Under current law, in every state in the union, it is illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. That, however, is the floor -- some areas choose to go further.
Irin Carmon recently reported
on a new policy in the nation's capital, where policymakers approved a bold new law -- the "D.C. Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act" -- which adds "reproductive decision-making to anti-discrimination provisions."
So, for example, an employee in D.C. cannot be fired for being on birth control, using in vitro fertilization, exercising her right to terminate a pregnancy, or getting pregnant outside of marriage. Those are private matters, the D.C. law says, which cannot serve as the basis for a dismissal.
As it turns out, this quickly became the latest twist in the right-to-discriminate debate, and Roll Call reported
late last week on congressional Republicans intervening in city law.
In a largely symbolic move, the House voted mostly down party lines late Thursday night to block a District of Columbia bill that D.C. officials say would combat workplace discrimination. A corps of mainly Republicans passed a joint resolution of disapproval 228-192.... Conservatives argued the act could force employers to violate their religious beliefs.
It was, the article noted, the "first time in nearly 25 years the entire House voted to block a D.C. law."
push from House GOP lawmakers didn't change city policy -- the Senate chose not to act on the matter -- and the local law took effect over the weekend.
But as it turns out, there's a presidential angle to this.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) took it upon himself to go after the D.C. anti-discrimination policy, issuing this
press release on Friday.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, released the following statement urging Congress to formally disapprove of the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act (RHNDA) and the Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA) recently passed by the District of Columbia in order to protect First Amendment rights for D.C. citizens. "The D.C. Council has proposed two measures that trample the very rights the First Amendment was designed to protect - the right of citizens to freely practice their faith," Sen. Cruz said. "The Constitution gives Congress the authority to exercise jurisdiction over the District of Columbia 'in all cases whatsoever.' And both the House and Senate have a constitutional duty to protect citizens' religious liberty, as enshrined in the First Amendment.
The Senate GOP leadership ignored Cruz's cries, but Roll Call reported
this week that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) "appears to support the effort to block the law."
In other words, two Republican presidential candidates apparently believe employers should be able to fire workers if bosses don't like employees' personal reproductive-health decisions. One of the two candidates is ostensibly from the GOP's libertarian wing.
This strikes me as a great litmus-test issue for the rest of the Republicans' 2016 field. How about it, candidates? Should Americans lose their jobs if their employers disapprove of their reproductive choices?