Non-discrimination measure headed toward Houston voters

Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Noel Freeman

A coalition of organizations led by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus has announced plans to place a city-wide nondiscrimination charter amendment on the November ballot. The amendment would make it a misdemeanor to deny employment, housing or public accommodation to a person because of their “age, race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, disability, marital status, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or physical characteristic.” The amendment would also allow the city of Houston in institute a “plus-one” health insurance system, allowing city employees to add an additional person to their city-provided healthcare coverage.

Currently in Houston (and in much of Texas) it is perfectly legal to discriminate against a person for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

In order to place the charter amendment on the ballot the group will need to collect 20,000 signatures from Houston citizens. Noel Freeman, president of the Caucus, says that the group has not  finalized the language of the proposed charter amendment adding they hope to begin collecting signatures within a few weeks.

Houston voters have rejected similar protections in the past, twice in 1985 and again in 2001 when a charter amendment banning domestic partner benefits passed. If recent polling data is to believed, however, the civic attitude may be changing. A 2010 poll conducted by the Glengariff group for Equality Texas, a statewide LGBT lobbying organization, indicates an overwhelming percentage of Houstonians support laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Respondents also indicated they supported extending domestic partner benefits to state employees. Here’s the data:

Would you support or oppose a law making it illegal to fire someone or deny housing in Texas to any person solely because he or she is gay or lesbian?

Houston: Strongly Support 68.4% Somewhat Support10.1% Somewhat Oppose 3.6% Strongly Oppose 14.6% Don’t Know 2.4%

Would you support or oppose a law making it illegal to fire or deny housing in Texas to any person solely because they are transgender?

Houston: Strongly Support 62.8% Somewhat Support 10.9% Somewhat Oppose 6.1% Strongly Oppose 15.8% Don’t Know 3.6%

Would you support or oppose extending domestic partnership benefits for things like health benefits to gay and lesbian employees that work for the government and public universities so that they match the same benefits offered to heterosexual employees?

Houston: Strongly Support 50.6% Somewhat Support 15.4% Somewhat Oppose 5.3% Strongly Oppose 21.9% Don’t Know 6.1%

Clearly Houston isn’t as homophobic of a city as some would suppose (we have elected lesbians to citywide office eleven times after all), and the public support for such a measure is obviously there. The question then is if the organizers behind the charter amendment can get enough people to the polls in November to pass it.

—  admin

Gay West Virginia coal miner calls for anti-discrimination law

Sam Hall, a gay West Virginia coal miner is spearheading a movement to call on his state to takes action legislatively to stop discrimination against gay West Virginian workers:

Speaking at a press conference, Sam Hall recounted a litany of verbal abuse, threats and vandalism he alleges occurred while he worked for Massey Energy Co. Hall filed a lawsuit against a Massey subsidiary and one of its officials last year. The Richmond, Va.-based coal producer has said it’s investigating Hall’s allegations.

“If the labor laws would have been amended earlier to contain sexual orientation discrimination, myself as well as other gay West Virginians would have not to endure such demeaning and inexcusable behavior,” Hall said. “Why, as West Virginians, do you allow this type of behavior and harassment to occur and then go unpunished?”

He had several Democratic legislator who joined him, along with about a dozen others, chanting “Stand with Sam.” His detractors denounced legislation Democrats are attempting to move forward banning discrimination against sexual orientation as “catastrophic” and claimed:

“What we have witnessed here today is a brazen and open promotion of the deviant behavior and lifestyle of homosexuality by elected leaders,” President Kevin McCoy said in a statement. “These bills will require acceptance of homosexuality to be taught in West Virginia’s public schools.”

Fortunately, many are starting to realize hate groups are using benign names while cherry picking their favorite verses in Leviticus to try to promote their agenda to promote institutionalized discrimination against gay citizens. Democratic Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, scolded the hate group by remarking:

“As I recall, the Bible was used to justify slavery. The Bible was used to justify control over women by their husbands,” she said. “Opposing this law means that you are for discrimination.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Florida’s Orange County Approves LGBT Anti-Discrimination Law

Orange County City Council voted 6-1 to approve an anti-discrimination law covering sexual orientation on Tuesday:

Orange "The vote was notable for its lack of opposition. No residents spoke against it, in stark contrast to the city of Orlando's passage of similar protections in 2002, which attracted fierce debate, religious group antagonism and a close vote. 'It's a completely different world than it was 10 years ago,' said Patrick Howell, a lawyer and activist who lobbied for the new protections in both Orlando and the county. Commissioner Fred Brummer was the only 'no' vote. He said his objections centered on federal housing rules included in the ordinance, which he said could expose property owners to frivolous lawsuits.But Howell and others predicted the ordinance would not unleash a flood of courtroom discrimination claims, and much of its impact would be symbolic. 'A lot of this is about sending the message that Orange County is an inclusive community,' Howell said. 'Everyone's welcome.' The ordinance expands existing bias-protected classes already found in state and federal law, such as religion, race, disability and gender, to include sexual orientation."


