BREAKING: ExxonMobil adds sexual orientation, gender identity to EEO policy

exxonmobil.siAfter 15 years of fighting shareholder resolutions, ExxonMobil added sexual orientation and gender identity to its nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies.

Media relations manager Alan Jeffers confirmed the policy in an email to Dallas Voice:

ExxonMobil’s U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity and Harassment in the Workplace policies have been updated to include sexual orientation and gender identity, which is consistent with ExxonMobil’s long-standing practice of listing enumerated protected classes as defined by federal law.

ExxonMobil’s policies prohibit all forms of discrimination in any company workplace, anywhere in the world.  ExxonMobil supports a work environment that values diversity and inclusion, and has numerous inclusive programs and policies that help make ExxonMobil a great place to work.

The link to the policies are available here.

—  David Taffet

Sally Kern withdraws anti-gay bill

KernSallyLoRes

Sally Kern

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, withdrew a bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse service to LGBT people, according to Tulsa World.

Her bill, “the Business Protection Act,” read:

“No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.”

She said the bill wouldn’t have done what she intended for it to do, and she’s right. Instead, it would have been declared unconstitutional and, in its ruling, any court would have said the law was based on animus and turned sexual orientation and gender identity into protected classes.

Oklahoma state Sen. Kay Floyd, a Democrat, who is lesbian, said, “This is great news. Your letters, emails, and calls are already making a difference. The sooner we defeat the rest of these divisive and unconstitutional bills, the sooner we can get back to working for everyday Oklahomans.”

Kern submitted two other anti-gay bills so far this session. One prevents taxpayer money and government salaries from licensing or supporting same-sex marriage. The other is called the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act.”

—  David Taffet

A bit of Dallas LGBT history for you

Today, Chad Mantooth, the associate advertising director here at Dallas Voice, sent me a post he found on Reddit.com linking to a “historical photo” showing “Three supporters of Dallas’ first Gay Pride Parade — 1972.” The poster notes that written on the back on the original photo is the date June 24, 1972.

The link carries you to the website of the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History, where you see this photo:

Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 2.58.44 PM

(I lightened this in Photoshop and increased the contrast, just so you can see the women and their signs better.)

Read the signs they carry: “Tired of hiding — Want to be free” and “Don’t laugh — I may be happier than you.”

It makes you realize how very far we’ve come, even though we still have a long way yet to go.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court chief justice pledges to refuse the tyranny of SCOTUS

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore this week issued a declaration pledging to ignore any federal court rulings on marriage equality — including rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court — that he doesn’t like. The statement came after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade (appointed by President George W. Bush, by the way), ruled in favor of marriage equality in two separate cases since last Friday, Jan. 23.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy MooreMoore calls such rulings “tyranny.”

TheNewCivilRightsMovement.com reports that in a letter addressed to Alabama Republican Gov. Robert Bently, Moore wrote: “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. If we are to preserve that ‘reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement,’ then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”

Moore claimed that the institution of marriage is being destroyed by “federal courts using specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process and Full Faith and Credit Clauses of the United States Constitution.” He also advised the governor that issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples “would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama,” and claimed that Alabama is not bound by decisions of federal district or appellate courts.

Sounds like Chief Justice Moore attended the Mike Huckabee School of Law. But the Alabama Republican might want to take a refresher course on exactly how this whole state/federal/constitution/supreme court thing actually works, focusing especially on the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause.

But then, I guess we really can’t expect all that much from Republican Chief Justice Moore. After all, he is the same man who was removed by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary from his seat as Alabama’s chief justice in 2003 when he refused to remove a stone monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama judicial building. The fine people of the state re-elected him chief justice in 2012, bless their hearts.

Last year, Moore went on a cross-country speaking tour to warn folks that same-sex marriage a devilish plot to destroy to America. Also last year, Moore went to Mississippi to speak to the anti-choice group Pastors For Life where he attacked marriage equality and declared that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. And in 2012, Moore told everybody who would listen during his campaign for chief justice that same-sex marriage is not about equality for lesbians and gays but an evil plan to destroy the God-ordained institution of marriage.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama judge issues second ruling upholding equality

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade issued a second ruling today (Tuesday, Jan. 27) upholding marriage equality in Alabama, according to Freedom To Marry, the national organization working for marriage equality nation wide.

Granade, appointed by President George W. Bush, issued a similar ruling on Friday, Jan. 23, in a different marriage equality case. Both rulings have been stayed for 14 days pending appeals. But if the stays are not extended, same-sex couples should be able to legally marry in Alabama beginning the week of Feb. 9, making it the 37th marriage equality state.

(And unless the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of marriage equality very quickly and chooses not to issue a stay, that would mean Alabama will be a functioning marriage equality state before Texas. Alabama, y’all!)

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson said of the newest ruling: “Today’s victory in Alabama is the latest in a number of marriage wins from a bipartisan cascade of courts across the country, including the Deep South. When the first couples marry, their neighbors across Alabama will see that families are helped and no one is hurt. As we look forward to a nationwide ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, this tremendous momentum shows that America — all of America — is truly ready for the freedom to marry.”

—  Tammye Nash

GOP presidential candidates run toward 2016

Perry.Rick_

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry

This past weekend, potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders spoke to the grassroots. They’re gearing up for what’s expected to be a blood bath, pitting establishment Republicans against those more aligned with the Tea Party.

Up in Des Moines, Iowa, 20 presidential contenders spoke at the inaugural Iowa Freedom Summit, hosted by the hard right Rep. Steve King and conservative advocacy group Citizens United. Among the speakers were broke straight boy and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Arkansas Gov. and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, business mogul Donald Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The goal of the summit, according to its website, was to “bring grassroots activists from across Iowa to hear directly from conservative leaders on how we can get America back on track by focusing on our core principles of pro-growth economics, social conservatism, and a strong national defense.”

The perceived “establishment” — perennial candidate Mitt Romney and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — were not in attendance. But another establishment contender, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, braved the event and bellowed to the crowd.

The Huffington Post reported that, fortunately for us, same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues were not high on the agenda. In fact, the only mention of same-sex marriage was when King, introducing Christie, mentioned his veto of a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in his state. But these potential candidates’ agendas speak far louder than their words. Cruz, for instance, needn’t worry about his conservative bonafides. He has announced plans to introduce an amendment allowing states to ban same-sex marriage anyway even if the Supreme Court makes marriage equality legal nationwide.

Fortunately Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another 2016 contender, filled the hate gap. Speaking at the “The Response: Louisiana,” a prayer rally sponsored by the staunchly anti-LGBT American Family Association on the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Jindal spoke for 15 minutes about God, himself, moral decay and the United States. He insisted it wasn’t a chance to score political points with social conservatives.

—  James Russell

Obama uses ‘lesbian,’ ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ in SOTU for the first time ever

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 9.31.04 PM

President Barack Obama

Tonight wasn’t the first time that President Barack Obama has mentioned LGBT rights in his State of the Union Address; last year he took a brief moment to reiterate his commitment to LGBT rights around the world. He was the first to use the word “gay” in a State of the Union Address in 2010 when he talked about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

But the 2015 State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, Jan. 20 did mark an historic event for the LGBT community: For the first time ever in a State of the Union Address, a U.S. president used the words “bisexual” and “transgender.” UPDATE: I just discovered this is apparently the first time the word “lesbian” has been used in a State of the Union speech, too.

The historic moment came near the end of the president’s speech, when he said that Americans “condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”

The president on Tuesday also called the ongoing battle for marriage equality “a story of freedom across our country” and “a civil right.” And he said that Americans now “value the dignity and worth” of gay people.

—  Tammye Nash

Prejudiced SCOTUS justices? AFA calls on Ginsberg, Kagan to recuse themselves from marriage equality ruling

Ginsberg.Kagan.Wildmon

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon, right, has said that U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, left, and Elena Kagan, right, should recuse themselves from marriage equality cases because they have officiated at same-sex marriages.

The American Family Association has called on U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Elena Kagan to recuse themselves from the marriage equality cases the court announced last Friday (Jan. 16), that it will be hearing appeals on, likely in April. Ginsberg and Kagan should not participate in the hearing, AFA President Tim Wildmon has declared, because they have both officiated as same-sex weddings, according to reports by the UK LGBT news site Pink News.

SCOTUS announced Friday that the court will accept appeals on four marriage equality cases — from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The four cases are from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, the only federal appellate circuit court to rule against marriage equality since June 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down that portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions that honor marriage equality.

Last October, the Supreme Court declined to hear appeals of cases in which other federal appellate courts had ruled in favor of marriage equality. And in December the the Supreme Court declined to extend a stay on a federal trial court ruling in favor of marriage equality in Florida, a decision that allowed legal same-sex marriages to begin there on Jan. 6. (A state judge who had also ruled in favor of equality but had also stayed her ruling lifted that stay on Jan. 5, so the first legal same-sex marriages in Florida were performed that day.)

Pink News notes that Ginsberg “has quietly officiated a number of same-sex weddings,” the first in 2013, while Kagan presided over the wedding ceremony of her former law-clerk and his partner last year. That, to Wildmon, indicates “Both of these justices’ personal and private actions that actively endorse gay marriage clearly indicate how they would vote on same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court.”

But the Pink News posts also notes that the other justices’ previous actions could be seen as indicating bias as well: “However, Mr Wildmon’s claims have no discernible legal basis; similarly arbitrary claims could be made that as seven of the nine justices are themselves married to people of the opposite sex, the entire court should be recused.”

—  Tammye Nash

Texas labor leader Linda Bridges funeral to live stream at 1 pm CST

LindaReclaimThe American Federation of Teacher’s Texas chapter will live stream funeral services for President Linda Bridges at 1 p.m. today (Friday, Jan. 16).

The labor giant died suddenly this week.

An obituary was published earlier this week on Instant Tea.

 

—  James Russell

Vile anti-gay law up for a vote in Virginia

Screen shot 2015-01-13 at 4.56.49 PM

Anti-gay Virginia lawmaker Bob Marshall

Legislation has been introduced in Virginia that would allow anyone seeking or holding a business license from the state of Virginia to refuse service or entry to gay people, on the grounds it “would violate the religious or moral convictions of such person with respect to same-sex “marriage” or homosexual behavior,” according to this report by Addicting Info.

House Bill 1414, pre-filed Jan. 14 in the Virginia General Assembly, is being spear-headed by anti-gay lawmaker Bob Marshall. Marshall is notorious for his unsuccessful effort to exclude gays from the Virginia National Guard and for his attempt in 2012 to block the appointment of  a judge on the grounds that the nominee was gay, saying that “sodomy is not a civil right.”

Luckily, Virginia’s governor is Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who has a “track record of expanding protections for LGBT people,” said Christy Mallory, senior counsel at the Williams Institute, who has been tracking nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people across the country. If the Virginia Legislature were to pass the bill, McAuliffe could veto it to keep it from becoming law.

—  Tammye Nash