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April 9, 2014 1

Congress Must Follow President Obama’s Lead to Close The Wage Gap

equal-pay-day-signingUpdate — April 9, 2014: The Pay­check Fair­ness Act died again in the Sen­ate.  The Sen­ate voted 53–44 to end debate and bring the bill to the floor for a vote, falling short of the 60 votes needed to over­come a filibuster.

April 8 is Equal Pay Day, mark­ing the num­ber of days the aver­age woman has to work into the new year to earn what a man in an equiv­a­lent job earned in the last cal­en­dar year alone. Nor­mally it’s not a day to cel­e­brate. Instead, it serves as a stark reminder that women in the United States still earn only 77 cents for every dol­lar a man receives.

That fact is morally and socially unac­cept­able.  But it is also eco­nom­i­cally fool­ish: the World Eco­nomic Forum has said that if women’s pay equaled men’s, the U.S. GDP would grow by nine percent.

Yes­ter­day Pres­i­dent Obama signed two direc­tives aimed at clos­ing the wage gap. First, an Exec­u­tive Order pro­hibits fed­eral con­trac­tors from retal­i­at­ing against employ­ees for shar­ing their salary infor­ma­tion with one another, mak­ing it eas­ier for women to dis­cover and address pay­check inequity. And the Pres­i­dent also instructed the Depart­ment of Labor to cre­ate new reg­u­la­tions requir­ing fed­eral con­trac­tors to report salary infor­ma­tion to the gov­ern­ment, expos­ing salary inequities and thereby encour­ag­ing con­trac­tors to close the wage gap voluntarily.

Both pres­i­den­tial actions mir­ror pro­vi­sions of the Pay­check Fair­ness Act, a bill now pend­ing before the Sen­ate which Con­gress has twice con­sid­ered and twice failed to pass. The mea­sure would amend the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which made it unlaw­ful for busi­nesses to pay men and women dif­fer­ent salaries for per­form­ing sub­stan­tially the same work. The Act would give teeth to the ban, mak­ing it ille­gal for com­pa­nies to retal­i­ate against employ­ees for dis­cussing salary dif­fer­ences and open­ing busi­nesses up to civil lia­bil­ity for salary inequity.

The Pay­check Fair­ness Act pro­vides essen­tial enhance­ments to the Lilly Led­bet­ter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  That Act resets the statute of lim­i­ta­tions for fil­ing an equal-pay law­suit every time a female employee receives a pay­check with a dis­crim­i­na­tory wage.  The law was a nar­row response to a dev­as­tat­ing Supreme Court rul­ing, Led­bet­ter v. Good Year Tire & Rub­ber Co., which held that women could only sue within 180 days of receiv­ing the first dis­crim­i­na­tory pay­check.  The Court found, incred­i­bly, that Ms. Led­bet­ter, the plain­tiff in the case, was enti­tled to no relief because she filed a law­suit in 1998 after dis­cov­er­ing the com­pany had been pay­ing her sig­nif­i­cantly less than her male coun­ter­parts since 1979.

Con­gress should fol­low Pres­i­dent Obama’s lead in clos­ing the wage gap and pay­ing women fair and equal salaries.  Hope­fully we will soon think of Equal Pay Day as a relic of the past, and will no longer have to mark a day on the cal­en­dar that demon­strates the fif­teen months it takes the aver­age woman to earn what the aver­age man earns in twelve.

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April 4, 2014 0

Coalition Promotes Expanded Religious Accommodation In The Military

On Jan­u­ary 22, 2014 the Depart­ment of Defense (DoD) pub­lished an updated and revised Instruc­tion 1300.17–Accommodation of Reli­gious Prac­tices Within the Mil­i­tary Ser­vicesThe new guid­ance, which describes pol­icy, pro­ce­dures, and respon­si­bil­i­ties for the accom­mo­da­tion of reli­gious prac­tices in the Armed Forces, was designed “to ensure the pro­tec­tion of rights of con­science of mem­bers of the Armed Forces.”  The updated guid­ance sought to strike the proper bal­ance between mil­i­tary readi­ness and reli­gious free­dom for ser­vice mem­bers.   But it fell short in not pro­vid­ing a suf­fi­cient accom­mo­da­tion for some fun­da­men­tal aspects of minor­ity reli­gious practice.  120407-M-KX613-023.jpg

For exam­ple, the guid­ance lays out a for­mal process so that Jew­ish and Sikh sol­diers may request an accom­mo­da­tion for their required head cov­er­ings (a kip­pah or a tur­ban) and incor­po­rates groom­ing stan­dards that pro­vide a path for approval for beards.   How­ever, each sol­dier must still request an indi­vid­ual, case-by-case accom­mo­da­tion under the guid­ance – a daunt­ing and stress­ful prospect for some, with an uncer­tain out­come.   In the name of “…main­tain­ing uni­form mil­i­tary groom­ing and appear­ance stan­dards,” the effect is to exclude some indi­vid­u­als who would oth­er­wise wel­come the oppor­tu­nity to serve their coun­try in the military.  

In Jan­u­ary, the House Armed Ser­vices Sub­com­mit­tee on Mil­i­tary Per­son­nel held hear­ings on reli­gious accom­mo­da­tions in the mil­i­tary. ADL, the Sikh Coali­tion, and the ACLU, (among oth­ers) raised this issue in their state­ments.  And Holly Holl­man, Gen­eral Coun­sel for the Bap­tist Joint Com­mit­tee on Reli­gious Lib­erty, artic­u­lately described  the del­i­cate bal­anc­ing act fac­ing the mil­i­tary in address­ing reli­gious lib­erty concerns. 

