Tag Archives: transgenders

Nation’s largest gay rights group endorses Hillary Clinton

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

HRC’s board of directors unanimously voted to endorse Clinton — an endorsement she will accept on Jan. 24 at an event in Des Moines, Iowa, with HRC leaders and members.

HRC said its endorsement criteria include support for issues of concern to the community, demonstrated leadership on LGBT issues and viability.

As part of that process, all candidates for president were asked to fill out a candidate questionnaire. Clinton, Senator Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley provided answers, while no Republican candidates for president returned HRC’s questionnaire.

An announcement from HRC said the “endorsement comes at a time when the stakes could not be higher for the LGBT community” and detailed achievements in the last seven years under the Obama administration.

Now, HRC said, despite the fact that a majority of Republican and Independent voters support federal protections for LGBT Americans, the leading Republican candidates for president have threatened to halt progress as well as revoke, repeal and overturn gains made during Barack Obama’s two terms.

“All the progress we have made as a nation on LGBT equality — and all the progress we have yet to make — is at stake in November,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “In most states, LGBT people are still at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services simply because of who they are. Today, 63 percent of LGBT Americans report having experienced such discrimination, and we are seeing other troubling trends, from the onslaught of state and local anti-LGBT measures to the national scourge of anti-transgender violence to backsliding on HIV/AIDS prevention and youth homelessness. Against this backdrop, we’ve heard the leading Republican presidential candidates repeatedly threaten to block our progress, and to revoke, repeal, and overturn the gains we’ve made during President Obama’s two terms.

Griffin continued, “While they fight to take us backwards, Hillary Clinton is fighting to advance LGBT equality across our nation and throughout the world. We are proud to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, and believe that she is the champion we can count on in November — and every day she occupies the Oval Office.”

The Human Rights Campaign has 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide.

Polling has shown that in 2016, LGBT equality could be a pivotal issue for the general electorate. Support for marriage equality hit a record high of 60 percent over the last year and nearly 80 percent of Americans support federal non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

LGBT equality is also a key decision point for voters: a 55 percent majority of Americans say they would be less likely to vote for a candidate opposed to marriage equality. This progress has been driven in great part by the growing number of Americans — now nine out of ten people — with an LGBT person in their lives.

Clinton, HRC said, has made LGBT equality a pillar of her campaign and recently unveiled the most “robust and ambitious LGBT plan any candidate for president has ever laid out.” She vowed to fight for the federal Equality Act and her detailed LGBT policy platform calls for dropping the ban on open transgender military service, outlawing dangerous “conversion therapy” for minors, ending the epidemic of transgender violence and supporting HIV prevention and affordable treatment, among other proposals.

HRC said Clinton has a long record as a champion for LGBT rights both in the United States and around the globe. As secretary of state, she declared to the United Nations that “gay rights are human rights.” In the Senate, Clinton helped lead on bills to protect LGBT workers from employment discrimination.

Houston voters reject equal rights ordinance

Houston voters on Nov. 3 failed to affirm an ordinance that would have secured protections from discrimination for the people of the fourth largest city in the country.

The measure, Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, which appeared on the ballot on Election Day, fell short of a majority vote.

The ordinance would have prohibited discrimination in places of employment, city contracting, housing, public accommodations and private employment at businesses on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity and pregnancy.

American Civil Liberties Union national political director Karin Johanson, said, “The work in Houston must continue until everyone is protected from discrimination. Houston continues to be the only major American city without a law protecting its residents from discrimination. As a result, the only protection Houstonians have is a costly federal lawsuit. In the case of LGBT Houstonians there are no explicit protections at the federal or state level. A strong local coalition will continue to work to end discrimination against all Houstonians and the ACLU will support them.”

ACLU of Texas executive director Terri Burke added, “It’s a tragedy that Houston remains the only major city in Texas—indeed, the last big city in the United States — that does not extend equal rights protections to all of its residents and visitors. Those of us who have worked to bring equality to Houston will continue the fight to ensure that everyone can live fairly and equally under the law. The next mayor and newly elected members of Houston’s city council must prioritize the passage of a new equal rights ordinance as quickly as possible.”

The city council approved Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance in May 2014, but enforcement was placed on hold pending the outcome of the citizens’ vote on Election Day.