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—  admin

Omaha City Council Rejects LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Omaha, Nebraska has rejected an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance:

Omaha "The measure failed on a 3-3 vote. Councilman Franklin Thompson, who has called for a public vote on the issue, abstained. Councilmen Ben Gray, Pete Festersen and Chris Jerram voted in favor of the ordinance; Jean Stothert, Garry Gernandt and Thomas Mulligan were opposed. Gray, author of the ordinance, proposed that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people be a protected class under city code — protection they don't currently have under state or federal law. He amended tjhe proposal to exclude religious organizations, but members of the Omaha business community also opposed the ordinance.The council held a public hearing Tuesday on Thompson's proposal to put the issue to a public vote, in the form of an amendment to the City Charter. The vote on Thompson's measure is expected next week…Gray's ordinance would allow homosexual and transgender residents who believe they have been fired or suffered other workplace discrimination, or have been refused service at a restaurant, hotel or other place that serves the public, to file a complaint with Omaha's Human Rights and Relations Department, Assistant City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch has said."


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—  admin

Bowling Green anti-discrimination laws facing repeal vote

Last year, in August of 2009, I reported on some good news from Bowling Green Ohio:

yesterday, progress was made in Ohio. Bowling Green banned discrimination yesterday in several key areas — and the new laws are inclusive. From Equality Ohio’s press release:
At the standing room only Bowling Green City Council meeting on Monday evening, August 17, 2009, Council members voted with bi-partisan support to enact a Human Rights Ordinance banning discrimination in Bowling Green based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment and public accommodation. The ordinance passed 6-1. A separate ordinance banning discrimination in housing passed unanimously.

Because the religious right haters want discrimination, they’re forcing a vote on whether to repeal those two new ordinances. Yes, they can’t accept something as basic as non-discrimination in employment and housing. They really hate us and want us to face discrimination. And, we wonder why young lgbt kids are killing themselves.

The bad guys include the notorious Alliance Defense Fund, which houses some of the biggest homophobic creeps around. For example, just last week, that Michigan AG Andrew Shirvell, who was obsessed and creepily stalking the young gay student body president Chris Armstrong, credited the Alliance Defense Fund for going after Armstrong first:

In fact, long before I started the blog, a couple of weeks before that, the Alliance Defense Fund, a well-known legal Christian foundation, put out an alert about Chris.

ADF has been putting out alerts about Bowling Green, too. The website of the campaign to repeal the laws is filled with the usual circa-1970 anti-gay rhetoric. It’s repulsive.

The good guys trying to prevent repeal are running a campaign called ONE Bowling Green:

ONE Bowling Green is the local ballot question campaign formed to urge Bowling Green, Ohio voters to approve Ordinances 7905 and 7906 by voting YES on both ordinances during the November 2, 2010 election cycle.

To learn more about the ordinances, click here.

ONE Bowling Green is a community campaign driven by local volunteers and expertise. Our coalition is made of individuals and groups who love and care about Bowling Green and represent the diversity and the values of our community.

ONE Bowling Green represents the best of Bowling Green’s values— fairness, equal treatment, the recognition that discrimination is wrong, and a belief that our community is a place that cares about ALL our neighbors and everyone who comes to work, live, play and go to school in our community.

ONE Bowling Green needs our help. Financially. If you want to make sure your campaign dollars are going directly to the fight for equality this fall, donate to ONE Bowling Green. I just did.

ONE Bowling Green needs to raise ,000 in the next few days to fight the ad campaign funded by the likes of the Alliance Defense Fund.

We can’t let the bastards win.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Withdrawn in Memphis

Neither the Memphis City Council nor Mayor A.C. Wharton feels its important to protect LGBT people from discrimination. Therefore, Janis Fullilove (pictured), who last month received death threats and a dead cat on her lawn over her sponsorship of the anti-discrimination legislation, has withdrawn it, the Commercial Appeal reports:

Fullilove "The Tennessee Equality Project and councilwoman Janis Fullilove this morning withdrew the proposed ordinance, which would prevent the city from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in hiring or promotion of employees, and an accompanying resolution that would have included the ordinance’s language in city contracts. Fullilove and TEP members said it was clear the ordinance, which was scheduled for the second of three readings this afternoon, lacked support from the 13-member council and Wharton’s administration, which said two weeks ago that it favors a more general ordinance approved by the Shelby County Commission earlier this year. Michelle Bliss, vice chairwoman of the Shelby County Committee of the TEP, said council members were making decisions based on 'fear and prejudice.' …  'At this time we don’t think we can get a fair hearing,' said Bliss. Fullilove said she was disappointed that she had to withdraw the legislation."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Doylestown, PA Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Last night, Doylestown, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, passed an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance:

Websiteseal "Doylestown Borough has become the 17th government in Pennsylvania to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
By a unanimous, 9-0 vote, the Borough Council passed a law Monday night protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

The vote drew a standing ovation from several dozen who packed Borough Hall.

'This ordinance is a statement that we will no longer treat different groups of people differently,' Councilman Don Berk said. '…We are protecting people who previously had no recourse.'

…  Twenty-one states, including New Jersey, New York, and Delaware, have LGBT antidiscrimination laws. Pennsylvania legislators have shunned such efforts, leading some counties and municipalities to pass local laws…Pennsylvania law already forbids discrimination based on race, age, religion, ethnicity, and disability. Doylestown's law duplicates those protections, even though the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission handles violations of the state law."


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright