Why raising the minimum wage is an LGBT issue

rustinHTThe U.S. Senate votes Wednesday on raising the minimum wage to $10.10, which may help lift a disproportionately high number of LGBT households out of poverty.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights sent some statistics compiled by their LGBT partners, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

According to studies, a $10.10 minimum wage would mean higher earnings for 17 million workers with little to no effect on the employment rate, and could lift nearly five million Americans out of poverty.

While the perception is that the gay community is wealthy, raising the minimum wage will disproportionately help the LGBT households.

•  Household income among trans people is four times as likely to be below $10,000 per year.

•  While 5.7 percent of opposite-sex married couples live in poverty, 7.6 percent of lesbian couples live in poverty.

•  Same-sex African-American couples have twice the poverty rate of opposite-sex African-American couples.

Over the past decade, studies have compared wages earned by gay and bisexual men compared to straight men. Taking into consideration education, occupation and region of the country, gay and bi men earn 10 to 32 percent less.

The Minimum Wage Fairness Act would:

•  raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2016, in three increments of 95 cents each

•  adjust the minimum wage each following year to keep pace with the rising cost of living

•  raise the minimum wage for tipped workers, which has been frozen at a $2.13 per hour for more than 20 years

—  David Taffet

Study shows high rate of discrimination against transgender people in Texas

Mara Keisling

Transgender Texans generally face even higher levels of discrimination than transgender people nationwide, according to a state-level breakout from a national study conducted last year.

Equality Texas and the Transgender Education Network of Texas released the state-level figures Tuesday from the study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality. The full national study is available online, and results from the Texas study are below. The national study included 266 Texas respondents.

In Texas, transgender people faced higher rates of harassment and assault in school. Nationally, 78 percent reported being harassed, but in Texas 85 percent faced harassment. Physical assault was also higher in the state at 46 percent compared to 35 percent nationally. Sexual assault in school was comparable at 12 percent nationally and 9 percent in Texas.

Texas doesn’t have LGBT-inclusive employment nondiscrimination or anti-bullying laws. The state’s hate crimes law covers gays and lesbians but not transgender people.

Equality Texas called the rates of workplace discrimination in the state “alarming.” Chuck Smith, Equality Texas interim executive director, said the report graphically demonstrates the discrimination faced by transgender Texans.

“In our state, where the right of self-determination is so valued, it is unconscionable that anyone would be denied the ability to earn a living, to live where they choose or to be educated,” Smith said. “Equality Texas calls on the members of the Texas Legislature to join us in working to ensure that all Texans are given the ability to live as their authentic selves.”

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said some states have made a lot of progress toward ensuring safety, jobs and homes for transgender people. But she said “this research points out persistent gaps in the fair and equal treatment of transgender people.”

According to the report:

—  David Taffet

Up to 20 LGBT youth served by Dallas agency could benefit from Obama’s immigration order

The rally outside the White House after Friday's announcement. (Via NGLTF)

As many as 20 LGBT young people at Youth First Texas could take advantage of a new immigration policy announced Friday by President Barack Obama, according to YFT Board Chair Chris Cognetta.

Obama announced that the U.S. will stop deporting illegal aliens who were brought to this country as children, and they will be able to obtain work permits.

Effective immediately, the new rule will apply to people who are currently under 30 years old, arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 and have lived here for at least five years. To qualify, they must have no criminal record and have earned a high school diploma, be in school or served in the military.

The provisions are similar to those proposed in the DREAM Act that has been before Congress several times but has not passed.

The change in policy could have an even greater impact for gay and lesbian youth. That’s because in many cases, a heterosexual sibling marries a U.S. citizen and can immediately apply for a green card and begin the naturalization process. The gay or lesbian sibling cannot be sponsored by a partner.

—  David Taffet

AMA adopts policy supporting same-sex marriage

The American Medical Association today adopted a new policy in support of same-sex marriage, saying that excluding sa,e-sex couples from legal marriage recognition is discriminatory and that the AMA supports relationship recognition as a means of addressing health disparities and that gay and lesbian couples and their families face.

H-65.973 Health Care Disparities in Same-Sex Partner Households, adopted today by the AMA, declares: “Our American Medical Association: (1) recognizes that denying civil marriage based on sexual orientation is discriminatory and imposes harmful stigma on gay and lesbian individuals and couples and their families; (2) recognizes that exclusion from civil marriage contributes to health care disparities affecting same-sex households; (3) will work to reduce health care disparities among members of same-sex households including minor children; and (4) will support measures providing same-sex households with the same rights and privileges to health care, health insurance, and survivor benefits, as afforded opposite-sex households.”

The new policy is just the latest in a list of policies adopted by the AMA intended to protect LGBT physicians and LGBT patients and their families. You can see the full list here.

Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson, Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Executive Director Hector Vargas and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rhea Carey all issued statements applauding the AMA’s new policy.

The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists already support marriage equality for same-sex couples.

—  admin

Task Force: Perry’s Day of Prayer ‘a profoundly harmful act’ that ‘demeans our common humanity’

Last Wednesday we called attention to the fact that only one LGBT group had issued a statement condemning Gov. Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer, funded by the gay-hating American Family Association. We also said we had reached out to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force but received no response. However, a spokeswoman for NGLTF says she never received our email because it was caught by her spam filter. In any case, the Task Force has now joined the handful of other LGBT groups that have issued statements since then. Here’s the statement that was sent over today from the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director for NGLTF:

“A designated hate group is the primary backer of Gov. Rick Perry’s so-called Day of Prayer. How exactly does this help heal our nation? It does nothing to foster a much-needed sense of community, peace and well-being. What it does do is fuel discord and division at a time when many people are hurting. The AFA has taken extreme positions that make our families more vulnerable to violence, bigotry and economic distress. This is not an act of love; it is a profoundly harmful act. This event as planned demeans our common humanity and makes a mockery of the principles of fairness and faith.”

—  John Wright

Rea Carey's 'State of the Movement' address

Rea Carey, executive director of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, delivered the “State of the Movement” address at Creating Change. Here it is in four parts, about 40 minutes and worth watching if you missed it.

Part 1

(three more parts after the jump)

—  David Taffet

Creating Change: Day 4

What an amazing day at Creating Change.

As I walked into the hotel, I met an old friend, Marilyn Bennett. She is the former development director of Resource Center Dallas and now lives in Montana and is working on a video project called Truth in Progress. Well, first we had to catch up and then I helped her with rustling up the gays. So much for workshop sessions 5 and 6 this morning.

I got back on track with an award presentation to Aiden Aizumi, 21, from Trevor Project in Los Angeles.

He said, “I wouldn’t have been able to overcome my problems without my friends in the community.” But I think his mom helped as well. She was there and got as big a standing ovation as Aiden.

Writer Kai Wright moderated a panel of youth from across the country. The guys from Youth First Texas, Cynthia and Jesus, did us proud. What was interesting was that some of the lack of services and problems faced by LGBT youth elsewhere have been well addressed in Dallas.

And favorite Kate Clinton line of the day. She reminded us how Cheney attended Obama’s inauguration in a wheelchair. The story was he hurt is back carrying boxes. “Oh, please,” Clinton said. “He shredded everything months ago.”

Then I met Yousif and Nawfal. They’re two gay Iraqis who escaped to Syria and then to the United States. They’re currently living in Houston and seeking asylum. More about them in this week’s paper.

I attended a workshop on intergenerational storytelling. Yes, I was one of the old people, for any of you who were going to add a snotty comment.

Had lunch with Alex, my KNON intern/”Lambda Weekly” helper. We went over to the food court at Plaza of the Americas where it was all queer. What fun. Had dinner with the Bi’s. BiNet’s hospitality suite kept us well-fed and where people of all colors had a spirited discussion about whether or not Matt Goodman was a person of color. I settled the argument by explaining that green was not a color.

Trans slam poet Kit Yan (powerful) entertained and so did New York comedian Vidur Kapur (hysterical). But the hit of the evening? Youth First Texas put on the pre-show. Two of their members were Lady Gaga and Beyonce. They and their backup dancers were incredible. The entire house was on their feet.

Creating Change ends Sunday morning with Vogue Evolution. And our guests from the Philadelphia and Washington areas (and there are lots of them) may be here for an extended stay. Because of snow, their airports are closed, American Airlines has already canceled more than 500 flights today. And Creating Change may just continue.

—  David Taffet

Scenes from Creating Change

Census

Encouraging the LGBT community to be counted in the census

Sue

Conference director Sue Hyde

Grace

Transgender activist Grace Sterling Stowell received the Sue J. Hyde Activism Award for Longevity in the Movement.

Kate

Comedian Kate Clinton is serving as Mistress of Ceremonies for the plenary sessions

—  David Taffet

Creating Change: Day 3

Rebecca Voelkel and Pedro Julio Serrano at Creating Change
Rebecca Voelkel and Pedro Julio Serrano at Creating Change

I’m on my way down to the Sheraton Hotel for more of the great Creating Change conference. Meeting so many activists from across the country has been exhilirating.

On tap today – lots and lots of workshops. The hospitality suites are open. Great place to stop by for just a few minutes or for an extended period to meet people from across the country.

At 1:30, one of the conference highlights takes place. Rea Carey, executive director of NGLTF, delivers the state of the movement address.

And I have to extend a personal welcome to everyone to Shabbat services tonight at 7:30. I’ll be co-leading with Congregation Beth El Binah president Diane Litke. Everyone is welcome and you do not need to be registered at the conference to attend.

Should be lots of fun to share shabbat (dont worry – we spent more time worrying about the food than the service) with activists from across the country. And in case you’re worried that Jewish services tend to drag on and on and on, we only have the room for ONE HOUR. Gregg Drinkwater and Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Atlanta, editors of the new book “Torah Queeries,” will be speaking at the service (so no, you don’t have to listen to me rant and rave).

—  David Taffet

One day to go till Creating Change

CC10Header-F

The Creating Change conference opens at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel tomorrow. National Gay and Lesbian Task Force staff has been in Dallas, some since last week. Attendees began arriving last night.

Earlier today I walked into an informal planning meeting being held outside one of the conference rooms at the hotel.

Jorge Taveras does E-blasts and Web work for NGLTF. He said, “I love it here already. The food’s amazing!”

Inga Sarda-Sorensen is director of communications for the Task Force.

“Lots of hospitality — just as we expected,” she said.

Sue Hyde said registrations are running well ahead of expectations. The conference contracted for 2,300 room-nights with the hotel. More than 3,000 room-nights are reserved.

With hundreds of workshops and speakers scheduled over the next few days, I asked Hyde what some of the highlights will be.

“Everyone’s excited that Dan Choi is coming,” she said.

Choi will be speaking on Friday. He has been in the news because, after fighting in Iraq, he is being discharged from the military under don’t ask, don’t tell. His appearance is particularly timely because of the congressional hearing today on the discriminatory policy.

Hyde also mentioned a plenary session on Saturday moderated by writer Kai Wright. Cynthia Ruiz and Jesus Montelongo from Youth First Texas and Juan Gabriel Padilla from Out Youth Austin will be on the panel with four other youth from across the country.

On Thursday, an alternative prayer breakfast will be held at the same time as the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The event in D.C. is tainted, this year, by the appearance of the American “ministers” who proposed the LGBT genocide law in Uganda.

Sunday’s closing ceremony includes a performance by Dallas PUMP! Sheriff Lupe Valdez will speak and awards will be presented, including one to Dallas Voice columnist Hardy Haberman.

The day rate to attend the conference is $75 per day. Registration for the full weekend begins tonight. For those who could not afford the full registration price, 235 scholarships were awarded.

Stay tuned to Instant Tea and Dallas Voice for updates on the conference.

—  David Taffet