Report: Lack of LGBT employment protection is a human rights violation

Posted on 15 Sep 2014 at 4:33pm

Williams-Institute-Logo copyThe lack of protections against employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the U.S. constitutes human right violations, according to a report filed by the Williams Institute with the United Nations.

Based on social science research and legal analysis, the report suggests the United States is not complying with its international human rights commitments, particularly in the areas of employment, health, youth and violence against LGBT people.

The United Nations has recently begun a review of the human rights record of the United States. In its last review, the United States accepted recommendations to address discrimination against LGBT people in order to comply with international human rights standards. However, there is no federal law that protects LGBT people from discrimination in the workplace.

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Obama appoints gay former Plano man to Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

Posted on 15 Sep 2014 at 12:09pm
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Maneesh Goyal

President Barack Obama has appointed Maneesh K. Goyal to the board of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Goyal is an out gay men who grew up and went to high school in Plano, where his parents, Madan and Sneh Goyal, still live.

The 12-member J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board oversees the U.S. State Department’s Fulbright Scholarship program. The board members also select students, scholars, teachers and others to participate in the Fulbright exchange program.

Goyal  is founder and president of MKG, an event marketing agency with headquarters in New York City. Started in 2001, the company now has offices in Los Angeles and Chicago. His clients include Delta Airlines, Evian, Chase Bank, JCPenney, Neiman Marcus and Levis. MKG was named as one of Crain’s New York’s “Fast 50″ companies in 2013, honoring companies that have found “unique methods for powering phenomenal growth.”

Also in 2013, Goyal co-founded “Live in Grey,” a resource and consultancy effort focused on workplace culture. And from 1999 to 2001, he was a program officer at Dyson Foundation where he built a national program to train pediatricians.

Goyal helped found and lead Duke University’s gay alumni network was a board member for Empire State Pride Agenda, a New York state LGBT rights organization. He has also established a gay entrepreneurs breakfast group in New York City and he  requires all his employees to spend five paid volunteer days and an annual fund on their favorite non-profit. He is on the U.S. Advisory Council for the American India Foundation, and has served on boards for LifeBeat, South Asian American Forum and Stonewall Community Foundation.

Goyal has a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s degree in public health from Yale.

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Liebbe releases confidential report from DISD and responds to charges

Posted on 15 Sep 2014 at 11:34am
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Jeremy Liebbe

DISD investigator Jeremy Liebbe, who was fired earlier this month, has released a document from the district marked “confidential” that explains charges against him.

The school district investigated seven charges against Liebbe during his suspension from the district and responded to the allegations over the weekend. The charges range from attempting to disable the IT department’s access to the computer servers without IT’s knowledge to running a background check on his supervisor who failed to divulge information about her criminal background on her employment application.

DISD hired the firm of Vincent Lopez PC to investigate the matters. Carlos Lopez conducted the investigation, spoke to some district employees as well as Liebbe, and conducted a check of Liebbe’s emails on his district-issued laptop.

“Throughout the past eight weeks I fully cooperated with the district’s administration, attorney Carlos Lopez, and the district’s internal auditors,” Liebbe said. “I wish I could say they extended me the same courtesy.”

In his response, Liebbe discounts each of the charges.

As part of his job description, Liebbe’s responsibility was to “manage the implementation of the security of all investigative files and systems.”

The district claims Liebbe installed security camera in his department without informing personnel outside his department. Liebbe said the district installed two of the cameras and purchased the other four. When the other four were not installed, he and another investigator installed them. Both sides agree he let everyone in his department know the cameras were there.

Liebbe had another employee look up the criminal background of Tonya Grayson, his supervisor. He felt it was inappropriate to check her background himself, since he reported directly to her.

The other employee found her criminal background but wasn’t comfortable with having checked her background, so reported the incident to her superiors that same day.

The district questioned Liebbe’s checking the criminal background of new investigators coming into his department.

“State law requires criminal history background checks on all incoming employees of the district,” Bill Liebbe wrote in his answer to DISD.

Bill Liebbe is Jeremy’s father and has taken over as Jeremy’s lead attorney.

Another charge involves Liebbe encouraging and influencing other members of his team to file grievances over Grayson’s refusal to allow them to work over the July 4 holiday. Because one of his employees didn’t have enough seniority, her pay was docked for the holiday.

Liebbe said he encouraged an employee to speak with the payroll department to see what her options were.

The district wrote, “Liebbe very aggressively attempted to persuade some of the PSO employees to file a grievance against Grayson.”

None of the employees did file a grievance, “despite Liebbe’s encouragements.”

The sixth question involves Liebbe remotely accessing his district-issued laptop and deleting information from it while on administrative leave. Investigators claim they found software on the computer to remotely access the computer and during the investigation found his emails wiped out, user profile deleted and usage of his dropbox.

Liebbe claims he installed the software in case his computer was hacked or stolen because of sensitive and confidential information kept on the laptop.

“Copies of all of those documents remain on district servers,” Bill Liebbe wrote in the response.

A final complaint involves getting parental consent to record interviews during investigations involving student witnesses or complainants.