Kenneth D. Upton Jr., senior sounsel in Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office in Dallas, said after the election, “We knew this vote would be an uphill battle and we witnessed the opponents of HERO pull out all the stops, launching a campaign full of distortions and fear-mongering designed to mislead and confuse voters.

“But we also saw an impressive coming together of the Houston business, faith and civic communities in Houston Unites, which campaigned tirelessly in support of HERO and for ensuring that all Houstonians can live their lives and provide for their families without fear of discrimination. Sadly, the ugly and divisive tactics of the opponents of HERO succeeded in persuading a majority of Houstonians to vote no. But we have faced disappointments before that did not stop us — this fight for fairness is far from over.”

The coalition that makes up Houston Unites includes the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, NAACP Houston Branch, Texas Freedom Network, Freedom for All Americans and the Human Rights Campaign.

The coaliton’s statement read, in part, “Although Houston won’t yet join the 200 other cities that have similar nondiscrimination measures, the fight continues. We will continue telling the stories of Houstonians whose lives would be better off because of HERO – including people of color, people of faith, veterans who have served our country, women, and gay and transgender people.”

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Promoting opportunity for all Americans in Pride Month

Pride Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have had on our nation. Here at the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s also a chance for us to recommit to our efforts to ensure equal rights for LGBT workers, and to celebrate the great work we’ve done on this front.

We have a responsibility to make sure that every worker has the same opportunity to pursue and realize their dreams, and we take that responsibility very seriously. And not just because it’s the right thing to do, which it is.  It’s also the smart thing to do. Diverse and inclusive workplaces are productive workplaces. Our economy works best when we field a full team, so we can’t afford to leave any talent on the bench.

At DOL, our agencies are doing great work to advance the rights of LGBT workers. We’ve worked to implement the president’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We’ve taken steps to make sure that all families receive the benefits and protections of our programs and services. We’ve made clear that job training and other workforce programs in the nation’s workforce development system may not discriminate against someone because of gender identity, gender expression or sex-stereotyping. We’ve worked to make workplaces more inclusive for transgender workers.

And we’ve done so much more. In fact, you can read about all of the work we’ve done to protect and empower LGBT workers in a new report: http://1.usa.gov/1FPeKGy.   

We’re proud of our accomplishments on behalf of LGBT workers and job seekers and their families. Of course, for all our progress, there remains more work to do.  As we celebrate pride month, we also celebrate our continued commitment to building on our accomplishments going forward so that every person in our nation can realize their highest and best dreams, no matter who they are or whom they love. 

Equality coalition urges Indiana to fix ‘license to discriminate’ law

A coalition of civil rights and LGBT groups is calling on Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and leaders in  the state Legislature to “fix” the newly signed “license to discriminate” law set to take effect in July.

In a letter to state leaders, the national LGBT and civil rights groups urge passage of new  legislation “fixing” SB 101, which would allow discrimination against gay and transgender people. Passage of the legislation has spurred a boycott by travelers and business, prompted large demonstrations in the state and a massive protest on social media.

“Indiana is already on the verge of losing billions of dollars and thousands of jobs because of this dangerous law,” the coalition letter reads. “Major organizations have announced they are canceling conferences and companies are pulling business from Indiana to protect their employees and customers from discrimination. We want Indiana to be the thriving state that it can and should be, but that will never happen with state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people on the books.”

To “fix” the new law, Freedom Indiana, the statewide LGBT civil rights group, proposed the Fairness for All Hoosiers Act.

The bill would update state laws against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to provide protections for LGBT Hoosiers and ensure that the recently enacted RFRA cannot be used to allow discrimination prohibited under state or local laws.

The letter states, “The fact is that SB 101 — like similar religious refusal bills that have been introduced in other states—allows government employees to claim a right to refuse services to LGBT people. An on-­duty police officer could say that refusing to help a gay person — or any other Hoosier — goes against his or her religious beliefs. Government officials who have sworn an oath to serve the public should not be allowed to pick and choose who they’re going to serve based on their religious beliefs.

“SB 101 also allows individual restaurants, hotels, and other businesses and corporations to claim a right to refuse to serve visitors and citizens of Indiana simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, even in localities where such discrimination is unlawful. This is not the Indiana you spoke about on national television earlier today, and it’s not what Indiana should be known for. We can all agree that Hoosiers from all walks of life deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The letter closes with a call to action: “It’s time to show the rest of the nation that Indiana is open for business — for everyone.”

The letter was signed by American Civil Liberties Union, Equality Federation Institute, Freedom to Marry, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National LGBTQ Task Force, National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender Law Center.

“All Hoosiers, from Gary to Indianapolis to Evansville, deserve to be treated fairly and equally regardless of who they are or who they love,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “Governor Pence should stop the backpedaling and come out strongly in favor of this new pro-equality legislation. If he’s serious about sending the right message and ensuring the bill he signed in to law isn’t used to discriminate against LGBT people in his state, then now is the time to prove it by endorsing this bill.”

The “Fairness for All Hoosiers Act” legislative proposal would:

• Update the state’s civil rights laws against discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations to provide protections for LGBT Hoosiers.

• Clarify that the “license to discriminate” law cannot be used to allow discrimination prohibited under state or local laws.

There also have been calls for the Legislature to repeal the new law. On March 30, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, said the measure threatens his city’s economic growth and reputation.

“I call upon Gov. Pence and the Indiana Legislature to fix this law. Either repeal it or pass a law that protects all who live, work and visit Indiana. And do so immediately. Indianapolis will not be defined by this,” said Ballard, who signed an executive order intended to guarantee protections from discrimination in the city.

The equality coalition also is focused on developments in Arkansas, where the Republican leadership is advancing another “license to discriminate” measure.

On the Web…

Read the letter: http://www.aclu-in.org/images/RFRAletter.pdf.

Video of Gov. Mike Pence dodging questions on the state’s new, controversial law: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-9vsSi9RkY

Stirring the alphabet soup

I ran across the acronyms “LGBTQIAP+” and “GLBTQIZX” recently and had to look up what the heck they mean. This crazy alphabet soup of sexual minorities is getting out of hand.

If I, as someone who’s been in queer activism and publishing for 40 years, can’t keep track of the latest gay shorthand, what are John and Jane Q. Public going to think? (And just what does the Q in those names stand for anyway?)

I worked for a publication in the 1990s that had to change the identifiers in its subtitle from “Gay” to “Gay and Lesbian” to “LesBiGay” when bisexuals started organizing and then to “LGBT” when transgender people demanded recognition. I remember the editor joking: “How many more misfits are we going to add? Pretty soon, we’ll just be a big alphabet soup!”

Although “LGBT” is standard usage in most mainstream media today, the alphabetical free-for-all continues. Making things more complicated is that most letters now have multiple meanings, and the position of each letter within the string is fraught with political implications. Just ask the gay men and lesbians who have argued for decades about which should come first, the “G” or the “L.”

As a public service, I’ve compiled an interactive guide to LBGT+ initials. Make your own additions. Purge the unworthy. Create your own minority. Mix and match. Please note that some words once used as slurs have been reclaimed with pride. Enjoy the alphabet soup!

A = Androgynous; Asexual; Ally

B = Bear; Bisexual; Bulldyke; Bottom; Bulgarian

C = Cisgender; Curious; Chubby; Cross Dresser; Cunnilinguist

D = Dyke; Diva; Dragster; Daddy; Dominant

E = Eunuch; Eyeballer; Easy; Everything Else

F = Family; Fairy; Fruit; Friend of Dorothy

G = Gay; Gender Outlaw; Genderqueer; Goddess

H = Ho; Homo; Homosexual; Horndog

I = Intersex; Intergalactic; Intrigued; Icon

J = Jock; Jezebel; Jailbait

K = Kiki; Kinky

L = Lesbian; Leatherman/woman; Lounge Lizard

M = Mary; Married; Masochist

N/NA = Nance; Nellie; Neuter; Not Available; None of the Above

O = Omnisexual; Other

P = Pansexual; Polyamorous; Poz; Partnered; Particular; Peculiar

Q = Queer; Queen; Questioning

R = Randy; Risky; Risk-Averse; Ready to go; Rough trade

S/SO = Sissy; Slut; Sodomite; Submissive; Significant Other

T = Tomboy; Top; Transgender; Transvestite; Two-Spirit; Tinker Bell; Twink

U = Uranian; Undecided

V = Vagitarian; Vampire; Variable

W/WTA = Winkie; Wanker; Wolf; Wishy-Washy; Will Try Anything

X = Unknown quantity.

Y = Your proclivity here.

