Exxon Mobil hits new LGBT low

Company is 1st with negative score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index

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HIGH OCTANE | Queer activist CD Kirven participates in a protest organized by GetEQUAL in 2010 outside the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, where Exxon Mobil's shareholders held their annual meeting. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

IRVING — Exxon Mobil Corp. has again made history for its anti-gay employment practices.

The Irving-based company, which is No. 2 on the Fortune 500 and has more than 80,000 employees worldwide, last week became the first business to ever receive a negative score on the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index.

The 2012 edition of the Index, which marks the 10th anniversary of HRC’s scorecard, includes ratings for 636 major companies based on their LGBT-related employment practices.

Exxon Mobil failed to meet any of the criteria for the 2012 Index, and had points deducted for engaging in activities that undermine LGBT equality. As a result, the company received a score of minus-25 from HRC.

Before Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999, Mobil offered domestic partnership benefits and had an employment nondiscrimination policy that included sexual orientation. However, ExxonMobil did away with both the benefits and the policy after the merger, and has repeatedly resisted shareholder efforts to amend the policy to protect gay employees.

The 2012 Index marks the first year HRC has handed out negative scores, and Exxon Mobil was the only company to receive one.

“For over a decade, HRC has urged Exxon Mobil to re-evaluate its employment practices and policies regarding LGBT employees,” HRC spokesman Paul Guequierre said. “They continue to give us, and the entire LGBT community, the cold shoulder.”

William F. Holbrook, a spokesman for ExxonMobil, sent Dallas Voice a copy of the company’s “Corporate Citizenship Report,” which says it has a “zero-tolerance” policy against “discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

However, Guequierre said the Corporate Citizenship Report isn’t an Equal Employment Opportunity statement, and lacks the legal force an EEO statement carries.

Exxon Mobil’s report also says the company offers health benefits to the partners of gay employees in countries where same-sex marriage is legal, but goes by federal law in the U.S., which only recognizes heterosexual spouses.

Holbrook declined to further discuss the company’s negative score on the CEI.

Exxon Mobil was one of three companies to receive the 25-point deduction for undermining LGBT equality on the 2012 Index. The other two were New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. and Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner LLP.

Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Project, said Verizon was penalized for resisting a shareholder resolution to add gender identity to the company’s employment nondiscrimination policy; while Foley & Lardner was docked for representing the National Organization for Marriage in campaigns against marriage equality in the District of Columbia and Minnesota.

Verizon received an overall score of 20, while Foley & Lardner got a 60.

“It is not a designation that we take lightly,” Fidas said of the 25-point deduction for undermining LGBT equality. “These businesses did nothing to rectify these particular situations.”

On a more positive note, Fort Worth-based AMR Corp. (American Airlines) is one of only nine companies that have received perfect scores every year since the Index began in 2002, Fidas said. The others are Aetna Inc., Alcatel-Lucent, Apple Inc., Eastman Kodak Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Nike Inc., Replacements Ltd. and Xerox Corp.

Those nine employers all managed to maintain their scores of 100 on the 2012 CEI despite new, more stringent criteria — most notably a requirement to offer comprehensive transgender health benefits, including coverage for gender reassignment surgery.

Lauri Curtis, vice president for diversity at American Airlines, said adding comprehensive trans health benefits was “the right thing to do for our business.”

“We don’t look at it as how difficult it was,” Curtis said. “The bottom line is that we have a very diverse population, both our employees as well as our customers, and that’s really what we true ourselves to. That’s our driving guidepost as it relates to our diversity efforts.

“At the end of the day it’s all about equality and respect for everyone,” she added. “I think it just underscores that this is serious stuff to us, because it’s just part of who we are. It’s been part of who we are for a long time.”

American Airlines and AT&T Inc. were the only North Texas-based companies that satisfied all of the new criteria and received perfect scores on the 2012 CEI. That’s down from nine local companies that received HRC’s top rating on the 2011 index.

Nationally, 190 companies received perfect scores this year, down from 337 last year. But Fidas said comparing this year’s scores to last year’s amounts to apples and oranges. In addition to trans health coverage, HRC added criteria in 2012 related to “soft” partner benefits, organizational competency on LGBT issues, and public support for equality.

