Tag Archives: employment

National Coming Out Day: Visibility

11 Oct
National Coming Out Day

National Coming Out Day

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day.  For those of you who had any questions regarding my sexual orientation, allow me to put all questions to rest.  I’m a very proud gay man.  One might ask, so what? Why announce it? Why do I insist on being so visible? Why do we need a National Coming Out Day?

I cannot underscore enough the importance of being out and visible.  The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to marginalize us and treat us as sub-human, or second class citizens, denied over 1,300 rights that our heterosexual brothers and sisters are granted just for being heterosexual.

Currently there are 29 states — over half of the US — where it is still legal to actively discriminate against LGBT folk.  Yes, in 29 states one can be fired for being gay. Not a big surprise that no state in the South has the slightest protection for the LGBT community. (There do exist individual cities that provide limited protection.)  I guess that wacky Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision from 2003 meant nothing.  Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is trying to reinstate the sodomy laws their, so as to protect the United States from gay sex.  Poor Cuccinelli seems to be unaware that sodomy laws have just as big of an impact on heterosexual sex as they do “gay” sex. Again, it seems odd to me  when people  are so focused on gay sex. One might wonder what is hiding in Ken Cuccinelli’s closet. Click here to see if the state you live in can legally fire a human being for being gay.  Obviously, this puts people who are gender non-conforming at higher risk, not to mention the greater risk for LGBT folk of color being targeted.

I hope that today there will be much celebrating as people find the courage to use their voices individually and collectively to be Out and Proud as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender person.  Living one’s life authentically allows for great freedom and of course supports the (tongue in cheek) Big Gay Agenda.

Where Is It Safest to Be Gay? Ranking the States

12 May

Come for the scenery, stay for the civil rights

Despite President Obama’s wonderful declaration of support for marriage equality, the devastating passage of Amendment One in North Carolina shows how far we have to go as a nation. It is also imporant to understand how your rights are protected based on where you live. Now there’s a handy tool to look at gay rights by state.

In a very thorough analysis this week, British news daily The Guardian, published a ranking of all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) on seven key areas of civil rights. The factors rated by The Guardian include:

  1. Marriage, indicating whether it is fully allowed or banned and including partial credit for domestic partnerships.
  2. Hospital visitation rights, including how same-sex partners are respected as family members.
  3. Adoption rights, indicating whether LGBT couples can jointly adopt (or are explicitly banned from doing so).
  4. Employment, indicating what workplace protections exist based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  5. Housing, indicating laws requiring fair treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  6. Hate crimes, indicating laws providing for harsher punishment of crimes motivated by the victim’s real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
  7. Schools, indicating laws that protect students based on sexual orientation and gender identity and any explicit anti-LGBT bullying provision.

The analysis also compares states by region. Generally speaking, the Northeast has the strongest, most consistent protections (including three states with perfect scores – CT, MA, and VT) and the Southeast has the weakest (followed closely by the Midwest). Using a distinctly British approach to the regions, The Guardian identifies six Northwest states (OR, WA, ID, AK, MT, and WY). Washington received a perfect score; Oregon fell short on marriage equality but was otherwise perfect, ranking in the top 10. Only Oregon and Washington meet any of the categories other than some school protections. It’s also nice to know that many elected officials in Oregon responded positively to the President’s announcement on Wednesday.

Of course day-to-day safety and success for LGBT Americans varies based on more than the state or region in which one lives. Metropolitan areas are generally safer and more accepting than more rural areas, regardless of the state. But knowing how a region demonstrates its support (or hostility) to gay rights is an important factor in daily life.

Bigot of the Week: May 4, Bryan Fischer and Mitt Romney

4 May

Bigots of the Week

For two men who really don’t like each other, Mitt Romney and Bryan Fischer sure seem to pop up together frequently. For those of you fortunate enough not to know Fischer, he’s a staffer at the ironically named American Family Association and one of the most vocal opponents of LGBT equality. He has regularly accused Romney of being insufficiently Christian and is a regular attacker of the Mormon church. Ever one to pander, however, Romney’s rightward march during the campaign saw the two share the stage at the even more ironically named Values Voters summit, a tea-drenched celebration of hatred and bigotry. Romney took a veiled swipe at Fischer from the podium, saying that decency and civility are values to celebrate and that “One of the speakers who will follow me today, has crossed that line.” This week their interaction cost a man his job.

Richard Grenell is a far-right spokesman for aggressive national security and foreign policy. He was appointed to a U.N. post by W, and has strong hawkish credentials. He is also gay. Not just gay, but a vocal supporter of marriage equality and someone who has criticized the Obama administration of not doing enough for gay rights. Romney tapped Grenell two weeks ago to be his spokesman for national security. Cue the outrage.

Faux christians and professional homophobes immediately lashed into the Romney campaign. How dare he allow this unrepentant homo to represent him on any issues?! Quoth the Fischer

Richard Grenell could not possibly have been the only qualified individual that Governor Romney could find … If it wasn’t about homosexuality, than why did so many gay rights groups celebrate the hire?

Cowering under pressure, a move that is a trademark of the campaign, Romney and his aides quickly stifled Grenell, keeping him off conference calls that he had organized and removing him from the anniversary discussions of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Frustrated, Grenell resigned rather than keep a job he wasn’t allowed to do. Romney (despite tepid protestations in the press) let him walk. Fischer is jubilant.

You cannot separate religious liberty from the issue of the homosexual agenda. In fact, the homosexual agenda represents the single greatest threat to religious liberty and association in America today…Governor Romney may not do the right thing out of political conviction, but he will do the right thing out of political expediency, and this I think would be an example…This is what I think is good for the pro-family community. I think it’s going to be a long time before he hires another homosexual activist in a prominent position in his campaign.

Wow. Hate much?

It’s hard to feel too sorry for Richard Grenell — although it is easy to pity him. His first act after being hired was to delete dozens of nasty and often misogynistic tweets including attacks on Hillary Clinton and Michele Obama that had nothing to do with policy. It’s also baffling that a strong supporter of marriage equality and gay rights would have anything to do with the Romney campaign. That’s some serious pathology and internalized oppression.  Yes, while I pity Grenell, I find it difficult to feel any empathy for him.  He is no different than the many women and other marginalized people that vote against their best interest.

Nevertheless, he took on a job for which he was qualified. Bryan Fischer and his slavering attack dogs made a simple element of his humanity a firing offense. And Mitt Romney capitulated. In fact an adviser to his campaign, showing Romneyesque courage and demanding anonymity, observed

It’s not that the campaign cared whether Ric Grenell was gay… But they didn’t want to confront the religious right.

What a sad, stupid story — and clear demonstration of the kind of leadership qualities Mitt Romney possesses.

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