Dallas protesters support trans students

The evening after President Trump issued an executive order allowing discrimination against transgender students in schools, about 150 people gathered in Belo Gardens across from the Earle Cabell  federal building to protest the order.

All of the speakers at the rally were transgender.

“We’re not going back in the closet,” Ethan Avanzino told the crowd. “We’re not going into the wrong restrooms.”

While Katie Sprinkle and Leslie McMurray were more political, Oliver Blumer and Mr. Black Trans Dallas just wanted the crowd to get to know them as people.

“I’m a man of trans experience,” Blumer told the crowd.

—  David Taffet

UPDATED: Trump won’t revoke LGBT protections

Lisa Keen | Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com
trump-pence

Donald Trump, right, says he will not revoke President Obama’s 2014 executive order protecting LGBT federal employees and LGBT people working for federal contractors from discrimination. However, his vice president, Mike Pence, left, is notoriously anti-gay.

The news today (Tuesday, Jan. 31) that President Donald Trump said he would not rescind an existing executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees should have left LGBT activists feeling relieved. But it didn’t.

Most reacted with a mixture of concern that his reassuring “words” aren’t matching up with his troubling “actions” of nominating people who are hostile to LGBT to key federal positions in health care, civil rights, and education. Most fear Trump will be inclined to act on his campaign promise that religious liberty will be “cherished, protected, defended, like you have never seen before.”

In a four-sentence statement released Tuesday morning, the White House said:

President Donald J. Trump is determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community. President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression. The executive order signed in 2014, which protects employees from anti-LGBTQ workplace discrimination while working for federal contractors, will remain intact at the direction of President Donald J. Trump.”

“That is a fine statement, but actions are far more important,” said Rachel Tiven, chief executive officer for Lambda Legal. “President Trump is assembling a cabinet of people who have undermined the rights of LGBT people and everyone with HIV. Last week, he invoked pretend concern for LGBT people as a justification for his rejection of refugee. … Actions speak louder than words.”

Tivlen was referring to statements Trump made about violence against LGBT people as part of his justification for signing an executive order Friday afternoon, Jan, 27, that at least temporarily bars people from several Muslim-dominated countries from entering the U.S. He also cited the mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub Pulse last June by a gunman claiming he was inspired by ISIS to explain why he was having the Defense Department create a plan for defeating ISIS.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin also issued a statement in response to the White House press release on the non-discrimination order.

“Claiming ally status for not overturning the progress of your predecessor is a rather low bar,” Griffin said. “LGBTQ refugees, immigrants, Muslims and women are scared today, and with good reason. Donald Trump has done nothing but undermine equality since he set foot in the White House.”

And Kate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, noted that the White House statement is “not a step forward.”

“Today’s statement says only that Trump does not intend to take the extreme step of abolishing existing protections,” said Minter. “That is not a step forward. We remain extremely concerned that he intends to issue an order creating new religious exemptions that will harm LGBT people and others.”

Tuesday’s statement from the White House caught some people by surprise. Rumors were circulating just before the White House statement was released, claiming that President Trump was getting ready to sign an executive order rescinding the LGBT protections. Publicity for the statement that did emerge was largely lost among mainstream reporting of the increasingly dramatic backlash against Trump’s executive order restricting immigration by people from certain majority-Muslim nations and reporting of Trump’s scheduled announcement tonight of his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kendall suggested this morning’s statement could be an effort to mitigate any LGBT fallout over that Supreme Court nominee, what Minter said is “the most important issue for our community.”

“We need everyone who cares about LGBT people to insist that the Senate must reject any nominee who is not fully committed to enforcing [the] Obergefell [decision which struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples] and other decisions affirming the equality and freedom of LGBT people.”

HRC’s Griffin also noted that Trump has not committed to “opposing any executive actions that allow government employees, taxpayer-funded organizations or even companies to discriminate.”

Currently, regulations at several federal agencies, including Health and Human Services and the departments of Justice and Education, provide protections for LGBT people. The new incoming leadership at these agencies could issue new regulations that could take those protections away.

Those nominations — such as Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, Betsy DeVos confirmed today as Secretary of Education, and Rep. Tom Price at HHS — had many in the LGBT community bracing for the Trump administration to reverse many of the gains of the Obama administration.

But Log Cabin national President Gregory Angelo said Jan. 18 that the Trump transition team’s Office of National Engagement invited Log Cabin to draft and submit the white paper on the LGBT non-discrimination executive order. Angelo said he considered that a “strong signal” that Trump’s promise to be a “real friend” to the LGBT community was “genuine.”

Log Cabin urged “preserving the LGBT non-discrimination executive order. …” LCR said the paper it submitted presented the “common-sense conservative case for LGBT non-discrimination in federal contractors to the Trump transition team.” It also noted that the last Republican president, George W. Bush, left intact the original executive order prohibiting discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation.

