Summer 2015

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56 CINEMONTAGE / SUMMER 2015 compiled by Jeff Burman L ate June saw a flurry of intense activity in Washington, DC. The Supreme Court broadened the protections of housing discrimination law, approved federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) and, in a historic ruling, recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry under the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In a setback for organized labor, however, the massive trade agreement known as the Trans- Pacific Partnership lurched forward, as a so-called Fast Track approval process — at first soundly defeated by the House of Representatives — was then revisited and passed. The high Court delivered a major win for housing protection, ruling that discrimination does not have to be intentional in order to be illegal. ObamaCare survived "objectively ludicrous but nonetheless menacing attempts at legal sabotage," writes Paul Krugman in The New York Times. ObamaCare is not only well established, but doing better than many had thought it would, adds Krugman. While 1.8 million people who bought their insurance on federal exchanges live in counties that voted for President Obama, 4.5 million live in counties that voted for Romney, writes Leo Gerrard in In These Times. In a historic decision on gay rights, the Court swept aside restrictions on same-sex marriage. Praising the decision, President Obama called it "justice that arrives like a thunderbolt." Legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky wrote that the rights of minorities should not "be left to the political process for protection." IATSE president Matt Loeb said the decision is "a victory for civil rights, and therefore human rights and worker rights. It is a truly historic moment." The Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership can now only be approved or denied by Congress. "Fast Track" was advanced by a single vote: 60-38 in the US Senate. California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) cast her vote in favor of the trade bill. LA BOOSTS MINIMUM WAGE The Los Angeles City Council raised the city's minimum wage to $15 an hour in June, effective in 2020 and indexed to inflation. The ordinance boosts the current $9 an hour base wage for as many as 800,000 workers and makes LA the largest American city to adopt such a bold minimum wage increase, write Peter Jamison, David Zahniser and Alice Walton in The Los Angeles Times. Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle have already approved similar laws. "Make no mistake," said Councilman Paul Krekorian, who played a prominent role in shaping the wage increase, "today the city of Los Angeles, the second-biggest city in the nation, is leading the nation." The first wage boost to $10.50 an hour would take effect in July 2016. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, an umbrella group of local unions, stirred a controversy by asking that some union workers be exempted from the higher wage requirement, saying, "Such a provision would give business owners flexibility to offer more generous health insurance packages." The County Fed also wanted to be sure there was no conflict between federal labor laws and local wage ordinances, writes Jennifer Medina in The New York Times. For example, the exemption would allow nonprofit groups that hire former gang members to pay less than $15 an hour. Rusty Hicks, head of the County Fed, said that he had always assumed LABOR MAT TERS The Supremes: Stop! In the Name of Love

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