Democrats Bent the Universe Toward Justice Last Week
Hopes of getting an increase to the piteously low federal minimum wage were dealt a serious blow last week when the Senate’s Parliamentarian ruled that it couldn’t be included in the massive COVID-19 relief package now moving through Congress.
The announcement was widely expected, and the ruling from the strenuously nonpartisan arbiter threw a major roadblock into Congressional Democrats’ path to raising the current federal minimum from $7.25 an hour, where it has sat since 2009, to $15 an hour by 2025.
But if there is a ray of hope here, it’s that it now feels like a matter of when, not if, the government will move to lift millions of Americans out of poverty.
And it was one of two developments on Capitol Hill that signaled that, after a four-year pause, the United States is back on the path toward living up to the promise of equality and justice for all.
That other development was the House’s vote last Thursday approving a sweeping LGBTQ rights bill, known as the Equality Act. The legislation bans sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination across a variety of arenas, including employment, housing, education, public accommodation, credit, and jury service.
The need for that embedded protection was driven home, ironically enough, not in an employment law case in a state court, but in the halls of the Capitol during a pair of incidents.
During a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, President Joe Biden’s pick for the No. 2 position at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rachel Levine, of Pennsylvania, endured a transphobic rant at the hands of Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
Paul, an ophthalmologist, tried to draw a pernicious equivalency between female gender mutilation and gender affirmation surgery for transgender youth. If she’s confirmed, Levine would be the highest-ranking openly transgender official in the federal government.
Meanwhile, fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was blasted after she hung an offensive sign outside her office to mocking a colleague who had displayed a transgender flag outside her office in support of her transgender daughter, and to protest Greene’s opposition to the Equality Act. Greene’s sign read, “There are two genders: Male & Female. Trust the science.”
Greene’s assertion, by the way, flies in the face of current scientific assumptions about gender.