Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 24-26, 2013 The Star: Governor Presses House for Vote on Job Rights For Gays

May 24-26, 2013 The Star
Governor Presses House for Vote on Job Rights For Gays

n an unusual move, Gov. Alejandro García Padilla met with
the House majority Thursday to
pressure them into voting for a bill
that would ban job discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation.
García Padilla said at a news
conference that Senate Bill 238 had
the votes for approval after amendments were made to clarify that the
bill had nothing to do with samesex marriage.
“I would have signed it as it
was passed by the Senate, but it
has suffered amendments and both
presidents have offered guarantees
that the government platform will
be respected,” the governor said.
While neither Senate Bill 238
nor House Bill 488, which would
extend domestic violence protections to all kinds of couples, were
in the session’s calendar, legal advisers and legislative sources assured reporters that the bills were expected to go to a vote in Thursday’s
session. However, as of press time
at 6:30 p.m., the session had not
started and offi cials had not made
the announcement that the bills
were going to go for a vote.
House Alternate Minority Leader Carlos Méndez said that except
for House Minority Leader Jenniffer González, the New Progressive
Party (NPP) delegation was going
to oppose the bills.
Early in the day he had urged
the majority to fi le a substitute bill
similar to one approved a year ago
by the then NPP-controlled House
that was more specifi c about job
discrimination against gays. Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep.
Luis Vega Ramos reiterated remarks he made to the Star on Wednesday in that he would amend the
supremacy clause in Senate Bill 238
to appease religious sectors that
said the clause will pave the way
for same-sex marriage.
The supremacy clause states
that any laws or rules that are inconsistent with the proposed bill
must be amended or repealed.
García Padilla, who met with
the majority senators after his meeting with the representatives, said
he believed the clarifi cation was
not really needed because the supremacy clause could not be interpreted as leading to same-sex marriage.
“Some lawmakers wanted the
language to be clarifi ed,” he said.
Regarding House Bill 488,
Vega Ramos had told the Star that
he had amended it so that Law 54
protections can cover all kinds of
people regardless of whether they
are part of a couple or not.
Senate Bill 238 was approved
last week by the upper chamber,
but House Bill 488 still has to go to
a vote in both chambers.
Ten PDP representatives had
opposed the gay rights bill. They
were Brenda López, Víctor Vassallo, Narden Jaime, Lydia Méndez,
Javier Aponte, José Rodríguez,
Luis Raúl Torres, César Hernández, Armando Franco and Roberto
Senate President Eduardo
Bhatia said the upper chamber was
going to concur with the amendments.
Lawmakers also discussed
with the governor the proposed
budget and legislative reforms.

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