Sunday, May 06, 2007

Genetic Discrimination

While Bush has threatened to veto hate crimes legislation that includes protections for LGBT people (along with protections based on race, religion, and country of origin), the Congress and White House are fully behind a bill that protects people from genetic based discrimination:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bill that would prohibit genetic discrimination against people, for instance not hiring or insuring someone predisposed to a given illness, won overwhelming approval in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. The measure, approved by a vote of 420 to 3, now goes to the Senate.

The White House said it supports the bill, which is opposed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a leading business lobby.

The bill was first introduced in Congress 12 years ago. It was approved twice in the Senate by unanimous votes, the last time in 2005, but had never previously cleared the House.

It would ban group health plans and health insurers from denying coverage to a healthy person or charging higher premiums based solely on a genetic predisposition to a disease. It also would prohibit employers from using genetic information in hiring, firing, job placement or promotion decisions.

New York Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter, who sponsored the bill with Illinois Republican Rep. Judy Biggert, said it will eliminate a new form of discrimination and remove people's reluctance to take part in genetic research and testing.

The fundamentalist set howled about hate crimes legislation creating a protected class, minimizing non-hate crimes victims (whatever that means), and promoting the "homosexual agenda."

When the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (introduced to the House on April 24, 2007) becomes larger news, expect recycling of the same talking points.

While fundies definitely aren't behind the genetic non-discrimination bill, it appears that the business leaders of the Chamber of Commerce couldn't get religious-right leaders to mobilize their forces against it. I guess getting people worked up over the big gay threat is easier than selling them on the righteousness of denying a job to someone with a predisposition to sickle cell anemia.