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

Happy Thanksgiving and a health update post-alien fibroid uterine removal

UPDATE: Just got labs back from blood work done just before surgery, and in fact my blood count was lower than the norm (as in I bleed way too much during my period). Duh, I could have told them that without a test. I don’t know whether the doctor will put me on iron on or not, but it’s likely to bounce back on its own over time.

Happy Turkey Day! It’s time to give thanks for what good we have in our lives. I am thankful for my family, my friends old and new – online and offline — and for readers who have been kind and generous. A special shout out to others in the hysterhood, who gave me good pre- and post- surgery advice.

Our Thanksgiving was relatively quiet, we were home and I was unconscious most of the day, getting up at regular intervals (about 4 hours or so), to take pain meds. The doggies loved having us home. My follow up appointment with the surgeon is on 12/7.

The surgeon has me alternating doses of ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) and hydrocodone (hard core opiates). Both work ok, though pain relief is never as good as you receive in the hospital. I am usually able to ditch the pain meds after a couple of days, but post-hysterectomy pain is way worse than when I had my gall bladder removed.

Details below the fold.
If you missed following my Facebook and Twitter updates, I was released from the hospital yesterday, only after I was able to do #1 on my own. Otherwise I was either going to be sent home with a catheter or stay another day and be re-cathetered. Both were bad options, but around 2PM yesterday I was finally able to go. It’s kind of a surrealistic experience – you feel the urge to go, your brain is sending the signals to go, and then nothing happens. At all. This went on every few hours as I would attempt it. I thought I was losing my mind. Anyway, once I did, I got dressed and was outta there.

Whack-a-mole holes in the gut

I was left with five holes in my abdomen from the laproscopy, including one entry point in my navel, which will probably be one of the last to heal. As I mentioned yesterday, one of the complications of my surgery was some tearing of vaginal tissue as the uterus was removed in one piece after it was severed from the fallopian tubes/ovaries. Since the largest fibroid was the size of the uterus itself, it’s not surprising it wasn’t going out easily.

The area with the stitching to close that up is somewhat swollen, which inhibited my ability to void. So it’s a small miracle I didn’t have to do another day in the hospital.

Needless to say, even on the percocet I was on in the hospital, I was still in some pain, just not excruciating. The nurses were wonderfully attentive in giving meds to me upon request and kept checking my pain levels.

So once home, what I can report is that I’ve done little else except sleep, get on and FB and tweet when I’ve had to test my blood glucose and take my needles/pain meds. Kate has the alarm set to every four hours to wake me to take the pain meds and to test. So I’m getting more sleep than at the hospital, but it’s still interrupted sleep. Good thing I am testing regularly, since my lows have been around 72. So I’d pop a few prunes and go back to sleep.

There is a L&O marathon on TNT today, so I watch some random episodes that I fall asleep on. I am too weak to be bored, so that’s a good thing. As you might imagine, the worst part is standing up and lying down. Your abs simply don’t want to work after this kind of surgery. The only comfortable position is flat on my back, which is crappy since I’m a side/tummy sleeper, but I’m so drug-addled I don’t even care. I just want to sleep.

Today’s adventure — my first shower since arriving home. Kate took all of my dressings off — three abdominal incisions required stitches, two were glued shut — and I feebly got in the shower and, well, it was a painful experience washing that area. But it was good to get clean. I will have to do this for a while, so Kate can help with the dressings. My abdomen is very swollen due to the surgery and the 4 IV bags of fluids I took in. That added another 10 lbs over night. Argh.

The only clothing that fits comfortably at this point are my sundresses with a shirt under them or my night gowns. The elastic waist pants that I thought would be a good choice post-surgery hurt like hell.

I’ve taken to shooting up my insulin in my arms since my abdomen is so sore. All of this sucks but at least I wasn’t blindsided — I was told to expect this. My appetite is not very good. I can eat solid food, but clear broth soup is better digested.

I expect to feel about this bad for a week, with each day getting a little better. I did try stairs today. That was a mistake. Oh god that hurt. Going down is worse that going up. Guess I just like testing my (in)abilities. Bad blogmistress.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Bombshell: two gay military groups back removal of DADT repeal to pass Def Auth bill

And look at this bombshell from The Politico:

Two gay troops’ groups will announce today that they’d support breaking off DADT repeal if doing so would help the defense authorization act pass – but they’ll keep pushing for repeal in the lame-duck Congress, Morning Defense has learned. The statement from OutServe and Knights Out is just one prong in a complex offensive planned for lawmakers’ return to Washington this week, organizers said.

“On behalf of the more than 1,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members and 500 gay and lesbian veterans we represent, we respectfully urge Congress to pass the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the aircraft, weapons, combat vehicles, ammunition and promised pay-raises for all troops, whether or not the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell is included,” the statement will say. “To be clear, we will continue to fight for our integrity as gay and lesbian service members and we hope that legislative action in Congress can be taken in 2010 to lift the ban.”

Here’s the release; I’m just passing it on (via The Palm Center). I have no clue what strategic purpose this serves to help repeal a discriminatory policy.

Today, OutServe and Knights Out issued a statement responding to current efforts in Congress to filibuster the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act because of its inclusion of conditional repeal for the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law and policy. The statement reads:

“There is nothing more important than loyalty to those with whom we serve. This means ensuring that no one issue interferes with funding the courageous and selfless work our fellow service members are doing around the world. Therefore, on behalf of the more than 1,000 active duty gay and lesbian service members and 500 gay and lesbian veterans we represent, we respectfully urge Congress to pass the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act to fund the aircraft, weapons, combat vehicles, ammunition and promised pay-raises for all troops, whether or not the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is included.”

“To be clear, we will continue to fight for our integrity as gay and lesbian service members and we hope that legislative action in Congress can be taken in 2010 to lift the ban. With the support of President Obama, Chairman Mullen, Secretary Gates and the reported seventy-percent of service members surveyed, a new day of openly gay service is at hand if Congress acts during this lame duck session. We are proud to serve in the United States Armed Forces today and tomorrow.”

OutServe is a network of approximately 1,000 active-duty soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and members of the Coast Guard. JD Smith is a pseudonym.

Knights Out is an organization of West Point alumni, staff and faculty who are united in supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers to openly serve their country. The group has 203 members and graduate supporters and 462 allies.

Update: Statement from Alex Nicholson, Servicemembers United:

It has been the position of the organizations that actually work on repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ to strongly oppose stripping the repeal language out of the defense authorization bill. That position has been based on the reality of the vote count, and those facts on the ground here in Washington have not changed. Servicemembers United, which is the nation’s largest gay troop and veteran group by far, strongly agrees with the White House that stripping DADT out of NDAA is simply a non-starter.


It’s pretty clear to both Joe and me that the Palm Center is doing this on behalf of some other unnamed groups, who are working on behalf of an unnamed elected official who has a record of being rather un-fierce. You can do the math.

We’ll be writing much more about this incredibly idiotic strategy in the coming hours and days. But read this press release that the Palm Center is sending out to the entire world. It’s an invitation for John McCain to kill the repeal of DADT. It’s clearly part of some larger super duper 11th dimensional chess strategy, and it’s dumb as hell. You can thank the Palm Center, and their secret patrons who convinced them to do this, when DADT repeal dies in the coming weeks.

Question for Blenders – do you think the Palm/Outserve/KnightsOut BS is another mop-up PR operation by this WH? In the end, those who serve in silence still lose. The votes aren’t there for a standalone DADT repeal; there is no point in playing 11th dimensional chess to pull a fast one on the LGBT community when the votes aren’t there. No one is buying.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

HRC’s New Corporate Equality Index Requires Removal of Exclusions to Transgender Healthcare and Benefits

The following is from Meghan Stabler; Meghan sits on HRC’s Board of Directors and Business Council:

Transgender healthcare coverage and benefits have for too long been excluded from many business’ healthcare plans. It has been a systematic level of discrimination against transgender employees that has a devastating impact on so many people, and it needs to change. In 2002, only 5% of CEI-rated companies included gender identity among their non-discrimination policies and in 2004, only 3% of CEI-rated companies addressed transgender health with limited benefit offerings. Today, 79% of CEI-rated companies provide this limited coverage and 85 companies offer at least one healthcare plan option to all employees that covers many medically necessary transition-related treatments, including hormone therapies and surgeries.

Since 2008 I’ve been an active member of the Human Rights Campaign Business Council. Members provide expert advice and counsel on LGBT workplace issues based on their business experience and knowledge. I, along with all members of the council made it our goal to ensure that we focus on uplifting the requirements for transgender inclusion and provide HR, diversity and benefit administrators with a clear path to remove transgender workplace discrimination and ensure the provision of health insurance.

Transgender people are often categorically denied health insurance coverage for medically necessary treatment, irrespective of whether treatment is related to sex affirmation/reassignment. Up until the last few years, nearly all U.S. employer-based health insurance plans contained “transgender exclusions” that limited insurance coverage for transition-related treatment and other care. For any employee, the denial of coverage for medically necessary services and treatments can be both traumatic and life-threatening. Employers, as consumers of group health insurance products, can advocate on behalf of the transgender people insured on their group health insurance plans. The HRC Corporate Equality Index provides the motivation for employers to work with their insurance carriers or administrators to remove transgender exclusions and provide comprehensive transgender-inclusive insurance coverage.

The new CEI criteria raise the transgender benefit provision requirements significantly for employees, their dependents and applies to business operations throughout the United States, including wholly-owned subsidiaries.

As part of HRC’s commitment to ending discrimination against transgender people, beginning in calendar year 2011 full credit will be given only to employers offering all benefits-eligible employees (and their dependents) at least one health insurance plan that

  • Covers medically necessary treatments without exclusions or limitations specific to transgender individuals or to transition-related care, and
  • Conforms to current medical standards of care such as those defined by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care in determining eligibility and treatment coverage for transition-related services.

In making these changes HRC’s goal remains unchanged; seeking to highlight workplace practices that effectively eliminate discrimination against transgender employees. For the past three years we’ve undertaken a comprehensive review of employer insurance policies and documented tremendous progress. Many businesses have taken steps to remove discrimination from at least one of their health insurance plans for employees and their dependents: Employers of varying size and across industry sectors have successfully introduced coverage inclusive of services related to transgender transition, either at no cost or at a negligible cost.

We have also found that placing financial caps for transition related coverage are unnecessary and uncommon and were often utilized to control perceived risk. However, such caps also represent insurmountable barriers to care in many cases. They are discriminatory and the CEI will demand that they be removed. HRC research on utilization has shown that claims costs are extremely low, and therefore risk is low. Only 16 of the 85 businesses currently with full transgender coverage reported a financial cap, ranging from ,000 to 0,000, and half of these reported caps of ,000 or greater. In-depth interviews with a subset of employers indicated that there had been little or no initial increase in premiums, that both absolute and annual per employee costs attributed to benefit utilization had been minimal, and that there had been no impact on subsequent premiums.

So in summary, much progress has been made by corporations to provide coverage, but work still needs to be undertaken to remove prior discriminatory exclusions for transgender employees and dependents. I truly believe that the latest uplift to the CEI, and the requirement to provide services in order to achieve 100%, will signal a pivotal moment of change for both the employer and transitioning individual.

For more information visit

Overview of equal health coverage for transgender individuals in the calendar 2011 CEI:

Baseline Criteria

  • Insurance contract explicitly affirms coverage
  • Plan documentation is readily available to employees and clearly communicates inclusive insurance options to employees and their eligible dependents
  • Benefits available to other employees must extend to transgender individuals. Where available for employees, the following benefits should all extend to transgender individuals, including for services related to transgender transition (e.g., medically necessary services related to sex reassignment):
  • Short term medical leave
  • Mental health benefits
  • Pharmaceutical coverage (e.g., for hormone replacement therapies)
  • Coverage for medical visits or laboratory services
  • Coverage for reconstructive surgical procedures related to sex reassignment
  • Coverage of routine, chronic, or urgent non-transition services (e.g., for a transgender individual based on their sex or gender. For example, prostate exams for women with a transgender history and pelvic/gynecological exams for men with a transgender history must be covered)
  • Existing plan features should extend equally to transition related care, e.g., provisions for “adequacy of network, ”access to specialists, travel or expense reimbursement
  • Dollar caps on this area of coverage must meet or exceed ,000 per individual

Full Criteria

  • Coverage available for full range of services indicated by World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s (WPATH) Standards of Care, including the Medical Necessity Clarification Statement
  • No Lifetime or Annual Dollar caps on this area of coverage
  • Benefit administration covers treatment plans that adhere to the WPATH diagnostic and assessment process.
  • Eliminates barriers to coverage:
    • No separate dollar maximums or deductibles
    • Explicit adequacy of network provisions
    • No other serious limitations

Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Montana House GOP Candidate Declares ‘War’ on the Gay Community Over Tea Party Leader’s Removal


Kristi Allen-Gailusha, a GOP nominee for a Montana House seat and secretary of the Big Sky Tea Party Association, has left the latter group, angry that its president, Tim Ravndal, was forced out following revelations that he posted remarks condoning violence against gay people to his Facebook page.

Allen-gailushas Ravndal, in a Facebook posting dated July 23 and since removed, expressed his views that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The post was in response to an ACLU lawsuit in Montana brought by seven gay couples who want to get married.

In the post's comment thread, Ravndal expressed support for a commenter who (in apparent reference to the Matthew Shepard murder) said, "I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions."

In response to the Ravndal controversy, Allen-Gailusha posted a comment to her Facebook page declaring "war" on the gay community (see screenshot above).

The Helena Independent Record reports:

"Allen-Gailusha said Ravndal wasn't even referring to the Shepard case, and that his comments were taken out of context. She said she would submit her resignation from the association at Tuesday night's meeting. She may have also been heading for trouble with the group’s board, following the revelation of one of her own Facebook postings that takes aim at gay people."

Allen-Gailusha is the Republican nominee in House District 82.

(top image via montana cowgirl blog)

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright