National: LGBT bill in Congress; trans soldiers; blood ban

Published: December 17, 2014

Andrew Davis
Original Article:

 Jeff Merkley formally announced his intention to introduce a comprehensive LGBT-rights bill in the next Congress, according to Metro Weekly. During remarks at the Center for American Progress, the Oregon Democrat said he will spearhead efforts to pass federal legislation that would protect LGBT people in nearly every aspect of life, including employment, housing, public accommodations, housing and credit. Merkley said that while the Senate’s passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November 2013 by a 64-32 vote after the bill failed by one vote in 1996 was a "tremendous victory," he reasoned that if discrimination is wrong in employment, it also must be wrong in areas such as housing, public accommodations and financial transactions.

Now that the U.S. military has opened more jobs to women and allowed gay men and lesbians to serve openly, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said the ban on transgender troops is likely to be reassessed and should be lifted, according to USA Today. "Times change," she told Capital Download, saying the policy "is likely to come under review in the next year or so." In a wide-ranging interview at the Pentagon, James also described progress in the bombing campaign against the radical group Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, and said the U.S.-led military coalition has gotten help from an unlikely source: Iran.

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin ( D-Wis. ), Elizabeth Warren ( D-Mass. ), and Tom Harkin ( D-Iowa ), and Representatives Mike Quigley ( D-Ill. ) and Barbara Lee ( D-Calif. ), led a letter with 75 of their congressional colleagues calling on Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell to replace the o lifetime ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men ( MSM ), according to a press release. The legislators expressed deep concerns with the recent recommendations made by the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood & Tissue Safety & Availability ( ACBTSA ).

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