“An employee shall obtain written consent from a student’s parent or guardian and from his or her principal before the employee may make or authorize a videotape of a student or record or authorize the recording of a student’s voice,” the district wrote.

“The recording by PSO investigators of student interviews, without obtaining consent from the parent or guardian does not violate district board policy or the Texas Education Code,” Bill Liebbe wrote in response.

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Chinese activist wants WHO to condemn ‘gay cures’

Posted on 15 Sep 2014 at 11:12am
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Xiao Chen

Officially in China, homosexuality stopped being considered a “mental disease” in 2001. But there are still thousands of clinics there that offer “gay cures,” according to All Out, an international LGBT rights organization. Xiao Chen —that’s not his real name; it’s a pseudonym being used to protect him — was one of the gay men forced to undergo such a “cure.”

In a video about his ordeal (see below) Xiao Chen, 30, tells how one such clinic used electroshock therapy to “shock the gay out” of him.

He said: “In families like mine, being gay is still seen as something that can be cured, and scam clinics prey on that fear. Now, I want my friends, my family and everyone in China to understand that being gay is normal. If we get the World Health Organization to join in and speak out against gay ‘cures’, it could create a perfect storm.It could help convince officials to finally ban these dangerous gay ‘cures.’”

He has sued the clinic and a ruling in his lawsuit is expected soon.

Xiao Chen and All Out have gotten officials at the World Health Organization to agree to meet with them. They also have a petition circulating online urging WHO Director-General Margaret Chan to denounce so-called “gay cures.”

Watch the video below. Go here to sign the petition.

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Longtime Parkland CEO Ron Anderson dies of cancer

Posted on 12 Sep 2014 at 2:47pm
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Ron J. Anderson, M.D.

Ron J. Anderson, M.D., president and CEO of Parkland Health and Hospital System for 29 years, died Thursday, Sept. 11 of cancer. He was 68 years old. As of Friday morning, services were pending.

Anderson took over as head of Parkland in 1982, when he was 35 years old and when the AIDS epidemic was in its early days. Anderson was head of the county hospital when, in the late 80s, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance  (then called Dallas Gay Alliance) and Ron Woodruff of Dallas Buyers Club fame, filed — and won — the lawsuit that forced Parkland to treat people with HIV.

Anderson was named president and CEO after serving two years as medical director of the hospital’s emergency room and outpatient clinic and head of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Division of Internal Medicine. He retired from Parkland in 2011, after spending his last years with the hospital leading the bond campaign that brought in public financing for the new $1.3 billion facility due to open next year.

In the mid-1980s, Anderson grabbed national attention when he spoke out against the practice — called patient dumping — of transferring medically unstable patients from private hospitals to public hospitals based on the patient’s ability or inability to pay, leading to passage of state laws regarding indigent care in Texas and later federal legislation banning patient dumping.

According to a press release from Parkland announcing his death, Anderson was known as an advocate of universal health care and for leading development of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care health centers. He came to national attention again in the mid-1990s as a spokesperson in the movement for better confidentiality regarding the patient/physician relationship.

Anderson once said, in a speech to a UT Southwestern graduating class, “It is not enough just to try ‘to do good’ and try ‘to avoid evil,’ although these are the ethical keystones of the physician/patient relationship. We cannot be paternalistic toward patients and must accept their cultural, religious, ethnic and social differences. We must respect our patients’ autonomy and desire for wholeness, which should stimulate us to address the social justice issues affecting our patients’ lives.”

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That liberal Ted Cruz gets booed off stage

Posted on 12 Sep 2014 at 2:42pm
Ted Cruz

Eddie Munster

Sen. Ted Cruz being booed off stage isn’t hard to imagine — unless the reason is he’s just too darned liberal for the group he’s addressing.

Cruz was invited to speak to In Defense of Christians. Unfortunately for Cruz, neither he nor his staff checked out what the group stood for or who the other speakers were.

In Defense of Christians fights all that discrimination against Christians that’s always going on, especially in the Middle East. Among the members is former Attorney General John Ashcroft who is remembered for draping two partially nude statues in the Justice Department.

In his speech, Cruz was booed for defending Israel. But other speakers on the roster that night included some of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Christian supporters as well as others allied with Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to Newsweek.

“Those who hate Jews hate Christians,” Cruz said before leaving the stage. “If those in this room will not recognize that, then my heart weeps. If you hate the Jewish people you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ.”

How foolish of the senator. Of course you can hate Jews. Just look how they’re persecuting those Christians. Not like Assad, who’s always been pretty careful not to gas Christians when he’s exterminating portions of the rest of his population.

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UPDATE: Arizona fights recognizing Vietnam vet’s 45-year relationship after his death

Posted on 12 Sep 2014 at 12:11pm
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Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona’s chief prick

UPDATE:

A federal judge issued an emergency order requiring Arizona to recognize the California marriage of Green Valley couple Fred McQuire and George Martinez., according to the Arizona Republic. Martinez died of pancreatic cancer last month.

