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Analysis: Senate Considers Bill Protecting Civil Rights For Same Sex Couples

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Differing stances on same-sex marriage at the state level mean gay people in the Washington region have different rights depending on whether they live north or south of the Potomac. In Maryland and D.C., gay couples can now marry, while in Virginia they can't. But legislation moving through the U.S. Senate could mean gay people would have the same civil rights protections no matter where they reside. The bill would protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And while it's failed to make headway in Congress in the past, it appears this time around its prospects could be better. David Hawkings, writer of the Hawkings Here column for Roll Call, has more of the details.

On why this bill could get the support it needs to pass the Senate:

"This is about discrimination in the workplace. This would make it illegal to hire, fire, promote, to alter compensation on someone based on their sexual orientation. And there are actually a lot of companies now that are in favor of this nationwide. NIKE is one that comes to mind. And it has sort of becomes the thing for Congress to do to promote sexual identity equality."

On when we can expect a vote:

"Looks like it's coming up early November. The sponsors of the bill have said that they would not ask for floor time until they were confident of getting that filibuster proof majority. Those of us who are looking at the votes one-by-one can't quite count to 60 yet, but apparently they're confident they've got it."

On the Obama administration asking states to take back any unemployment payments made to federal employees who were furloughed during the partial government shutdown:

"It was not about federal employees in our area. There were apparently about 42,000 [federal employees] is what I come to understand. Furloughed federal employees in the District and Maryland who asked for federal compensation — Maryland, D.C. and Virginia are quire clear that you would have to give that money back. But there are some states around the country that have not done this. Oregon is one that comes to mind, where they've essentially told furloughed federal employees that they can keep their unemployment insurance, and that has ticked off some conservative Republicans, and some Democrats, too, because they're also getting back pay, so this would be classic double dipping... and this is not what unemployment insurance was designed to do. It was designed to help people who were really out of work."

Listen to the full analysis here.

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