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Riverwest FemFest 2017 – In their words

By Joey Grihalva

Wisconsin has some incredibly talented female artists. That is not an “alternative fact.” 

But you might not know it if you went to any random concert, art gallery or comedy club. In an effort to address this gender imbalance, multiple venues in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood played host to a parade of female and female-identifying creatives for five days last week — from teenage rockers to soprano singers, visual artists to spoken word poets.

What was originally intended simply to be a basement party thank you to the inspiring women in Olivia Doyle’s life three years ago, has blossomed into Riverwest FemFest, possibly the state’s largest female-focused arts festival.

The third installment of FemFest took place amid an international outpouring of support for women and disapproval of President Trump. It also served as a fundraiser for the Milwaukee Coalition for Justice and the Milwaukee Women’s Center.

Rather than recap the festival, I interviewed over a dozen organizers and performers, allowing them to describe the significance of FemFest in their voice.

[All photos by Jessi Paetzke.]

Olivia Doyle, founder

I started it because I was feeling empowered by the women around me, to the point where it really changed my life. I went back to school. I started wanting more of myself because they reminded me that I deserve it. It was a truly powerful experience for me to meet all these women in Riverwest, so the first fest was really just a thank you. It was never meant to be what it is now. 

Why is the diversity of arts at the festival important?

Because women and femmes are creative in other ways that aren’t just music. And we want to showcase as much of their creativity as we can.

Have there been any growing pains with the festival over the years?

This year especially has been a real learning process for us, with the expansion of everything that we’re including and also with how big we’re getting. We’re reaching a lot more people. So it’s really like a community event and there’s lots of different people in this community, so learning to be as inclusive as possible is a process. 

What are some of the things you’re most proud of in terms of the festival?

As a whole, watching all these people perform that I love and I’m inspired by. I’m very proud to have created this platform. In terms of a specific moment, Jenna Knapp did spoken word, she’s a childhood friend of mine. Being able to introduce her and tell the audience why she’s so inspiring to me and then have her read her poetry, which people loved, it made me feel like a proud mom. It’s really wonderful to see all these people that I love and care about do what they love and care about.

Jenna Knapp [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Ellie Jackson, organizer and musician (Scape)

I’ve been involved in music and radio from an early age. I joined a community radio station when I was in college. When I got involved with music I realized there was like a 20-to-1 ratio between the bands I was playing that were male and the bands that were female. Not because I wanted to, but those were the numbers. I asked the station manager if I could do an all-female focused show and they told me that that was sexist. I said, “It doesn’t feel sexist though. The music industry is sexist!”

So for me FemFest is an opportunity to celebrate those female artists that I wasn’t given permission to celebrate before. Now we’re taking the permission. Riverwest is also where I live so the community here is very important to me. But certainly supporting creatives everywhere is also very important to me.

Why is it important to have a diversity of arts at the festival?

I think that we as a culture underestimate other arts. Like a great example is that here we are in this venue (Company Brewing) where you can come and buy a beer and watch music almost any night of the week, which is a beautiful thing. But there isn’t really that culture around 2D art, there isn’t exactly that culture around the Milwaukee Art Museum and other performance arts. They’re not quite as celebrated as musical art. We have a culture with bar venues and theater venues that make it easier to celebrate musical art, but we’re really excited to have a variety night with comedians and other performance art. There was a burlesque performance, we have an art gallery and we have a Maker’s Fair upstairs, so we’re trying to sort of spread out all the creativity.

Were you a part of the festival last year?

No, I just came to it. I came to it on Saturday, one year ago today, and I remember walking into this space and just being so impressed with all the performances and I guess just feeling like, “Duh. Of course we should celebrate this, these people are amazing!” And the fact that the ratio is still not even.

It’s a no-brainer that this festival needs to happen and people need to come and experience the talent that these female performers have. And then to be in a room with people that are genuinely interested in celebrating femme creativity and supporting Milwaukee organizations, because it’s all a fundraiser. Also actively working on not being sexist and being allies for that cause. It felt great, so as soon as it happened last year I was like, “Who do I talk to? How do I get involved in this?”

Britney Freeman-Farr, musician (B~Free, Foreign Goods)

I got involved with FemFest last year when I was a part of another show with one of FemFest’s organizers, Johanna Rose. We were in Prince Uncovered together and we just connected musically.  She said, “You and Cree Myles have to be a part of FemFest!” So we called Jay Anderson, and I wasn’t even in Foreign Goods at the time, but we were all friends because my husband is in the band. They backed us and the experience was so incredibly invigorating. Not only performing, but also watching all of these women command the stage and the audiences.

There was one group in particular, Mary Allen and the Perculators, and I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe that we have this much power! And then when I saw that the festival was coming back around and I was more developed with my own solo stuff at this time, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to recreate the same magic that I experienced. I’m very happy to have the opportunity.

What does it mean for you to be a part of female focused gatherings?

It makes me feel like what I’m doing is purposeful. As we mentioned in the show this evening, ‘It’s really hard out here for a pimp.’ (laughs) It’s hard being a woman in this industry, let alone in this world. And to be able to be a thriving example of someone who not only has a craft but also makes a livelihood with it, that sets the tone for all the generations to come. I feel really good about letting the young ones know that no matter your background, or gender or creed, you can do whatever makes you happy. Forget everybody else’s standards that they place on you. I really feel like that’s the spirit behind FemFest. Celebrating that we’re not going to let you think of us as the lesser gender or anything, we’re equally as talented and important.

B~Free [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Gabriella Kartz, music organizer and performer (Faux Fiction)

It’s about supporting each other and celebrating people who add a lot to the Milwaukee scene in general through their various art forms. I think we’re really trying to make sure that we’re inclusive of all groups. People who are women or identify as women, we’re really trying to embrace all of that diversity. It’s what makes the fest a wonderful thing.

For me, last year was just a really positive experience. We got great feedback about our music and it was a really comfortable space to be able to express yourself. I think that’s what I really liked about it and why I wanted to be more involved this year.

Faux Fiction [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Kelsey Moses, comedian (Goodlanders)

This was the first time we’ve done anything outside of ComedySportz. , so it was a great opportunity to share what we do with people who might not come to ComedySportz.  How could you not enjoy a giant collaboration of beautiful, strong, powerful women being funny, being creative, being artistic, being musical? Women coming together to celebrate women, I love it.

Goodlanders [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Ashley Altadonna, filmmaker and musician (The Glacial Speed)

One of the great things about FemFest is that it is so inclusive. I know that they’ve had other transgender performers besides me at the festival and I think that’s great. I also had two films in the film showcase, plus all the workshops and community organizing they’re doing is fantastic. There’s just so much to see and do.

The Glacial Speed [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Jessi Paetzke, photographer

I attended last year because a friend invited me and it was really inspiring for me, so I wanted to get involved and photography is what I do. It’s really encouraging to see a bunch of diverse and talented women doing what they’re supposed to be doing and living out their passions. And also hearing about other people’s struggles, those of us who aren’t white men, what we face in society, how people might try to make us feel small or not welcome, and knowing that we’re not the only ones who feel that way.

Mary Joy, organizer and musician (Fox Face)

I didn’t have a strong female role model growing up and I had a lot of self-esteem issues. For me, music became that outlet of expression and that confidence builder. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16 and that’s really where my female role models emerged. Music has been such an essential part of my identity and I realize that my story, my feminism, can relate and intersect with other people’s feminism. Our stories can come together and change a community. Our stories can help us find that self-esteem and whatever is missing in our lives.

It’s been a very empowering experience for me to have my own journey, but also to bring together other people’s journeys, wherever they’re at. And I hope they find something at FemFest, find something that they’re looking for, find a new relationship, find meaning somewhere.

Fox Face [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

D Kirschling, volunteer (Ladies Rock)

This year the fest has really expanded and added all types of artists. I’ve known about women in the arts and music scenes for a long time and it’s great to see everybody getting together to spread the word and get to know each other and share. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. I’m hearing bands I’ve known and loved and I’m hearing new bands I haven’t been exposed to before.

Anskar Thorlac, performance artist (Maplewood Gardens – Chicago)

We’re really interested in intersectionality in our audiences. Our rituals are meant to be public and shared by large groups of people. It’s really exciting to find different communities and especially a femme identifying community, being femme identifying artists ourselves. It’s exciting to have an entry point into that community in a different city. It’s also sort of liberating doing a shared ritual for people you don’t know. Plus all of the femme organizers have been so generous and supportive and responsive.

Anskar Thorlac (Maplewood Gardens) [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Katie Lyne, musician (New Boyz Club, Ruth B8r Ginsburg, The Grasping at Straws)

It shows that if we have to put on a whole entire festival of female or female-fronted acts, there’s obviously something missing. We have to do this to put it at the forefront. It’s not a female-dominated scene, but it’s going to be one. The dynamic is changing. And it’s just such an awesome festival, having safe places for women like Company Brewing, places that include everyone and bring the power back to where it belongs.

I love hearing the poetry too. Hearing females tell their stories of sexual abuse or whatever it may be, especially friends of mine who I see everyday. Everyone has a struggle as a woman and to have that on stage alongside these awesome bands, it’s such a great place for women to collaborate and remember that we’re all in this together.

Rachel Clark, gallery team

FemFest is an opportunity to bring a lot of people together to talk about females and female-identifying folks. Like when we did the interviews for gallery artists, we had meetings at our houses just so people could meet and have conversations. So not only is the festival important to me because of what it stands for, but also it’s an opportunity for people to get to know each other and build community.

Groovy Dog Gallery [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Alexandre Maxine Hill, musician (LUXI)

FemFest means a lot to me. In the past it was harder for me to book shows as a female artist. I’m not sure people really took me seriously. So I think it’s really important that we have a place where we can have a voice and express ourselves in whatever way we want and just be the awesome women that we are.

Gabriela Riveros, gallery and Maker’s Fair artist

I think these kinds of fests are needed, especially for all the creatives that exist in Milwaukee. We need a space for other women creatives to come out of their own neighborhoods and communities and be a part of a larger project. I love the fest. There’s so much going on.

Jovan [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Casey O’Brien, festival-goer

I feel that women tend to have a somewhat secretive supportive role that isn’t always publicized. It sort of feels like the foundation that supports something else. And this festival puts a spotlight on people who don’t normally get a spotlight.

I think it’s easier for a woman or femme-identifying person to get up on this stage versus being on an everyday Milwaukee lineup, when too often girls are judged based on how they look or people say stuff like, “Oh she’s good for a girl.” Here no one is looking at the stage and saying, “Look they have a girl in that band!” It feels more comfortable.

Katie Lafond, musician (Siren)

I want female-focused gatherings to be unnecessary. We shouldn’t need to have an all-girl thing for people to start putting more girls on shows. I think it’s more important for the guys because it gives them something to look at and be like, “Oh, this has been in our city this whole time and I just never knew it.”

But it’s also good for younger girls to see there are women out there who are doing what they might want to do. So I think it’s good to educate men and to show kids there are better opportunities and that we’re able to do these things on stage. It’s kind of like a teaching moment where we’re saying, “You can do this too, you’re not alone.”

See more of Jessi Paetzke’s photos from Riverwest FemFest 2017 by clicking the links below.

Day 1 (Wednesday @ Art Bar)

Day 2 (Thursday @ Groovy Dog Gallery & Riverwest Public House Cooperative)

Day 3 (Friday @ Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts and Company Brewing)

Day 4 & 5 (Saturday & Sunday @ Company Brewing)

Devin Settle [Photo by Jessi Paetzke]

Obama commutes Chelsea Manning’s sentence; Ryan calls decision dangerous

The Obama administration announced the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information that raised public awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians.

Manning reportedly will be freed in May.

“I’m relieved and thankful that the president is doing the right thing and commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence,” stated Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project representing Manning.