ORIGINAL POST:

I know how much marriage-equality opponents hate to be called bigots, so I won’t do that. But in the case of George Martinez, Arizona officials battling recognizing his marriage and 45-year relationship with Fred McQuire are just being a bunch of pricks.

Martinez’s final wish, as he battled cancer, was to marry his partner of forty-five years, Fred McQuire. Martinez passed away two weeks ago leaving McQuire a legal battle in their home state over Arizona’s ban on gay marriage. The state is not allowing McQuire to list himself as the spouse of Martinez’s death certificate, putting funeral plans on hold for Martinez who is a Vietnam War veteran.

A judge will hear arguments today over whether McQuire’s marriage in July to Martinez in the state of California, is valid in Arizona. U.S. District Judge John Sedwick also will consider McQuire’s request to allow a death certificate that identifies McQuire as the surviving spouse.

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Appeals court upholds ban on conversion therapy torture

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 1:34pm

simpsonsAn appeals court upheld New Jersey’s law banning the use of “conversion therapy” on minors.

The court rejected the arguments that banning use of so-called conversion therapy violates freedom of speech or religion. The decision reaffirmed the right of the state to regulate medical professionals that they license.

Most LGBT groups have likened the practice of conversion therapy to torture.

Writing for the court, Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith held that “over the last few decades a number of well-known, reputable professional and scientific organizations have publicly condemned the practice of [sexual orientation change efforts], expressing serious concerns about its potential to inflict harm,” and that “[m]any such organizations have also concluded that there is no credible evidence that SOCE counseling is effective.”

“The court’s decision today is a major victory for the thousands of young people who will now be protected from these dangerous and horrific practices,” said Andrea Bowen, Garden State Equality’s executive director. “No one should subject minors to conversion therapy—least of all state-licensed clinicians responsible for the care and well-being of their patients.”

New Jersey Gov. Christie noted the “critical health risks” posed by conversion therapy, including “depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”

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Openly partnered priest is new rector at FW Episcopal Church

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 1:06pm

Karen-CalafatThe Rev. Karen Calafat is the new rector of St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. She begins Oct. 5.

Patti Callahan, a senior warden for the church, wrote in a statement that the church has been without a rector for the past nine months. “We are eager for Mother Karen to begin her part-time parish ministry here.”

Calafat has served in a variety of ministerial roles, including as a hospice chaplain, for two parishes in Southern California and a supply priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth for the past six years. She will continue her role as a chaplain with the Visiting Nurses Association.

She lives in Grand Prairie with her daughter. Her partner, Karen, also resides in Grand Prairie.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is “a welcoming and affirming group of local Christian communities in and around the Fort Worth area who are united with The Episcopal Church, a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”

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13 years after 9/11 — Don’t let the terrorists win

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 10:29am

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By Hardy Haberman, DV contributing writer

Thirteen years. Seems like a long time and yet I remember it like yesterday.

What I am about to say will undoubtedly enrage a lot of folks. But it comes from the heart, and I hope you will hear me out.

When those men hijacked the flights which later crashed into the World Trade Center Towers and The Pentagon and that lonely field in Pennsylvania, they had one intention in mind. They are called terrorists because that was their goal, to terrorize. They achieved that goal in a spectacular and outrageous fashion, and from that perspective their attacks were a success.

Americans, including me, were terrorized.

It was impossible not to feel terror as we all watched the aftermath of this despicable act. Indeed, we will never forget it, nor should we.

Now here is where I will lose friends: It’s time for us to stop being terrorized.

That terror caused us to put in place a series of laws that robbed many of the very freedoms we hold so dear.

It caused us to blindly follow a misguided president who dragged us into a war that didn’t need to happen in a country that had no part in the attacks.

It caused us to set up a secret surveillance network that rivals the old KGB but with half the efficiency.

It caused us to doubt our fellow citizens’ patriotism, simply because their religion or their manner of dress might be different than our own.

It caused us to imprison without charges hundreds of foreign nationals as “enemy combatants” with no clue as to how they would be tried or what they would be charged with.

It caused us to spend billions of dollars on half-baked security measures that do little to improve our safety and everything to reduce our privacy.

It sent us into a decade of doubt, suspicion and misdirected anger.

If that is not the result they sought, I don’t know what is. They succeeded with three of their flying bombs and the fourth was stopped only by the heroism of American citizens like you and me.

Its time we got back on track and stopped being terrorized. We need to stop behaving like scared rabbits and start behaving like those brave folks on United Flight 93. We need to stand up and realize that the world is a dangerous place, but we cannot sacrifice our freedom for security. We need to realize that each of us could be called on to defend our country at any time, but we do not need to militarize our country to do it.

We can be cautious without being paranoid. We can be vigilant without being militarized. We can reclaim our freedom and live life to the fullest without looking over our shoulder every few seconds fearing another attack.

I feel pretty sure there may be other attacks. That genii is out of the bottle. It is the world we live in today.

We cannot isolate ourselves any longer, but we can improve the quality of our lives and our freedom.

Until we do that, the terrorists win.

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