Tag Archives: ENDA

Bigot of the Week, April 25: Earl Bullard

25 Apr
Boss Hogg or Earl Bullard?

Boss Hogg or Earl Bullard?

I want to thank my friend and LGBT ally, Jennifer Carey for inspiring me to address this week’s BWA.  Apparently, Earl Bullard and his cronies would prefer drunk drivers in the state of South Carolina to having LGBT folk, specifically Crystal Moore as the openly lesbian police chief of Latta, South Carolina.

Sadly, South Carolina is just one of 29 states that has no legal protection for LGBT folks.  Consequently, one can be denied employment for membership in the LGBT community.  Bullard seems more like a caricature after he spews his homophobic venom:

I would much rather have.. and I will say this to anybody’s face… somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children.

Because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be. You know.. you got people out there — I’m telling you buddy — I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that is the way they want to live, but I am not going to let my child be around…I’m not going to let 2 women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And I’m not going to see them do it with 2 men neither.

My goodness. So according to Mayor Earl Bullard children are far safer riding in a car with a drunk driver than a sober lesbian police chief? I must confess, I am having some difficulty grasping the logic here.  I suspect our Bullard also believes there is a Big Gay Agenda trying to take over the world — bwah-ha-haah!

CALL TO ACTION: Bullard’s behavior only proves how desperately we need to pass ENDA and protect the LGBT community from discrimination. Currently, it is legal under federal law to fire someone for being gay. Under state and local law, it depends on each state and municipality whether gay people are protected in employment. Act locally AND nationally — if you have local protection laws, ensure they are enforced; if not, work to get them passed. This year’s midterm elections are a great opportunity to ensure that the next Congress will be ENDA supporting.

DISHONORABLE MENTION this week goes to Georgia’s legislature and Gov. Nathan Deal. In their infinite wisdom, they have passed the most generous concealed carry law in the nation, allowing guns in schools, libraries and numerous other public places. The law also starkly reduces penalties for being caught with a firearm in an airport making the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, one of the most dangerous.

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Victories for the LGBT Community and for Humanity

8 Nov

ENDA copyThe past week has seen a number of big events in LGBT news and the majority have been very positive. It’s nice to have a chance to celebrate!

A major milestone happened yesterday when the U.S. Senate finally passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Some version of the law — which prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity — has been in the works for nearly 40 years. The current ENDA has been floated in almost every Congress since 1994; the inclusion of gender identity has been a point of contention and has been in and out of the bill. The current version is the most comprehensive, requiring most employers with more than 15 employees to comply and with a very narrow religious exemption. ENDA was a lifetime goal of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D – MA). Just before he died, he passed the torch to Sen. Jeff Merkley (D – OR), who was instrumental in similar legislation in this state. I’m very proud of our Senator for pushing so hard to make this a reality.

I feel that such discrimination is wrong and our vision of equality in the Constitution, our vision of the pursuit of happiness in the Constitution and kind of a fundamental sense of fair play—all of those things mean that it is just wrong for people not to have a fair shake at getting or retaining a job.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid built on the post-shutdown debacle momentum and rounded up enough Republican support to break a filibuster. In fact, when opposition voices were invited to speak, no one stepped forward, not even rabid opponents like Ted Cruz. After a bit of amendment posturing, the bill got a full vote and passed by an impressive  64 – 32 vote. Now it’s up to House Speaker John Boehner to move it forward. He has expressed skepticism, saying that ENDA would lead to “frivolous lawsuits.” Points to Sen. Reid for this sharp rebuke:

Speaker Boehner opposes ENDA for fear of frivolous lawsuits? He led a frivolous lawsuit defending DOMA that cost taxpayers over $2 million!

Well said, Sen. Reid. Let’s hope the House can help move equality forward. President Obama has expressed his full support and encouraged Boehner to do the right thing.

On the marriage front, Illinois is on the verge of becoming the 15th state to have full equality for same-sex couples. The Illinois House finally passed a Senate bill from May. Gov. Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill soon. When he does, another 13 million Americans will live in a place with marriage equality, moving the nation up to 37%. In Hawaii, a similar bill is moving forward and seems likely to pass by the end of the year. True equality is never piecemeal, but this is certainly movement in the right, inevitable direction.

Also in workplace protection news, Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has said that his first act after being sworn in will be to reinstate an Executive Order banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for state workers. How nice to see him living up to his promises already!

Also on the gubernatorial front, things heated up in Maine this week. Toxic Governor Paul “Tea, please” LePage tried to start a smear campaign against his chief competitor, Rep. Mike Michaud. Showing his rabid disregard for many of his constituents, he hinted that Michaud was gay and that this was sufficient grounds to vote against him. Merging the kindergarten playground with McCarthyism — how lovely! Michaud’s response was flawless:

Yes, I am. But why should it matter? […] I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position, openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.

Well said, Rep. Michaud, and best of luck in next year’s election.  I guess current Gov. LePage is only interested in serving selected residents of his state.

Hero of the Week: August 3, DNC Platform Drafting Committee

3 Aug

Hero of the Week

This week the Democratic party took a major step toward endorsing full marriage equality. The Platform Drafting Committee is responsible for crafting the planks of the party’s platform for the convention in September. They met last week to debate which things to add or change in the platform. The 15-member committee voted unanimously to include marriage equality for LGBT American’s in the party platform. It’s been a long time coming. The draft platform will go to the full platform committee next week for approval and finalization for adoption at the conference.

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D, MA) serves on the committee and made the announcement on Monday. While the exact language is not yet available, reports indicate that the plank not only supports marriage equality but specifically calls for repealing DOMA and adds support for a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This would be the first time either major party weighed in positively on any of these issues–nice to see a party actually moving toward civil rights!

Blunt as always, the recently married Frank later expressed his surprise that the announcement got so much attention.

I was surprised that this got the attention that it did, because in this instance, it is not even a promise or a prediction of what the Democrats will do. It is an after-the-fact statement of what we have already done. President Obama has already stated his support for marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. […] Equally important (as an exercise of presidential authority) is the president’s refusal to defend DOMA in court because it is so blatantly unconstitutional, as well as his articulation that any government action discriminating against LGBT Americans must meet a higher standard than the simple “rational basis” test. […] Governor Romney, of course, opposes the president on every one of these points.

While it’s true that the President and the party have made great strides in recent years, codifying these principles into the platform is more than symbolic. It signals a great step forward for LGBT-inclusive equality, and sends the message that we are not subhuman.  We are full citizens entitled to the exact same rights as our heterosexual brothers and sisters.

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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