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Miami Newsman Charles Perez Speaks Out About Firing

Miami newsman Charles Perez, who was fired last week after filing a discrimination complaint with the Miami-Dade County Equal Opportunity Board against his former station WPLG, speaks out about the firing and the addition of a retaliation charge to the claim, in The Daily Beast.

Perez Perez also discusses the larger climate in mainstream news: "The news business has become a place of fear, where principle and the news have become the casualties and ratings and dollars the prizes."

Says Perez: "I used to believe in my company, WPLG and The Washington Post (which owns Post-Newsweek Stations). Now, The Washington Post is embroiled in a scandal over selling dinner spots at the publisher’s dinner table, offering access to power in exchange for cash, and my own station told me to shut up, go to the back of the bus, and they won’t fire me. So what do they stand for? It’s not clear. If anything has taken a back seat, it seems to be integrity. One of my colleagues, a higher-up at the station, told me: 'The weekends will be better for you, anyway, Charles. You and Keith [my partner] want to have kids. It’s a lot less high-profile there.' It was a suggestion that never would have been made to one of my straight colleagues, male or female. The only thing I could take from it was that my profile as a gay man, especially if I were to have kids and, God forbid, get married, would render me less promotable and less advertiser-friendly. In fact, over the previous five months, I’d been told, 'Don’t get married, Charles. We don’t need that.' I’d also been told not to have children. In essence: 'You’re the main anchor and you’re gay, but let’s not push it.' To me, having the family I want is not pushing it. Living with love, commitment, and dignity is not pushing it."

Perez says he is "relying on a new county ordinance, enacted last November, that added sexual orientation as a protected class" to support his complaint. He hopes that succeeding with his claim would help to expand state anti-discrimination laws and support ENDA.

Why I Committed Career Suicide [the daily beast]

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Comments

  1. I sincerely hope justice is served in this case. I am trying to be unbiased but this matter seems to be very obvious...I have watched the newcast with Charles and Laurie for a long time and I am sad to see such a good team break up.

    Posted by: Eddie | Aug 10, 2009 10:11:12 AM


  2. This story has more drama than five seasons of Queer as Folk.

    So now he has a partner, and they want kids? I thought his ex-boyfriend forwarded a private email that started this mess. How long have they been broken up? That's a long time to hold a grudge.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 10, 2009 10:14:09 AM


  3. I've read Mr. Perez's legal complaint and the TV station's response. I think Perez has a slam dunk case. The station said they moved him to the weekend to save money. But Perez is under a long-term contract, so they wouldn't be saving any money. Perhaps they should have thought up a more plausible lie.

    However, what Perez says here is a bit disingenuous:
    "...I could not choose that career over the man I love and our commitment to build a family together."
    The man he loved was the one that leaked the email that started this whole thing. I'm pretty sure Charles doesn't love this man anymore.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Aug 10, 2009 10:56:56 AM


  4. David, he says here that his partner's name is Keith. In the previous posts, the ex-partner who leaked the email is identified as Dennis Ricardo Peña.

    I am thoroughly confused. But I look forward to the Lifetime movie.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 10, 2009 11:02:35 AM


  5. @ David.

    "disingenuous"??? If you think he's talking about the same man in both instances you're mentally challenged.

    I applaud Perez willingness to fight discrimination at the potential cost of his being blackballed in the industry.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Aug 10, 2009 11:05:49 AM


  6. This is why we need ENDA! I work for a very progressive company that treats partners equal to marriage. However, I have experienced comments from individual co-workers that would indicate otherwise. I continually remind myself that they are just individuals and not the company. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish and the threat is always there. Until we change the mindset of Americans, and ENDA is a start, we will always be subject to discrimination.

    I know it will never end on a personal level with the bigots, but legally it has to stop. I wish Charles well in his case!

    Posted by: RB | Aug 10, 2009 11:14:53 AM


  7. While this is a LOT of drama, to be sure, Perez should not be forced (for all intents and purposes) to leave the industry if he is otherwise doing his job. That is discrimination pure and simple and he should fight it.

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Aug 10, 2009 11:19:44 AM


  8. Partner: Keith. Loves and wants to build a family with him.

    Ex-partner: Dennis. Bitter old flame who leaked private email.

    Clear things up?

    Posted by: DannyI | Aug 10, 2009 11:31:35 AM


  9. There's more to this story. Perez' boss was gay as well. Perez was never in the closet. It's too soon to draw any conclusions. A lot of people cry discrimination when they get fired.

    Posted by: David T | Aug 10, 2009 11:58:31 AM


  10. RB,

    I want ENDA more than any other gay civil rights legistlation/law, but wouldn't ENDA only apply to those companies/institutions that do business with the federal government, or receive federal tax dollars?

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 10, 2009 11:59:34 AM


  11. @ David T.

    If, via your statement that "Perez' boss was gay as well," you mean to suggest that, therefore, it's less likely that any discrimination occured, you know nothing about "show biz" of which 99% of TV "news" is a part.

    Even in 2009, countless gays and lesbians remain effectively Kapos, defending, even administering, homophobia.

    Three words: Log Cabin Republicans.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Aug 10, 2009 12:26:37 PM


  12. I love watching very slow car crashes....

    Honestly, his bitter break-up boomeranging into a new relationship, then openly sharing his desire to have kids with co-workers and superiors is adding fuel to the 'unstable' argument.

    The suggestion to move to a less 'high' profile position is something every working mother has heard or knows that she might hear, gay or straight.

    Presz's whine is getting old. But a year ago NO ONE was talking about him. Maybe there is a lame Logo show in his future.

