AMERICAblog NewsENDA – AMERICAblog News http://americablog.com A great nation deserves the truth // One of America's top progressive sites for news and opinion Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:10:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 Yes Virginia, corporate America played an important role in the LGBT rights revolution http://americablog.com/2017/06/yes-virginia-corporate-america-played-important-role-lgbt-rights-revolution.html http://americablog.com/2017/06/yes-virginia-corporate-america-played-important-role-lgbt-rights-revolution.html#comments Sun, 11 Jun 2017 18:13:45 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=142799 Let’s have a frank talk about the role corporate America has played in the LGBT rights movement. Because it’s likely more than you realized. I started working on national LGBT rights in the early 1990s. I did the usual stuffing of envelopes for the big-name groups in 1992, but the real work began when I […]

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Let’s have a frank talk about the role corporate America has played in the LGBT rights movement. Because it’s likely more than you realized.

I started working on national LGBT rights in the early 1990s. I did the usual stuffing of envelopes for the big-name groups in 1992, but the real work began when I started spending 40 hours per week as a fellow with Senator Ted Kennedy. I assisted Kennedy’s staff on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in early 1993, fought a number of anti-LGBT bills and amendments (usually from Jesse Helms and the Family Research Council), worked on discrediting the ex-gay movement, and ended my tour in 1996 trying to get the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA — legislation to ban anti-gay job discrimination) passed in the Senate (we lost by only one vote).

Ted Kennedy and his staff were masters at the legislative process. I learned much of what I know today about activism from my time in his office. And what I think most impressed and surprised me about Kennedy and his staff was their ability to woo and work with allies, and use those allies to in turn woo the media and Congress. This went far beyond the usual suspects. I saw Kennedy’s office engage movie stars and pro athletes to appear at events, write op eds, and lobby on behalf of LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS. But most interesting, I watched them work with Republicans, even conservative Republicans, when GOP interests coincided with ours. For example, Barry Goldwater became an outspoken ally on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Conservative GOP Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) routinely partnered with Kennedy on HIV/AIDS legislation. And incredibly, Kennedy got anti-gay bigot Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) to help on the international AIDS fight.

Which raises a fascinating point I want to explore as it concerns corporate America and any potential LGBT ally (like the police). It’s not about picking allies who are pure, and agree with you on every issue. And it’s not about picking allies who are motivated by their love for you and your people. Being successful in politics, and getting what you want in both policy and legislation, is about knowing what levers to push. And usually you get politicians to help you because they see it in their own self-interest. It’s an added, but unnecessary, benefit if they actually like you too.

Which takes us to corporate America. No one is suggesting that American companies “like” us. I am, however, telling you that in the early 1990s, when we were fighting to get ENDA passed, our corporate allies were a huge help, and continued to be helpful through this day. From Nicole Raeburn’s book “Changing Corporate America from Inside Out: Lesbian and Gay Workplace Rights”:

Raeburn has more. Note that most companies weren’t great in the late 80s, then something changed:

More on Disney from a Florida reporter and then a former employee of the company:

Why did it matter that a growing number of corporate leaders, especially in the tech industry, were supporting LGBT rights? Because ENDA was about workplace discrimination, and its critics claimed ENDA would cripple American business. Instead, here were some of America’s top business leaders, including high-flying high-tech moguls, saying just the opposite: that what’s bad for business is discrimination. Corporate America had shot the anti-gay movement in the foot, and taken away their #1 argument against us. It was a huge deal.

Lesbian Subaru ad. Note the rainbow bumper sticker, and the license plates (“CAMP OUT” and “XENA LVR”).

But aside from legislation, what was also important was corporate America’s willingness to adopt non-discrimination policies, and eventually domestic partner benefits, for gay couples who couldn’t get such benefits from their legislative bodies. You have to remember that we still don’t have federal protections against firing someone for being gay or trans. Yet, a lot of companies do have those protections. And the same thing happened with domestic partner benefits. When American law refused to step in, many companies stepped forward and treated their gay-partnered employees the same as those who were straight-married.

One such company was Apple. In 1993, Apple threatened to pull its planned new office in Texas after local politicians punished Apple for offering health benefits to the partners of gay employees. The Texas politicians denied Apple tax breaks it would normally have gotten, but-for the company’s pro-gay policies. Apple stuck to its guns, threatened to pull out of the state, and the local officials finally caved. That’s corporate leadership, and it was a big deal at a time when it wasn’t terribly cool to be pro-gay, especially in Texas.

And a wee bit more on the early history of corporate support for LGBT rights, from Raeburn — how Coors and Disney rocked the boat against anti-gay bigotry:

What Coors and Disney did came as a great shock:

A number of large companies stuck their necks out for LGBT rights in other ways as well, including advertising. Subaru, Absolut and then Ikea were some of the earliest advertisers to embrace gays. And if you want to know what influence that had on the culture at large, ask the religious right — they were livid, and launched boycotts left and right to stop corporate America from being so gay-friendly.

For example, Absolut made history in 1989 by advertising in the gay press:

Ikea’s ad — called the first gay TV commercial — showed a gay couple shopping at Ikea, ran in 1994. You really have to appreciate how not-pro-gay America was in 1994. This was huge visibility for our community.

NPR has the story of how Subaru stuck its neck out in the mid 1990s by advertising to lesbians.

And I’m having a hard time finding the original Subaru ad, but here’s one they did in 2000 with tennis superstar Martina Navratilova:

Business Insider has more ads over the years.

And that corporate support has continued to this day. Companies like Dow Chemical, Marriott, and Procter & Gamble are all now supporting passage of ENDA. And I’d argue that the fact that many of us don’t like Dow (a chemical company) or Mormon-run Marriott is exactly why the support of those companies is so important. It’s easy and expected to have your friends support you. But when unlikely allies step up, it can make your opponents — or at least people in the middle — think twice.

For example, 379 companies recently urged the Supreme Court to support marriage equality. That’s not to suggest that some companies, like Microsoft, were always 100% okay. They weren’t. Even Microsoft, an early supporter of LGBT rights, had a hiccup in the mid 2000s, when a local religious right leader convinced them to stop supporting LGBT rights. Because of a lobbying campaign I ran, Microsoft came back in to the LGBT fold and never looked back. And while I was ticked at the Microsoft at the time, you’d better believe I’m glad Microsoft is now again on our side, and I am happy to embrace their support because it helps us get what we want, and that’s the only test that matters if you want to win.

(And, as an aside, some critics are arguing that these same corporations weren’t on our side in 1969, during the Stonewall riots. True. And most of our allies in the Democratic party, and even the larger civil rights movement, weren’t “on our side” in 1969. Most of America hated us. That’s not a standard for judging who we will accept help from today. Otherwise, the answer would be “no one.” Also, critics are saying “but the Mattachine Society and Stonewall happened before companies helped us in the 1990s.” And that is absolutely correct. But it doesn’t negate the significant support that those companies gave us, and that’s the point of this article, to simply recognize the contribution.)

Even if you think corporations are evil, that doesn’t mean you should shun corporate support for LGBT rights. Historically, corporate support has been extremely helpful, especially when our chief opponents were and are Republicans, a party beholden to whom? — corporations! And in the same way we shouldn’t turn away GOP support for LGBT rights, we shouldn’t shun business support either. It simply doesn’t matter what’s motivating them. Of course, companies are looking out for their own bottom line. So am I. So is every politician. In politics, as I said above, the goal isn’t to find people who love you. It’s to find people who will do what you want, regardless of their motivation. I wanted DADT repealed, and I wanted marriage equality to be the law of the law. It didn’t matter to me WHY Congress repealed one or why the Supreme Court legalized the other. All I cared about is winning, and we did.

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Trump spares Obama LGBT exec. order, could undo it with “religious freedom” EO http://americablog.com/2017/01/trump-spares-obama-lgbt-exec-order-no-word-yet-religious-freedom-eo.html http://americablog.com/2017/01/trump-spares-obama-lgbt-exec-order-no-word-yet-religious-freedom-eo.html#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2017 15:43:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=141004 Trump won't rescind Obama exec. order about federal contractors, but may sign "religious freedom" EO.

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Thanks to your pressure, Donald Trump last night issued a statement saying he would retain President Obama’s executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors from discrimination.

This is a big deal. But we’re not out of the woods yet — Trump may still sign a “religious freedom” executive order that undoes a lot of what the Obama executive order accomplished.

Sign the petition, tell Donald Trump that homophobia is un-American.

A lot of us fought a long time for that executive order, as it basically implements ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) for federal contractors. Or, put another way, it forces federal contractors to adopt non-discrimination policies for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

Most people don’t realize that employment discrimination against LGBT people is legal under federal law, though it is banned in many cities and states under local law.

So this is great news, actually, and it came about because of public pressure. But it’s not enough. We were concerned about this executive order, but we were also concerned about a series of other moves Trump was potentially planning, in the name of so-called “religious freedom.”