“It’s a new standard,” Fidas said. “We raised the bar in these four significant areas, and some businesses are just going to take a little more time to get there. We don’t see that as a drop or a lack of commitment.”

In fact, Fidas said, this year’s Index shows remarkable progress as employers strive to meet the new criteria. For example, two years ago, only 49 employers offered comprehensive trans health benefits, but since then the number has jumped to 207.

Representatives from North Texas-based companies that lost their perfect scores on this year’s CEI said they’re disappointed but committed to working toward re-establishing them.

“Anytime that you were on a list and then you’re not a on a list, it does cause some angst,” said Steve Lyle, chief diversity officer for Dallas-based Texas Instruments, which received a 90 on the 2012 Index after four consecutive years of perfect scores. “We don’t want that segment or our employee population to feel disenfranchised because TI’s no longer on this list, or feel like we care less today than we did last week.”

That’s why the company sent emails to LGBT employees in advance of the Index’s release explaining the reason for the lower score: The company’s insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, doesn’t consider gender reassignment surgery to be a medically necessary procedure.

Texas Instruments could have overridden Blue Cross’ decision at a minimal cost, Lyle said. However, that would have been unfair to employees who want coverage for other procedures that aren’t considered medically necessary, including growth hormones for children and in vitro fertilization.

Lyle added that TI is interested in working with HRC and other employers to convince insurance providers that gender reassignment surgery — historically regarded as cosmetic — should instead be deemed medically necessary.

“We’re in the business of making electronics, not in determining medical necessity, but we do want to influence the conversation, because it aligns with our values,” said Lyle, who’s openly gay. “We want to be able to offer benefits to our employees that are necessary for them, but we also want to have internal equity of those benefits.”

Plano-based J.C. Penney Company Inc. also lost points for failing to offer comprehensive trans health benefits, and saw its score drop from a 100 to an 85.  Daphne Avila, a spokesman for J.C. Penney, said in an email this week that the company will “continue to explore cost-effective options for improving associate benefits.”

“Given our record of achieving a perfect score three out of the past four years, our current ranking is not where we would like it to be,” Avila wrote. “While the new guidelines present opportunities for advancement across all industries, our score – albeit not poor – does not accurately reflect our overall commitment to inclusion and diversity. … While we are unable to guarantee our future standings, please know that we are already evaluating the 2013 HRC criteria and are looking for opportunities to raise the bar.”

Representatives from Grapevine-based GameStop, which saw its score drop from 100 last year to 75 this year; and Dallas-based Brinker International, which saw its score drop from 100 to 60, didn’t respond to requests for comment this week.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

San Antonio council approves DP benefits amid strong opposition from anti-gay protestors

Some of the Christian protestors carried signs. Many came with children. (Sam Sanchez)

Self-proclaimed Christians fill chambers, monopolize public comment period, but council votes 8-3 in favor of proposal

SAM SANCHEZ  |  QSanAntonio

After much public input, the San Antonio City Council passed a new budget today that includes domestic partner benefits for city employees. The vote was 8 for and 3 against.

District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan and Councilmen Carlton Soules of District 10 and David Medina of District 5 were the “no” votes.

The vote came after nearly three hours of comments by local citizens. Those against the initiative monopolized the “Citizens to Be Heard” portion of the meeting, with mostly religious and moral objections.

The council chambers were filled with Christian protesters, including some with babies and school-age children. Some held signs that read “Vote for Marriage (I do!). ”

Sometimes the rhetoric got rough. Some speakers threatened political retribution to council members who voted to keep the measure in the budget. Mike Knupke of the San Antonio Family Association said the question of domestic partnership benefits had “awakened the sleeping Christian giant.”

Former Christian radio talk show host Adam McManus went to the podium with his infant son and pregnant wife to say that he did not support giving benefits to “the live-in lovers” of city employees, gay or straight.

Pastor Gerald Ripley, the main organizer of the protests, displayed a picture of his infant grandchild who has only two teeth, saying his grandson had a better bite because the DP initiative was a toothless idea that was fraught with potential for fraud.

One man, Joe Desega, said that he had been in jail 25 times before he found religion. He said he once ministered to “ex-homosexuals” who were dying from AIDS and who, at the time of their deaths, cried out to God for forgiveness.

