BREAKING: ExxonMobil shareholders again reject LGBT employment protections (with photos)

ExxonMobil shareholders have again voted down a proposal to add gay and transgender employees to the Irving-based corporation’s nondiscrimination policy.

Meeting at the Meyerson Symphony Center in the Dallas Arts District, the ExxonMobil shareholders voted 80 percent to 20 percent Wednesday morning against a resolution asking the corporation to amend “its written equal employment opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to substantially implement the policy.”

The proposal has been introduced each year since Mobil and Exxon merged in 1999. The highest level of support came in 2008 at nearly 40 percent.

“It’s disappointing, but this isn’t the end of the issue for us,” said Resource Center Dallas’ Rafael McDonnell, who has lobbied the company on the issue. “We’re going to continue to reach out and engage them. … I think the White House needs to go back and revisit this executive order.”

The proposed executive order would require contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination policies if they do business with the federal government, which Exxon does. However, President Barack Obama’s administration indicated earlier this year that he doesn’t plan to sign the proposed order anytime soon.

Mobil was one of the first companies in the world to include sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy and offer benefits to the same-sex partners of gay employees. But ExxonMobil rescinded those policies after the merger.

Outside the meeting, dozens of protesters lined Flora Street in front of the Meyerson on Wednesday. About 50 people with organizations including Code Pink, United Steel Workers and Occupy Dallas joined GetEQUAL protesters to shout for equality and ending discrimination, while a handful of protesters parodied the CEOs that make the choices and profit from ExxonMobil.

Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL, who helped organized the protest, said he wouldn’t be surprised by the vote regardless of the result.

“The people that are against it seem very against it. The people who are for it really done a good job of pushing it this year,” he said. “We’ve got a better shot than in the past.”

As for Exxon not voting in favor of adding the protections in the past, Cates said the company had not learned to change and be more inclusive, which would ultimately hurt business.

“They clinging to antiquated business practices,” he said. “It’s a matter of really learning that this is good for business.”

This year, the resolution was initiated by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who wants the company to not only amend the nondiscrimination policy, but also to begin offering health benefits to the spouses of employees married in the Empire State.

The comptroller controls the state’s pension funds. As of May 18, New York’s pension fund held more than 16 million shares of ExxonMobil worth more than $1 billion.

ExxonMobil has called the measure unnecessary. It says the company is a “meritocracy” for its 82,000 workers worldwide, and that it already prohibits all forms of discrimination.

This is also the first year ExxonMobil appealed to the Securities and Exchange Commission to have the shareholder resolution thrown out. The company based its claim on a nondiscrimination statement in its Corporate Careers publication.

The SEC refused to allow ExxonMobil to throw out the resolution, saying the publication doesn’t have the weight of a corporate nondiscrimination policy.

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil maintains the lowest possible rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, with a minus-25.

In response to Wednesday’s vote, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement noting that as of 2012, 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies include sexual orientation in their EEO policy and 50 percent include gender identity.

“The shareholder resolution to add sexual orientation and gender identity to ExxonMobil’s EEO policy was a non-binding referendum and the company still has the chance to do the right thing,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “As perhaps the largest corporation in the country, ExxonMobil has a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen; sadly they have fallen far short. The company has resisted offering basic employment protections for their LGBT workers for years and it’s time they treat all of their employees like the valuable assets they are.”

—  John Wright

Funeral for Bettie Naylor set for May 5

Naylor.Bettie

Bettie Naylor

Family and friends of beloved Texas activist Bettie Naylor will celebrate her life spent advocating for LGBT and women’s rights May 5.

The service will be at 3 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 1201 Lavaca Street in Austin.

A celebration will then follow at the Family Life Center located one block from the Church, according to information released on behalf of Naylor’s partner Libby Sykora by Equality Texas. Memorial donations may be made to Family Eldercare, 1700 Rutherford Lane in Austin, in honor of the The Bettie Naylor Fund established to provide care for LGBT seniors.

Sykora found Naylor, 84, April 19. She had died in her sleep.

A founding member of Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign and Annie’s List, Equality Texas Deputy Executive Director Chuck Smith told Dallas Voice that she was the  “creator of the equal rights movement in Texas.”

—  Anna Waugh

Bettie Naylor remembered as ‘creator of the equal rights movement in Texas’

Bettie Naylor

Founding member of Equality Texas, HRC, Annie’s List dies at 84

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

Legendary Texas activist Bettie Naylor died Wednesday night in her sleep. She was 84.

Naylor’s partner, Libby Sykora, found her Thursday morning, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

A founding member of Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign and Annie’s List, Naylor began lobbying for women’s rights in the ‘60s and began fighting for LGBT rights in the ‘70s, said Chuck Smith, Equality Texas deputy executive director.

While she was married to a man for 30 years, she later came out and embraced her sexuality, Smith said.