Impor­tantly, more than 100 Mem­bers of Con­gress have weighed in on reli­gious accom­mo­da­tion in the mil­i­tary in a let­ter to the Pen­ta­gon, coor­di­nated by Rep. Joseph Crow­ley (D-NY).   

And this week ADL, the Sikh Coali­tion, and the ACLU coor­di­nated a let­ter to the Pen­ta­gon from an unusu­ally broad coali­tion of twenty-one national groups with real reli­gious lib­erty cre­den­tials and sub­ject mat­ter exper­tise.  The inter­faith coali­tion let­ter stated that the cur­rent guid­ance “need­lessly infringe on the rights of these reli­giously obser­vant ser­vice mem­bers and prospec­tive ser­vice mem­bers” and urged the Pen­ta­gon to fine-tune the Instruc­tion to bet­ter accom­mo­date reli­gious practices. 

The same com­mand struc­ture that pro­vides unique pres­sure to con­form within the mil­i­tary – and poten­tial for inap­pro­pri­ate pros­e­ly­tiz­ing and reli­gious coer­cion – also makes the direct involve­ment of the Pentagon’s lead­er­ship in pro­mot­ing effec­tive, uni­form guid­ance and solu­tions to this prob­lem crit­i­cally important. 

The sig­na­to­ries to the coali­tion let­ter are: 

Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, Amer­i­can Jew­ish Com­mit­tee (AJC). Amer­i­cans United for Sep­a­ra­tion of Church and State, Anti-Defamation League, Bap­tist Joint Com­mit­tee for Reli­gious Lib­erty, Becket Fund for Reli­gious Lib­erty, Chap­lain Alliance for Reli­gious Lib­erty, Chris­t­ian Legal Soci­ety, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Epis­co­pal Church, Forum on the Mil­i­tary Chap­laincy, Gen­eral Con­fer­ence of Seventh-day Adven­tists, Inter­faith Alliance, Mus­lim Advo­cates, National Coun­cil of Jew­ish Women, Sikh Amer­i­can Legal Defense and Edu­ca­tion Fund (SALDEF), Sikh Coali­tion, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Together (SAALT), United Methodist Church, Gen­eral Board of Church and Soci­ety, Union of Ortho­dox Jew­ish Con­gre­ga­tions of Amer­ica, Union for Reform Judaism

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April 3, 2014 0

FAIR Advisory Board Member Does Radio Interview on Anti-Semitic Website

frosty-wooldridge

Frosty Wooldrige

On Tues­day, March 25, Frosty Wooldridge, an anti-immigrant activist and advi­sory board mem­ber for the extreme anti-immigrant group Fed­er­a­tion for Amer­i­can Immi­gra­tion Reform (FAIR), appeared on “The Jeff Rense Pro­gram,” a conspiracy-oriented Inter­net radio show. Rense broad­casts his show on his noto­ri­ously anti-Semitic web­site, which pro­motes a wide vari­ety of con­spir­acy the­o­ries, from UFO reports to sup­posed envi­ron­men­tal threats to alleged Jew­ish con­trol of the world.

The March appear­ance is Wooldridge’s lat­est on the show, with Rense wel­com­ing him back and describ­ing him as a “friend” and “great patriot.” Though Rense and Wooldridge were sched­uled to speak about the issue of grow­ing green­house gasses, both men also voiced anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Early in the pro­gram Rense blamed immi­gra­tion for “the degra­da­tion of the iden­tity of the Amer­i­can peo­ple.” Wooldridge claimed Mus­lims are “destroy­ing” Lon­don and called Bel­gium “Bel­gis­tan.” He also pre­dicted “at some point Detroit is going to go Shariah Law” and said Mus­lims are “lit­er­ally tak­ing over” the state of Michi­gan. Wooldridge also asserted, “There are twenty-two known jihad train­ing camps in America.”

Rense’s web­site con­tains a large archive with hun­dreds of arti­cles penned by Wooldridge. The web­site also con­tains archives for the radio shows of anti-Semite David Duke and extrem­ist Don Black, the founder of Storm­front, the most pop­u­lar Inter­net forum for anti-Semites, neo-Nazis, and other white suprema­cists. The Rense web­site also links to the writ­ings of a num­ber of other anti-Semites such as Ted Pike, founder of the National Prayer Net­work and Holo­caust denier Ernst Zun­del.

Wooldridge, who is also a senior writ­ing fel­low for the Santa Barbara-based anti-immigrant group Cal­i­for­ni­ans for Pop­u­la­tion Sta­bi­liza­tion (CAPS), is the lat­est anti-immigrant fig­ure to appear on  “The Jeff Rense Pro­gram.” Accord­ing to the show’s, archives, Roy Beck, the founder of the anti-immigrant group Num­ber­sUSA and Glenn Spencer, founder of the anti-Hispanic hate group Amer­i­can Bor­der Patrol also appeared on the show in the past.

These are not the only exam­ples of anti-immigrant activists appear­ing on extrem­ist venues. In Decem­ber 2013, David North,  a fel­low with the anti-immigrant group Cen­ter for Immi­gra­tion Stud­ies (CIS) appeared on “The Real­ist Report,” an Inter­net radio show hosted by the vir­u­lent anti-Semite and Holo­caust denier, John Friend.

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