While most of the Christian protestors spoke specifically about the DP partner line item, others also protested funding for the San Pedro Playhouse because of its production of the gay-themed play Corpus Christi, and against allowing tax dollars to be used for contraception.

Gustavo Garcia Siller, the Catholic archbishop of San Antonio, issued a statement this morning.

“As the shepherd and archbishop of the Catholic Church in San Antonio, I have observed with interest the public debate that is taking place in our city regarding a recent proposal to extend benefits to domestic partners of city employees,” Siller said. “The Catholic Church recognizes as a fundamental human right that all persons have the opportunity to secure adequate health care. I am concerned, nonetheless, by the manner in which the city is proposing to provide health care by giving legal recognition to a new structure that may ultimately result in the undermining of marriage and the weakening of the family unit that is essential to the good of society. ”

Gay activists chose to feature only one main speaker, attorney Eduardo Juarez, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, who came to the podium accompanied by a over a dozen community members including Dennis Coleman, executive director of Equality Texas.

The LGBT group presented the City Council with a large plexiglass box filled with almost 3,000 signed cards asking the mayor and council members to support the DP benefits initiative. Former City Councilwoman Elena Guajardo, who’s openly gay, held a large blow-up of one of the yellow cards.

After all the comments from citizens had been heard, Councilwoman Chan made a motion to have the domestic partner initiative pulled out of the budget and voted on separately. This gave an opportunity for each council member to offer their perspective on the issue.

Most of those on the council who were in favor of the benefits said that it was the fair and right thing to do for city employees. Councilman Ray Saldana of District 4 said he would always side with equality.

Chan’s main objections were financial. She feared that the cost estimates would be more than anticipated and questioned the verification process by which couples would qualify for the benefits. Councilman David Medina cited economic factors as well community opposition as the basis for rejecting the proposal.

In endorsing the initiative, Mayor Julian Castro cited the many corporations and cities that offer similar benefits and said,  “This is not a new issue — this should have be done some time ago.”

Chan’s breakout motion was voted down by a margin of 7 to 4 clearing the way for the 8 to 3 vote that approved the final budget.

Just minutes after the vote, Equality Texas put sent out an e-mail news blast that summed up the day’s results: “Today’s vote is an affirmation of the City Council’s belief that all San Antonians should be treated equally, with the dignity and respect they deserve. There was opposition. And, there will likely be negative backlash. As we move forward, let us remember that fairness and justice will always be in the best interests of our diverse communities.”

—  Sam Sanchez

Opponents of DP benefits in San Antonio warn of ‘demonic forces’ and ‘dark cloud of Satan’

Anti-gay protesters hold a sign outside San Antonio City Hall on Wednesday during a budget hearing where speakers focused largely on a proposal to offer domestic partner benefits.

Speakers from both sides dominate public hearing on budget; council to vote later this month

SAM SANCHEZ | QSanAntonio

In the hours leading up to the San Antonio CIty Council’s budget meeting on Wednesday, Pastor Gerald Ripley, the man who’s spearheading the campaign against domestic partnership benefits for city employees, posted on his web site that “Demonic forces are converging over S.A. for the purpose of establishing immorality as a right at the government level.”

The meeting, held in City Council Chambers, was convened expressly to discuss items from the proposed budget, which awaits a vote on Sept. 15.

Even though a few speakers addressed other topics, the majority of those who came to the podium were there to discuss DP benefits.

While Pastor Ripley’s rhetoric didn’t reach the same level when he actually addressed the council, some of his followers appeared to take a cue from his Internet posting.

One speaker said the “evil” of homosexuality is “eating us up.” Another, a woman holding a sign advocating heterosexual marriage, said that San Antonio would be under the “dark cloud of Satan” if DP benefits are granted.

One man said he used to work at a psychiatric hospital where there was a ward just for homosexuals and that giving these people DP benefits was immoral. One speaker admonished the City Council not to do the “politically correct thing but the morally correct thing.”

Activists from the LGBT community, the majority of whom got to speak early in the meeting, stayed on message. That message was that offering these benefits would make the city more competitive in hiring and retaining top talent, and that no employee should be treated like a second-class citizen.

One at time, each of the GLBT speakers made their case in addressing and debunking their foes’ other objections: Cost (less than 1 percent of the total budget); abuse of the program (two forms documentation will be required); and extending DP benefits isn’t an endorsement of same-sex marriage, as some religious extremists have suggested.

“Finally, offering these benefits is the right thing to do for the hundreds of city employees who serve us daily,” activist Randy Bear told the council. “For those city employees who could benefit by this, it’s the right thing to do to be able to look them in the eye and tell them we value them as much as their fellow employees.”

One religious leader who spoke in favor of granting the benefits was Rabbi Barry H.D. Block from Temple Beth-El, who came armed with a letter signed by more than 30 religious leaders.

“All of the undersigned are deeply committed to the sanctity of marriage. We are equally aware that not all members of our society have equal access to state-sanctioned marriage. Like the sanctity of marriage, equal rights and equal opportunity for all human beings and all loving couples are values we all hold dear,” read the text of the letter.

Protestors stood outside City Council chambers while Pastor Gerald Ripley denounced the DP benefits proposal.

Pastor Ripley, who admonished this reporter for trying to take his photograph, came to the podium and began by saying, “It’s been implied that 2 percent of our citizens are treated like second-class citizens. When homosexuals go to the Spurs’ game they can sit on any seat on the bus. They can drink from the same water fountains. They can go into any restaurant or any theater. They can buy a house in any neighborhood. Therefore, I say to you, there are no second-class citizens in our great city.”

Ripley went on to say using the term “second-class citizens” to curry political capital was unfortunate and beneath the dignity of those making the case. He also made the unsubstantiated claim that 70 percent of voters objected to offering the benefits.

What followed in Ripley’s address came almost word-for-word from a fact sheet with 14 talking points that had been posted on his web site in the days leading up to the budget meetings.

Two controversial characters followed Pastor Ripley in speaking out to the City Council against DP benefits.

The first was former talk show host Adam McManus, who was fired for budgetary reasons last year from KSLR-AM, a local Christian radio station. During his time on-air, McManus encouraged his listeners to speak out in 2007 against Police Chief William McManus and in 2009 against Mayor Julian Castro because they served as Grand Marshals for the Gay Pride Parade. In 2006, McManus tried to start a boycott of H-E-B because the grocery chain had contributed $300 to PrideFest.

Also present was Pastor Charles Flowers of the Love Demonstrated Ministries who was arrested in 2007 for dragging a girl behind a van after she failed to keep up during a running exercise at his Christian boot camp near Corpus Christi. In 2006, Love Demonstrated Ministries reported private and government contributions totaling $314,673 to operate the boot camp, with nearly 89 percent of the costs, $278,549, going for salaries.

—  John Wright

Baldwin: ‘We will see brighter days ahead’

Congresswoman tells Black Tie audience not to give up hope; Wright applauds heroes who chose ‘never to hide a day in your lives’

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin. To see a slideshow from Black Tie, go here.

During her keynote address at the 29th annual Black Tie Dinner on Saturday, Nov. 6, openly lesbian Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin wasted no time in acknowledging the apparent blow the Republican victories in this month’s midterm elections dealt to the LGBT community’s push for equality.

“I needed to get away. It’s been a tough week, a very painful week for many Americans,” Baldwin said.

But then she went on to reassure the more than 3,000 people packed into the Sheraton Dallas’ Lone Star Ballroom that “we will see brighter days ahead.”

Baldwin acknowledged that the community’s high hopes when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008 have not, for the most part, been met. “There is frustration that we haven’t come far enough, fast enough, and I share that frustration.”

Recalling the last time that Republicans controlled Congress, Baldwin said efforts to secure LGBT equality were “rebuffed at every turn,” and she added that she is “not holding my breath” that things will be different this time, with Republicans controlling the U.S. House and the Senate nearly equally divided between the parties.

Although there is a possibility that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” military policy could be repealed during the upcoming lame duck session, chances are “slim to none for now and for the foreseeable future” that passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and Baldwin’s own Domestic Partnership Benefits and Responsibilities Act and other LGBT-positive measures will happen.

“But that doesn’t mean that we will throw up our hands and give up,” Baldwin said, “because LGBT equality is a movement, not a moment in time.”

Baldwin’s theme of keeping up the fight and looking forward to better days reverberated throughout the evening, as Media Award winner Chely Wright related her life story to the crowd. She spoke of knowing from a young age that she was gay, and how she had struggled to keep her orientation a secret to try and earn — and later, preserve — her career in country music.

“Living two lives is quite a chore,” Wright said, as she talked about reaching a point where “I knew something had to give,” and the cold morning in 2006 when she went so far as putting the muzzle of a 9-mm pistol in her mouth.

But instead of pulling the trigger, Wright said, she prayed to God, as she had all her life. But this time, instead of praying for God to change her, she prayed that God would “give me a moment’s peace.”

Immediately, Wright continued, “oceans and oceans of peace washed over me,” and she knew that not only would she not take her own life, but that she would come out “as a gay woman, as a proud Christian and as an advocate for youth.”

Wright, who came put publicly only six months ago, acknowledged that others in the room had spent much longer fighting for LGBT equality.

“It is a bit of a strange thing to be honored by Black Tie Diner and this esteemed group of people. I look out and see so many of you who have not been able to or who have chosen not to hide a day in your lives, and to have you applaud for me is, well, it’s surreal,” she said.

“I look to you as heroes. … You are simply amazing to me. Thank you for leading the way,” she continued. “It is certainly not lost on me that you folks in this room tonight are the reason that the movement of equality, fairness and understanding continues to evolve.”

The evening began with an appearance by Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, whose personal and passionate speech before the council last month about teen suicide went viral as a YouTube video and turned him into a national sensation.

Burns reminded the audience that teen suicide and bullying continues to affect LGBT youth at an alarmingly high rate, and led the crowd in a moment of silence in memory of LGBT youth who have died.

After Broadway star Gavin Creel, backed by the Turtle Creek Chorale, performed, the Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, came on stage to accept the Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

With a beaming smile, West recalled the early heroes of Dallas-Fort Worth’s LGBT community, reminding the crowd that “we stand on their shoulders” as the movement progresses. But, she added, the community leaders of today must also remember that the leaders of tomorrow “will someday stand on our shoulders.”

Employees of American Airlines were on hand to accept the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award on behalf of their company. Betty Young, director of Diverse Segment Marketing for the airline, said it was “a tremendous honor” for the company and its employees to receive the award.

“American Airlines has always been very involved in Black Tie Dinner and we certainly appreciate all they do. But for the company to be recognized this way, it caused tremendous excitement throughout the company and in each of us who touches this community,” Young said. “We are just honored beyond words.”

Ron Guillard, who co-chaired Black Tie Dinner this year with Nan Arnold, said organizers were “incredibly happy” with how the event turned out.

“And given the fact that we had a full ballroom, and considering how well the luxury auction went, we are feeling very optimistic about having a very generous amount to distribute to our beneficiaries this year,” he said. “We still have money to collect and some bills to pay, but I think this will be a very good year for our beneficiaries.”

Guillard noted that funds from the dinner will distributed to beneficiaries during a reception Dec. 9 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

“We want to encourage the whole community to come out and be part of what is definitely the most important part of Black Tie each year,” Guillard said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Hate gets expensive in El Paso

El Paso

El Paso for Jesus has forced a special election in the West Texas city. No, El Paso for Jesus did not get Jesus on the ballot; they got domestic partnership benefits on the ballot, according to the El Paso Times.

And like any good Christian group, they’re against health care. At least they’re against it for people who aren’t married heterosexuals.

The cost of putting the issue on the ballot is more than the cost of the benefits. Currently, the benefits are offered to the unmarried partners of city employees, both gay and straight.

The election will cost $131,000. The benefits to 19 couples that registered to receive them cost $28,770.

And now, to top it all off, the thoughtful folks at El Paso for Jesus are offering to marry at no charge any of the straight couples. No word on how tasteful the weddings will be, but hell, a free wedding is a free wedding. What else do you need? And for the gay couples, they have offered to turn them straight. The head of the group called it “get free of homosexuality.” He said that he has found that “homosexuals can be set free.” He did not point to an example of his successful counseling or explain how gays are now in captivity.

The way the ballot initiative is worded, domestic partner benefits could be offered only to “city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children.” Retirees would be excluded from benefits. They could even lose their pensions. Oops.

Of course, El Paso for Jesus claims this wasn’t their intent. But the city attorney said that’s what’s on the ballot and if that’s what’s voted into law, the city will have no alternative but to uphold the law. So groups like the police and retired firefighters aren’t too keen on this ballot initiative.

Domestic partner benefits were first debated after an incident in El Paso in 2009 where five men were removed from a fast food taco restaurant after two of them kissed.

—  David Taffet

Get Equal Now threatens to sue American Family Association over boycott of Home Depot

Cd Kirven and her son, Trevor

Get Equal Now has sent the American Family Association a cease and desist letter after the anti-gay, right-wing organization called for a boycott of Home Depot.

Last week, AFA called for a boycott of the home improvement retailer because it sponsored several gay Pride events this year and offers domestic partner benefits to its employees.

Cd Kirven, a Dallas resident and co-founder of Get Equal Now, sent AFA president Tim Wildmon the cease and desist letter after speaking to several attorneys.

“In the process of attacking us, you are attacking our children,” Kirven told AFA.

Kirven said she had been formulating the plan for a while.

“When I heard the tea party calling the NAACP racists, I said, ‘Why can’t the LGBT community do that to the AFA or NOM?’” Kirven said.

She had the letter to AFA notarized and sent return receipt requested. Attorneys advised her to wait for a reply or, without a reply, wait a month, monitor the hate speech on their website and then file a lawsuit.

Several attorneys are interested in pursuing the case, according to Kirven. She said the LGBT community has not taken this approach before.

“I believe enough’s enough,” she said. “When you go after my son, I am going to defend him with every last breath.”

Kirven shares custody of her 5-year-old son, Trevor, with a former partner.

“I don’t want to see another kid commit suicide behind the intolerant behavior of AFA,” Kirven said. “NOM is next. The LGBT community is tired of the verbal and financial abuse of those organizations. Some of us don’t make it through the process. It has to stop. If the government won’t take action, Get Equal Now will.”

Kirven said the AFA says the LGBT community is damaging marriage. If that’s the case, she wondered why Massachusetts and Vermont, which both allow same-sex marriage, have two of the lowest divorce rates.

“We’re not damaging marriage. They’re the ones with a 75 percent divorce rate,” she said of heterosexual couples.

Kirven also filed a complaint against AFA with the Justice Department and has contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center about listing them as a hate group. SPLC lists other groups such as the Family Research Institute in Colorado Springs as a hate group for its anti-gay activity.

Kirven is also encouraging people to send letters to Home Depot thanking them for supporting LGBT families. At Pride events, the company offers family-friendly areas where it gives out balloons to the children.

Here’s the text of Get Equal Now’s letter to the AFA:

“Good evening! I’m seriously concerned about the physical welfare of our childre because of your written and verbal harassment of the LGBT Community. One example of your successful intimidation tactics was American Family Association’s Boycott of the Ford Company in 2005 to 2008. Now you are leading an intimidation campaign against Home Depot.

“In protection of our families and our children, I’m serving American Family Association with a cease and desist order. If this intimidating, manipulative and high-pressure tactics do not stop then we will take the responsibility upon ourselves to protect that right by suing your organization for defamation. The constant attacks of the LGBT community and AFA’s fear mongering has to stop. You promote the damage your organization done to my community and those impatc lead to hate crimes, teen suicides and isolation of the LGBT community. This order demands that you stop the verbal abuse of our community on radio, television and in print.”

The letter to Home Depot is posted as a petition online and can be signed by going here.

—  David Taffet

Google sets new standard for corporate equality

Sure, we’re worth it. But headlines make it sound like Google is simply compensating their gay and lesbian employees for being more fabulous.

Google announced it will offset a tax liability same-sex couples incur that opposite-sex couples do not, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

When a company offers domestic partnership benefits, those perks — such as health insurance for a partner — are taxable as income.

When I looked at the cost of going on my domestic partner’s health insurance, it would have been more expensive than buying a policy for myself as an individual. The domestic partner “benefit” amounted to an almost $200-per-month penalty.

Google is doing something about it. The company is paying the tax penalty incurred by gay and lesbian employees by increasing their compensation.

—  David Taffet