The original lobbyist for Equality Texas, Smith said that Naylor helped “change the face of women’s rights and gay rights in Texas.”

“In most respects, she was the creator of the equal rights movement in Texas,” he said.

While Naylor was fierce in her political fights, Smith said she was also funny and sweet.

“It was still easy to like Bettie because she was just so downright charming and fun to be around,” he said.

Although Naylor stopped lobbying in 2009, Smith said she and her partner remained activists in the LGBT community and in Austin.

“The two of them were quite the power couple,” he said.

Dianne Hardy Garcia, former Equality Texas executive director, worked with Naylor for many years in the ‘90s.

“We lost a great leader last night. Bettie was a loyal friend, a wise teacher and a generous soul,” she said. “She was also damn fun! I will forever be grateful to have learned from her and to have loved Bettie Naylor!”

Naylor was honored with Travis County Democratic Party’s Trio of Stars award in 2011. During an interview with the party, she was asked to describe the changes she’s witnessed during her activist and lobbying career.

Her response: “I’m amazed at the changes, although I would like to see things change more rapidly. But I think we’re far more acceptable to people now than we ever were,” Naylor said. “I think some of that has to do with the young gay people who don’t keep their sexuality a secret any more. They’re comfortable being who they are, and they’re not ashamed. You know, I was married for 30 years to a military pilot, and I was ‘outed’ by the San Antonio News-Express — on the front page and with a picture! Because of that, I have never hidden my sexuality, and now I’m very proud of it.”

Amid the sadness of her loss, Smith said Naylor will forever remain in the hearts of activists and the communities she changed for the better.

“She will be hugely missed, but I think that the work she’s done has made us better off,” Smith said. “She’ll always be a part of the LGBT movement in Texas.”

Equality Texas and HRC released statements addressing Naylor’s loss.

Equality Texas and HRC released statements addressing Naylor’s loss.

“Bettie Naylor was a force to be reckoned with, and played a central role in bettering the lives of LGBT people at both the national level and in Texas,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

“As a founding board member of the Human Rights Campaign, and a leader in starting our Austin Steering Committee, Bettie was a tireless advocate and never stopped working to ensure that members of our community received the rights, dignity, and respect that all people deserve. Bettie was driven by a desire to create a future where kids never had to be ashamed of who they were, but could instead live openly and without fear. Today, we live in a country where many loving, committed same-sex couples can marry and start families, where many students can thrive in their communities without fear of violence, and where a growing number of businesses are recognizing the importance of protecting their LGBT employees — these are all part of Bettie’s lasting legacy.”

 This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 20, 2012.

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: Same-sex couples refuse to file taxes separately, file as married to protest DOMA

The deadline to file taxes is Tuesday, but for many gay couples the deadline isn’t the problem. Instead many couples are refusing to file separately, which they are required to do because the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage because of the Defense of Marriage Act.

A group called Refuse to Lie is telling gay couples to file together in an effort to protest the need for repealing DOMA, so they no longer have to lie about being married by filing as single.

“The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) not only denies legally married gay couples the benefits of marriage, but we are also told to disavow our spouses and file our taxes as ‘single,’” RTL states on its website. “Across the country, legally married gay couples are taking a stand. We are refusing to lie about the fact that we are married. Taking this principled stand is not without risk and each person doing so needs to carefully consider those risks before deciding if it is a stand you are willing to take.”

The Human Rights Campaign has released an issue brief on federal taxation that explains how LGBT families are denied benefits and pay significantly more in taxes.

HRC is encouraging the public to use Facebook and Twitter to spread the message using the hashtag #gaytax and to tweet to House Speaker John Boehner (@speakerboehner) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (@ericcantor) about their stories of tax inequality in an effort to get them to stop defending DOMA.

Watch a segment on the movement from MSNBC below:

—  Anna Waugh

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin says she hopes Democrats add marriage equality to party platform

HISTORIC CAMPAIGN | Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., speaks Saturday during the DFW Federal Club's Spring 2012 Luncheon. Baldwin is vying to become the first openly LGBT person in the U.S. Senate.

Having a seat at the table has never mattered more for the LGBT community than in the 2012 election cycle, according to Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., who’s vying to become the first openly gay U.S. senator.

Baldwin, who in 1998 became the first out non-incumbent elected to Congress, was in Texas last weekend to raise money from LGBT donors for her Senate campaign. She attended a private gathering Friday night in Dallas before speaking Saturday at the Human Rights Campaign’s Dallas/Fort Worth Federal Club’s Spring 2012 Luncheon, at the Tower Club on the 48th floor of Thanksgiving Tower in downtown Dallas. Baldwin traveled to Houston for a brunch hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund on Sunday.

Baldwin is endorsed by both HRC and the Victory Fund.