    Posted by: OttoErotica | Aug 10, 2009 12:26:56 PM


  13. Holy crap DERRICK FROM PHILLY, you're right. Somehow I missed that limitation on ENDA all this time. Thank you for bringing that up and out.

    On the positive side, Lambda Legal, et al. are working to make sure the final law is Trans-inclusive and limits religious (i.e., superstitious) exemptions.

    Posted by: David R. | Aug 10, 2009 12:31:32 PM


  14. Ottoerotica: I still find the level of your hostility to Perez in your multiple thread attacks on him grossly disproportionate to what we know and what has been alleged...suggesting an extremely poisonous personal axe to grind.

    Even if there isn't one, your assertion that "openly sharing his desire to have kids with co-workers and superiors is adding fuel to the 'unstable' argument" is absurd and your implication that the ubiquitousness of "The suggestion to move to a less 'high' profile position is something every working mother has heard or knows that she might hear, gay or straight" makes it acceptable or not discriminatory is indefensible.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Aug 10, 2009 12:48:48 PM


  15. ENDA "federal only"? I don't think so.

    "[O]nly 20 states plus the District of Columbia specifically ban workplace discrimination in the PRIVATE SECTOR based on sexual orientation and only 13 states plus D.C. expressly ban discrimination based on gender identity. ENDA would ensure that in most workplaces a person's qualifications and job performance, rather than sexual orientation or gender identity, will be the factors that determine success on the job." - Lambda Legal

    "Where ENDA applies. Like other civil rights laws, ENDA applies to private sector employers with 15 or more employees, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint labor-management committees. ENDA also applies to Congress and the federal government [except for military], as well as state and local governments." Office of Cong. Nancy Pelosi.

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Aug 10, 2009 1:02:03 PM


  16. DERRICK FROM PHILLY and David R:

    To some extent you may be right, but remember that the federal government can regulate all State to State commerce. Unless the company in question only exists in one state, the government can require the non-discrimination policy. That little bit in the Constitution(article 1 section 8) can be very nice sometimes.

    Posted by: DanM | Aug 10, 2009 1:21:11 PM


  17. Thanks for the 'boyfriend' clarification. I didn't realize that there were two boyfriends. I'm kind of surprised that he already has a new boyfriend that he "loves" and "plans to build a family with". Charles seems to bounce back rather quickly.

    Posted by: David in Houston | Aug 10, 2009 1:46:15 PM


  18. Derrick,

    You're wrong. ENDA would cover all businesses and other entities in the same way that current laws that prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion or sex cover them. Such protections don't just cover those entities and organizations doing business with the U.S. Government and institutions.

    ENDA would provide protections where local and state laws don't exist. For instance, if Florida doesn't have a state-wide ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation/gender identity, ENDA would provide protection.

    P.S.

    I hope Perez kicks his former employer's butt in court.

    Posted by: gunnar | Aug 10, 2009 1:52:32 PM


  19. THanks for the correction, Michael. Although, I always thought that federal civil rights laws could only be enforced on companies and institutions that depended on federal dollars. I'm glad I was wrong...but what about that "employers with 15 or more employees"? So, if you have less than 15 employees then you can be exempted from federal civil rights laws?

    And private clubs and organizations can't possibly be covered by federal civil rights statutes, can they? I mean, like some private country club in Mississippi (why do we always pick on the South?)--you can't force them to hire gay people or black people or Mormons.

    I just want to have a realistic expectation about what ENDA will do.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 10, 2009 1:54:59 PM


  20. @ David in Houston, how do you know what the time frame is between his current partner and the former? It could be months or years.

    Regardless, sounds like he was lucky enough to find "Mr. Right" instead of "Mr. Right Now".

    Posted by: RONTEX | Aug 10, 2009 2:04:15 PM


  21. Hi, Derrick, Mon Cher. Nice to see you. Hope you're having a great summer in the city of brotherly love [in more ways than one].

    Sorry, I didn't include the exceptions from Pelosi's site.

    "Where ENDA does not apply. ENDA does not apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees. It also does not apply to members of the armed forces. In addition, ENDA excludes private membership clubs and religious organizations, such as religious corporations, associations, and schools. ENDA uses Title VII’s definition of a religious organization, such that if an organization is exempt from Title VII’s religious discrimination prohibitions, it will be exempt from ENDA’s prohibitions."

    I agree that there should NOT be exceptions for less-than-15-employees employers, but, did they ask NOUS? However, if I read it correctly, only federally recognized NONPROFIT "private membership" groups are exempted, e.g., the Boy Scouts. Can "country clubs" qualify for such status?

    Here's a link to the text of the bill at a great site where one can find 411 [e.g., sponsors; most recent action] about all present and recent legislation efforts re whatever.

    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-2981

    Posted by: Michael @ LeonardMatlovich.com | Aug 10, 2009 3:07:00 PM


  22. Why don't they just add us to the 1964 Civil Rights bill or is that what ENDA would do?

    Posted by: Jason Young | Aug 10, 2009 9:33:07 PM


  23. "Thanks for the 'boyfriend' clarification.... I'm kind of surprised that he already has a new boyfriend that he "loves" and "plans to build a family with". Charles seems to bounce back rather quickly." - David in Houston: Please don't use common sense when considering Mr. Perez' poor choices. Especially not here.

    Mickey @ LennyM - you deserve a cut'n'paste law degree!
    But read your own pasted multiple responses and actually APPLY it to the situation. lazy thinking is the buggaboo of small minds...

    Posted by: OttoErotica | Aug 11, 2009 10:55:09 AM


  24. "Ottoerotica: I still find the level of your hostility to Perez in your multiple thread attacks on him grossly disproportionate"

    Like yours for Obama?

    Posted by: Derek Washington | Aug 11, 2009 1:11:11 PM


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