Z = I have no damn idea. 

Background: White House issues guidance on executive order protecting some LGBT workers

The White House early on July 21 issued a statement on President Barack Obama’s signing of an executive order intended to protect federal workers and those who work for federal contractors from discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity.

The statement and guidance from the White House:

America is built on the fundamental promise that if you work hard, and play by the rules, you can get ahead. But today, millions of Americans in most states in the country go to work every day fearing that they could lose their jobs simply because of who they are or who they love. No current federal law adequately protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender workers from employment discrimination. This is completely contrary to our values as Americans – and it’s also bad for business.
President Obama declared 2014 a year of action – working with Congress where they’re willing, but acting where he can when they refuse to take action.

As part of this commitment to expanding opportunity for hardworking Americans, today, the President will sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT employees and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity in federal employment.

At a critical time for our nation’s economy, we need all of our workers to be focused on making the most of their talent, skill, and ingenuity, rather than worrying about losing their job due to discrimination. The economy functions best when workers are matched to the jobs with the best fit, maximizing their productivity, increasing wages and helping the bottom line for businesses. Discrimination is not just wrong, it also can keep qualified workers from maximizing their potential to contribute to the strengthening of our economy. For decades, companies have found that benefits and inclusive, flexible, and supportive workplace policies make it easier and more cost effective to recruit, retain, and motivate employees. The same logic applies to extending these basic protections and policies to LGBT workers. 

American workers should be judged by one thing only: their ability to get the job done. That’s why the President has long supported federal legislation to explicitly prohibit employers across the country from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. For forty years, Congress has considered various pieces of legislation meant to address LGBT workplace equality. Last November, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support. However, the House has failed to act.

Today’s action is consistent with the President’s commitment to advancing equality for the LGBT community, as well as his commitment to expanding opportunity for American workers and strengthening American business. And it is consistent with actions being taken by employers, including many federal contractors, across the country to support workplace equality, because they recognize it improves productivity, reduces turnover and supports their bottom line.

• Workplace Inequality Still Impacts Millions of LGBT Workers. Today, only 18 states and the District of Columbia have laws explicitly protecting LGBT workers from being fired because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and no federal law adequately protects LGBT workers from being fired because of who they are or who they love. According to surveys and studies, more than four in ten lesbian, gay, and bisexual people have experienced some form of employment discrimination based on their sexual orientation at some point in their lives, and 90 percent of transgender employees have experienced harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.

• Employers Are Taking Action on Their Own to Support Workplace Equality – Because They Recognize It Is In Their Interest:According to an analysis of 36 research studies by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, “LGBT-supportive policies and workplace climates are linked to greater job commitment, improved workplace relationships, increased job satisfaction, and improved health outcomes among LGBT employees.”

• Fortune 500 Companies Support LGBT Workplace Equality. Most of America’s major companies know that workplace equality is important to staying competitive and retaining their best talent, and as a result, nondiscrimination policies are good for business. 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation; and 61 percent already prohibit discrimination based on gender identity.

• Small Businesses Support LGBT Workplace Equality. According to research conducted by Small Business Majority, six in ten small business owners believe that employment nondiscrimination laws improve their bottom line by helping employers attract the best and brightest employees. And of small business owners who have adopted nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBT workers, 86 percent report that nondiscrimination policies cost them “nothing or next to nothing,” 2 percent said such policies had a small but significant cost, and none said they had a substantial cost.

• Many Federal Contractors Already Have Policies on LGBT Workplace Equality. Of the largest 50 federal contractors, which represent nearly half of all federal contracting dollars, 86 percent prohibit sexual orientation discrimination and 61 percent prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In addition, the five top federal contractors, which receive nearly a quarter of all federal contracting dollars, already bar discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.

• The American Public Supports LGBT Workplace Equality. A recent national survey of 1,200 registered voters found that 63 percent of those surveyed favor a federal law that protects LGBT people from employment discrimination. When asked specifically about LGBT nondiscrimination in federal contracting, another poll found that 73 percent of those surveyed favor such policies.

• States and Local Jurisdictions Support LGBT Workplace Equality. Over the last several years, there has been significant progress in moving LGBT inclusive non-discrimination laws through statehouses and city halls across the nation. Since 2011, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nevada have added gender identity to their existing employment non-discrimination laws. Today, 18 states and the District of Columbia have inclusive non-discrimination laws, and over 200 cities and counties – from small towns like Bozeman, Montana and Vicco, Kentucky to large cities like Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia – prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Nine of the ten most populous cities in the country already have these protections in place. 

