Unfinished Business

Civil Rights News: Violence Against Women, DADT Settlement, Illegal Bank Foreclosures

GOP House’s Inaction on VAWA Shows Bigotry
Ilyse Hogue (opinion)

House Republicans continue to stall reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act despite its comfortable passage in the Senate last spring. The Senate bill protections for immigrants, LGBT women, and other vulnerable populations, while needed, run counter to the House GOP political agenda. As Ilyse Hogue writes:

“These reforms seem like no-brainers in the face of so many brutalized women. But not to a House GOP caucus that is scoring political points off the pain of people reviled by the extreme GOP base. It seems that sanctioning an underclass of women who live in fear is a small price to pay for approval ratings at home.”

Public outrage toward other countries like India and Pakistan regarding violence against women emphasizes the need to look at our own country’s practices. With increased lobbying by organizations like Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), the hope is that the GOP will respond to pressure and prioritize the safety of women over party politics.

Deal Restores Severance Pay to Military Gays
Associated Press
Boston Globe

In the wake of the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” discriminatory practices against soldiers from the LGBT community have come increasingly under fire. For openly gay soldiers who were denied half of their severance pay when discharged due to their sexual orientation, a $2.4 million settlement provides what a spokesperson for the ACLU calls “long-delayed justice.” The original case was filed on behalf of an air force sergeant discharged in 2006, and covers about 180 other service members.

Another Slap on the Wrist for Big Banks
New York Times

With the failure of banks to investigate their illegal foreclosure practices, they are now required to provide aid to borrowers. Cash payments have been allocated to those who lost their homes, and loan assistance will be provided to consumers at risk of foreclosure, but little organization exists to identify wronged borrowers or ensure aid to the right people. As the New York Times editorialized:

“For the new settlement to have any credibility, regulators must appoint an independent monitor with full authority to oversee, analyze and publicly report on the deal’s enforcement.
In the meantime, the only hope for lasting change rests with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is expected to issue new rules shortly to rein in the risky and abusive mortgage practices of banks.”

“A slap on the wrist” has previously been common practice, but increased regulation can help to prevent mistakes of the past and protect at risk consumers.

Compiled by Emily Van Dusen, a Spring 2013 Education Fund Intern