We’ve had no indication that Trump is backing off of those, and in fact, by keeping the Obama executive order on federal contractors, Team Trump may think it gives them cover to bash gay and trans people in a separate “religious freedom” executive order meant to curry favor with the religious right.

That’s why we need to keep adding our names to the petition telling Trump that homophobia is un-American.

Here’s the rest of what has been rumored, and what the White House has yet to deny:

– Letting organizations use federal dollars to discriminate in the provision of social services;

– Letting federally-funded adoption agencies discrimination against LGBT people; and

– Permit federal employees to discriminate against LGBT people based on their opposition to marriage quality and gender identity.

In a nutshell, the religious right has been claiming for years that it’s religious discrimination for the law to require them to provide goods and services to gay or trans people. And they’ve been trying to get laws passed in the states, to codify anti-LGBT discrimination. For example, if a woman walks into a pharmacy and asks a pharmacist for birth control pills, or a gay man asks a pharmacist for a condom, the religious right — and Vice President Mike Pence — want to make it so that the pharmacist can refuse to help you, lest it offend his religious sensibilities.

But it gets worse than that. As we’ve already seen, these “religious freedom” protections would also permit state officials to refuse to marry gay couples, even though marriage equality is now the law of the land. It could even permit EMTs to refuse to help LGBT people in need. (In Washington, DC years ago, a young trans woman was left to die on Dupont Circle when the EMTs refused to help her.)

There’s also the issue of permitting social service agencies, like adoption agencies, to use federal funds to discriminate against gay and trans people (e.g., a “religious” adoption group doesn’t want to let gay or trans couples adopt).

So it remains to be seen whether Trump will sign the religious right executive order, and I think he will. Unless we speak out, unless we make clear that there will be holy hell to pay if the Trump White House slams the door shut on LGBT rights. Such an executive order could undo a lot of the EO Trump is saving. It would permit people nationwide to discriminate against LGBT people, or anyone — blacks, Jews, Muslims, women — so long as “God told them so.”

So sign the petition, share it with your friends, and let’s send a clear message to Donald Trump that we will not go back into the closet, we will not become second-class citizens, and for all you non-LGBT people out there, you will not see your LGBT friends left behind.

Thanks so much everyone, and great work to date on this.

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Mike Pence is a raging homophobe http://americablog.com/2016/10/mike-pence-raging-homophobe.html http://americablog.com/2016/10/mike-pence-raging-homophobe.html#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2016 23:32:10 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=139724 Former GOP Sen. and Gov. George Allen says Mike Pence should mentions gays at the VP debate. Fat chance.

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Donald Trump’s choice for vice president, Mike Pence, is a homophobe.

I bring the point up, not only because tonight is the vice presidential debate between Pence and Hillary Clinton’s VP, Tim Kaine, but also because of what the former Republican governor and US senator from Virginia, George “Macaca” Allen, said on CNN today.

CNN’s Carol Costello told Allen that Trump was having a problem with minority voters, especially African-American voters, and Tim Kaine will most likely bring it up tonight; so, she asked, what should Pence say?

Allen replied: “Mike Pence should respond that our aspirations in America are for everyone, regardless of their race, their ethnicity, their religious beliefs or their sexual orientation — ought (sic) to have an equal opportunity to compete and succeed in America.”

And I thought to myself, that’s funny. Not simply funny that George Allen, who is a conservative and no friend to gay or trans people, is now wooing LGBT voters, but also funny that Allen is suggesting that Mike Pence thinks LGBT people should have a shot at the American dream.

Mike Pence most certainly does not.

Here’s my video response to all of this, via Periscope. You can also just read on below.

Pence, you see, is a Christian conservative (read: religious right), and pretty much against anything that could help LGBT people in America. Pence was against repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, against marriage equality, against ENDA, and against President Obama’s directive on transgender youth using the bathrooms of their choice in public schools. Pence is also for permitting people to violate civil rights laws and discriminate against LGBT people because of their supposed religious beliefs.

And finally, Mike Pence was even against HIV/AIDS funding. What did he want to spend that money on instead of AIDS? Curing gays.

So I think it’s pretty safe to say that Mike Pence won’t be sucking up to LGBT people any time soon.

Of course, Donald Trump isn’t all pink daisies either. Trump has promised to put judges on the Supreme Court who would overturn the previous decision-making marriage equality the law of the land. And while Trump’s people actively intervened to make sure the GOP convention platform didn’t include provisions the Russians didn’t like, Trump didn’t lift a finger when Republican convention delegates came up with the most anti-gay platform in history. Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery has more:

The GOP adopted its most anti-LGBT platform in history at its party convention this week in Cleveland. It advocates going back to defining marriage, legally, as between one man and one woman. It supports adoption agencies that refuse to serve same-sex couples; affirms “conversion therapy,” a discredited practice of trying to turn gay people into straight people; calls for banning transgender people from using bathrooms that match their gender identity and endorses controversial legislation that would allow taxpayer-funded discrimination against same-sex married couples in the name of religious freedom.

So I’ve got my popcorn ready, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for Mike Pence to don a tutu and start quoting Harvey Milk.

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Trump thanks LGBTs for Orlando shooting, says he’s more pro-gay than HRC. He’s not. http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-thanks-lgbt-community-orlando-shooting-something.html http://americablog.com/2016/06/trump-thanks-lgbt-community-orlando-shooting-something.html#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 13:00:23 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=137970 Trump is using the Orlando shooting to woo the gay community away from Hillary. But Trump's LGBT record is meh.

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In yet another of bizarre moment, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump today thanked the LGBT community, in apparent reference to the recent mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Florida.

In addition to, oddly, thanking the gay community, Trump then suggesting that he would be a better LGBT advocate than Hillary Clinton, whose support for the LGBT community goes back decades. (I’ve documented Hillary’s and Bill’s historic long-time support for the LGBT community here.)

First, Trump’s tweet, then we’re going to have a little talk:

by default 2016-06-14 at 6.55.47 PM

And lest you think Trump’s tweet was a mouth spasm, he told the same thing in a speech in New Hampshire Monday. Yes, Donald Trump thinks the attack in Orlando is going to help with the gay community.

“Ask yourself, who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with his actions, or Hillary Clinton with her words?” Trump said. “Clinton wants to allow Radical Islamic terrorists to pour into our country — they enslave women, and murder gays. I don’t want them in our country.”

A) 49 people just died. Who exactly are you thanking, and why?

B) No one “brought in” anyone. The Orland shooter was an American born in New York City.

C) His parents are from Afghanistan. As Omar was born in 1987 in Queen, his parents were likely allowed into the country by Ronald Reagan.

D) You will fight for the LGBT community? How exactly do you plan on doing that? You’re not even in favor of marriage equality (Hillary is) or domestic partner benefits (which is at this point seriously retro). In fact, Trump has said that he would “strongly consider” appointing judges who would repeal gay marriage.

The rest of Trump’s positions are unclear. While Trump said back in 2000 that he was in favor of amending the Civil Rights Act in order to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, that’s back when Trump was a Democrat praising Hillary Clinton. Who knows what he believes today.

Hillary Clinton meets with AIDS leaders in 1991, in order to call for a Manhattan Project to combat HIV/AIDS.

Hillary Clinton meets with AIDS leaders in 1991, in order to call for a Manhattan Project to combat HIV/AIDS.

As for Trump’s opinion on the Equality Act, umbrella legislation that would protect gays against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and much more, Trump’s spokesman didn’t respond to MSNBC’s question. In fact, while Trump has said he doesn’t think you should be fired for being gay, it’s not clear whether Trump would support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, which would ban such discrimination at the federal level.

Even the Log Cabin Republicans, known for enabling some of the worst anti-gay Republicans, tried to walk back an effort by some to claim Trump was the most pro-LGBT Republican ever:

“I think that might be going a little overboard,” said Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of the pro-LGBT Log Cabin Republicans, when asked if it was safe to call Trump 2016’s most LGBT-friendly Republican. Angelo added: “It’s important to point out that Trump is not the first GOP Republican candidate to say he supports nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals.”

In other words, is Trump less bad than a lot of Republicans? Possibly. Is he good? As it’s not what if any pro-gay legislation Trump supports, who knows?

And finally, a word about Hillary. Other than her late arrival to marriage equality in 2013 (mind you, Obama didn’t support it until 2012, and even Bernie Sanders wasn’t on board until 3 years earlier), Hillary has a near perfect record on gay and trans rights, as good any other Democrat. Hillary’s record was so good in 2008, that the LGBT community swarmed to her over Barack Obama.

Hillary embraced the AIDS community all the way back in 1991, long before it was politically “cool.” I’ve written at length about the Clinton record on LGBT rights, it was historic. Yes, there were a few setbacks like DADT and DOMA (and mind you, DADT was an improvement from the military’s anti-gay policy before 1993, and we only got DADT because Bill Clinton tried, and failed, to entirely lift the military’s gay ban in 1993, and failed). But the eight-year presidency was beyond historic, in terms of Clinton’s commitment on AIDS, his appointment of openly-gay senior officials (a first), and his overall open embrace of our community (something most senior party officials, of either party, simply didn’t do before Clinton came along).

And one final word about Donald Trump claiming he’s going to keep out all the anti-gay forces from destroying our community. Really, Donald? Along with Muslims, do you plan on banning Republicans too?

Oh, and one more thought about Donald Trump being so pro-gay: Guess who his good friend and mentor was?

Roy Cohn.*

(*Roy Cohn was a closet-case who was Joe “House Un-American Activities Committee” McCarthy’s henchman. Cohn was personally responsible for destroying the lives of countless gay federal workers who he witch-hunted for McCarthy.)

In the formative years of Donald Trump’s career, when he went from a rich kid working for his real estate-developing father to a top-line dealmaker in his own right, Cohn was one of the most powerful influences and helpful contacts in Trump’s life.

Over a 13-year-period, ending shortly before Cohn’s death in 1986, Cohn brought his say-anything, win-at-all-costs style to all of Trump’s most notable legal and business deals. Interviews with people who knew both men at the time say the relationship ran deeper than that—that Cohn’s philosophy shaped the real estate mogul’s worldview and the belligerent public persona visible in Trump’s presidential campaign.

Go away before someone drops a house on you.

UPDATE: Trump’s effort to pinkwash his campaign continues. A top uber-conservative anti-gay blogger, Jim Hoft aka Gateway Pundit, has just come out, and is urging gays to support Trump.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis

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Equality Act introduced with 195 Democratic and 0 Republican co-sponsors http://americablog.com/2015/07/equality-act-introduced-with-195-democratic-and-0-republican-co-sponsors.html http://americablog.com/2015/07/equality-act-introduced-with-195-democratic-and-0-republican-co-sponsors.html#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 18:35:18 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=130609 Even the most moderate Republicans want to protect the right to discriminate.

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Congressional Democrats formally introduced the Equality Act today, a bill that would essentially ban all forms of discrimination against the LGBT community by expanding the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill has 40 co-sponsors in the Senate and 155 in the House. They are all Democrats.

The fact that no Republican was willing to sign on to the bill at its outset is the clearest indication that its chances of passage are even lower than ENDA. While you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of Republican co-sponsors of ENDA, you could at least count them: In 2013, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senators Susan Collins and Mark Kirk were original co-sponsors of that iteration of the workplace anti-discrimination bill, which — as it has for decades — failed make it to the president’s desk.

Senator Jeff Merkley, one of the lead sponsors of the Equality Act, via Wikimedia Commons

Senator Jeff Merkley, one of the lead sponsors of the Equality Act, via Wikimedia Commons

This lack of even token Republican support stems from the fact that the Equality Act goes beyond ENDA in a number of ways that make it a dealbreaker for even the most moderate of Republicans. ENDA included a religious exemption; the Equality Act clarifies that Religious Freedom Restoration Acts cannot be used to discriminate against LGBT people. The Equality Act also expands the definition of public accommodations to include almost any business; the Civil Rights Act only classified restaurants, theaters and hotels as places of public accommodation. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Equality Act applies outside of the workplace, barring discrimination in housing, education and other areas of life not covered by ENDA.

As Chris Johnson at The Washington Blade noted, some LGBT activists dropped their support from ENDA in 2013 over its inclusion of religious exemptions. However, others are withholding support from the Equality Act because, by aiming to revise the Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act, it could allow the Republican-controlled Congress to revise them more generally. The end result could be a watered-down Equality Act that also weakens the Civil Rights and Fair Housing Acts.

A version of that watering down has already been proposed by Republican Congressman Charlie Dent. His compromise legislation would pair the Equality Act with the First Amendment Defense Act, prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination in housing and employment but protecting religious organizations who oppose same-sex marriage from losing their tax-exempt status, while expressing “the sense of Congress the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling under RFRA shouldn’t burden free exercise of religion.”

Both of those would be dangerous concessions to give Congressional Republicans, and conservatives more generally, who are dead-set on carving out legal protections in as vague as terms as possible to allow them to continue to discriminate in as many places as possible — all while keeping the tax breaks that our government shouldn’t be granting them in the first place.

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Democrats to push sweeping LGBT rights bill this week http://americablog.com/2015/07/democrats-to-push-sweeping-lgbt-rights-bill-this-week.html http://americablog.com/2015/07/democrats-to-push-sweeping-lgbt-rights-bill-this-week.html#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:26:51 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=130553 The Equality Act would grant anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community across seven categories.

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Yesterday, Buzzfeed reported that Democrats in the House and Senate are set to introduce legislation this week that will, for all intents and purposes, cover LGBT citizens under the same protections afforded to racial minorities and women under the Civil Rights Act.

The bill would provide explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity across seven categories, ranging from employment to housing to education to public accommodations. As Buzzfeed explained:

People who are credit worthy could not be refused loans, leases, or credit cards for being LGBT; public education institutions that receive federal money could not discriminate against LGBT students; otherwise qualified employees and job applicants could not be discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or firing; LGBT renters and home buyers could not be discriminated against in leasing or purchasing homes, securing home loans, or using brokerage services; people could not be held off of juries or denied federal funding for being LGBT; and finally, people could not be refused services in places of public accommodation, from hotels to stores, based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rainbow flag, via Wikimedia Commons

Rainbow flag, via Wikimedia Commons

The bill, simply titled the Equality Act, will certainly face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Congress, as it is far broader than ENDA, which has consistently failed to make it through both houses. Congress has voted four times this year in favor of LGBT rights, but none of the bills have garnered the necessary 60 votes in the Senate. However, the Equality Act will at the very least force the GOP to go on record saying that they are, literally, against equality; in the workplace, in education, in schools, in public spaces and so on.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission already ruled recently that employment discrimination is already illegal — a ruling that directly applies to federal employers and guides lower courts on discrimination claims in the private sector.

As Representative David Cicilline (D – RI) wrote in a letter to colleagues requesting co-sponsors for his bill:

In most states, a same-sex couple can get married on Saturday, post pictures on Facebook on Sunday, and then risk being fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment on Monday. A majority of states in our country do not have laws that protect LGBT individuals against discrimination.

We need a uniform federal standard that protects all LGBT Americans from
discrimination.

As Buzzfeed noted, the part of the bill conservatives are most likely to push back against is the provision prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation — i.e. businesses such as pizzerias, bakeries and flower shops that religious owners have claimed do not have to sell their products to people who they know will use them for a same-sex wedding.

Of course, this is bunk. Selling a cake that you know will be eaten at a wedding doesn’t mean you have participated in or otherwise approved of that wedding, contra religious freedom revisionaries who claim that they can reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who they feel is morally objectionable as a person.

The push for the Equality Act comes as Republicans are shepherding the First Amendment Defense Act through Congress — a bill that would prohibit the government from revoking the tax exempt status or other benefits from organizations that officially adopt a policy of marriage being between one man and one woman. This is, of course, literally the opposite of what the First Amendment says Congress is supposed to do, but don’t tell that to the folks who read (or didn’t read, we don’t know) “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” and heard “Congress shall make many laws respecting an establishment of religion.”

What’s more, public opinion is against them, and for the Democrats, with respect to these two bills. An April poll found that 69 percent of Americans — including 51 percent of Republicans — think there should be a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (many Americans mistakenly think much of this discrimination is already illegal). Another poll, also from April, found that 54 percent of Americans thought that businesses shouldn’t be allowed to deny their services to LGBT people, compared to only 28 percent who said that such a denial should be protected as religious freedom.

But of course, it doesn’t matter what the public thinks. At least not directly. Right now, what matters is that 41 Republican senators are standing in between the LGBT community and full civil rights protections.

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Workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation already illegal, per EEOC ruling http://americablog.com/2015/07/workplace-discrimination-based-on-sexual-orientation-already-illegal-per-eeoc-ruling.html http://americablog.com/2015/07/workplace-discrimination-based-on-sexual-orientation-already-illegal-per-eeoc-ruling.html#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 12:00:05 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=130475 The ruling currently only applies to federal workers, but that could soon change.

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Yesterday, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation constitutes illegal discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The case concerns an unnamed employee at the Miami Tower TRACON facility, an air traffic control agency under the Department of Transportation. The plaintiff in the case was able to show that they were denied a promotion on the basis of their sexual orientation, which the EEOC ruled was in violation of their civil rights.

Among other things, the plaintiff’s supervisor had made several negative comments concerning his sexual orientation, including that even mentioning his male partner constituted a “distraction in the radar room.”

Per The Washington Blade:

The EEOC reasons sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating employees less favorably because of gender and because such bias is associational discrimination based on gender.

“When an employee raises a claim of sexual orientation discrimination as sex discriinination under Title VII, the question is not whether sexual orientation is explicitly listed in Title VII as a prohibited basis for employment actions,” the decision states. “It is not. Rather, the question for purposes of Title VII coverage of a sexual orientation claim is the same as any other Titie VII case involving allegation of sex discrimination — whether the agency has “relied on sex-based considerations” or “take[n] gender into account” when taking the challenged employment action.”

This reasoning builds on a 2012 ruling, Macy v Holder, that used a similar reasoning process to prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender employees. The logic is extremely straightforward: The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including, as the Supreme Court has ruled, irrational sex stereotyping. The plaintiff successfully argued that his superior devalued his job performance due to an irrational stereotype concerning normative male sexual behavior — namely that he was in a relationship with another man. In other words, the plaintiff was discriminated against due to his being a man — a man who did not conform to his supervisor’s irrational anger over who he was dating. As Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern adds:

Jobs via Shutterstock

Employment, via Shutterstock

The EEOC also presents a simpler secondary theory: Sexual orientation discrimination is “associational discrimination on the basis of sex.” When a homophobic employer mistreats a gay male employee, he does so because he dislikes the fact that his employee dates other man. In other words, the employer took that employee’s sex into account while making the decision to treat him unequally. Such discrimination is obviously sex-based—and therefore forbidden by Title VII.

If the ruling is appealed, which is likely, it could come before the Supreme Court soon, forcing their hand as to whether LGBT people are a protected class subject to heightened scrutiny, a line that the Court walked up to but did not cross in their recent ruling affirming a right to same-sex marriage.

 

Currently, the ruling only applies to federal employees, but that could soon change. As Stern continues:

…under the new guidelines, all sexual orientation discrimination will be considered illegal, empowering gay private employees to lodge discrimination complaints. Until the Supreme Court weighs in, lower courts may choose to accept or reject the EEOC’s reading of Title VII. But the commission’s rulings are respected by the judiciary, and could tip more courts to rule that sexual orientation discrimination is, indeed, already forbidden in the United States.

The EEOC’s ruling represents a massive step forward. Workplace equality has been seen as one of the next big fights for the LGBT movement, and if this ruling holds up in future cases it will mean that fight is already over.

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We won on marriage. Hiring and housing discrimination are next. http://americablog.com/2015/06/we-won-on-marriage-hiring-housing-discrimination-next.html http://americablog.com/2015/06/we-won-on-marriage-hiring-housing-discrimination-next.html#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 14:00:17 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=130002 The arguments against employment and housing discrimination are essentially the same.

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On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause prohibits states from denying same-sex couples the right to marry.

After a weekend of celebrating, the LGBT movement now has to remind the country that it’s not over. We won marriage equality on Friday, but we didn’t win full equality. There are a number of cultural, political and legal battles left to be waged in order to make that happen.

As Erik Eckholm outlined in The New York Times on Saturday, these next battles lie in similar forms of discrimination that lie in the hiring and firing of employees, as well as the renting and purchasing of homes:

Nationally, antidiscrimination laws for gay people are a patchwork with major geographic inequities, said Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institute at the School of Law of the University of California, Los Angeles. “Those who don’t live on the two coasts or in the Northeast have been left behind in terms of legal protection,” he said.

Eckholm also quoted Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, who will soon introduce legislation adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act, as saying that “People are going to realize that you can get married in the morning and be fired from your job or refused entry to a restaurant in the afternoon. That is unacceptable.”

The arguments against employment and housing discrimination are the same as those against marriage discrimination, with one possible exception. Allowing same-sex couples to marry has no impact on the lives of opposite-sex couples, no matter what claims the Heritage Foundation pulls out of thin air. However, prohibiting private companies and individuals from making business decisions based on the sexual orientation or gender identities of those with whom they do business does have a material effect on those businesses. It may be a positive effect, as many companies that have proactively enacted LGBT protections into their own hiring practices have learned, but it’s an effect nonetheless. In winning hiring and housing equality, the LGBT movement is going to have to convince the public, and the courts, that restrictions on the actions of private citizens and businesses such that they don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity are restrictions we can live with.

Of course, much of that debate has already been won. The majority of Americans already think it’s illegal to fire someone for being gay. They’re wrong, at least if they live in one of the 28 states that does not yet explicitly prohibit the practice, but as the LGBT movement directs more energy toward highlighting the stories of those who have been fired for being gay, or not hired in the first place, that will change. Bills like ENDA, which would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity for businesses with at least 15 employees and has been introduced in all but one Congressional session since 1994, will attract more more attention. It will be a bigger deal when John Boehner kills it in this session than when he did in 2013.

Legislation aside, hiring discrimination could face a more complete death in the court system. As Eckholm continues:

ENDA protest, via Matt Baume / Flickr

ENDA protest, via Matt Baume / Flickr

…the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charged with enforcing federal law in the workplace, has determined that discrimination against gay men, lesbians and transgender people amounts to illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and it is bringing or endorsing lawsuits under that provision.

That application of existing law is still being tested in court and is more established for transgender workers than for gay and lesbian workers. In the past two years, the agency has successfully pursued 223 cases involving gay or transgender people who faced workplace harassment or other discrimination, gaining settlements or court orders, said Chai R. Feldblum, one of the agency’s five commissioners.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday could expedite that process. In framing his controlling opinion in the context of equal protection based on sexual orientation as opposed to, say, gender, Justice Anthony Kennedy opened — without explicitly walking through — the door of classifying LGBT citizens as a protected class. The ruling cites the 14th Amendment’s protections for “certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs.” That doesn’t go as far as to define sexual orientation and gender identity as unalterable demographic assignments establishing classes of citizens, such as race or gender assigned at birth, but future non-marriage cases could use Kennedy’s opinion as a springboard in order to convince future courts to make such a definition.

Either way, that passage should be enough to argue that firing someone, or denying them an apartment, based on their “intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs” should be illegal.

We’ll find out soon enough.

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Obama to sign orders protecting gay, trans workers this coming Monday http://americablog.com/2014/07/obama-sign-orders-protecting-gay-trans-workers-coming-monday.html http://americablog.com/2014/07/obama-sign-orders-protecting-gay-trans-workers-coming-monday.html#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:49:08 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=121545 And there will be no newer, stricter religious exemption than already exists in previous executive orders.

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AP is reporting that President Obama will sign two executive orders this coming Monday.

The first, protecting gay and transgender workers of federal contractors from discrimination; and the second, protecting trans federal workers from discrimination.

Interestingly, the executive order protecting gay and trans federal contracting employees will not include a newer, stricter religious exemption than already exists in previous executive orders covering other employees

enda-featuredAn increasingly number of vocal advocatees in the gay community have been demanding that the proposed religious exemption to ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, legislation that would ban anti-gay and anti-trans job discrimination under federal law) either have a weaker religious exemption than previously proposed, or none at all.

It’s interesting, and brave, that the administraiton appears to be moving ahead without adding a stricture religious exemption. Gutsy even.

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Catholic Charities, Rick Warren, ask Obama for right to use fed funds to discriminate against gays http://americablog.com/2014/07/catholic-charities-rick-warren-ask-obama-right-use-fed-funds-discriminate-gays.html http://americablog.com/2014/07/catholic-charities-rick-warren-ask-obama-right-use-fed-funds-discriminate-gays.html#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 19:49:28 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=121147 Catholic Charities and Warren are demanding that an ENDA executive order let them discriminate against gays.

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Right-wing religious activists are wasting no time in their ongoing attempt to gut the civil rights of gays and lesbians in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision this week in the Hobby Lobby case.”

The court ruled that crafts chain Hobby Lobby is a “person” entitled to disobey federal law based on its “religion.”

We’ve written before about Catholic Charities’ ongoing jihad against gay Americans.  And Rick Warren’s role in the Proposition 8 fiasco is already well-documented.

God hates windbags.

God hates windbags.

Well, Catholic Charities and Warren have now launched a campaign to gut the impending executive order banning employment discrimination against gay and trans people working for federal contractors.

The groups are asking President Obama to include in the executive order a religious exemption that has already caused deep concern in the gay community, even before Hobby Lobby.

And now that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are people who can not only practice religions, but who are permitted to violate any federal law that they claim offends their religion, what is to stop religious right bigots from simply declaring that hiring gays, Jews, blacks or Muslims (or women, for that matter), is an affront to their religion?

Don’t forget, the Mormons, for example, have long-standing issues with blacks.

The Baptists, in addition to a history of racism, have rather interesting positions on the non-role of women in business.

And then there’s Catholic Charities’ ongoing willingness to hold children hostage in order to advance its anti-gay agenda.  (Catholic Charities also tried to hold Latinos hostage.)

If groups like Catholic Charities, that suck at the government teet to the tune of nearly $3 billion a year, are now claiming that the work they do for the government somehow involves their religion, then some rather hard questions need to be asked about why the US government is funding religion at all.


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Obama to sign executive order protecting gay, trans staff of federal contractors http://americablog.com/2014/06/obama-sign-executive-order-banning-federal-contractor-gay-trans-job-discrimination.html http://americablog.com/2014/06/obama-sign-executive-order-banning-federal-contractor-gay-trans-job-discrimination.html#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:26:14 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=120410 White House staff say the President has that an ENDA executive order be drafted.

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The White House has told the Huffington Post that President Obama will (soon?) sign an executive order banning job discrimination by most federal contractors against their gay and transgender employees.  (It will apply to federal contractors who earn more than $10,000 from the government in any one year.)

Gay rights advocates have been pushing for decades to outlaw such discrimination under federal law, where it is still legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender (though a number of states and municipalities ban it).

gay couple men

Gay couple via Shutterstock.

The legislation, called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has had a rocky past. While it had some recent success in passing the US Senate last year, some vocal advocates now want that version of the legislation killed, as they say its religious exemption is too broad.

It is unclear whether the President’s executive order will accommodate the most recent demands of ENDA’s progressive critics.

The executive order is expected to impact one million workers:

The White House announced Monday that President Obama is expected to sign an executive order restricting all federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The new order will cover close to 1 million LGBT workers and is a historical expansion of LGBT workplace protections.

By signing this law, the Obama administration’s order will only offer federal protections because right now there are 29 states that do not offer employment protections on the basis of sexual orientation and 32 states do not protect gender identity. The statistics are staggering because as many as 43 percent of LGBT people and 90 percent of transgender people have been a victim of some form of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

It’s not clear how many employees the executive order will affect, as I think 29 states already ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and 32 states ban it for just sexual orientation. So it’s not clear how much overlap there might be with existing state laws, and how many federal contractors already ban such discrimination. The lead group fighting for the executive order doesn’t appear to have any substantive information on its Web site about the executive order itself, which is odd.

There was some uncertainty as to when the President would sign the executive order. The leak to HuffPo simply said he was asking staff to draft the executive order.  But it would be silly to leak that information if the President never intended to go through with signing the document. If it is not signed soon, you can expect a pretty vocal outcry from the gay community.

Top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett tweeted her support today for the executive order, which likely means it is imminent, and not just a rumor:

enda-executive-order

The President is going to be giving a speech before a DNC LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) gala in NYC tomorrow. Perhaps he will have more to say on this then.


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ENDA, we hardly knew ya http://americablog.com/2014/06/enda-hardly-knew-ya.html http://americablog.com/2014/06/enda-hardly-knew-ya.html#comments Wed, 11 Jun 2014 12:00:12 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=120297 Why the pro-gay Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and executive order, appear dead in the water -- again.

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In a scenario that will look all too familiar to those who were watching in 2007, we’re about to kill ENDA again.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (aka ENDA) is legislation that would ban employment discrimination against gay and trans people, under federal law. Currently, it’s legal under federal law to fire someone for being gay or transgender, though it has been outlawed in a number of states and municipalities.

ENDA has been around since 1974, and the community has been trying to pass the legislation ever since.

It’s a long story as to what happened between then and now, but suffice it to say, ENDA never went very far, though it lost by only one vote in the US Senate in 1996 (I was there, in the gallery, watching, since I was working on the bill as a volunteer for Senator Kennedy).

ENDA, via HRC.

ENDA, via HRC.

The bill came up again in 2007, where two bills ended up being introduced in the House, one covering sexual orientation, and the other including gender identity as well. (Up until that point, the previous versions of ENDA had only covered sexual orientation.) The gender identity version died in committee. Openly-gay Cong. Barney Frank then introduced the previous year’s version of ENDA, that only covered sexual orientation, and it passed the US House and went to the Senate.  The legislation subsequently died in the Senate, after the gay community had a quite vocal, and quite angry, split between those advocating ENDA’s passage and those advocating that the legislation be killed because it didn’t include gender identity.  Subsequently, a group of those who had opposed the non-trans version of ENDA, calling themselves “United ENDA,” promised to easily obtain passage of the trans-inclusive version of the legislation, and nothing happened for another six years.

Fast forward to last year, 2013.  A version of ENDA that included gender identity passed the US Senate, but is expected to go nowhere under GOP House Speaker Boehner’s tutelage. Boehner has already said he won’t let the bill come up.

In the meantime, there’s been an effort going on for several years now to get the White House to issue an executive order, mandating ENDA’s protections for federal contractors of a certain size.  That has gone nowhere, though the President had previously supported it. We’ll come back to that in a moment.

Fast forward to this year. After demanding that the House pass the version of ENDA that already sailed through the Senate, and demanding that the President issue an ENDA executive order, many of the same gay/lgbt groups that called for the Senate to kill ENDA in 2007 are now calling on the House to kill the Senate-passed version of ENDA as well. This time, they are concerned that the bill’s religious exemption is too broad; some are arguing that we should simply amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and add sexual orientation and gender identity to the already-existing civil rights law.

(I know that back in the day, in the early 90s, I’d asked why we weren’t doing just that, amending the Civil Rights Act instead of trying to pass a free-standing bill. And I was told that, among other concerns, the Republicans would like nothing better than for us to open the Civil Rights Act to their amendments, effectively permitting them to gut it. I also suspect that not including us in the Civil Rights Act was a nod to some allies who might object. Do those same concerns exist today? Probably.)

The concern over the religious exemption arose last year during the Senate debate, with the ACLU expressing their displeasure, but also indicating they would not oppose the bill. The exemption was broadened, reportedly, to win GOP Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s support, which it did.

I asked one of the groups now calling for the Senate-passed version of ENDA to be killed if the executive order had the same problems. I was told that while the executive order was likely less problematic, it was still problematic.

So, where does that leave us today?

We’ve been pushing the House to bring up a bill that some vocal parts of the community now want killed. And we’ve been asking the President to sign an executive order that we might now oppose.  Where does that leave the White House and the US House? Confused; and ENDA in limbo.

I’m often asked why the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and ongoing legalization of gay marriage seem to have sailed through so quickly, while ENDA is going nowhere.  Here are my thoughts.

Nothing went anywhere quickly. The ban on gays in the military goes back a long time, and DADT itself goes back to 1993. We’ve been fighting 20 years on that one alone.  As for marriage, ditto. The issue has been burning for a good two decades plus in the community.

Yes, but we finally won on those two issues, but ENDA, not so much.  Why?  In part, because DADT and marriage had some pretty delicious victims — the military members, in their dress blues, were coming out of the woodwork on a weekly basis, while the TV was filled with images of happy gay couples running to city hall, starting in Massachusetts back in 2004, and then proceeding state by state.  As for ENDA, name one gay or trans person who is the poster child for ENDA.  The lack of sympathetic, visible victims isn’t helping move things along any quicker.

And finally, at this point, it’s not clear how the White House issues an executive order, or how the US House brings up the bill itself, when the community is, in an echo from 2007, divided as to what it even wants.  Uncertainty does not breed political courage.

That’s why prospects for the ENDA legislation and executive order continue to look dim, in contrast to our success on DADT and marriage.

Plus ça change.


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Gawker: Fox News demoted Shep Smith because he’s gay http://americablog.com/2014/04/gawker-says-fox-news-discriminated-shep-smith-hes-gay.html http://americablog.com/2014/04/gawker-says-fox-news-discriminated-shep-smith-hes-gay.html#comments Wed, 30 Apr 2014 17:50:16 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=118393 Fox News allegedly removed Smith from the prime-time line-up over fears he would come out as gay last year.

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Gawker is reporting that Fox News discriminated against longtime anchor Shepard Smith because Smith is gay and decided last year to finally, officially, come out.

If true, Fox News’ actions could constitute a violation of both New York city and state (2002) employment law, which bans job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Fox News is denying the story, and claims Gawker got some details wrong.

It has long been rumored that Smith is gay – a gay Fox News employee told me that he knew for a fact that Smith was gay over ten years ago. But what Gawker is alleging is entirely new.

Gawker is claiming that Smith had intended to come out last year, was told “no” by Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and that because of internal fears that Smith might come out anyway, and Fox News’ conservative audience would not approve of a gay host, Fox essentially demoted Smith, removing him from the network’s prime-time line-up.

Smith, in fact, has not come out publicly. Though he as been seen in NYC with his reported boyfriend.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith, via his official bio on FoxNews.com.

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith, via his official bio on FoxNews.com.

Fox News’ actions, if true, could be a violation of the New York State and New York City human rights laws, which prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Smith is not, however, protected by federal law, which permits job discrimination against people who are gay.

Such discrimination would be outlawed under the proposed ENDA legislation (Employment Non-Discrimination Act), which has been languishing before Congress for decades.

While I wouldn’t expect Smith, a longtime and loyal Fox News employee, to sue the network for discrimination, all bets are off if the network pushes him too far, and/or lets him go.

Smith is also now in an odd position. If the allegations are true, Fox News may want him to publicly deny them. Of course, such pressure from Fox News could only add to Smith’s ultimate damages in any future court case.


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SC mayor fires lesbian police chief, says rather have drunks than gays protecting children http://americablog.com/2014/04/sc-mayor-fires-lesbian-police-chief-says-rather-drunks-gays-protecting-children.html http://americablog.com/2014/04/sc-mayor-fires-lesbian-police-chief-says-rather-drunks-gays-protecting-children.html#comments Sat, 19 Apr 2014 14:20:02 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=117589 "I would much rather have somebody who drank than somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children."

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Earl Bullard, the mayor of Latta, South Carolina, is in some hot water after firing the town’s openly-lesbian police chief, Crystal Moore, apparently because she’s gay.

Latta was caught on tape disparaging gays, and suggesting that he’d rather have a drunk in charge of the safety of his children than someone who is gay.

Here’s the transcript of what Bullard was caught saying. The actual audio is below.

“I would much rather have.. and I will say this to anybody’s face… somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.

Because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be. You know.. you got people out there — I’m telling you buddy — I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around. ”

Latta. South Carolina mayor Earl Bullard.

Latta. South Carolina mayor Earl Bullard.

I’m not going to let 2 women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with 2 men neither.”

I’m not going to do it. Because that ain’t the way the world works.”

Now, all these people showering down and saying ‘Oh it’s a different lifestyle they can have it.’ Ok, fine and dandy, but I don’t have to look at it and I don’t want my child around it.”

Mayor Latta served Chief Moore with seven reprimands right before firing her. These were the first reprimands she’d earned in 20 years on the job.  Some say that in addition to Bullard’s anti-gay animus he also had a vendetta against the chief because she investigated one of his hires:

Some residents believe the mayor firing Crystal Moore was payback. Moore investigated Mayor Bullard’s most recent hire, Parks And Rec Director Vontray Sellers.

NEWS 13 first broke the story of sellers driving a Latta town vehicle while his license was suspended back in February…Chief Moore found the mayor neglected to conduct a background check on Sellers.

It is legal under federal law to fire someone for being gay. Under state and local law, it depends on each state and municipality whether gay people are protected in employment.

Most people don’t realize that the only people covered under anti-discrimination laws are the groups of people actually covered by name.  Meaning, only those groups listed specifically under the law – race, religion, national origin, gender, etc. – are protected from discrimination.  If you’re not listed, as gays (aka sexual orientation) are not under federal law, and under many state and local laws, then you’re not protected.

And there is no such thing as the generally-held, but mistaken, concept that “the Constitution bans discrimination.”

There’s been a proposal before the Obama administration for several years now to issue an executive order to require that federal government grant recipients have employment protects in place for their gay and trans employees.  The effort hasn’t gone anywhere in part because it isn’t run very well (when’s the last time you heard any rabble-rousing on this issue?), but also in part because the administration, for whatever reason, simply doesn’t want to do it.

The administration’s public explanation for not doing an executive order is that they’d rather a pass ENDA, a federal law fixing the problem. The problem is that with a GOP-controlled House of Representatives, only the most hopefully think that there’s any chance of passing that law.

It would be interesting to see if the police department of Latta, SC has received any federal grants.


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Boehner says no to ENDA, so where’s the executive order Mr. President? http://americablog.com/2014/01/boehner-says-way-enda-will-pass-house-wheres-exec-order-mr-president.html http://americablog.com/2014/01/boehner-says-way-enda-will-pass-house-wheres-exec-order-mr-president.html#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 12:00:16 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=111634 Now that Obama will do an executive order on minimum wage, there's no excuse not to do one on gay civil rights.

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Republican Speaker of the US House John Boehner today told the House LGBT (aka gay) caucus that the US House will not pass ENDA, a gay jobs bill, this year.

ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, is legislation that would make it illegal at the federal level to discriminate against gay and trans people in hiring, firing and promotions.  Currently at the federal level it is legal to not hire, fire, or not promote someone because they’re gay or transgender.  ENDA, which has already passed the US Senate, would change that.

Fast forward to yesterday.  The White House announced, as part of the ramp-up to the State of the Union address, that the President would issue an executive order mandating that employees of federal contractors must be paid a minimum wage of at least $10.10 an hour.

 Unidentified participants taking part to the second gay pride march through the city of Thessaloniki on June 15, 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Portokalis / Shutterstock.com

Unidentified participants taking part to the second gay pride march through the city of Thessaloniki on June 15, 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Portokalis / Shutterstock.com

It was an interesting move, as gay rights advocates have been asking the White House, for several years now, to issue an executive order mandating that ENDA apply to federal contractors. The White House has so far refused, claiming that they’d rather go the legislative route, via Congress, where a fix could be more sweeping (beyond just federal contractors), and more permanent (as it’s easier for the next president to rescind an executive order than it is to get legislation repealed).

But now with the action on the minimum wage, the White House has weakened their argument that they prefer the legislative route.  And with today’s news that Boehner has said flat-out that ENDA will not pass the House this year, the floor has pretty much fallen out of the White House’s excuse for not doing an ENDA executive order.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

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Obama to mandate minimum wage increase for govt contractors, but not ENDA? http://americablog.com/2014/01/obama-mandate-minimum-wage-increase-govt-contractors-enda.html http://americablog.com/2014/01/obama-mandate-minimum-wage-increase-govt-contractors-enda.html#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:27:56 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=111535 Gays have been pressing Obama to mandate that federal contractors provide job protections for gay/trans workers.

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The White House disclosed this morning that during his State of the Union address this evening, President Obama will announce an increase in the minimum wage for federal contract workers.

By using his executive authority, the President can increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for those employees of federal contractors making less than that amount.

Interestingly, the President’s proposal parallels one made by the gay community severeal years ago: That the President use an executive order to implement jobs protection legislation for gay and trans people (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, aka ENDA) who work for federal contractors.  While many do not realize it, it is currently legal under federal law to fire someone simply because they’re gay or transgender.

ENDA passed the Senate last year, but has zero chances of passing a GOP-controlled House, as Republican Speaker John Boehner has made clear.

enda-featured

In the past, the administration has said that it prefers congressional action on legislation, as opposed to an executive order, as actual legislation is more sweeping and more permanent:

Obama’s advisers say they’re also relying on their experience in 2010, when Congress repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military. The president came under pressure at the time to end the ban through executive actions, but he insisted that an act of Congress would be more sweeping and have an enduring impact.

The same rationale applies to the minimum wage. Actual legislation would affect more people, and be harder to overturn than an executive order.  But now that that rationale has flown (or been flung) out the window, it no longer applies to ENDA either.

As the President said back in 2011: “We can’t wait for an increasingly disfunctional Congress to do its job. Where they won’t act, I will.”

UPDATE: Jen Bendery at HuffPo asked former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today about an executive order covering ENDA, and Pelosi said the Presdient should do it.

As more background on this issue, here’s a nice Jon Stewart video on the issue of an ENDA executive order.


(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

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Colbert on ENDA: “Make[s] it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays, batman and tartar sauce” http://americablog.com/2013/11/colbert-enda-makes-illegal-discriminate-lesbians-gays-batman-tartar-sauce.html http://americablog.com/2013/11/colbert-enda-makes-illegal-discriminate-lesbians-gays-batman-tartar-sauce.html#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 21:39:49 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=106969 Humorist Stephen Colbert weighs in on the US Senate's recent passage of a major gay rights employment bill.

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Stephen Colbert weighs in on the US Senate’s passage yesterday of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity (basically, against gay or trans people, but a gay person also couldn’t refuse to hire someone because they’re straight).

colbert-on-enda

Of course, as Colbert describes ENDA:

“They want to make it illegal to discriminate against lesbians, gays… batman… and tartar sauce.”

ENDA is expected to have a difficult time passing the US House, as Republican House Speaker John Boehner opposes it, though he doesn’t offer a terribly convincing reason.

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ENDA passes US Senate: 64-32; Boehner opposes passage in House http://americablog.com/2013/11/enda-gay-job-discrimination-ban-passes-us-senate-64-32-chance-house.html http://americablog.com/2013/11/enda-gay-job-discrimination-ban-passes-us-senate-64-32-chance-house.html#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 20:12:25 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=106865 10 Republicans joined all Democrats present in voting for the bill banning anti-gay job discrimination.

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The US Senate today passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation banning workplace discrimination against gay and transgender people, by a hefty 64 t0 32 margin.

The bill only needed to pass by a simple majority after it earlier obtained the necessary votes to break a Republican filibuster.

All Democrats (and Independents) present voted for the bill, along with 10 Republicans: Kirk, McCain, Flake, Toomey, Portman, Hatch, Ayotte, Murkowski, Heller and Collins.

The legislation now moves over to the House, where Republican Speaker John Boehner has promised to kill it.

ENDA-passes-senate

Boehner claimed the other day that ENDA is unnecessary, as it duplicated existing protections under the law.  That’s actually not true. First, here’s Boehner’s aide:

“We have always believed this is covered by existing law,” the aide said, adding that it is “not a new issue or a new position — it’s a longstanding position, and, frankly, not ‘news’ at all. This has been his position, on the record, for years, stated publicly many times.”

It’s legal under federal law to fire (or not hire, or not promote) someone for being gay or trans.  It also legal in 29 states to fire someone for being gay, and in 33 states to fire someone for being trans.  Though, gays and trans people in those states would be protected if the city in which they live has outlawed such discrimination.

Another odd aspect of Boehner’s position: He claims that ENDA will lead to frivolous lawsuits and the loss of American jobs.  But if gay job protections are already part of the law, and this legislation is duplicative, then we’re already have those frivolous lawsuits and lost jobs.  So where are they?

As Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid noted the other day, Boehner claims to be worried about frivolous lawsuits yet he spent $2 million of the taxpayers money on his own frivolous lawsuit against the Defense of Marriage Act, which was struck down (in part) by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

Because of Boehner’s opposition, the prospects for ENDA in the House aren’t terribly good. Which raises the question of how big a victory this really is.

I’m not a terribly big fan of passing legislation in one House that you know won’t pass in the other. It’s not always a good idea to make your team take hard votes when the vote won’t matter, because the legislation is going down. But in this case, things are more interesting as the “hard vote” has tended to be the vote against ENDA, not the vote for it.

As Senator Reid noted the other day, both GOP Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, likely presidential contenders in 2016, chickened out when it came to speaking against ENDA on the Senate floor.  Both men are known for being happy (and yappy) to go on the Senate floor and talk at length if it means a bit more media exposure.  Yet on ENDA, they were silent (though they ended up voting against it).  Arch-conservatives that they are, Rubio and Cruz fear that opposing gay rights might hurt their presidential aspirations, and Rubio is a religious right clone.  That’s quite a tacit admission.

For that reason, the ENDA vote was likely a good idea, even if there is little chance of it passing the Republican House.

Clearly ENDA, and gay civil rights issues more generally, are making the Republicans squirm.  What was once feared to be a third-rail for Democrats, has become a real third-rail for Republicans.  And who doesn’t get a chuckle out of that.

Here’s a statement just released by the President:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 7, 2013

Statement by the President on Senate Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013

For more than two centuries, the story of our nation has been the story of more citizens realizing the rights and freedoms that are our birthright as Americans.  Today, a bipartisan majority in the Senate took another important step in this journey by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would help end the injustice of our fellow Americans being denied a job or fired just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.  Just as no one in the United States can lose their job simply because of their race, gender, religion or a disability, no one should ever lose their job simply because of who they are or who they love.

Today’s victory is a tribute to all those who fought for this progress ever since a similar bill was introduced after the Stonewall riots more than three decades ago.  In particular, I thank Majority Leader Reid, Chairman Harkin, Senators Merkley and Collins for their leadership, and Senator Kirk for speaking so eloquently in support of this legislation.  Now it’s up to the House of Representatives.  This bill has the overwhelming support of the American people, including a majority of Republican voters, as well as many corporations, small businesses and faith communities.  They recognize that our country will be more just and more prosperous when we harness the God-given talents of every individual.

One party in one house of Congress should not stand in the way of millions of Americans who want to go to work each day and simply be judged by the job they do.  Now is the time to end this kind of discrimination in the workplace, not enable it.  I urge the House Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote and send it to my desk so I can sign it into law.  On that day, our nation will take another historic step toward fulfilling the founding ideals that define us as Americans.

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When the South starts giving up on gay marriage, it’s time for the GOP to at least give in on ENDA http://americablog.com/2013/11/enda-boehner-opposed-gay-job-discrimination.html http://americablog.com/2013/11/enda-boehner-opposed-gay-job-discrimination.html#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 12:00:37 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=106595 ENDA, banning job discrimination against gays, passed a key hurdle in the US Senate last night.

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Republican Speaker of the US House John Boehner yesterday came out in opposition to legislation banning employment discrimination against gays (ENDA).

Then, in a move intended to somehow deflect criticism that he’s a flaming bigot, Boehner’s office issued a clarification saying Boehner’s opposition to the civil rights law wasn’t “news,” since he’s been opposed to helping gays for years.

Yes, that helps.

And while it’s true that the Republican party’s disdain for gays, blacks, Latinos, immigrants, Jews, and women (among others) isn’t anything “new” – it’s quite old, in fact – what is newsworthy is the GOP’s stubborn refusal, or rank inability, to evolve with the times.

Also newsworthy is their penchant for lying in order to cover up their prejudice.  Sam Stein has more from a Boehner aide:

“We have always believed this is covered by existing law,” the aide said, adding that it is “not a new issue or a new position — it’s a longstanding position, and, frankly, not ‘news’ at all. This has been his position, on the record, for years, stated publicly many times.”

If Speaker Boehner has always believed that discrimination based on sexual orientation is covered by existing law, then Speaker Boehner is a bit of an idiot.

boehner

GOP US House Speaker John Boehner

Now, granted, one has to give the Speaker a little leeway as most Republican leaders aren’t terribly familiar with the concept of civil or human rights.  So they probably make the same mistake a lot of Americans do, thinking that “discrimination” is already “illegal” in America, and certainly “banned by the Constitution.”

In fact, generally speaking, the only “discrimination” in employment that’s banned is discrimination that is specifically listed in the law.  The current categories in the law are: race, skin color, religion, national origin, disability, gender, and age.  Sexual orientation isn’t in the list, nor is gender identity, so it is legal under federal law to fire someone for being gay or transgender. It is also legal to fire someone for being gay in 29 states, and for being trans in 33 states. ENDA would fix that under federal law.

So Speaker Boehner is wrong when he says that “this” is covered by existing law. It’s not. It is however a handy talking point for reinforcing the public’s existing confusion about the law.  And as I always say, Republicans learned long ago that the truth usually doesn’t win them many fights.  So they tend to embrace the alternative.

In spite of all that, ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act), passed a key hurdle last night in the US Senate, and is headed towards a final vote in that body this week.

The problem now – assuming ENDA does pass the Senate – is going to be the Republican-controlled House.

I harbor no illusions that the House is going to pass ENDA.  I do however think that anti-gay prejudice in the year 2013 is about as popular as a government shutdown.  And the ENDA vote in the House, at the very least, is one more stake in the heart of GOP extremism, helping to expose that party’s bigots to the light of day, and to American voters.

And while intolerance plays well with half the party base (the Tea Partyers seem far less interested in gay-bashing than their religious right GOP-base brethren), it doesn’t serve the Republicans terribly well in America’s big cities, or in national elections.

And if recent polls are to believed, even the South, the GOP’s last bastion of intolerance, is heading south.

A new gay marriage poll in South Carolina ought to give Republicans pause – so says Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza.  The poll shows that only 52% of South Carolinians oppose legal recognition of gay marriage.  Here’s Cillizza:

There’s a fascinating new poll number out of South Carolina that tells you everything you need to know about where the politics of same-sex marriage in the country are headed and why Republicans need to be very careful with how they handle the issue in the coming years….

Republicans, particularly those with an eye on a future national bid in 2016 or beyond, would do well to take note of the movement on gay marriage in South Carolina. While a Republican primary electorate — like, say, for the state’s first-in-the-South presidential primary in 2016 —  will still likely be strongly opposed to gay marriage, the simple fact is that the movement on the issue is all in one direction. And, for a party that currently finds itself struggling to build a national coalition in future presidential elections, this poll should be a wake-up call.

And while the poll was about gay marriage and not ENDA, banning discrimination in the workplace is a far less controversial topic than two men getting hitched.

So in the end, John Boehner is right. His anti-gay bigotry isn’t new.  It is, however, starting to get old.

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Are gays selling out by seeking the right to marry? http://americablog.com/2013/07/are-gays-selling-out-by-seeking-the-right-to-marry.html http://americablog.com/2013/07/are-gays-selling-out-by-seeking-the-right-to-marry.html#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 11:00:29 +0000 http://americablog.com/?p=97664 Some want gay rights groups to stop working on marriage, and even ENDA, and instead focus on poverty & race.

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A gay man and his terminally ill, bed-ridden partner fly to the state of Maryland from their home state of Ohio, which bans gay marriages.

They get married in the plane on the tarmac, by one of their aunts, who was specially ordained for this moment. (They raised money online to pay for the private jet necessary to transport the one husband, who is stuck in bed with ALS.)

The picture below is of them saying their vows.  The partner on the left was choking up.  The partner on the right, only barely able to move his hand, slowly forced out the words “I do.”

Are they civil rights sell-outs for wanting to get married before the one man dies?

two-gay-men-wed

Some would say yes.  And for a variety of reasons.  First, the two are gay, white and men.  Lately there’s been a growing chorus of scorn from some on the (far) left against the evil that is gay white men.  Gay white men run all the gay groups, we’re told. Gay white men run all the top blogs (as if someone hired us).  If only gay white men didn’t exist, the gay rights movement, and the world, would be a better place.

The demonization of gay white men goes hand in hand with the demonization of the modern gay rights agenda.  And I don’t mean demonization from the right, I mean demonization from the left. There are those who consider the two men in the photo above to be traitors because they’re embracing a heterosexual institution, marriage.  The naysayers are also not happy with gay rights groups that pursue marriage equality, or pursued the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Why?  Because they don’t like either institution, and they feel that these pursuits don’t benefit a large number of gay people.  Though it’s not clear what gay person doesn’t potentially benefit from marriage, and the same goes for access to the military, GI benefits, and more – it’s an equal opportunity opportunity.

What do they think would be more beneficial? Seeking passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would put into federal law a ban on workplace discrimination against gay and trans people (it’s currently legal under federal civil rights law to fire someone for being gay or trans).

And they’re not wrong for wanting ENDA.  It’s a great law, and I’ve been working on its passage since 1996.  But ENDA was going nowhere the past seven years, and we had to fight for something.  Marriage and DADT organically rose to the top of pile.  And I think you’re hard pressed to argue that ENDA is more beneficial than the right to marry, and the over 1,100 federal benefits that go with it.  Not to mention, the cultural sea-change that will come, and is already coming, with the advent of gay marriage.

As for DADT, the nation’s experience with racially integrating the military showed how important an influence it can be to force people of all walks of life to work together and realize that they’re all human beings, equally worthy of respect. I also think the symbolism of openly gay service members, risking their lives for their country, shouldn’t be underestimated in terms of its impact on the larger culture.

Of course, a good number of the folks upset that we pursued the repeal of DADT, and are pursuing marriage equality, would prefer that gay rights organizations abandon the gay rights legal and legislative agenda all together and focus instead on poverty, immigration, racism, and other liberal issues that all of us embrace, but most of us don’t define as “gay.”

I was reading a review of longtime lesbian activist and thinker Urvashi Vaid’s new book, “Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics.”  And I saw this quote, which got me thinking of the two men who got married on the tarmac in Maryland:

“The LGBT movement has been coopted by the very institutions it once sought to transform,” [Vaid] writes. “Heterosexuality, the nuclear family, the monogamous couple-form are our new normal. In place of activism and mobilization, with a handful of notable exceptions, LGBT organizations have become a passive society of spectators, following the lead of donors and pollsters rather than advocating on behalf of sectors of the community that are less economically powerful and less politically popular.”

I’ve written about this aspect of the topic before, specifically concerning immigration reform (but it’s happening with race and poverty issues too).  A number of people were trying to claim that immigration rights are gay rights and gay rights are immigration rights.  They’re not.  They’re all equally worthy struggles, but they’re not all the same struggle in practical terms.  What do I mean by that?  I mean, that if our national gay rights groups stop fighting for marriage equality and ENDA, and instead devote all of their resources to racism and poverty, then they will cease being gay civil rights organizations – they will not be fighting for gay rights.  Sure, they’ll be fighting for another worthy cause – in the same way that immigration groups could stop working on immigration reform and instead focus on defending a woman’s right to choose.  It too is a worthy cause, but I suspect a lot of immigration advocates would have a problem with the switch.

Some would argue, what’s so wrong with gay groups working on race issue – after all, we ask the NAACP to endorse marriage?  And that’s a fair point.  We make coalitions all the time, and it’s fair (and wise) to scratch your coalition partners’ backs on their issues, so that next time they’ll hopefully scratch yours.  And that’s why progressive groups in town routinely sign on to each other’s letters and protests and legislative battles.  We work as a coalition.  But that’s a different thing than criticizing gay groups for working on gay marriage instead of poverty.  Rather than enlarging the agenda for the sake of the coalition, some people want to change the agenda entirely by labeling non- gay rights issues “gay,” while abandoning gay issues entirely, in order to further a set of issues they prefer – issues which are simply not part of the “gay agenda.”

They don’t want us fighting for marriage at all, and even pushing for ENDA.  They want us doing the work of traditional race and poverty groups, full time, instead of gay rights.  And that simply doesn’t make sense if you’re going to claim that you’re a gay rights organization, or a gay rights activist.

To wit: this astonishing article from Rolling Stone on July 12 of this year.  And I quote:

For years, the larger LGBT movement has received criticism for focusing on marriage equality over issues seen as more relevant to working-class people and minorities. “If you’re a waitress in Jackson, Mississippi and you’re working at a job with no healthcare and your girlfriend is working at the local Target or Wal-Mart,” asks New Orleans writer and activist Kenyon Farrow, “how is marriage going to protect you from poverty?”

Excuse me just a moment.  But other minorities fought for their marriage equality 46 years ago, and got it.  But when we fight for ours, nearly half a century later, suddenly the battle is selfish and superfluous. Uh huh.

And we’re now to believe that gay rights groups should no longer fight for gay rights – and they should specifically give up on marriage equality, and probably ENDA too – because some gay people are poor.  The thing is, if you’re poor and your civil rights aren’t a priority for you, there already exist anti-poverty organizations that are fighting an anti-poverty agenda.  It’s unclear why gay rights groups need to disband in order to fight the agenda of organizations that already exist – how many poverty groups disbanded when Matthew Shepard was murdered?  He needed a hell of a lot more than a job.

No one is saying that we won’t help the larger progressive coalition, we will, and are.  But these folks quite literally want us to stop fighting for our civil rights, and more specifically, stop using our civil rights organizations to fight for our civil rights.  They think we should be ashamed that we’re fighting for our civil rights.

Okay, I’m game.  Then why not play the same game with environment issues.  Maybe environmental groups should stop fighting the Keystone Pipeline, and more generally stop fighting global warming, because neither of those causes will help poor environmentalists get a job today. It’s time the Sierra Club and WWF gave up on the environment and devoted all of their time to poverty.

And you know what else won’t help you get a job today?  Protecting a woman’s right to choose.  Opposing the death penalty.  Worrying about Edward Snowden and the NSA.  Fighting to strengthen the Voting Rights Act.  Getting guns off the street.  Immigration reform (how is that going to help some poor lesbian couple in Appalachia find a job?)  Or being outraged over the Zimmerman verdict, for that matter – a righteous cause, but it’s not going to help someone pay their rent.  According to these folks, we should all give up any battle we’re fighting, and dismantle any organization fighting that battle, and redirect all of our energies to fighting poverty.

Or to put it more succinctly: Please stop working on your pet issue, so you can work on their pet issue instead.

I chose to devote a good portion of my life to work on gay rights issues because I’m gay, and I’ve suffered a lot through my life because of it, including losing people I loved.  I work on other progressive causes too, but it’s clear that my #1 commitment is to gay rights.  And that’s fine.  Other people have made their #1 commitment immigration, or the environment, or women’s rights.  All of that is fine too.  And in fact, quite necessary.  If I spent as much time working on other issues as I did gay rights, I’d be an expert on none of them, and far less effective at advancing any of them.  Do I care about all those issues?  Absolutely?  Do I think they’re all equally meritorious in the grand pantheon of progressive causes?  Yes.  But I already work 14 hour days, so to work on the environment and race and poverty and women’s rights as many hours a day as I work on gay rights, would mean cutting back on my gay rights work.  And I’m not willing to do that, not until win a lot few more victories, and young gay, bi and trans kids stop killing themselves.

I count on the fact that others out there are working 14 hour days on their pet causes, just as I do the same on gay rights.  And our specialization, I’d argue, make each of us that much more effective than if we all worked on everything equally.  And that benefits all of our causes all the more.

The irony is, that for all the harping about how we’re working on the wrong agenda, and how it’s all the fault of the gay white men, the gay rights movement in America is considered one of the most successful, if not the most successful, movement in progressive politics today.

And it’s not just relative.  We’ve made some remarkable advances in the last decade, let alone the last year, and the last month.  For people who are so wrong all the time, we must be doing something right.

At San Diego Pride this past Saturday, there were reportedly more than 100 police officers in the Pride parade in uniform.  The contingent included this squad car containing two married gay cops – check out the front windshield:

gay-cops

“Just married” cop car in the San Diego Pride parade, July 13, 2013. Photo by Fergal O’Doherty.

A friend emailed me last night, after seeing the photo of the cop car.  He said that it ends not with revolution, but with assimilation.  And you know what?  I’m totally okay with that.

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