“Since she was first taken into custody, Chelsea has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and has been denied access to medically necessary health care. This move could quite literally save Chelsea’s life, and we are all better off knowing that Chelsea Manning will walk out of prison a free woman, dedicated to making the world a better place and fighting for justice for so many.”

Manning, a transgender woman, is in the seventh year of an unprecedented 35-year sentence and has been forced to serve her sentence in an all-male prison.

The ACLU previously filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the appeal of Manning’s conviction, arguing the prosecution of Manning under the Espionage Act violated the Constitution because it leads to prosecutions where a court gives no consideration to the public interest. The ACLU also argued that such cases give the government too much leeway to selectively prosecute disfavored speakers.

Nancy Hollander and Vince Ward, Manning’s appellate counselors, said in a joint statement, “Ms. Manning is the longest-serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Her 35-year sentence for disclosing information that served the public interest and never caused harm to the United States was always excessive, and we’re delighted that justice is being served in the form of this commutation.”

The ACLU said the president’s decision comes after an outpouring of support for Manning since her unfair and egregious sentence and the ongoing mistreatment throughout her incarceration.

In December, the ACLU and more than a dozen other LGBT groups sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to grant clemency to Manning. An official White House petition with the same request contained more than 100,000 signatures.

The ACLU has represented Manning in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense that was first filed in 2014 over the department’s refusal to treat Manning’s well-documented gender dysphoria.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., responding to the White House news, issued this statement: “This is just outrageous. Chelsea Manning’s treachery put American lives at risk and exposed some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets. President Obama now leaves in place a dangerous precedent that those who compromise our national security won’t be held accountable for their crimes.”

For the record

The following is a statement released on Jan. 17 by the White House and from Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president:

Today, 273 individuals learned that the president has given them a second chance.

With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the president has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals – the most grants of commutation issued by any president in this nation’s history.

President Obama’s 1,385 commutation grants — which includes 504 life sentences — is also more than the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined. And with today’s 64 pardons, the President has now granted a total of 212 pardons.

Today, 209 commutation recipients — including 109 individuals who had believed they would live out their remaining days in prison — learned that they will be rejoining their families and loved ones, and 64 pardon recipients learned that their past convictions have been forgiven.

These 273 individuals learned that our nation is a forgiving nation, where hard work and a commitment to rehabilitation can lead to a second chance, and where wrongs from the past will not deprive an individual of the opportunity to move forward.

Today, 273 individuals — like President Obama’s 1,324 clemency recipients before them — learned that our President has found them deserving of a second chance.

While the mercy the president has shown his 1,597 clemency recipients is remarkable, we must remember that clemency is an extraordinary remedy, granted only after the president has concluded that a particular individual has demonstrated a readiness to make use of his or her second chance.

Only Congress can achieve the broader reforms needed to ensure over the long run that our criminal justice system operates more fairly and effectively in the service of public safety.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Read the open letter more than 150 LGBT elected officials sent to Trump

More than 150 LGBT elected officials, representing millions of people from across the country, are calling on President-elect Donald Trump to respect LGBT Americans and continue efforts to advance equality.

In an open letter to the president-elect, 156 elected officials express grave concerns about his cabinet appointees and implore Trump to “be a president for all Americans.”

The letter is signed by U.S. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Mark Pocan, as well as openly LGBT mayors, state legislators, city councilmembers and other LGBT elected officials.

“These LGBT elected officials represent America at its best — diverse leaders who make the values of inclusion, fairness and justice the cornerstone of their policy positions and decision-making,” said Aisha C. Moodie-Mills, resident & CEO of the Victory Institute.

“This letter urges the president-elect to govern by those core American values, and to put forward legislation and policies that improve quality of life for all Americans. They are using their collective voice to demand continued progress on equality, and to make clear they will oppose any efforts that threaten our rights or families.”

More than 40 LGBT elected officials began work on the open letter during a strategy session at Victory Institute’s International LGBT Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 2016.

Full text of open letter to President-elect Donald Trump:

January 13, 2017

Dear President-elect Donald Trump:

Congratulations on being elected the 45th President of the United States. We are 156 proud lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elected officials representing millions of constituents, and we urge you to join us in embodying the highest ideals of our great and diverse nation.

The long and divisive presidential campaign is over, and now more than 300 million Americans depend on you to bring our nation together. To do this, we ask you deescalate the hostility and intolerance expressed by a small but vocal minority throughout the election season. We ask you appoint individuals with inclusive policy solutions that aim to better the lives of all Americans. And we ask you declare full support for LGBT equality, and remain true to earlier statements promising to be a president supportive of our rights.

We believe in an America that values and accepts everyone, and a country that strives to improve quality of life for all people, regardless of their background or beliefs. These principles are what distinguish America in an often-troubled world – they are what make America great. And it is the elected leadership of our nation that determines whether our government embodies or undermines those ideals. It is elected leaders like ourselves – from the U.S. president to city councilmembers – that either appeal to the better angels of our fellow Americans, or use fear and rancor to spur unproductive discord.

While we hope you appeal to those better angels and support inclusive and fair-minded policies, we have grave concerns given the individuals appointed to your administration thus far. Nearly all hold anti-LGBT views aimed at denying our community acceptance and inclusion in American society. Many proudly tout legislative records opposing basic rights for LGBT Americans, and others express disdain for our lives and relationships. Intended or not, these appointments signal a Trump administration preparing to rollback recent advances for LGBT people, and an administration opposed to LGBT people living open and free.

Our concern is not unfounded, given our historic gains are recent and vulnerable. Openly LGBT men and women can now proudly serve in the Armed Forces; committed same-sex couples can legally marry nationwide; federal contractors can no longer discriminate against LGBT employees or job applicants; the U.S. State Department is leading the world in advancing global LGBT equality; and more than 300 openly LGBT individuals were appointed to positions in the federal government over the past eight years. These hard-fought advances transformed our place in American society, and we are disturbed that most of your appointees opposed these efforts.

Mr. President-elect, our nation will be weaker if LGBT military personnel are prevented from serving openly and equally. America will be worse off if discrimination protections for LGBT government employees or students are revoked. The entire country will suffer if there is a national attempt to implement “religious exemptions” that allow businesses to turn away LGBT customers. And the world will be a darker place without America speaking against anti-LGBT violence and injustices abroad. We need you to vocally reject our country moving backward – to reject the anti-LGBT positions of your appointees and promise a pro-equality Trump administration.

We also must emphasize the LGBT community is as diverse as our nation. We are black, we are Latino, we are white, we are immigrants, we are Muslim, we are Jewish, we are women, and we are people with disabilities. LGBT elected officials know well the sting and consequences of discrimination, injustice and intolerance, and we carry that lived experience into our policy positions, legislation and decision-making. We hold central the American values of fairness, justice and liberty – and ensure these values are the foundation for our work as public servants. As the nation debates economic security, immigration, women’s rights, voting rights, policing, and mass incarceration, we ask you also apply the American values of fairness, justice and liberty, and ensure the best interests of all communities are incorporated into your policies and positions.

Americans of every political party, ideology, race, ethnicity and religion support LGBT equality – it does not need to be a partisan issue. As elected officials, we understand support for LGBT equality as both morally appropriate and politically shrewd. History looks fondly upon leaders who stand for social justice when those around them argue otherwise. History also views harshly those who fail to recognize and support morally righteous causes – and history will undoubtedly view LGBT equality as both moral and righteous.

We sincerely hope you aim to be a president for all Americans – including LGBT Americans of every race, ethnicity, gender and religion. As representatives of the LGBT community, we will hold your administration accountable for actions that infringe upon our rights and opportunities, and will oppose presidential appointees who denigrate or harm our community. But we much prefer to work with you to continue the incredible progress toward LGBT equality – to have you stand with us on the right side of history. We hope you voice your support for existing rights and protections for LGBT Americans, and commit to furthering LGBT equality during your presidency. We promise to be a strong and persistent voice for equality either way.

Sincerely,

Federal 

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney

U.S. House of Representatives

New York, Congressional District 18

 

Representative Mark Pocan

U.S. House of Representatives

Wisconsin, Congressional District 2

 

Alabama

 

Representative Patricia Todd

Alabama House of Representatives, District 54

 

Arizona 

 

Representative Daniel Hernandez

Arizona House of Representatives, District 2

 

Representative Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete

Arizona House of Representatives, District 30

 

Lawrence Robinson

Governing Board Member

Roosevelt School Board

 

Karin Uhlich

Councilmember, Ward 3

Tucson City Council

 

Arkansas

 

Kathy Webb

Vice Mayor

Little Rock City Board

 

California

 

Senator Toni Atkins

California State Senate, District 39

 

Jovanka Beckles

Councilmember

Richmond City Council

 

Kevin Beiser

Board Vice President

San Diego Unified School District

 

Sabrina Brennan

Commissioner

San Mateo County Harbor Commission

 

Mayor Christopher Cabaldon

West Sacramento

 

Adam Carranza

President

Mountain View Board of Education

 

Chris Clark

Councilmember

Mountain View City Council

 

John D’Amico

Councilmember

West Hollywood City Council

 

John Duran

Councilmember

West Hollywood City Council

 

Representative Susan Talamantes Eggman

California State Assembly, District 13

 

Joel Fajardo

Vice Mayor

San Fernando City Council

 

Ginny Foat

Councilmember

Palm Springs City Council

 

Larry Forester

Councilmember

Signal Hill City Council

 

Mayor Robert Garcia

Long Beach

 

Assemblymember Todd Gloria

California State Assembly, District 78

 

Georgette Gomez

Councilmember, District 9

San Diego City Council

 

Steve Hansen

Councilmember, District 4

Sacramento City Council

 

John Heilman

Mayor Pro Tem

West Hollywood City Council

 

Gabe Kearney

Councilmember

Petaluma City Council

 

Geoff Kors

Councilmember

Palm Springs City Council

 

Senator Ricardo Lara

California State Senate, District 33

 

Steven Llanusa

Vice President, Board of Education

Claremont Unified School District

 

Assemblymember Evan Low

California State Assembly, District 28

 

Rafael Mandelman

Trustee

City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees

 

Alex Randolph

Member

City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees

 

Jeff Sheehy

Supervisor, District 8

San Francisco Board of Supervisors

 

Rene Spring

Councilmember

Morgan Hill City Council

 

Tom Temprano

Trustee

City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees

 

Wanden Treanor

Trustee

Marin Community College District

 

Christopher Ward

Councilmember, District 3

San Diego City Council

 

Scott Wiener

California State Senate, District 11

 

Ken Yeager

Supervisor, District 4

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors

 

Colorado

 

Representative Joann Ginal

Colorado House of Representatives, District 52

 

Representative Leslie  Herod

Colorado House of Representatives, District 8

 

Debra Johnson

Clerk and Recorder

Denver

 

Representative Paul Rosenthal

Colorado House of Representatives, District 49B

 

Robin Kniech

Councilmember, At-Large

Denver City Council

 

Gwen Lachelt

Vice Chair, County Commissioner, District 2

La Plata County Commission

 

Senator Dominick Moreno

Colorado State Senate, District 21

 

District of Columbia

 

Jack Jacobson

President, Ward 2

District of Columbia State Board of Education

 

Florida

 

Heather Carruthers

Commissioner, District 3

Monroe County Commission

 

Lesa Peerman

Commissioner

Margate City Commission

 

Representative David Richardson

Florida House of Representatives, District 113

 

Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith

Florida House of Representatives, District 49

 

Georgia

 

Representative Park Cannon

Georgia House of Representatives, District 58

 

Representative Karla Drenner

Georgia House of Representatives, District 85

 

Representative Sam Park

Georgia House of Representatives, District 101

 

Alex Wan

Councilmember, District 6

Atlanta City Council

 

Idaho

 

Representative John McCrostie

Idaho House of Representatives, District 16A

 

Illinois

 

James Cappleman

Alderman, Ward 46

Chicago City Council

 

Representative Kelly Cassidy

Illinois House of Representatives, District 14

 

Representative Gregory Harris

Illinois House of Representatives, District 13

 

Raymond Lopez

Alderman, Ward 15

Chicago City Council

 

Colette Lueck

Trustee

Oak Park Village Board

 

Deborah Mell

Alderman, Ward 33

Chicago City Council

 

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa

Alderman, Ward 35

Chicago City Council

 

Debra Shore

Commissioner

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

 

Mark Tendam

Alderman, Ward 6

Evanston City Council

 

Thomas Tunney

Alderman, Ward 44

Chicago City Council

 

Iowa

 

Representative Liz Bennett

Iowa House of Representatives, District 65

 

Senator Matt McCoy

Iowa State Senate, District 21

 

Kansas

 

Mike Poppa

Councilmember, Ward 4

Roeland Park City Council

 

Maine

 

Senator Justin Chenette

Maine State Senate, District 31

 

Representative Ryan Fecteau

Maine House of Representatives, District 11

 

Representative Lois Reckitt

Maine House of Representatives, District 31

 

Representative Andrew McLean

Maine House of Representatives, District 27

 

Maryland

 

Delegate Luke Clippinger

Democratic Caucus Chair

Maryland House of Delegates, District 46

 

Delegate Bonnie Cullison

Maryland House of Delegates, District 19

 

Delegate Anne Kaiser

Majority Leader

Maryland House of Delegates, District 14

 

Byron Macfarlane

Register of Wills

Howard County

 

Senator Richard Madaleno

Maryland State Senate, District 18

 

Delegate Maggie McIntosh

Maryland House of Delegates, District 43

 

Mayor Jeffrey Slavin

Somerset

 

Massachusetts

 

Senator Julian Cyr

Massachusetts Senate, Cape & Islands District

 

Jeremy Micah Denlea

Vice President, Ward 5

Attleboro Municipal Council

 

Eileen Duff

Councilor, District 5

Massachusetts Governor’s Council

 

Mayor Kevin Dumas

Attleboro

 

Representative Jack Patrick Lewis

Massachusetts House of Representatives, Middlesex District 7

 

Mayor Alex Morse

Holyoke

 

Mayor E. Denise Simmons

Cambridge

 

Michigan

 

Mayor Jim Carruthers

Traverse City

 

Mayor David Coulter

Ferndale

 

Mayor Amanda Maria Edmonds

Ypsilanti

 

Representative Jon Hoadley

Michigan House of Representatives, District 60

 

Brian McGrain

Commissioner, District 10

Ingham County Board of Commissioners

 

Jason Morgan

Commissioner, District 8

Washtenaw County Commission

 

Representative Jeremy Moss

Michigan House of Representatives, District 35

 

Richard Renner

Township Supervisor

Pioneer Township

 

Mayor Kenson J. Siver

Southfield

 

Minnesota

 

Representative            Susan  Allen

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 62B

 

Carol Becker

President

Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation

 

Representative Karen Clark

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 62A

 

Senator D. Scott Dibble

Minnesota State Senate, District 61

 

Representative Erin Maye Quade

Minnesota House of Representatives, District 57A

 

Missouri

 

Shane Cohn

Alderman, Ward 25

St. Louis Board of Alderman

 

Representative Randy Dunn

Missouri House of Representatives, District 23

 

Nebraska

 

Barbara Baier

Member, District 3

Lincoln Board of Education

 

Nevada

 

Representative Nelson Araujo

Nevada State Assembly, District 3

 

Senator David Parks

Nevada State Senate, District 7

 

New Hampshire

 

Mayor Dana Hilliard

Somersworth

 

Christopher Pappas

Councilor, District 4

New Hampshire Executive Council

 

New Jersey

 

Michael DeFusco

Councilman, Ward 1

Hoboken City Council

 

Assemblyman Tim Eustace

New Jersey General Assembly, District 38

 

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora

New Jersey General Assembly, District 15

 

Pamela Renee

Councilwoman

Borough of Neptune City Council

 

Edward Zipprich

Councilmember

Borough of Red Bank Council

 

New Mexico

 

Senator Jacob Candelaria

New Mexico State Senate, District 26

 

Mayor Javier Gonzales

Santa Fe

 

Linda Siegle

Governing Board Secretary

Santa Fe Community College Board of Trustees

 

Senator Liz Stefanics

New Mexico State Senate, District 39

 

New York

 

Assemblymember Harry Bronson

New York State Assembly, District 138

 

Matt Haag

Councilmember, At-Large

Rochester City Council

 

Gregory Rabb

President, At-Large

Jamestown City Council

 

Michael Sabatino

Councilmember, District 3

Yonkers City Council

 

Assemblymember Matthew Titone

New York State Assembly, District 61

 

North Carolina

 

Representative Cecil Brockman

North Carolina House of Representatives, District 60

 

Mayor Lydia Lavelle

Carrboro

 

LaWana Mayfield

Councilwoman, District 3

Charlotte City Council

 

Damon Seils

Alderman

Carrboro Board of Aldermen

 

North Dakota

 

Representative Joshua Boschee

North Dakota House of Representatives, District 44

 

Ohio

 

Representative Nickie J. Antonio

House Minority Whip

Ohio House of Representatives, District 13

 

Sandra Kurt

Clerk of the Court

Summit County Clerk of Courts

 

Oregon

 

Representative Karin Power

Oregon House of Representatives, District 41

 

Pennsylvania

 

Mayor Matt Fetick

Kennett Square

 

Bruce A. Kraus

Councilman, District 3

Pittsburgh City Council

 

Robert Langley

Councilmember

Meadville City Council

 

Lori Schreiber

Commissioner, Ward 14

Abington Township Board of Commissioners

 

Representative Brian Sims

Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 182

 

Tennessee

 

Chris Anderson

Councilmember, District 7

Chattanooga City Council

 

Nancy VanReece

Councilmember, District 8

Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County

 

Brett Withers

Councilmember, District 6

Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County

 

Texas

 

Representative Mary González

Texas House of Representatives, District 75

 

John Turner-McClelland

President, District 11-A

Denton County Fresh Water Supply Board of Directors

 

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

Dallas County

 

Utah

 

Arlyn Bradshaw

Councilmember, District 1

Salt Lake County Council

 

Senator Jim Dabakis

Utah State Senate, District 2

 

Vermont

 

Representative Bill Lippert

Vermont House of Representatives, Chittenden-4-2 District

 

Virginia

 

Delegate Mark Levine

Virginia House of Delegates, District 45

 

Michael Sutphin

Councilmember

Blacksburg Town Council

 

Washington

 

Mayor Dave Kaplan

Des Moines

 

Senator Marko Liias

Washington State Senate, District 21

 

Representative Nicole Macri

Washington House of Representatives, District 43

 

Ryan Mello

Councilmember, At-Large Position 8

Tacoma City Council

 

Michael Scott

Councilor, Central Ward

Bainbridge Island City Council

 

West Virginia

 

Kevin Carden

Councilmember and Town Recorder

Corporation of Harpers Ferry

 

Wisconsin

 

Vered Meltzer

Alderperson, District 2

Appleton Common Council

 

Michael Verveer

Alder and Council President, District 4

Madison Common Council

 

Wyoming

 

Representative Cathy Connolly

Minority Floor Leader

Wyoming State House of Representatives, District 13

 

Republicans begin 2017 overflowing with bathroom laws

Right-wing Republicans can’t keep their minds and taxpayers’ dollars out of the toilet. During the first week of 2017, GOP lawmakers in five states introduced bathroom laws to make transgender people use restrooms corresponding to their gender at birth rather than their current gender identity.

Three other states filed so-called “bathroom bills” last year for introduction in this year’s legislative sessions. And in Wisconsin, Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, says he plans to reintroduce his bathroom bill, which went nowhere in 2016.

The sudden urgency to introduce such baseless laws in state after state is baffling, especially after the backlash against North Carolina’s House Bill 2. Titled the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act,” it caused that state huge economic losses. Businesses canceled plans to expand there, and entertainers, conventions and others boycotted the state.

On top of all that, the governor who championed the bill, Pat McCrory, lost his job to a Democrat on Nov. 8, even though his state went for Republican Donald Trump.

One would think that North Carolina might be a cautionary tale.

But no. Legislators are busy introducing bathroom laws and executive officials are embracing them. For instance, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly ranked a bathroom bill as a top legislative priority.

The ‘rationale’

The rationale behind such bills is fear that men will pretend to be transgender and dress up like women to gain access to ladies’ rooms, female locker rooms and other gender-segregated facilities. Once inside, Republicans say, such men will ogle or attack innocent women.

A Google search reveals that while such incidents have occurred, they are extremely rare. They’re certainly not happening at anywhere near a rate that could justify Republicans’ obsession with the subject. And they were happening long before the word transgender even appeared on the world’s radar.

The reality

The real reason bathroom laws are written is ignorance, on several levels. Men who dress as women for kicks are transvestites — and they don’t don a dress to sneak into the ladies’ room. Transgender people — those whose gender identity does not match their birth gender — go through years of transitioning, including psychoanalysis and often expensive surgery, to live in the body they say expresses their true gender. Male-to-female transgender women don’t use ladies’ rooms until the use of hormones and other procedures have sufficiently feminized them.

Changing sexual identity is not done on a whim — and certainly not for ogling. Many transgender people lose their jobs, families, and friends when they come out. Transgender people are frequently subjected to discrimination and harassment. They’re subject to high rates of hate crimes, and some of those crimes are particularly brutal, especially for transgender women.

Trans people attempt suicide at a rate of 41 percent, compared with 4.6 percent for the overall population.

Who but the most ignorant — willfully ignorant — people would believe that a transgender woman would go through all of that just to spy on women using the john? Why can’t Republicans just leave them alone and let them do their business?

Perhaps the greatest show of ignorance among these bathroom-obsessed Republicans is the actual result of such bills: requiring female-to-male transgender men to use the ladies’ room.

We don’t usually include pictures in our editorials, but this time, we must. It’s a poster of Buck Angel, a muscular, hairy trans celebrity who is far from alone among transgender men in appearing hyper-masculine. Please send this picture — and others like it — to Rep. Kremer, to Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling and others on the religious right. Ask them why they want to force such men to use the ladies’ room.

Ignorance and an unhealthy obsession with other peoples’ sexuality make for a toxic combination. Welcome to the bathroom wars of 2017.

Transgender comedian Ian Harvie performs as Margaret Cho’s opening act. If GOP state Rep.Jesse Kremer had his way, Harvie would have to use the ladies’ room if he performed in Wisconsin.

Texas Republican introduces bathroom bill

A Republican Texas state senator today introduced a bathroom bill that would prohibit transgender people from using public restrooms that match their gender.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick quickly marked the proposed bill, named the “Texas Privacy Act,” as a top legislative priority, saying it’s necessary to protect public safety.

The bill is similar to North Carolina’s notorious House Bill 2, which made the state a pariah as well as a political flashpoint for much of last year. The law played a key role in flushing North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory out of office in November, when voters in the state narrowly elected former state Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democratic challenger who had called the law “a national embarrassment.”

The law also cost North Carolina millions in lost business. High-profile entertainers, such as Bruce Springsteen, canceled plans to perform in the state.

At least one business group in Texas warned today that the measure would hurt that state’s economy as well.

The Texas Privacy Act comes four months after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked a federal directive issued by the Obama administration requiring public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. That judgment was issued in a case brought by Texas, Wisconsin and nine other states challenging the directive.

Several days ago, O’Connor blocked another Obama administration effort to strengthen transgender rights, this time over health rules that social conservatives say could force doctors to violate their religious beliefs.

A coalition of religious medical organizations said the rules could force doctors to help with gender transition contrary to their religious beliefs or medical judgment. O’Connor agreed in his 46-page ruling, saying the rules place “substantial pressure on Plaintiffs to perform and cover transition and abortion procedures.”

Transgender rights advocates called that a far-fetched hypothetical, saying a person would not approach a doctor who lacked suitable experience and expertise.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund criticized the injunction as contrary to existing law and said it expects the ruling to be overturned on appeal.

“Judge O’Connor’s conclusion that transgender people and persons who have had abortions are somehow excepted from protection is deeply troubling, legally specious, and morally repugnant,” said Ezra Young, the organization’s director of impact litigation.

O’Connor’s rulings and the Texas Privacy Act add to the rising fears of transgender people that more GOP-governed states will approve legislation limiting transgender rights and will reject proposals to expand such rights. Wisconsin Republicans are expected to take up a bathroom bill in the current legislative session, after dropping one last year.

Helping to fuel fears among transgenders is the uncertainty over the position that will be taken by the administration of President-elect Donald Trump. Many transgender people expect him to abandon or weaken the transgender protection efforts pursued by the Obama administration.

Trump sent mixed signals about his approach to transgender rights during his campaign, at one point saying transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner could use whatever bathroom she preferred in one of his luxury buildings.

At the same time, Trump declined to repudiate North Carolina ‘s House Bill 2. He said such policy decisions should be left up to the states.

 

Failed deal to undo anti-LGBT law marks rocky start for governor

North Carolina’s next Democratic governor has seen a deal he helped broker to repeal the state’s law limiting LGBT protections fall apart and had several of his powers stripped away by the state’s Republican-dominated legislature.

And he hasn’t even been sworn in yet.

Gov.-elect Roy Cooper has vowed to keep his campaign promises to bend back the rightward course of the state.

But with only a 10,000-vote victory over GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and bitter partisan distrust in this deeply divided state, he’s already slipped along the rocky path he must walk to work successfully with the legislature. And Republicans will maintain veto-proof majorities in 2017.

“My future negotiations with them are certainly going to have to be instructed by this,” a somber yet angry Cooper told reporters after the deal to repeal the law known nationally as the “bathroom bill” collapsed.

Two December special sessions, one of which saw raucous protests against Republicans and dozens of arrests, have created further strain in a divided state that chose Republicans Donald Trump for president and Richard Burr for U.S. Senate but went with a Democrat for governor.

“There’s a complete lack of trust between the legislative leadership and Cooper at this point in time,” longtime state Democratic consultant Brad Crone said. “That does not bode well for an incoming governor.”

Missing out on ending House Bill 2 — which also directed transgender people to use bathrooms in public buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate — prompted finger-pointing between Cooper and legislative leaders. It would have been a major accomplishment to repeal a bill that has been blamed for job losses, canceled concerts and sporting events and staining North Carolina’s reputation.

“I think Roy Cooper did everything he could to sabotage a reasonable compromise,” said Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

Cooper shot back: “My mom and dad used to tell me that when you sat down and looked somebody in the eye and told them something you should keep your promise, and clearly they have not done so.”

Even before the General Assembly sessions, Cooper already was at a disadvantage.

Cooper is a 30-year veteran of state politics — 14 years in the legislature before 16 as attorney general — and claimed victory on election night.

But it was another 27 days before McCrory conceded while dozens of ballot protests and a partial recount worked out the results.

Set to take office Jan. 1, Cooper hasn’t yet announced a single Cabinet appointment — something McCrory had done by this time after his 2012 election — and faces new hurdles for his choices. One law the General Assembly approved this month requires his Cabinet choices be confirmed by legislators. The state Constitution gives the Senate the ability to “advise and consent” to the governor’s appointees by a majority vote, but that provision hadn’t been used in at least several decades.

GOP legislators argued they are only rebalancing the powers between the legislative and executive branches, but Democrats and their allies call it a brazen, unlawful power grab.

Another law reduces the number of political appointees Cooper can hire. Republicans had expanded the number of such policymaking jobs for McCrory from 400 to 1,500. That number goes back down to 425 for Cooper.

Cooper previously threatened lawsuits to challenge the efforts to scale back his power. “They will see me in court,” he told The Charlotte Observer last week.

Even as lawmakers held special sessions, the board of North Carolina’s private nonprofit tasked with luring companies to the state _ now filled with appointees from McCrory and the legislature — passed a bylaw change that will make it hard for Cooper to put his board choices on quickly.

The bad blood with lawmakers could portend Cooper’s difficulties to follow through on other campaign platform planks, such as accelerating public education funding and shifting tax burdens away from the middle class. He’s also vowed to preserve voting and abortion rights, after Republicans passed laws in 2013 scaling back early in-person voting and extending the abortion waiting period to three days.

But both Cooper and GOP lawmakers have said they could locate areas of agreement.

“I am optimistic that we can strike a good balance with the governor-elect in trying to build a consensus agenda and move our state forward,” said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee. “Relationships have changed between the legislative and the executive branch, but that doesn’t mean … we can’t work together.”

Mississippi man pleads guilty to hate crime in killing of transgender teen

A Mississippi man has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime, admitting he killed Mercedes Williamson because she was a transgender girl.

Williamson was 17 years old and resided in Alabama at the time of her death.

Joshua Brandon Vallum, 29, of Lucedale, Mississippi, was charged with violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The plea was announced by Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, U.S. Attorney Gregory K. Davis of the Southern District of Mississippi and FBI Agent Christopher Freeze.

“Our nation’s hate crime statutes advance one of our fundamental beliefs: that no one should have to live in fear because of who they are,” Lynch said in a news release.  “Today’s landmark guilty plea reaffirms that basic principle and it signals the Justice Department’s determination to combat hate crimes based on gender identity.

Lynch added, “While Mississippi convicted the defendant on murder charges, we believe in the fundamental value of identifying and prosecuting these bias-fueled incidents for what they are: acts of hate.  By holding accountable the perpetrator of this heinous deed, we reinforce our commitment to ensuring justice for all Americans.”

“Congress passed the Shepard-Byrd Act to protect our most vulnerable communities, including the transgender community, from harm,” said Gupta.  “No conviction, even such a historic one, can relieve the grief and anguish facing this victim’s family.  But this guilty plea sends an unequivocal message that violence based on one’s gender identity violates America’s defining values of inclusivity and dignity.”

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, in the late spring or early summer of 2014, Vallum, a member of the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation, began a sexual relationship with Williamson.  During his romantic relationship with Williamson, Vallum kept the sexual nature of the relationship, secret from his family, friends and other members of the Latin Kings.

Around August or September 2014, Vallum terminated his romantic and sexual relationship with Williamson and had no contact with her until May 2015.

On May 28, 2015, Vallum decided to kill Williamson after learning that a friend had discovered Williamson was transgender.  Vallum, according to his admission, believed he would be in danger if other Latin Kings members discovered that he had engaged in a sexual relationship with a transgender teenager.

On May 29, 2015, Vallum went to Alabama to find Williamson, planning to take Williamson to Mississippi and kill her there.

After locating Williamson at her residence, he used false pretenses to lure Williamson into his car so he could drive her to Mississippi. Vallum drove Williamson to his father’s residence in Lucedale, where he parked behind the house.  As Williamson sat in the vehicle’s passenger seat, he assaulted her.  After using a stun gun to electrically shock Williamson in the chest, Vallum repeatedly stabbed Williamson with a 75th Ranger Regiment pocket knife. Williamson attempted to flee at least twice, but Vallum pursued her. He repeatedly stabbed his victim and hit her with a hammer.

Later, Vallum falsely claimed to law enforcement that he killed Williamson in a panic after discovering Williamson was transgender.

In pleading guilty on Dec. 21, Vallum acknowledged that he had lied about the circumstances surrounding Williamson’s death and that he would not have killed Williamson if she was not transgender.

Vallum faces up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine for the federal crime.

He previously pleaded guilty to murdering Williamson in George County, Mississippi, Circuit Court, where he was sentenced to life in prison.

The federal government prosecuted the hate crime charge because Mississippi does not have a hate crimes statute that protects people from bias crimes based on their gender identity.

Civil rights groups urge clemency for Chelsea Manning

The American Civil Liberties Union and more than a dozen LGBT groups on Dec. 5 urged President Barack Obama to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information to raise public awareness regarding the impact of war on civilians.

Manning is serving the seventh year of a 35-year sentence.

Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative, said, “Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Granting her clemency petition will give Ms. Manning a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be.”

The letter to the president states, “Manning, a transgender woman who is being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement — including for attempting suicide — and denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria. The Army even opposed her request to use her legal name and to be referred to by female pronouns. While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning’s efforts to be treated with basic dignity.”

The following groups signed the letter:

American Civil Liberties Union
BiNet USA
COLAGE
Family Equality Council
FORGE, Inc.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
Immigration Equality
KhushDC
Lambda Legal
League of United Latin American Citizens
Los Angeles LGBT Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women
Pride at Work
Transgender Law Center

On the Web

Free Chelsea Manning.

HRC rates companies for LGBT inclusion, 9 in Wisconsin get perfect scores

An annual report assessing LGBT inclusion in major companies and law firms across the nation gives high marks to a record 517 businesses, including some headquartered in Wisconsin.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index examines corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality and found 517 businesses — spanning nearly every industry and geography — earned a top score of 100 percent and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

HRC, in a news release, said that record number of perfect scores was achieved despite “demanding new criteria requiring that companies with global operations extend non-discrimination protections for their LGBT workers worldwide.”

In total, 887 companies were officially rated in the CEI, up from 851 in last year’s. The report also unofficially rated 156 Fortune 500 companies, which have yet to respond to the CEI survey about their LGBTQ policies and practices.

The average score for companies and law firms based in Wisconsin is 85 percent.

Of the 16 companies ranked in the state, nine earned 100 percent and 12 earned 90 percent and above.

“Even in the face of relentless attempts to undermine equality, America’s leading companies and law firms remain steadfast and committed to supporting and defending the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The unprecedented expansion of inclusive workplaces across the country and around the globe not only reflects our progress, it helps drive it.  As we enter a new chapter in our fight for equality, support from the business community will be more critical than ever to protect our historic advancements over the last decade and to continue to push equality forward for workers, customers, and families around the world.”

Here’s a look at the Wisconsin rankings:

Employer Name City State 2017 CEI Score
ManpowerGroup Milwaukee WI 100
American Family Insurance Group Madison WI 100
CUNA Mutual Group Madison WI 100
Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Milwaukee WI 100
Foley & Lardner LLP Milwaukee WI 100
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP Milwaukee WI 100
Quarles & Brady LLP Milwaukee WI 100
Rockwell Automation Inc. Milwaukee WI 100
S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. Racine WI 100
Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated Milwaukee WI 95
Kohl’s Corp. Menomonee Falls WI 95
Alliant Energy Corp. Madison WI 90
WEC Energy Group Milwaukee WI 75
Johnson Controls Inc. Milwaukee WI 75
Oshkosh Corp. Oshkosh WI 20
Harley-Davidson Inc. Milwaukee WI 10

 

And here’s some key national findings in the report:

  • 517 companies earned a 100 percent in the 2017 CEI, up from 407 in the 2016 report.
  • 647 companies participating in this year’s CEI now offer transgender workers at least one health care plan that has transgender-inclusive coverage. That’s a 314 percent increase since 2012, when the CEI first included trans-inclusive health care as a requisite for companies to receive a perfect score;
  • Gender identity is now part of non-discrimination policies at 82 percent of Fortune 500 companies, up from just 3 percent in 2002;
  •  387 major employers have adopted supportive inclusion guidelines for transgender workers who are transitioning.
  • 156 Fortune 500 companies were given unofficial scores based on publicly available information.

The CEI rates companies and top law firms on detailed criteria falling under five broad categories:

  1. Non-discrimination policies
  2. Employment benefits
  3. Demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion
  4. Public commitment to LGBT equality
  5. Responsible citizenship