Just recovering from losing her voice, Baldwin spoke softly Saturday afternoon as she gave an address that appeared to be one part standard stump speech infused with one part rallying cry for LGBT equality. Baldwin talked about the huge advances the LGBT movement has made since she was first elected 14 years ago — but also about how much work remains to be done.

“Whether the objective is large or small, whether the arena is public or private, whether you are a lone voice or a chorus of thousands, having a seat at the table matters, and this election season, I would argue that it has never mattered more,” Baldwin told the group of some 200 at the Tower Club.

—  John Wright

Human Rights Campaign teams with the band fun. at tonight’s House of Blues concert

If you already have your ticket to tonight’s fun. concert at House of Blues, then you’re ahead of the game. The Human Rights Campaign has teamed with the band to spread a message of equality. You know, the usual.

Read the HRC.com post after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

Tammy Baldwin to speak in Dallas on Saturday

Rep. Tammy Baldwin

Rep. Tammy Baldwin

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, who’s vying in 2012 to become the first openly LGBT person elected to the Senate, will speak in Dallas on Saturday at the Spring Luncheon of the Human Rights Campaign’s Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Club.

Federal Club representative Timothy Thomas said the luncheon isn’t limited to Federal Club members. However, admission is free to Federal Club and Steering Committee members, but $50 for the general public. Seating is limited to 200, but as of this morning seats were still available.

The luncheon begins at 10:30 a.m. with coffee and mimosas. The lunch and program begins at 11:30 a.m. The luncheon is at The Tower Club on the 48th floor of Thankgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in Dallas.

Register by going here.

—  John Wright

HRC taps Chad Griffin as its next president

Chad Griffin, left, and Joe Solmonese

38-year-old founder of AFER, which brought Prop 8 lawsuit, to lead nation’s largest gay-rights group

LISA KEEN  |  Keen News Service

The next president of the nation’s largest LGBT political group will be Chad Griffin, a California activist who’s made a name for himself by initiating and orchestrating one of the most important legal challenges in LGBT history. Griffin will replace current Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese in June.

Griffin, 38, is the founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the group that enlisted the legal services of some of the nation’s best lawyers to launch a lawsuit against California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8. The lawsuit, which so far has succeeded in having Proposition 8 declared unconstitutional in both federal district court and by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is considered one of the most important pieces of litigation in LGBT history.

The Human Rights Campaign announced Griffin’s appointment Friday.

“We’re ecstatic to have someone of Chad’s caliber as our next president,” HRC co-chair Tim Downing and HRC Foundation co-chair Sandra Hartness said in a joint statement. “His superior credentials and achievements, both as a visionary and strategist, make him uniquely qualified to lead this organization forward. Chad has a proven track record of consistently delivering results during his career. That’s something that our community rightly expects and deserves.”

Through an HRC press release, Griffin said he was honored by the HRC board’s decision.

“While there’s no doubt that we’ve made tremendous progress on the road to equality, we must not forget that millions of LGBT Americans still lack basic legal protections and suffer the consequences of discrimination every day,” said Griffin. “Today’s generation of young people, and each generation hereafter, must grow up with the full and equal protection of our laws, and finally be free to participate in the American dream. As HRC president, I’ll approach our work with a great sense of urgency because there are real-life consequences to inaction.”

Log Cabin Republicans National President R. Clarke Cooper called Griffin “a leader who knows achieving victory will require advocacy and champions on both sides of the [partisan] aisle.”

Solmonese, whose contract with HRC was scheduled to end this month, will stay on until Griffin takes the helm June 11.

Griffin was a relative unknown to the LGBT community nationally until he organized the lawsuit, Perry v. Brown, against Proposition 8. He enlisted lead attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, two of the best and best-known attorneys in the country, to take the case, drawing a flood of publicity and optimism to the prospects for success in striking down the ban.

The announcement of that lawsuit drew resistance from many established LGBT legal activists at first. Many thought that taking the marriage issue into federal court — a seemingly inevitable issue for the U.S. Supreme Court — was risky and premature, given the growing conservatism of the high court. They wanted a lawsuit to evolve out of a careful campaign of public education. Even renowned constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe believed the timing was risky. Tensions were so high at one point, Griffin’s legal team opposed the appointment of LGBT legal groups as intervenors in the case, leaving the LGBT community essentially out of the loop in a case that would directly impact it.

But as the litigation developed, Griffin and his litigators began to work with LGBT legal group leaders and the tensions turned quickly into teamwork.

Prior to founding the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), Griffin was a founding partner of the political communications and campaign firm of Griffin|Schein in Los Angeles.

A native of Arkansas, Griffin also worked for a time in the White House communications office of President Bill Clinton.

HRC is perhaps the LGBT national community’s most stable organization, having changed leaders on a fairly consistent basis every six years. The organization was established in 1978 by Steve Endean and hired Washington, D.C., activist Vic Basile as executive director in 1983. Basile was followed by Massachusetts activist Tim McFeeley in 1989, California leader Elizabeth Birch in 1995, Washington operative Joe Solmonese in 2005, and now by Griffin.

© 2012 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

 

—  John Wright

Getting ready for Her HRC

"Psycho Shanon"

The Human Rights Campaign Dallas-Fort Worth is joining a national effort to get more women involved in HRC with the third annual “Her HRC” party next Sunday, Jan. 15, at Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton.

Drag entertainer Cassie Nova will be the host for the event, which starts when the doors open at 2 p.m. The part includes a trivia tournament (teams need to register between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. that day), and the Bachelorette Auction starts at 5 p.m. Radio personality Psycho Shanon from the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show on KISS 106.1 FM will be auctioneer.

Admission is only $10 for those 18 and up, and that admission fee includes HRC membership for a year.

Similar events are being held in 12 other cities around the country next weekend, with four more scheduled later. Organizers for the Dallas gathering warn that space is limited and the club is expected to fill up quickly, so get there early.

For a full list of events taking place around the country, and for more information on each, go here. For more information on Her HRC, go here. And for more information on HRC in general, go here.

—  admin

Anable applying for top spot at HRC

Fairness Fort Worth president knows he is new to the activism game, but says there is no denying his passion for the work

Anable-vertical-1-col

Tom Anable

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH  — As 2010 came to an end a year ago, longtime CPA and newly minted gay rights activist Tom Anable came to a momentous decision: He decided to sell his accounting business and spend the next year focusing on activism full time.

Now that year is over, and Anable has made another decision that could change his life again: He is applying for the top position at the Human Rights Campaign.

When HRC President Joe Solmonese announced that he was resigning, effective March 2012, Anable said, “My first thought was, ‘I pity the fool who has to try and fill those shoes.’ Now, three months later, I have started the process to apply myself.”

Anable said Thursday afternoon, Jan. 5, that he had sent his resume to the executive recruiting firm hired by HRC to help in the hiring process. Within 30 minutes, he said, he had been called for an in-depth phone interview, after which he was told his resume is being forwarded to the HRC search committee for review.

“I passed step one. Next step will be early February,” Anable said.
For most of his adult life, Anable said, he had focused his attention on his work. He knew he was gay, but he avoided the political and activist side of the LGBT community completely. Then came June 29, 2009, the night that agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and officers with Fort Worth Police Department raided the Rainbow Lounge on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

As the accountant for Rainbow Lounge, Anable was in the bar the night of the raid, checking receipts. What he saw that night left him shaken and scared — and angry. Within days, Anable had stepped across the line into activism and was helping create a new organization, Fairness Fort Worth, that has since helped revitalize the LGBT community in Tarrant County. And Anable spent the last year as Fairness Fort Worth president.

“It’s been a wild 2 ½ years,” Anable said this week.

Anable said that he first began considering applying for the position of HRC president in mid-December after discussions with some HRC board members while he was in Washington, D.C. for meetings.

“They told me I should apply. At first, I thought, no way. But when I read the job description, I realized, hey, I actually am qualified for this job. I actually do meet the qualifications in this job description,” he said.

When he came back home to Fort Worth and discussed the possibility with friends here, Anable said, he got nothing but encouragement in return: “Carol West, Jon Nelson, [Fort Worth Police] Chief Halstead — they all said I should apply.”

Still, Anable said, “It took me at least a week to wrap my head around the idea, to decide whether this is something I really want to do,” he said. “I did a lot of soul-searching about this. It was a very sobering moment for me, an unbelievable moment for me personally, to realize that in just 2 ½ years I have gone from being just a CPA to being an activist and president of Fairness Fort Worth, to the point where I actually feel qualified enough to even think about applying to HRC.”

Anable readily acknowledges that he is very new to the world of activism and nonprofit management, and he acknowledges that he “may not be what they are looking for” when it comes to the HRC presidency.

“But I do believe that I can apply and be seriously considered. I may be new to this, but no one can deny my passion, and this is a passion I have never had for anything in my life before,” Anable said. “Accounting is not something you get passionate about. Doing tax returns is not a passionate calling. But this, activism, this is about passion.”

Anable said that he knows the HRC board has recently completed a strategic assessment to
decide “what kind of leader they want” to bring in to replace Solmonese. “I don’t know what they’ve decided, and I know I may not be it. What are my odds of getting the job? Probably not that good because I haven’t been doing this very long. But I am going to try.

“All I know is that I am going to apply. If I make the first cut, I’ll say, ‘Thank God.’ If I make the second cut, I’ll say, ‘Thank God.’ And if I get the job, I’ll say, ‘Oh, God!’” he laughed. “But if I do get it, I know I will love every minute of it.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas