Out & Equal to honor Parker, Welts

Mayor Annise Parker

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates will honor Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts at its Leadership Celebration on March 14 in San Francisco.

In October, Out & Equal held its week-long Workplace Summit at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. Because of rave reviews, the group plans to return in the next few years. Welts was among the speakers at the Dallas convention.

Now in its fifth year, the Leadership Celebration is a fundraising event that includes a hosted reception and dinner. Parker and Welts will be recognized as role models and inspirations in the movement to achieve equality in the workforce.

To attend the San Francisco event, register online.

The 2012 Workplace Summit will be in Baltimore on from Oct. 29-Nov 1.

—  David Taffet

President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

Southwest issues follow-up statement on Leisha Hailey incident

The Internet is out at the house (screw you, AT&T), so I’m attempting to post this from my phone (wish me luck). Below is a follow-up statement from Southwest Airlines regarding Monday’s incident involving Leisha Hailey. Note that the statement says the incident occurred in El Paso, as opposed to St. Louis, as previously reported. I can’t post the link here, but what is it about El Paso and same-sex kissing? Anyhow below is the statement. I’ll try to get more when I’m back on the grid in the a.m.

Updated Information Regarding Customers Removed from Flight 2274

Additional reports from our Employees and Customers onboard flight 2274 during a stop in El Paso on Sunday now confirm profane language was being used loudly by two passengers. At least one family who was offended by the loud profanity moved to another area of the cabin. Although we have reports of what Customers characterize as an excessive public display of affection, ultimately their aggressive reaction led to their removal from the aircraft. We do not tolerate discrimination against anyone for any reason. In this situation, their removal was directly and solely related to the escalated conversation that developed onboard the aircraft.

Our tenets of inclusion and celebration of diversity among our Customers and Employees—including those in the LGBT communities—anchor our Culture of mutual respect and following the Golden Rule. The more than 100 million people who fly Southwest each year reflect the great diversity of our country and our Company — and ALL are valued and welcome. In fact, we’ve been recognized as a leader in diversity throughout our 40 years of service.

Our Customer Advocacy Team reached out to extend goodwill and a full refund for an experience that fell short of the passengers’ expectation.

—  John Wright

HRC Recognized as a Top “Must-Follow Non-Profit” in Fourth Annual Mashable Awards

 

The following comes from HRC Online Content Manager Dan Rafter:

HRC was recognized as one of the Top Five “Must-Follow Non-Profits” at the Fourth Annual Mashable Awards, which highlight the best of online social innovation. Congratulations to To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), which took home the top honor in the category. TWLOHA is a non-profit dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

Thank you to all who participated and voted for HRC! We recognize the power of social innovation to affect the change needed to advance equality. To that end, HRC dramatically expanded its online presence in 2010, with more than 670,000 fans on Facebook and 27,000 followers on Twitter.

HRC is on the forefront of innovation in advancing awareness on issues of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality across multiple platforms. Some of our highlights in 2010 included mobilizing for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,”; demonstrating broad support for equality through a National Coming Out Day application; and engaging web users in a photo mosaic aimed at raising HIV/AIDS awareness on World AIDS Day.

Thank you again for your votes and, more importantly, your continued commitment to advancing equality. We look forward to building on the great work of 2010 in the New Year.

And be sure to visit us online at www.hrc.org, follow us on Twitter @HRC and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HumanRightsCampaign.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Dan Choi: I Am Somebody! Autumn Sandeen: I Am Still Not Recognized As Somebody.

I have heard many senators and congresspeople use variants of Admiral Mullen’s pro-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT)  repeal phrase of relating to how DADT “[f]orces young men and women to lie to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.” For example, from the floor of the Senate yesterday (December 18, 2010):

Senator Carl Levin: …A policy, which in Admiral Mullen’s words — memorable words — quote “Forces young men and women to lie to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens.”

Young transgender servicemembers, transsexual servicemembers, and servicemembers who identify as both transgender and transsexual still will have to lie to defend their fellow citizens.

Dan Choi tweeted the following yesterday:

Twitter Image of Dan Choi's Tweet: Today we stand taller declaring: 'I am somebody.'

I learned the equality chant from Robin McGehee of GetEQUAL where that “I am somebody” line of Dan Choi’s tweet. Here is the equality chant:

I am somebody!

I deserve full equality!

Right here!

Right now!

I am somebody!

Indeed, Dan Choi had much reason to state “I am somebody” yesterday…much reason to celebrate. He even received a tweet from Senator Harry Reid, about an hour prior to the final vote:

Twitter Image of Sen. Harry Reid's Tweet: One hour away from fulfilling my promise to you to kill #DADT

My friend, Dan Choi, is closer to being a somebody who likely will be able to resume his military career as an out, gay, U.S. Army Officer. I’m very, very happy to have participated in direct action on the White House Fence with Lt. Choi in standing up for liberty, equality, and justice. I’m incredibly happy he may be able to serve his country in military uniform again.

