Blog of Rights

Dena
Sher

Dena is legislative counsel at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. Sher joined the ACLU in 2011, after four years as the the state legislative counsel with Americans United for Separation of Church and State. She worked with legislators, activists, and coalition partners on legislation, policy, and ballot initiatives that affected religious liberties, including school vouchers, healthcare refusals and religion in the workplace. She was also an Equal Justice Works fellow at Americans United. Her Equal Justice Works project investigated how programs funded under President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative were implemented. Sher also worked on many of the cases litigated by AU during her fellowship.

Sher is a graduate of George Washington University Law School and Georgetown University.

 

The Good, Bad, and Ugly for Religious Liberty and LGBT Rights in Defense Bill

The Good, Bad, and Ugly for Religious Liberty and LGBT Rights in Defense Bill

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:15pm
A sure sign of early summer in Washington, besides the sticky, humid air, is the House and Senate Armed Services Committees kicking off the annual process to pass the defense authorization bill – known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill always touches on a range of important ACLU issues, primarily those at the intersection of national security and civil liberties, and, this year, sexual assault in the military. But, we, as the ACLU lobbyists who focus on freedom of religion and belief and LGBT rights, weren't left out of this annual summertime rite. Here are a few of the things we saw – good, bad, and ugly.

Government-Funded Hiring Discrimination Is a Big Step in the Wrong Direction

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:54am

On Monday, we celebrated the 44th anniversary of an important civil rights milestone, the Supreme Court decision in the ACLU case Loving v. Virginia, which struck down state bans on interracial marriage. At an event at the Capitol, we screened…

The Sweeping License to Discriminate Hidden in the NDAA

The Sweeping License to Discriminate Hidden in the NDAA

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:58pm

With Congress having recently approved this year’s NDAA, we think it is important to draw attention to a provision (Section 533(a)(1)), which, though hidden away, is unprecedented, sweeping, and could invite dangerous claims of a right to discriminate against not just lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, but also women, religious minorities, and in the provision of health care.

School vouchers aren’t just bad policy—they’re unpopular, too

School vouchers aren’t just bad policy—they’re unpopular, too

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:50pm

Year after year, PDK/Gallup releases an annual poll of public attitudes toward public schools, and it consistently finds that a majority of those polled oppose allowing students and parents to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private schools.…

Why ENDA's Religious Exemption Must Be Narrowed

Why ENDA's Religious Exemption Must Be Narrowed

By Ian S. Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 10:21am

Remarkably, there are only 16 states that currently have workplace non-discrimination laws that are fully inclusive of LGBT people. This leaves LGBT people vulnerable to workplace discrimination in well over half of the country–an unacceptable situation…

Congress: Stop Targeting American Muslims and Protect Muslim Service Members

Congress: Stop Targeting American Muslims and Protect Muslim Service Members

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Devon Chaffee, Legislative Policy Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 9:42am

Congress continues to target Muslims even though empirical studies show that violent threats cannot be identified by any religious, ideological, ethnic or racial profile.

Obama Administration Can't Make the Case for Religious Discrimination

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Elayne Weiss, Washington Legislative Office at 4:38pm

What a disappointing, and frankly lame, response. Last month, the ACLU, along with more than 50 organizations, sent a letter to President Obama urging him to end taxpayer-funded hiring discrimination based on religion in government contracts. President…

Army Right to Halt 'Extremism' Training, Protect First Amendment Rights

Army Right to Halt 'Extremism' Training, Protect First Amendment Rights

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Gabe Rottman, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 11:46am

This piece originally appeared at Defense One.

Over the past couple of months, conservative commentators and some Republican members of Congress have been making a lot of hay over reports that Army diversity trainings have labeled various religious…

Obama Promised to Stop Government-Funded Discrimination.  Has He?

Obama Promised to Stop Government-Funded Discrimination. Has He?

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:51pm

Four years ago last month, then-candidate Barack Obama promised to ensure that religious organizations that receive government funds to provide social services abide by the Constitution and are not allowed to discriminate with government funding. …

Radically Wrong: Misstated Threats - Terrorism isn’t an American-Muslim Problem

Radically Wrong: Misstated Threats - Terrorism isn’t an American-Muslim Problem

By Dena Sher, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:50pm

Despite evidence to the contrary, the government continues to embrace a theory that adopting radical ideas is a first step toward terrorist violence. Based on this discredited model, "preventive" policies are being pursued, resulting in discrimination,…

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