Exxon will comply with executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 12:36pm

exxonmobil.si

In a statement to the Associated Press on Tuesday, officials with ExxonMobil said the company will “abide by the law” and comply with President Obama’s executive orders, signed Monday, prohibiting the federal government and companies with federal contracts from discriminating against LGBT employees.

ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers would not comment on whether the company will change its own policies to prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination. But he insisted ExxonMobil prohibits “discrimination on any basis.”

In May, shareholders for the company, headquartered in Irving, voted down a proposal to change its policies to explicitly prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in employment. It was the 15th straight year shareholders have rejected the proposed changes, despite ongoing efforts of activists. When Exxon and Mobil were separate companies, Mobil had specific policies protecting LGBT employees and offered domestic partner benefits Once Exxon took over, though, those policies and benefits were abolished.

In May, Exxon shareholders voted down a proposal for the 15th consecutive year to add such language to its equal employment opportunity statement, maintaining that the business standards stated on a company web site ensure protections without having to specifically name them.

ExxonMobile began offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples among its employees in May 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. But the company faces a discrimination complaint in Illinois where a group called Freedom to Work submitted two fictitious resumes to the company, which ignored a more qualified applicant identified in the resume as gay and responded to a less qualified applicant who didn’t identify as gay.

According to government records, ExxonMobil won more than $480 million in federal contracts in 2013 and more than $8 billion since 2006.

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New report calls marriage equality in Texas a “gold mine”

Posted on 23 Jul 2014 at 10:49am

domareact_0627met001A report released by the LGBT think tank Williams Institute at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law estimates that legalized same-sex marriage in Texas would give new meaning to the phrase “Texas Miracle.”

According to the report, if same-sex marriage was legalized today, wedding planning would bring jobs, tourists and lots of cash.

Of the state’s 46,000 same-sex couples, 23,200 would marry over the next three years, the report estimates. That means:

• Total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests would add an estimated $181.6 million to the state and local economy of Texas over the course of three years, with a $116.2 million boost in the first year alone.”

• This economic boost would add $14.8 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers.

• Spending related to same-sex couples’ wedding ceremonies and celebrations would generate 523 to 1,570 full- and part-time jobs in the state

The study follows a federal ruling in February striking down Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage.

You can read the full report here.

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Temple University researchers say they can eliminate HIV from human cells

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:59pm
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Kamel Khalili

Researchers at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia say they have been able to completely eliminate HIV from human cell cultures.

Kamel Khalili, PhD., professor and chair of Temple’s Department of Neuroscience, call the advancement “one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.” But Khalili added that while it is “an exciting discovery,” the procedure is “not yet ready to go into the clinic.” He added, “It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Khalili, Dr. Wenhui Hu, an associate professor of neuroscience at Temple, led the project, which marks the first successful attempt to eliminate latent HIV-1 from human cells, according to a statement released by the university. Khalili is also director of the Center for Neurovirology and director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple.

Khalili and his colleagues published their study Monday, July 21, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, detailing how they created molecular tools to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA. “When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA,” the statement read. “From there, the cell’s gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together — resulting in virus-free cells.”

Read Temple’s press release here. Read the published study here.

 

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San Antonio City Council appoints new interim mayor

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:58pm

ivytaylorThe San Antonio City Council appointed Councilwoman Ivy R. Taylor as its interim mayor today following Julian Castro’s resignation in the wake of his appointment as the new U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Taylor was one of the three “no” votes against amending the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to the San Antonio News-Express, she voted no over concerns that it would stifle religious freedom.

At her swearing in today, however, Taylor said she looks forward to working with the entire community.

Chuck Smith of Equality Texas said in a statement he looks forward to working with Taylor “to ensure that the equal opportunities envisioned by the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance (NDO) can become a reality for the 1.3 million people who make San Antonio their home.”

Taylor, who has been on the council since 2009, will be the city’s first African-American mayor. She will serve until the May 2015 elections and has said in the past she would not run for the open position.

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Wendy Davis works the phones, rallies supporters

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:35pm

LGBT activist Patti Fink was among the Dallas area Democrats who turned out Monday night for a rally for Wendy Davis and a phone bank for the Democratic slate of candidates. She graciously shared some of her photos with Dallas Voice.

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LGBT news briefs

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 4:17pm

Idaho activists sentenced

A total of 23 LGBT activists arrested in February for protesting at the Idaho Statehouse were sentenced today on charges that included misdemeanor trespassing, and ordered to pay court costs based on the number of times they were arrested during ongoing protests calling for Idaho legislators to add protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s Human Rights Act.

Idaho State Police made more than 190 arrests by the time the legislative session ended in March. Among those sentenced today were two women who both lost children to suicide because of anti-LGBT discrimination.

Read more here at Pink News.

 

Maryland offers trans employees improved health benefits

FreeState Legal Project announced today that the state of Maryland has removed language from its employee health benefits policy denied coverage to transgender state employees for transition-related health care.  The state made the change as part of settlement of a legal claim filed by FreeState Legal on behalf of Sailor Holobaugh.

Read details here at FreeState Legal Project.

 

Obama endangers religious freedom in America (not really)

Fox News commentator Todd Starnes barely let the ink dry on President Obama’s executive order banning discrimination against LGBT people by those contracting with the federal government before he posted this “sky is falling” rant warning that the president is endangering religious freedom.

Starnes offers this quote from Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy dtudies at the Family Research Council: “This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior.”

 

Lesbian tossed from water park for wearing men’s  swimwear

And also from Pink News:

Jill Sweeney of Indiana believes she was kicked out of WildWater Adventure in Muskegon, Michigan on July 9 after spending only three hours at the park for her bachelorette party because she was wearing men’s swimming trunks, a tank top, and a sports bra, and because she is a lesbian.

WildWater Adventure General Manager Camille Mark said guests at the water park are required to wear swimsuits, no street clothes allowed, and that Sweeney’s sports bra was considered street clothes. She also said Sweeney’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with the situation.

Read more here.

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Susan Sarandon: An American for marriage equality

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 11:43am

Award-winning actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon has made this video (below) for the Human Rights Campaign’s marriage equality campaign. She says: “While marriage might not be my thing, if it’s your thing you damn well ought to be able to have it equally and unequivocally.”

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Marriage equality and estate planning for LGBTs

Posted on 22 Jul 2014 at 10:11am
Lorie Burch

Lorie Burch

Estate planning attorney Lorie Burch and family law attorney Jaime Dugan are teaming up to present a seminar on how recent legal trends and court decisions regarding marriage equality can impact LGBT couples, and the best way to start planning for the future. The seminar will be held Wednesday, July 23, 6:30-8 p.m., at the Frisco Public LiIbrary, 6101 Frisco Square Blvd., Sye. 3000.

The seminar is free and open to the public. If you have any questions, call Lorie Burch’s office at 972-385–0558.

Equality Texas will present a similar seminar Aug. 2, beginning at 2 p.m., at Resource Center’s John Thomas LGBT Community Center, 2701 Reagan St. Reserve your seat today with an RSVP to Amy Ford at AEFord@ft.newyorklife.com.

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LULAC looking for volunteers to escort children

Posted on 21 Jul 2014 at 4:38pm

Dallas’ LULAC Council #102 is looking for volunteers to escort refugee children being brought to DFW from the Texas/Mexico border.County Judge Clay Jenkins

“We need Guardian Angels for these children in case they are confronted by the hatemongers and bigots we saw this weekend,” noted a LULAC email sent out this afternoon that issued the “call to action”. Anyone interested in volunteering should email their contact info to mgarza@dgley.com to get signed up for training and to be provided with legal and community logistics info.

“Religious community leaders of all faiths are strongly encouraged to volunteer,” according to the email, which quoted Matthew 25:40: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the lest of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told Stonewall Democrats last week that the flood of unaccompanied children from violence-torn Central American countries is a humanitarian crisis, and urged the LGBT community to get involved to help. Jenkins made national headlines when he stepped forward to offer a place for the children to go until their situations can be resolved.

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., activists with the youth-led immigration reform group United We Dream staged a mock funeral for the Republican Party today in the halls of the Dirksen and Hart senate buildings. The protesters, carrying a mock coffin, said the GOP is dead to them because of the party’s stance on immigration reform.

Many of the protesters carried rainbow flags to symbolize their belief that immigration reform is inextricably tied to LGBT rights issues.

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Obama signs executive order banning discrimination

Posted on 21 Jul 2014 at 12:46pm

Barack ObamaPresident Barack Obama signed an executive order this morning barring federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Williams Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law estimates that the order would protect nearly 34 million employees nationwide, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.

A fact sheet provided by the White House cites wide-ranging public support for barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

You can read the full text of the order here.

Check out the video here:

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