Thursday, October 15, 2009

Recent Sex Legislation

Since I know many people in our class may pay attention to national politics from time to time, I wanted to bring up a couple pieces of recent legislation that have much to do with what a lot of us are interested with in this class. One piece of legislation deals with sexual victims cases, the other deals with the inclusion of protections for sexual orientation and gender identification in hate crimes legislation.

In the recent Senate Defense Appropriations Bill, Senator Al Franken (D - MN) introduced an amendment that aims to punish government-hired private contractors who attempt to keep their employees from bringing workplace sexual assault, battery or discrimination cases to court. This comes in the light of the case of Jones vs. Halliburton/KBR, To read more about this go here:
Jones was an employee for Halliburton in Baghdad, when she was gang-raped by co-workers and put in a shipping container for 3 days without food, water or bed, and in attempt to cover up the incident, the company told her she would be out of work if she not only talked but if she merely sought medical treatment outside of Iraq. Halliburton/KBR claims a mandatory arbitration clause in her employee contract, which would keep employees from seeking justice, just what Franken's amendment intends to end.
The amendment passed, which is great news. We would assume such a decent measure would gain unanimous support, for it does aim (in addition to helping workplace victims) to make government more efficient and less costly and to hold companies and individuals accountable, just for starters, these are respectable bipartisan aims.

The amendment passed 68-30; unsurprisingly no female senators voted against the amendment, nor did any Democrat senator vote against the amendment. You may see where I am going with this. Not to get too partisan, but it is noteworthy to point out one legislator, Senator Jeff Sessions (R - AL), criticized the amendment saying it was a politically driven attack against Halliburton (a company that the previous administration was highly involved with). The amendment does not point out any single company, and intends to apply the law to all companies that the government may do business with.
This is a classic case of putting politics over people.
Unfortunately, this is what our national leadership comes to a lot of the time. Politics, pure and simple. This issue is not a partisan issue at all, as there was support from 9 Republican senators. It is not, and should not be a matter of political ideology, and what we may infer from these observations is an underlying attitude towards women. This is not to make a representation of all males, or of all Republicans; in the very least though it could be argued that such held attitudes are representative of the establish male Republican leadership. What can be said of a group (in this case, male Politicians) that holds the continued operation of such a company that would try to silence their employees in such ways above the rights of those employees, above the harm that has been done?

For the next issue, I apologize, I was going to write about the other piece of legislation protecting sexual orientation and gender identification under hate crimes law. I was working on this whole post much earlier in the day when a school computer froze up on me before I could save anything (had to look up everything again and start from scratch). I will continue the rest of the discussion on these topics and further conclusions tomorrow, as replies to this post.

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