That said, if anyone noticed back in April and November, I never led the “I am somebody” chant from the White House fence. Repeal of DADT was not going to result in my peer transgender community members and me being closer to being somebodies, able too to serve our country in uniform without having to lie about who we are.

Many of us transgender veterans had made a conscious decision to not tie the future transgender people’s open military service to the lesbian, gay, and bisexual people’s open service. Allowing transgender people to serve in the military openly will require much more accommodation than allowing lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to serve in the military openly requires. We also know America isn’t Great Brittan, Canada, or Australia — the more conservative American people aren’t as ready and prepared for the open service of trans servicemembers as they are prepared for the open service of lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers — and even most of those countries didn’t tie the service of LGB servicemembers to T servicemembers.

So, many of us T veterans took the position of supporting our LGB servicemembers and veterans, and waiting.

So while passage of even this watered down version of DADT repeal is a big win for LGBT community, it’s not a direct win for the T subcommunity. Passage of a fully-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act  (ENDA) — one that includes employment protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression was a higher priority for most in the T-subcommunity, but for some reason the Democratic 111th Congress seemed only to be able to pass one piece of LGBT legislation a year, and even the repeal of DADT seemed incredibly iffy right until the end.

In other words, for me, passage of DADT repeal doesn’t leave me able to shout “I am somebody!” with the same sense of community achievement that Dan Choi had the pleasure to shout “I am somebody!” yesterday. I’m glad he could, I’m a little meloncholy I couldn’t.

Frankly, I am still not any more of a somebody in the legal sense than I was the day before yesterday. Clearly, my transgender peers and my personal freedom, equality, and justice weren’t improved with repeal of DADT. Many of we trans people are very, very happy for our LGBT community’s win, but it does come with a sense of melancholy, in that the passage of DADT repeal doesn’t improve life for transgender Americans.

Freedom, equality, and justice isn’t about me or you, or your subcommunity of the LGBT community or mine, or about any other demographic group we may belong to. Freedom, equality, and justice is about us. If an issue is an issue for even one subcommunity of the LGBT community, it’s my issue. I fought for repeal of DADT because our fight is about us, and not about me.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a bit meloncholy because yesterday’s DADT win wasn’t about me or my subcommunity of the LGBT community.

For the next two years, we won’t see movement on repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), nor will we see movement on ENDA because of the incoming Republican Congress and their “culture war.”

DADT was prioritized over ENDA in this congress in all likelihood in large part because there was a clearer way forward, and our DADT repeal “lunch counters” were easier to identify, and the discrimination easier to articulate in simple terms, so the targets were easier to identify and target.

Thumbnail Link to GetEQUAL e-blast: We're one step closer!But if…but if…But if we see return of Democratic Party control of the House and Senate in 2012, will we see a higher priority put on repeal of DOMA, or a higher priority placed on the promise of ENDA? I can tell you what most in the transgender subcommunity of the LGBT community would prefer to see happen first, and that would passage of ENDA.

As the GetEQUAL e-blast pointed out regarding the passage of this DADT repeal bill (emphasis added):

Make no mistake — DADT is not yet repealed. There is still work to do. There is still a long process ahead, but we vow to keep the pressure up until the policy is fully and completely repealed. There are still people — especially our transgender sisters and brothers — who are unjustly left behind by this legislation.

I fought to see DADT legislatively repealed, and I took to the White House Fence twice over DADT; I went to jail twice over DADT. The legislative win on DADT yesterday is a win for LGBT community that I’m incredibly glad to have played a small part in, but my joy is somewhat tinged with melancholy. [T]ransgender sisters and brothers…are unjustly left behind…
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Mexico City’s marriage must be recognized throughout the country

Another great ruling from the Supreme Court of Mexico. Same-sex marriage performed Mexico City are valid — and must be treated the same as hetero marriages — everywhere in the country:

Mexico’s supreme court has ruled that same-sex marriages in Mexico City must be recognised throughout the country.

The ruling does not mean other states have to allow gay weddings on their territory.

Two of the court’s 11 judges voted against the measure, arguing that it would damage the harmony of the federal system.

Last week the supreme court ruled that the law allowing gay marriages in the capital was constitutional.

The court will now consider the legality of allowing adoption by gay couples.

This would be akin to our Supreme Court saying marriages performed in Massachusetts or Iowa must be recognized everywhere in the United States. Ha. That would mean overturning Section 2 of DOMA, codified at 28 USC § 1738C:

Section 2. Powers reserved to the states:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Seems like we’re far from that happening.

In both of the recent Massachusetts federal court decisions on DOMA, the Judge ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. That provision prohibits the granting of federal benefits to any same-sex couple (1 USC § 7):

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright