Thursday Speed Read: Clay Aiken, Closeted on the Job, Heather Mizeur, Maryland, HIV Criminalization
North Carolina election officials will review the outcome of the Congressional District 2 Democratic primary race on May 15, after they’ve had a chance to tally in absentee and challenged ballots. As of Wednesday afternoon, openly gay candidate Clay Aiken, of American Idol fame, held just over 40 percent of the vote with a 369-vote lead over businessman Keith Crisco.
53 PERCENT CLOSETED ON THE JOB:
A report released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign’s educational arm says that 53 percent of LGBT people keep their sexual orientation secret at their places of employment. According to the report, only 17 states and Washington, D.C., have laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Another four states prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation only. The report, “The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion,” surveyed 800 LGBT workers and an unspecified number of non-LGBT workers.
Openly lesbian Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur stayed above the fray and focused like a laser on the need to increase the minimum wage and the virtues of legalizing marijuana. Mizeur, a delegate in the state House, was participating Wednesday night in the first debate in the three-way race for the Democratic nomination June 24. Mizeur ranks behind both Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler in polls. But a transcript of the debate published by the Washington Post, indicates Mizeur managed a solid performance.
MARIJUANA FOR CHILDREN?
At one point during Wednesday night’s debate, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur was questioned about her support for legalizing marijuana. She noted, among other things, that legalization could provide tax revenue to pay for a universal pre-Kindergarten. Mizeur then added that it would send “an important message about the fact that this is a substance that is arguably less harmful to the body than alcohol and tobacco.” That awkward juxtaposition of pre-Kindergarten and marijuana being “arguably less harmful” apparently prompted this question from moderator David Gregory of Meet the Press: “Are you comfortable saying to the children of this state, ‘marijuana’s okay’?” “We’re not saying that to the children of this state,” replied Mizeur, noting that, in fact, her plan calls for spending $4 million a year to make sure children know marijuana is a “a very dangerous substance for a developing mind.”
A report Wednesday from a coalition of groups working on fair treatment of people by the criminal justice system recommends the U.S. Department of Justice amend its guidelines to stop profiling of LGBT people and people with HIV by federal law enforcement agents. The “Roadmap for Change: Federal Policy Recommendations for Addressing the Criminalization of LGBT People and People with HIV,” was developed by former NGLTF Executive Director Urvashi Vaid and former AIDS Project Director at Lambda Legal Catherine Hanssens and others. DOJ announced in January it would revise its rules for federal agents to prohibit the use of sexual orientation and other characteristics to prompt investigations. In April, Attorney General Eric Holder said the department would begin to collect data on people stopped or arrested to “reduce” the possible effects of bias. But he did not make specific mention of LGBT bias. In a preface to the coalition report, former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous notes that New York City police have used “stop and frisk” practices against LGBT people. Another of the Roadmap’s authors, Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator of the LGBT group Streetwise and Safe, said the coalition members have spoken with DOJ about some of their recommendations and look forward to conversations in the future.
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