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Illinois Finds ‘Substantial Evidence’ ExxonMobil Engaged In Anti-Gay Discrimination

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The Illinois Department of Human Rights announced that it found enough evidence that oil and gas giant ExxonMobil engaged in anti-gay discrimination in its hiring practices reports The Washington Blade. LGBT group Freedom to Work and the Equal Rights Center, an organization with experience in résumé testing practices, filed a complaint against the oil company in 2013 for allegedly engaging in anti-gay bias for a position in Illinois, which has a state law banning discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.

Both organizations submitted two fictitious résumés to the company in response to a December 2012 job posting in Illinois according to court documents. One résumé denoted that the qualified applicant is gay, listing her work at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and the other denoted a less qualified applicant without any indication of gender identity or sexual orientation. The less qualified applicant received multiple callbacks, up to three, while the qualified LGBT applicant didn’t receive any.

The lawsuit seeks restitution in requiring ExxonMobil to enact pro-LGBT protections and training in employment practices in addition to collecting attorneys’ fees. Peter Romer-Friedman, the counsel to Freedom to Work in its proceeding against Exxon, is happy that Freedom to Work is holding the oil company accountable.

Said Romer-Friedman:

"It’s about time that someone held Exxon accountable on behalf of the LGBT community, and I’m so proud of Freedom to Work for its leadership in bringing that accountability to the largest company in the world."

However, ExxonMobil announced last week that it integrated explicit language barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity into its equal employment opportunity policy. The company enacted the change after President Obama signed an executive order barring federal contractors from committing anti-LGBT job bias. Tico Almeida, the president of Freedom to Work, said the continuation of the lawsuit against ExxonMobil is necessary despite the recent policy change.

Said Almeida:

Almeida"Exxon was recently forced by President Obama’s executive order to add gay and transgender employees to the corporation’s equal employment policies, but those were merely changes on paper.  

"We must ensure that LGBT employees actually get a fair shot in their careers at Exxon, not just on paper. Freedom to Work will continue to prosecute this civil rights case and hold Exxon accountable for its anti-gay discriminatory conduct from the recent past."

Two paths are open in the case for Freedom to Work: filing before the Illinois Human Rights Commission or with the Circuit Court that has jurisdiction over the case. Mike Theodore, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Human Rights, said Freedom to Work must file within 30 days to continue with the lawsuit jointly before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, but has an additional 60 days to file independently with the commission or circuit court. 

The Illinois Department of Human Rights’ findings reveal ExxonMobil’s defense for opting to choose the less qualified non-LGBT candidate over the more qualified LGBT candidate. The findings show that Donna Steadman, a human resource adviser for ExxonMobil, denied sexual orientation was a factor in the hiring decision. She testified she selected in the initial screening process for her boss 35 applicants out of the 51 who applied by "looking at their experience, not their volunteer work and their education."

"Steadman stated she did not have a narrowing tool, her process was to open the résumé and skim it for certain words," the finding states, "She felt 35 applicants was a significant number of applicants to pass on. She felt she was passing on a lot of documents for review and she was providing a lot of candidates with experience he had outlined. She was not keeping a tracking sheet for all 51 of them, in fact, she does not know if she opened all 51 of them."

Scott Silvestri, a spokesman from ExxonMobil, said that the company has not received anything on the findings from the Illinois Department of Human Rights, but pledged to fight the lawsuit.

Said Silvestri: 

"We intend to defend the company’s position in the matter because the claims in the complaint are baseless. Sexual orientation or gender identity played no role in the hiring decision because of our zero-tolerance discrimination policies. It is inaccurate to suggest otherwise."

Mike Huckabee and Dave Garrison Muse On President Obama's 'Coming Out' - LISTEN

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Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee made a special appearance on Dave Garrison’s “Faith & Liberty” radio talk show to promote his new book God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy and to muse about what a Huckabee presidency might have looked like had he been elected when he ran back in 2008.

“Even though he didn’t call the family of Chris Kyle, the ‘American Sniper,’ when he was killed for all he had done for his country, he picks up the phone and calls an NFL football player and congratulates him for being homosexual,” he said. “How bizarre is that?”

“Since the president ‘came out,’ so to speak, you see court after court suddenly deciding that same-sex marriage is just fine; I’m convinced that it’s the president having given this legitimacy and sense of authority to the issue that has changed the debate.”

