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View Article  A must read on the failure of ENDA

Dr. Jillian Weiss is someone I admire greatly.  I've been in touch with her for months, trying my best to contribute to the passage of the Employment Non Discrimination Act on the federal level.  I was part of the ground troops getting commitments from our local electeds and I've written about it quite a bit.

So it is sad to realize that it won't happen. Coming on the heels of the Dyke and Trans March, two groups disproportionately impacted be economic issues, its particularly disheartening.  Jillian has some insight as to what has gone so wrong.

Gay Inc. made a decision in the early 2000's to move away from targeting traditional civil rights movement discrimination, and concentrate almost exclusively on marriage equality via the "good as you" theme. I believe the thinking was that the campaign for marriage equality would drag the rest along in its wake.

That agenda came from our advocacy leaders, who live in an environment insulated from most LGBT people in terms of economics, education and culture. But most LGBT people are also not necessarily prepared to do such analysis in understanding why their advocacy leaders would push them into marriage equality as the number one issue.

Discrimination was moved way down the list in the hierarchy. It was never abandoned, but it limped along.

Marriage equality as a lead issue has proved largely a bust, having been stripped away from Americans in 31 states, in every single state in which it has been placed on the ballot. It has been quietly rotated out for a while, while we lick our wounds and regroup. But the philosophy behind it, the "good as you" philosophy, has not changed.

ENDA, and other non-discrimination measures do not fit with the world-view of "good as you." It requires making the argument that we are victims of oppression, and require liberation, something which I think most gay leaders do not feel.

You really need to read the whole thing to grasp the magnitude of the analysis.  It reminds me of Senator Daylin Leach's decision to move ahead with marriage legislation when a group of us practically begged him to take up the Senate version of HB 300.  He was not interested because his people out east thought marriage was the better issue.  That was just sad.

Gay Inc has taken some hits, especially from the grassroots groups across the nation. Where Pittsburgh falls in this regard is open to debate. A lot of power and influence is vested in a few hands, but I don't see the grassroots folks agitating for access. The divide is wide.  That leaves a lot of room for continued misunderstanding and failure to coalesce. 

I strongly encourage you to read Jillian's piece.  We need to wrestle with these issues locally.  And if the House does take action, we need to pay close attention to Jason Altmire.

View Article  Fayette County prison guard gender stereotyping suit settled

We first discussed this back in December 2009 when the Tribune Review reported on a federal lawsuit filed by a state prison guard in Fayette County.  He claimed he was being harassed because he did not conform to gender expectations, including being too effeminate on the radio.  (What does that even mean, asks the female former radio host?)

The suit has been settled by mediation. No one is talking about what that actually means, but it doesn't mean a court ruling on the matter.

This man is a state employee who enjoys no state protections from being harassed on his sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation (remember, gay men act like women and acting like a woman is bad).  He worked in Fayette County which does not have county protections for sexual orientation. 

He was harassed because people thought he was gay.  He had to go to the federal courts to get help.  We don't know if he is gay. 

This could be you.  You could be the woman who dresses in trousers and has manly gestures.  You could be the man with the effeminate voice.  You could be a heterosexual person who is perceived as gay.  And you could be fired. 

Support ENDA and HB 300.  It is about our jobs.

View Article  North Side man alleges workplace gay bashing

Good for Thomas Hutter for stepping forward and standing up to discrimination and harassment.

It takes courage to file a complaint, much less go public with your story.  Everyone who worked to pass this ordinance should feel good that your work paid off for Mr. Hutter and others. 

This also reinforces the need to keep working for similar protections across Pennsylvania (HB 300) and the nation (ENDA).

I urge you to click through and read the whole story.  Sad experiences.


View Article  ENDA Blogswarm: Protect Our Jobs

Bilerico has asked bloggers to "swarm" around ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. House Speaker Pelosi is holding up this legislation which would provide employment protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Why We Need To Demand ENDA Now

We know that Speaker Pelosi is sympathetic to our cause. Clearly, she needs encouragement, because she won't commit to giving the signal to move forward. Meanwhile, LGBT Americans continue to suffer discrimination and harassment with no recourse. Why should we accept mere lip service?

President Obama famously said that "Power concedes nothing without a fight."

The tide in the LGBT community is moving toward standing up against Democrats who are tepid on our issues and show no willingness to demonstrate leadership to protect minorities which is a hallmark of the Democratic party.  Right?  Hence my ongoing frustration with Chief Executive Dan Onorato, but let's not go there.  As Dr. Jillian Weiss, the leader on ENDA, has remarked "If the base stays home in November, Speaker Pelosi will be out of job."  We are a force to reckoned with and to accomplish that we need you to take action on ENDA with as much enthuasiam as you showed on the Marriage Amendment this week.

Won't it be nice to be pushing FOR rights instead of AGAINST losing them? 

It is legal for you to be fired if you are gay unless you live in a municipality that protects you.  It took until 2009 for Allegheny County to make that move. If you work in Cranberry, you are screwed.  People across this nation lack this basic protection that should be a national standard.  How many of you have to "be discrete" at work about your partner?  It is exhausting and it erodes your ability to form natural bonds with your team if you have to censor yourself all the time.  It is also demoralizing that people can be fired for the perception that they are gay. 

I once had a coworker get away with bashing me for being gay.  She complained about my "bringing that" into the workplace when I made an innocent comment referencing my partner.  I was pooh-poohed by management which I have never forgotten.  A few years later, a senior manager sent around an email with a vulgar, demeaning reference to lesbians.  I filed a complaint and was not pooh-poohed, but I know damn well that filing complaints impacts your employment in subtle ways.  I was fortunate enough to have the Ciy's non-discrimination ordinance to back up my complaint.  My job was not in jeopardy, but my ability to move up was probably dampened. Standing up to discrimination at work is very difficult and draining. 

We need our leaders to champion safe workplaces for LGBTQ persons.  Enough with the capitulation and the hesitancy.  This is about doing what's right for people who are suffering at the hands of bigots.

Please call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202-225-4965. Ask that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, HR 3017, move to a vote.

Please be polite, but firm.

After you call, please tell us how the call went by clicking here. If you get a busy signal or hang up, let us know that too.

If you want more information on Speaker Pelosi's position on ENDA as stated by her office, you can find it here

Let's work together to let Speaker Pelosi know that we want action now!

At the end of the day, we will post a round-up of how the day went. Stay tuned.

View Article  Ohio: Gay Rights Trump Religious Freedom

Words I thought might never cross my lips ... Hurrah for Ohio!

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that public employees can be disciplined for discrimination even if they are following religious beliefs.  This is a big victory for gay rights advocates because it gives teeth to workplace non-discrimination policies.

The case involves a Baptist prison chaplain, William Akridge, who refused to allow homosexual prisoners serve as leaders at his non-denominational events. 

Akridge, however, interpreted scriptures to say he would be punished if he complied. "The leaders that the chaplain selects implicitly implies an endorsement and approval of the lifestyle of the selected leaders," Akridge explained. He added that a gay choir director "would violate my conscience and make me guilty in the sight of God."

Akridge was disciplined for discriminating and sued, claiming his right to discriminate was constitutionally protected because it was Christian-based. 

The court thought otherwise, noting:

Although it may be that Akridge could have disbanded the choir and/or praise band entirely, the facts appear to be that he did not do so; rather he openly and intentionally excluded an inmate from such groups," the appeals court said.

"Even if the ODRC [Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] had no interest in the existence of the band, this would not vitiate its interest in preventing discrimination and its consequences."

Hurrah for Ohio!

Speaking as an openly gay woman, I can testify that it is very troubling at work when I encounter the attitude that gay-hate must be tolerated as an outgrowth of Christian beliefs.  And I encounter that attitude much more frequently than I ever imagined. 

Thus, I am heartened to learn that the courts are upholding non-discrimination protections in the workplace.  Especially in lands of anti-gay marriage constitutional amendments. 

Hurrah for Ohio!

(cross-posted on Big Gay Picture)

(hat tip to GayNews@yahoogroups.com)


View Article  Russian Christians Partner with Skinheads on Gay Rights
Here's a sad fact: Russian Orthdox Catholics are working in unity with
skinheads to oppose gay rights.

On Sunday
police had to hold back a crowd of bottle-tossing skinheads and Bible-
clutching church folks who were protesting a gay event at a local club.

Not to be outdone by the Christian-Skinhead connection, Russian Muslims are
threatening to kill gays if they proceed with plans to celebrate Pride.

PrideFest is scheduled for May 26 and 27 in Moscow. If the city bans the
event, organizers plan to take the matter to the European Court of Human

Sounds like a crowd where Fred Phelps would feel right at home.
View Article  Big Lesbian Welcome to Correspondent Shelly
Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents is pleased to welcome our newest
correspondent Shelly. We've known Shelly for several years -- she is very
active in the local LGBT community. Her writing, you will find, is
articulate, insightful and from a slightly different perspective than Ledcat
and me.

Three's Company, too!

Welcome aboard Shelly!

View Article  Rhode Island Gays Hit With Federal Tax Penalties

Well, you knew it wouldn't be too long before the clash between state and federal acknowledgement (or lack thereof) of same sex partnerships would create turmoil. 

Rhode Island has just sent notices to domestic partners of state employees informing them that the health and insurance benefits they received are federally taxable income.  And the state "forgot" to collect those taxes for the past five years.  So now its time to pony up the money.

In a grand gesture, the state will not issue penalties on the overdue taxes and will allow payment plans.  They can also issue short term loans.  However, the loans might be considered further taxable income.

Here's what one Rhode Island resident had to say:

Rhode Island state employee Barbara Margolis and her partner said the issue is discrimination. 

"It's a hard thing for me because I'm very grateful to the state is finally coming around and treating our relationship as an equal relationship as a married couple. At the same time, the federal government is coming back and saying, 'No, no, no. You're strangers to each other,'" Margolis told WJAR.

You tell 'em Barbara.  This is one heck of a mistake.  LGBT activists think the state should pick up the tab, but the state believes that would be unfair to other taxpayers. 

How like the homo-hater run federal goverment to send in the IRS rather than acknowledge the disparity and do something constructive to address it. 

Perhaps now that heterosexual partners are included in the big tax oops people will begin to recognize that anti-gay marriage efforts have a significant toll far beyond the LGBT community.  This impacts heterosexuals, too.  And the financial impact on low and moderate working families is most likely disproportionately high. 

Too bad we aren't all Mary Cheneys with rich daddies who help us turn a blind eye to the realities facing working gay families in her daddy's hate-laden society.  Traitor.


View Article  British Cops Most Gay Friendly Employer

Here's something interesting from 365gay.com - Britain's most gay-friendly workplace is a POLICE department.

(London)  Less than a decade ago Staffordshire police were rated the most homophobic force in the country after going on a clandestine operation to arrest gays suspected of having public sex.

Today, the force is being honored as the most gay-friendly force in the country and the best place in Britain for gays and lesbians to work.

The honor was bestowed on the force by Stonewall, Britain's largest LGBT rights organization.

I hope Chief Costa is reading this announcement. 

Pittsburgh's force may have made some gains in LGBT sensitivity but it is a FAR cry from being gay-friendly.  And given that Mayor O'Conner did not conduct a search to find the best candidate, instead appointing a politically connected crony, I doubt change is on the way.  Click here to read what the 2003 LGBT Needs Assessment has to say about Pittsburgh Police Force and the local LGBT community.

The 365gay.com reports goes on

It adopted a policy of hiring gay officers and fast tracking the best to senior positions on the force. Today one in 10 of the force?s 2,309 police officers is gay.

Officers are entitled to have paid parenting leave if they or their partners adopted a child, and they are allowed to attend up to three gay pride festivals a year on paid time. 

I'm fairly confident that there are no "out" cops in the local police force, probably in any local police force.  I'm equally sure that there are, in fact, gay cops working in those police forces. 

There's a long way to go.  This report, at the very least, demonstrates that it is possible to get there.




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