National Briefs

Posted on 06 Apr 2006 at 8:21pm

Anti-discrimination policies critical to GLBT workers,
survey shows Non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies that include protections for GLBT workers are critical factors in their decisions on where to work, according to a national survey conducted by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Network, in conjunction with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP.

Lambda Legal announced the results of the survey on workplace fairness on Wednesday. The survey was conducted online, through an invitation to the organization’s online membership, between Sept. 22 and Nov. 4, 2005. It included 1,205 responses.

Of the respondents, 54 percent said that gay-friendly non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies were “critical” in their decision on where to work. Another 38 percent said such policies were appreciated and contributed to their happiness.

A total of 74 percent said they were out at work, and 39 percent reported experiencing some form of anti-gay discrimination or harassment in the workplace.

A total of 19 percent of the respondents said they faced barriers in promotions because of their sexual orientation.

Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, said the survey results are “a wake-up call for employers around the country.”

Cathcart added, “Without commitments to fairness and equality for all employees, employers risk losing talented employees and job candidates.”
There is no federal law barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Only 18 states have laws offering protection based on sexual orientation.

Maryland court lifts custody restriction on gay father living with his partner

A Maryland trial court has lifted a custody restriction prohibiting Ulf Hedberg, the gay father of a 13-year-old boy, from living with his life partner, Blaise Delahoussaye. The court said the restriction, which had been imposed by a court in Virginia, was harmful to Hedberg’s son.

The judge in Maryland found that the boy did not understand why Delahoussaye had been forced to move out of the family’s home, and that the child was saddened and upset by his stepfather’s absence.

Hedberg and his former wife lived in Virginia when they separated when their son was 4 years old. The boy lived with his father and Delahoussaye for the next five-and-a-half years in the suburban Virginia home the men had purchased together.

The boy’s mother then decided to petition for custody of the child because she was moving to Florida. A Virginia court gave Hedberg physical custody of the boy at that time, but said that Delahoussaye had to move out of the home they shared.

That forced the men to sell their home in order to afford separate residences, and Hedberg and his son had to move to a much smaller apartment in Maryland. Hedberg also had to hire a tutor for the boy when Delahoussaye was no longer there to help the child with math homework.

Hedberg eventually filed a petition in a Maryland court challenging the custody restriction. A Maryland trial court initially denied Hedberg’s request, saying it had no authority to modify the order. But the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed the dismissal after January hearing, remanding the case for an evidentiary hearing.

Judge tosses Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit challenging military policy
The United States District Court in the Ninth Circuit of central California has dismissed a lawsuit filed last year by the Log Cabin Republicans challenging the U.S. military’s don’t ask, don’t tell policy prohibiting openly gay and lesbian people from serving in the armed forces.

Judge George P. Schiavelli said Log Cabin did not have standing to file the lawsuit because the complaint did not identify any specific member of the organization who has been or will be injured by the policy.

Schiavelli did, however, give Log Cabin until April 28 to file an amendment to the complaint fulfilling that requirement.

Log Cabin officials have said it was necessary to withhold the names of members who are in the military since disclosing those names could put them in the position of being investigated and discharged. But Schiavelli, in his written ruling, pointed out several other cases in which plaintiffs had been named.

Same-sex couples wed out of state can’t file joint tax return
The New York Department of Taxation and Finance, citing state tax law, said that same-sex couples who live in New York but were legally married outside the state cannot file a joint tax return as married couples.

Alphonso David, a staff attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund who is lead attorney for couples seeking to file jointly, called the tax department’s decision “short-sighted for a number of reasons, including the fact that some married same-sex couples would shoulder a heavier financial obligation to the state if their marital status were recognized for tax purposes.”

Susan Sommer, senior counsel for Lambda Legal and lead attorney in a lawsuit seeking legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, said the “tax department said its hands were tied by a tax provision that is inconsistent with how the rest of New York law treats same-sex couples.”

John Galanti and John Hotchkiss, who were married in Canada, had petitioned the tax department to be allowed to file jointly. They are among the couples who would have had to pay more if they filed jointly.

“We were willing to do our part for New York, but New York wasn’t willing to do its part for us,” Galanti said.

Miller explains decision to pull movie from Utah theater
After months of silence, Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller has explained his decision to pull “Brokeback Mountain” from one of his movie theaters.
He took the action because he was worried about the breakup of the traditional American family, he told KTVX-TV in an interview.
“Getting away from the traditional families, which I look at as the fundamental building block of our society, is a very dangerous thing,” he said.
In January, Miller canceled a showing of the gay romance story at the Megaplex at Jordan Commons in Sandy. That had been the only one of his theaters that had been scheduled to show the movie, but it was shown at other theaters in the area.

Miller’s decision on Jan. 5 came just two hours after he was told about the movie’s subject matter by a KCPW-FM reporter.

Miller drew both support and criticism within Utah. The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Utah has urged people to avoid Miller’s businesses.

But Miller said many Utahns responded by buying cars from him.
“I had 12 people call and say I bought a car from you today, “‘because’, and then 27 the next day and then 12 the third day,” Miller told KTVX.
He said he stands by his decision to pull the movie.

“I clearly hurt some individuals’ feelings and for that I regret it, but I don’t think it should change my opinions and views,” he said.

Arizona bill would give married couples preference in adoptions
The Arizona Senate gave preliminary approval Monday to a proposal that would give married couples preference over single people in adopting children.

Supporters say the proposal is needed because married couples are in a position to provide children with a balanced upbringing.

Gay rights advocates say the measure would make it harder for gay and lesbian couples to adopt, because Arizona law outlaws same-sex marriages. Even so, the bill makes no mentions of same-sex couples.

The bill, approved in a 16-13 vote, now goes to a formal vote in the Senate.
Republican Senator Robert Blendu, a supporter of the bill, said there’s no replacement for a married couple raising a child.

“A woman has something to give to a child that a man can’t give, and I believe a man has something for a child that a woman can’t give,” Blendu said.

Democratic Senator Robert Cannell of Yuma, an opponent of the bill, said there are plenty of examples of successful adoptions by single parents and that studies show that children raised by gay couples did just as well as families headed by heterosexual parents.

Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, pointed out the bill contains exceptions, such as cases where single people who would be adopting a relative.

Amy Kobeta, director of public affairs for the Arizona Human Rights Fund, an advocacy group for gays and lesbians, said the bill is a sneaky way to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“They are also making sure they are taking a hit at qualified gay and lesbian parents,” Kobeta said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, April 07, 2006.

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