For his part of the conversation Garrison bemoaned Right Wing Watch's coverage of his notoriously nutty program, claiming that gay rights supporters were growing increasingly intolerant of others’ beliefs.

Listen to excerpts from Huckabee and Garrison's conversation AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mike Huckabee and Dave Garrison Muse On President Obama's 'Coming Out' - LISTEN" »

Social Security Benefits Available To All Married Same-Sex Couples In New Obama Budget


In President Obama's new $4 trillion budget submitted to Congress for approval, the administration for the first time announced it would grant social security benefits to all married same-sex couples in the U.S., regardless of whether couples live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage. The announcement comes as a major shift in policy from the White House. In the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor, the Social Security Administration stated it would only grant social security benefits to same-sex couples who reside in states that recognize marriage equality. From The Huffington Post:

”This means that for a couple that marries in one state where same-sex marriage is recognized and then moves to another state where it is not, the protection that Social Security spousal benefits provides to families is unavailable," says the budget proposal, which was released Monday. "Under this proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits.” […]

“[Obama's] proposal to ensure equal Social Security benefits would fix a crucial gap in federal protections for same-sex couples," said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. "President Obama's leadership in helping bring the freedom to marry to all Americans will be a shining part of this president's legacy."

"Of course," he added, "the only way to ensure same-sex couples nationwide have all the protections of marriage is for the Supreme Court to put the country on the right side of history by ending marriage discrimination throughout the United States, leaving no family and no state behind."

Obama Praises Robbie Rogers for 'Blazing Trail' as Out Gay Player at L.A. Galaxy White House Visit: VIDEO


President Obama hosted the 2014 Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings and the 2014 Major League Soccer champion L.A. Galaxy at the White House today. After praising the teams and their accomplishments, Obama took a moment to offer a shout-out to Robbie Rogers:

"I want to recognize what Robbie Rogers of the Galaxy has done for a lot of people by blazing a trail as one of professional sports' first openly gay players. My guess is that as an athlete Robbie wants to win, first and foremost. That's what competition is all about. But Robbie, you've also inspired a whole lot of folks here and around the world and we're very proud of you."

Said Rogers following the ceremony: "I wasn't expecting it...I'll never forget it. I've already texted my mom about it."

Watch the shout-out and interview with Rogers afterward, AFTER THE JUMP...


Rogers posted a photo on Instagram earlier in the day, writing: "Lovely little visit to The White House w/ my boys @LAGalaxy"


Continue reading "Obama Praises Robbie Rogers for 'Blazing Trail' as Out Gay Player at L.A. Galaxy White House Visit: VIDEO" »

White House Petition for 'Leelah's Law' Banning Conversion Therapy Reaches 100,000 Goal

A petition on that seeks to ban "conversion therapy" for LGBTQ minors has reached the 100,000 signature goal ahead of its February 2 deadline.

From the petition:

AlcornOn Sunday, December 27, 2014, Leelah Alcorn a 17 year old transgender youth wrote a suicide note, posted it on Tumblr and then walked in front of a semi-truck tragically ending her life. Leelah explained how her parents had forced her to attend conversion therapy, pulled her out of school and isolated her in an attempt to change her gender identity. 'Conversion therapies' have been documented to cause great harms and in this case, Leelah's death. Therapists that engage in the attempt to brainwash or reverse any child's gender identity or sexual orientation are seriously unethical and legislation is needed to end such practices that are resulting in LGBTQ+ deaths. We respectfully seek your help to ban the practice known as 'conversion therapy' and name the bill in honor of Leelah Alcorn.

The petition currently sits at a little over 105,000 signatures. Petitions that meet the signature threshold will be reviewed by the Obama Administration and receive an official response.  

Dalai Lama, President Obama to Attend National Prayer Breakfast Sponsored by Anti-gay Group 'The Family'

The-Dalai-LamaThe Dalai Lama is scheduled to attend this year's National Prayer Breakfast on February 5 alongside President Obama - an event hosted by The Fellowship Foundation, a conservative Christian organization more widely known as "The Family." TIME reports this is the first time the two will make a joint public appearance. 

As we've reported previously, "The Family" has strong ties to anti-gay African leaders, specifically Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati, sponsor of the infamous so-called "kill the gays" bill.

In the past, LGBT activist group GetEQUAL has protested outside the event. No word yet on if they plan on protesting this year. 

The Dalai Lama, considered in Tibetan Buddhism to be the 14th incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, a being who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, said last year he was okay with the idea of gay marriage


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