After the White House issued President Trump’s statement this morning, Angelo said, “President Trump is delivering” on his campaign commitment to be a “real friend” of the LGBT community.

“Log Cabin Republicans is proud to have directly advocated for this important preservation of LGBT equality in the federal workforce, and heartened to see that the recommendations prescribed in our white paper on this subject have been reflected in the decision to maintain the LGBT non-discrimination executive order.”

© 2017 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—  Tammye Nash

Exxon will comply with executive order banning anti-LGBT discrimination

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.

—  Tammye Nash

Obama to sign order banning anti-trans discrimination

President Obama announced earlier this month that he intends to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Today, according to Politico.com, he President Obamaended National Gay Pride Month by announcing that the White House is also preparing an executive order banning job discrimination among federal employees on the basis of gender identity.

The president mentioned the second executive order during a Pride Month reception at the White House. Spokesman Shin Inouye said Monday he had no details on the second executive order.

—  Tammye Nash

Obama to issue executive order on workplace discrimination for government contractors

obamaBy Lisa Keen

Keen News Service

In a sudden but not necessarily unexpected gesture, the White House indicated today that President Obama has “directed his staff” to prepare an executive order to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The White House official could not say how soon President Obama intends to sign the executive order. But the news comes during Pride Month and just two weeks before the White House hosts its annual reception in celebration of Pride Month. And it comes just one day before President Obama is scheduled to be at an LGBT-related fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee in New York.

It also comes as much of the nation’s attention is riveted to a escalating civil war in Iraq that threatens to provoke U.S. military response and to an “urgent humanitarian” crisis in which more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors are crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S. every day.

Word that President Obama plans to sign a federal contractor executive order to protect LGBT employees spread lightning fast yesterday.

The Human Rights Campaign called the news the “culmination of six years of advocacy by the members and supporters of the Human Rights Campaign, LGBT and civil rights leaders, and allies on Capitol Hill.”

It also comes after months of mixed signals from the White House. On January 31, John Podesta, the former chief of staff to President Clinton who had just joined the Obama White House as Counselor to the President, said an executive order was “under consideration at the White House –we’re looking at that.” But then White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, on that same day, said he didn’t have any updates on “a hypothetical executive order for LGBT non-discrimination” and added that it’s “the wrong approach.” He said the president thought ENDA is “the right way to go here.”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  David Taffet

Measure would ban anti-LGBT discrimination in Houston

Charter amendment could also allow DP benefits for city workers

DANIEL WILLIAMS  |  Contributing Writer

HOUSTON — Long-brewing plans to place a city-wide non-discrimination policy before Houston voters became public this week.

Since December a coalition of organizations and leaders have been working to draft a city charter amendment that would make it illegal to discriminate in housing, employment or public accommodations on the basis of  “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 remove anti-LGBT language added to the Houston city charter in 1985 and 2001 — which could allow the City Council to vote to offer health benefits to the domestic partners of municipal employees.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who famously became the only out LGBT person elected mayor of a major American city in 2009, has declined to comment on the proposed charter amendment until the language is finalized. She told the Houston Chronicle: “I believe it’s important for the city of Houston to send a signal to the world that we welcome everybody and that we treat everybody equally, and depending on the elements of what was actually in it, I might or might not support it,”

According to Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, the prospect of Houston voters approving the non-discrimination amendment has ramifications for efforts to pass similar measures in the state Legislature.

“Nondiscrimination in Houston builds a better case for us when we go for nondiscrimination in Austin,” said Coleman. “To be able to tell representatives that they represent areas that already support these efforts is very helpful.”

The cities of Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth all already have similar nondiscrimination ordinances and offer DP benefits to employees.

But Houston’s form of governance makes this effort unique. While the City Council is empowered to pass city ordinances covering issues of discrimination, they can be overturned by popular vote if those opposing the ordinance collect 20,000 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.

That was the case in 1985 after Houston Mayor Kathy Whitmire pushed through the council the city’s first protections for gay and lesbian Houstonians (no protections were provided for the bisexual or transgender communities).

A coalition of right-wing voters led by Louie Welch, then president of the Houston Chamber of Commerce, was able to place the issue on a city-wide ballot, claiming the policy “promoted the homosexual lifestyle.” The group also recruited a “straight slate” of candidates to run against City Council members who had favored the protections, with Welch running against Whitmire.

The public vote on nondiscrimination was held in June 1985 and Welch’s forces prevailed, but the city’s temperament had changed by the time of the City Council and mayoral races in November. A comment of Welch’s that the solution to the AIDS crisis was to “shoot the queers” was aired on local TV and few in Houston wished to be associated with him after that. The “straight slate” failed to capture a single City Council seat and Whitmire remained mayor, but the defeat of the city’s nondiscrimination policy remained.