• Diverse Faith Communities Support LGBT Workplace Equality. A diverse range of religious communities  and organizations support workplace protections, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society; The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; and the Union of Reform Judaism. Majorities of Christian denominations polled support workplace protections, including 76 percent of Catholics, 75 percent of white mainline Protestants, 61 percent of minority Protestants, and 59 percent of white evangelical Protestants. Another poll shows that 74 percent of born-again Christians favor LGBT workplace protections. 

• Additional Information about Obama’s Executive Order: Executive Order 11246, issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson, prohibits federal contractors from discriminating “against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” President Obama’s Executive Order will add sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected categories.

Obama’s Executive Order does not allow for any exemption beyond the one added by Executive Order 13279, issued by President George W. Bush, which permits religiously affiliated contractors to favor individuals of a particular religion when making employment decisions, by specifying that Executive Order 11246, “shall not apply to a Government contractor or subcontractor that is a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities. Such contractors and subcontractors are not exempted or excused from complying with the other requirements contained in this Order.” In addition, under the First Amendment, religious entities are permitted to make employment decisions about their ministers as they see fit.

Executive Order 11246 governs only federal contractors and federally-assisted construction contractors and subcontractors who do over $10,000 in Government business in one year. It does not affect grants and President Obama’s Executive Order does not impact the administration of federal grants. The Order is administered and enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). As part of these duties, OFCCP conducts compliance reviews, receives complaints from individuals who believe they have been discriminated against, and provides technical assistance to contractors regarding their contractual obligations.

Executive Order 11478, issued by President Nixon, bars discrimination against federal employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and age, and was amended by Executive Order 13087, issued by President Clinton, to include sexual orientation. 

Obama’s Executive Order will add gender identity to the list of protected categories.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other federal agencies already apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity as a form of sex discrimination. The President believes it is important to explicitly prohibit — in both Executive Action and in legislation — discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Hundreds march for gay rights in New Delhi

Hundreds of gay rights activists marched through New Delhi on Nov. 25 to demand that they be allowed to lead lives of dignity in India’s deeply conservative society.

Dozens of demonstrators carried a nearly 50-foot-long, rainbow-colored banner and waved placards demanding that the government extend the scope of anti-discrimination laws to schools, workplaces and public and private spaces.

Activists said that three years after the Delhi High Court made changes in India’s colonial-era law that made gay sex a crime, gays are still not socially accepted in India.

In 2009, the court had decriminalized gay sex, which until then had been an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Conservative groups have asked India’s top court to overturn the lower court’s order, and Supreme Court judges are currently hearing opinions from a range of people – including conservative groups and gay rights activists. It’s unclear when the court will make its ruling.

“If only the Supreme Court comes out on our side, and if gay marriage became legal, what could be better,” said Zorian Cross, a New Delhi-based theater actor and playwright at the parade.

“Queer and loving it” and “Give us your support” read some of the placards carried by the activists as they marched to the rhythmic beat of traditional drums and music. Other supporters distributed badges and rainbow-colored flags and scarves.

The march ended in a public meeting at Jantar Mantar, the main area for protests located in the heart of the capital, New Delhi. Many gay rights group members and their families danced and sang as drummers and musicians performed.

Vimal Kumar, an activist with a rights group called the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, said the government had to ensure that all forms of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgenders was ended.

“The government has to listen. Our struggle has gone on for very long, and we are hopeful the government will listen and act on our demands,” Kumar said.

Gay rights activists are demanding that the government allow people to record the gender category of their choice in the national census, voter identity cards and all other government documents.

“We are demanding that all people be allowed to exercise their right to live their lives with dignity and freedom, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation,” said a statement issued by rights groups at the parade.

Kumar said peoples’ attitudes were gradually beginning to change and there was greater understanding among the families in urban areas as television campaigns and gay parade marches caught on. But the pace of change was slow, he said.

In some big cities, homosexuality is slowly gaining acceptance, and a few high-profile Bollywood films have dealt with gay issues.

Still, many marchers covered their faces with scarves or wore masks because they have not come out to friends and family.