consider inappropriate].
Proponents support voting YES because:
The overwhelming majority of the American people support traditional marriage, marriage between a man and a woman. The people have a right to know whether their elected Representatives agree with them about protecting traditional marriage.
Every child deserves both a father and a mother. Studies demonstrate the utmost importance of the presence of a child's biological parents in a child's happiness, health and future achievements. If we chip away at the institution which binds these parents and the family together, the institution of marriage, you begin to chip away at the future success of that child.
Opponents support voting NO because:
This amendment does not belong in our Constitution. It is unworthy of our great Nation. We have amended the Constitution only 27 times. Constitutional amendments have always been used to enhance and expand the rights of citizens, not to restrict them. Now we are being asked to amend the Constitution again, to single out a single group and to say to them for all time, you cannot even attempt to win the right to marry.
From what precisely would this amendment protect marriage? From divorce? From adultery? No. Evidently, the threat to marriage is the fact that there are millions of people in this country who very much believe in marriage, who very much want to marry but who are not permitted to marry. I believe firmly that in the not-too-distant future people will look back on these debates with the incredulity with which we now view the segregationist debates of years past.
Supports granting Congress power to prohibit the physical desecration of the U.S. flag. Proposes an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
H.R. 914/S. 872 the ADA Notification Act.
Republican Main Street Partnership Congressman Mark Foley (FL) introduced this legislation to protect the Americans with Disabilities Act from a growing number of lawyers who are generating huge sums in legal fees for pointing out accessibility violations by business when often simple fixes would bring properties into compliance with the ADA's accessibility standards. This variety of litigation abuse stems from the lack of any notification provision in the ADA. RMSP supports a 90-day delay between notification of an alleged accessibility violation and any legal proceedings. This notification will allow honest business owners to become ADA compliant without added legal expense while freeing up the courts to pursue legal action against bad players.
H.R. 2341/S. 1712 Class Action Fairness Act.
Class Action suits, most often claiming product defects, have increasingly become fertile ground for unscrupulous trial attorneys. Using jurisdictional loopholes, trial lawyers are suing for enormous sums with little or no payout to injured parties. Multi-million dollar interstate lawsuits filed on behalf of irrelevant plaintiffs, often unaware that a claim has been filed, are filed in state courts. This increases the volume of claims filed, and leads to multiple, expensive, settlements. H.R. 2341, supported by Republican Main Street Partnership Reps. Judy Biggert (IL), Tom Davis (VA), Porter Goss (FL), Melissa Hart (PA), George Nethercutt (WA), and Rob Simmons (CT), eases the burden of addressing interstate claims in federal court. At the federal level, courts have greater resources and uniform rules. This provides a more appropriate venue for such cases and protects legitimate claimants ability to recover losses.
Our ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
EXCERPTS OF RESOLUTION:
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 HRC scores as follows:
The Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where GLBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
Ever since its founding in 1980, HRC has led the way in promoting fairness for GLBT Americans. HRC is a bipartisan organization that works to advance equality based on sexual orientation and gender expression and identity.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2005-2006 NAACP scores as follows:
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has worked over the years to support and promote our country's civil rights agenda. Since its founding in 1909, the NAACP has worked tirelessly to end racial discrimination while also ensuring the political, social, and economic equality of all people. The Association will continue this mission through its policy initiatives and advocacy programs at the local, state, and national levels. From the ballot box to the classroom, the dedicated workers, organizers, and leaders who forged this great organization and maintain its status as a champion of social justice, fought long and hard to ensure that the voices of African Americans would be heard. For nearly one hundred years, it has been the talent and tenacity of NAACP members that has saved lives and changed many negative aspects of American society.
Prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity by covered entities (employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or joint labor-management committees). Prohibits preferential treatment or quotas. Allows only disparate treatment claims. Prohibits related retaliation.
"Despite passage of the Equal Pay Act & the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, discrimination against women continues to permeate the workforce and many areas of the economy. Today, women earn about 77 cents for each dollar earned by men, and the gap is even greater for women of color. More than 60% of working women are still clustered in a narrow range of traditionally female, traditionally low-paying occupations, and female-headed households continue to dominate the bottom rungs of the economic ladder.
"A stronger effort is clearly needed to finally live up to our commitment of full equality. The ERA alone cannot remedy all discrimination, but it will clearly strengthen the ongoing efforts of women across the country to obtain equal treatment.
"We know from the failed ratification experiences of the past that amending the Constitution to include the ERA will not be easy to achieve. But the women of America deserve no less."
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Retiring in 2014 election:
Retired as of Jan. 2013:
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Senate Votes (analysis)