By 1998 Houston had changed: Annise Parker was serving as the city’s first out lesbian city council member and Houston boasted the state’s first out gay judge, John Paul Barnich. Mayor Lee Brown, sensing the change, issued an executive order protecting LGBT city employees from employment discrimination. But the city had not changed that much. Councilman Rob Todd led efforts to fight the order in court, arguing that since voters rejected city-wide protections from discrimination in 1985, it was inappropriate for the mayor to institute them without voter approval. The city spent the next three years defending the policy in court, finally emerging victorious.

The joy of that 2001 victory would be shortlived, however. That year Houston’s voters approved another amendment to the city charter, this time prohibiting the city from providing domestic partner benefits for city employees. In a narrow defeat, just over 51 percent of voters decided that the city should not offer competitive benefits.

The current proposed non-discrimination amendment would remove the language added in 1985 and 2001. While it would provide non-discrimination protections it would not require the city to offer benefits of any kind to the spouses of LGBT city employees, leaving that question back in the hands of the City Council.

The organizers of the current effort are confident that this year is the year for victory.

Noel Freeman, the president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, which is spearheading the effort, explains that the previous votes occurred in “non-presidential years,”when voter turnout in general is low, and conservative voters make up a larger percentage of the electorate.

Additionally, polling by Equality Texas in 2010 showed that 80 percent of Houstonians support employment protections for gay and lesbian people.

In order to place the non-discrimination amendment on the November ballot the coalition supporting it will need to collect 20,000 signatures of registered Houston voters and submit them to the city clerk. Freeman says that the final charter amendment language is still under consideration and that once it is finalized the group will begin collecting signatures.

Even former Councilman Todd, who once fought the city’s policy of non-discrimination for LGBT employees, supports the current effort.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Dave Wilson robo-calls Houstonians, warns of Annise Parker’s ‘alternative lifestyle’

Houston mayoral candidate Dave Wilson has stepped up his homophobic attacks against incumbent Mayor Annise Parker with a recent robo-call targeting Houston voters:

“Hello Houstonians, this is Dave Wilson, candidate for mayor. In 2009 I warned voters that Annise Parker would use her position to promote her alternative lifestyle, and she’s done that. Her very first executive order was to allow men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom. Her appointments have been based on sexual orientation, rather than ability. She appointed George Greanias, head of Metro, who was caught viewing porn sites such as rentaboy.com. Dave Wilson would have fired him on the spot. Join me in taking our city back, vote Dave Wilson, paid for by the Dave Wilson for Mayor.”

Wilson’s call contains several misleading, or outright false, claims, such as saying that Parker’s first executive order was to allow “men dressed as women to use the women’s restroom.” The first executive order Parker signed after being sworn in (E.O. #1-50), clarified the process for filing sexual harassment claims for city employees. The second (E.O #1-25) dealt with city operations during a natural disaster, the third (E.O. #1-42) with city credit cards, and the fourth (E.O. 1-14) with the city’s procurement procedure. The fifth and sixth executive orders signed by Parker (E.O. 1-8 and E.O. 1-20) dealt with discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression and the use of hate language by City of Houston employees while on the job. Both order were signed on March 25, 2011, 2 months and 23 days after Parker took office. These are is the ones that chafe Wilson. Under order 1-20 access to public accommodations in city buildings, including restrooms, cannot be denied to any member of the public because they are LGBT. While Wilson fears “men in dresses” discretely handling their business in the stall next to his wife, he seems to miss that it also allows burly, bearded men who happened to have been assigned a female identity at birth to use the men’s room. One wonders if he’s ever thought about that.

Executive Order 1-20 is about basic courtesy and access to public facilities that most of us take for granted. No one should be put in the position of risking arrest for using a public restroom (which happened shortly after E.O. 1-20 went into effect), and it is humiliating to expect trans Houstonians to have to ask “which bathroom do you expect me to use” every time they’re in a city building.

The situation with George Greanias, CEO of Houston’s public transit system Metro, is far more complicated than Wilson describes it. To hear the robo-call you’d think Greanias was simply caught looking at pornography, a constitutionally protected right. The issue is that Greanias was caught looking at porn on Metro’s internet wi-fi, all be it accidentally. According to the Metro investigation Greanias accessed sites containing gay oriented adult material on 14 separate days between February 9, 2011 to July 1, 2011. The access was from Greanias’ personal computer and he believed through his personal internet access. In a letter to Metro employees he explained that “the violation was unintentional. I thought I was using my own computer, but was in fact in Metro’s system — but it was a violation all the same. The sites I accessed were of a sexual nature — to say the least, highly inappropriate, and embarrassing.”

Typically a violation of this nature by a Metro employee would have resulted in a verbal warning. Because of the high profile nature of Greanias’ job he received a much harsher punishment. According to Metro’s official statement “Chairman Gilbert Garcia has concluded that, as president and CEO, Mr. Greanias must be held to a higher standard, and decided instead of a warning Mr. Greanias would receive a more stringent punishment of one week suspension, without pay.”

None of that matters to Wilson. He “would have fired [Greanias] on the spot,” bypassing the review process guaranteed to all Metro employees and likely subjecting the city to a very expensive lawsuit. More than his overt homophobia, it’s Wilson’s blind ignorance of the procedural facts of running a city that should frighten Houstonians.

Early voting in Houston municipal elections (including mayor) continues through Nov. 3 at all early voting locations. Election day is Nov. 8. Early voting turnout continues to lag; votes cast during the first four days of voting have trailed the 2009 municipal election turnout by 21%.

—  admin

Langbehn receives citizens medal at White House

Janice Langbehn, left with President Barack Obama

Janice Langbehn was among 13 recipients of a citizens medal awarded by President Barack Obama on Oct. 20. She was chosen from among thousands of nominations. As a result of her experience of being denied access to her dying partner, the president issued an executive order requiring hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to name a partner as family for visitation and to make medical decisions.

From an email sent to Dallas Voice by the White House:

Janice Langbehn, Lacey, WA
While on vacation with her family in February 2007, Janice Langbehn’s partner, Lisa Pond, suddenly fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. Langbehn was refused access to her partner, who had experienced a brain aneurysm and later died alone. With the help of Lambda Legal and GLAAD, she filed a federal lawsuit and worked to get her story out to the nation. Janice’s story received attention from President Obama, who personally apologized to her for the way she and her family was treated. He went on to revise hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples, which went into effect this past January for any hospitals receiving federal Medicare or Medicaid funds. Langbehn receives the Citizens Medal for her efforts to ensure all Americans are treated equally.

—  David Taffet

Baylor updates its definition of family, sort of

Earlier this year, an executive order from President Barack Obama went into effect requiring hospitals to allow same-sex partner visitation.

This week, the Baylor Health Care System sent a memo to its employees explaining its new policy. A copy of the memo was obtained by Instant Tea. While the policy doesn’t specifically address LGBT families, it allows patients to define who their families are.

It doesn’t appear as though the new policy will have any impact on the Baylor-owned Tom Landry Fitness Center, which refuses to sell family memberships to same-sex couples. But here’s what the Health Care System wrote:

Beginning in January, Baylor began asking inpatients System-wide to specify who they consider “family” to support them during their stay. The goal: to implement open access in all inpatient units, outpatient departments, critical care units and emergency departments System-wide during FY11.

Why Open Access?

·         Significant evidence-based literature supports the benefits of family presence for patients.

·         Benefits include reduced anxiety, improved outcomes, reduced lengths of stay, better discharge planning and fewer re-hospitalizations.

·         Having loved ones help manage the flow of information and learning heightens the patient’s confidence and compliance with recommendations.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and The Joint Commission require that patients be afforded the right to have a support person during their stay unless it infringes on others’ rights or safety or is medically or therapeutically contraindicated.

What is the Support Person’s Role?

·       Patients have the right to define a support person and decide how he or she will be involved in care, care planning and decision-making.

·       Involvement may include participation in shift report, rounds and private consultation as long as confidential health information is shared only with the patient’s consent.

We appreciate your support at Baylor continues its journey toward a patient- and family-centered model and implements open access across the System.

—  David Taffet

Hospital visitation rules take effect

Parkland Hospital

An executive order saying hospitals that receive federal funding must allow same-sex visitation went into effect on Tuesday.

Federal funding includes Medicare and Medicaid payments.

President Barack Obama issued the order last year after hearing about a case in which a woman wasn’t allowed to see her partner before she died.

“We applaud the Obama administration’s steps to address the discrimination affecting LGBT patients and their families,” Lambda Legal Executive Director Kevin Cathcart said in a statement. “Now, in hospitals across the nation, LGBT people and their families will have more protections so they can be by their loved one’s side when they are sick and need them most.”

The city of Dallas has an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations. Partners in Dallas should have access based on public accommodations, and no complaints against a Dallas hospital has been filed since the ordinance went into effect.

Hospitals in other cities that prevented partners from visiting loved ones used the excuse that only immediate family members could visit.

I contacted several area hospitals for comment and heard back from Parkland.

“Parkland will continue to offer an open visitation policy to all patients and their family members. Research has shown that patient care is greatly enhanced by the more time a family spends with the patient,” said Miriam Sibley, Parkland’s senior vice president and chief nursing officer.

I thought this was interesting wording. While that same wording has been used elsewhere to exclude people, at Parkland it’s meant to express acceptance of same-sex partners as family that is — and has been — welcome.

The full Lambda Legal press release is after the jump.

—  David Taffet