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Thomas Roberts Counts Down the Top 5 LGBT Stories of the Week: VIDEO

Roberts

MSNBC's Thomas Roberts counts down the 5 biggest LGBT stories of the week, including country music singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman coming out as gay and marriage equality arriving in Montana and South Carolina. 

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Mayor of Lubbock, Texas, Calls HRC Report 'Completely Bogus' After City Receives A Zero On Gay Rights

Robertson

Of the five cities nationwide, out of 353 rated, that received zeros on the Human Rights Campaign's 2014 Municipal Equality Index, four are in Texas, and one is Lubbock. 

But the mayor of Lubbock — a city of 240,000 in West Texas that is home to Texas Tech University — isn't the least bit happy about the score.

From The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Mayor Glen Robertson said no one from the HRC contacted his office, the city managers’ office or the head of human resources. The holes in their research, he said, makes the entire report “completely bogus.”

“This survey is not, in my opinion, designed to get facts. This survey is designed to create problems that aren’t there,” he said.

The report alleges Lubbock has no ordinances in place that protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Robertson said these issues are covered by federal and state laws. 

Needless to say, Robertson is dead wrong: Neither state nor federal law contains explicit protections against anti-LGBT employment discrimination. But Lubbock Mayor Pro Tem Karen Gibson has Robertson's back:  

“It’s not that we don’t include anyone. We include everyone,” Gibson said. “Are they wanting us to reach out to the gay and lesbian community specifically? Because in my opinion, that is discrimination. We don’t reach out to Asians or reach out to blacks, we reach out to everyone.”

Last I checked, Asians and blacks were protected against discriminatoin under state and federal law, and they can get married in Texas, which qualifies their spouses for city benefits. 

The story focuses on how the atmosphere for gay people in Lubbock has improved from 20 years ago. For example, they no longer have to worry about getting jumped leaving bars or hide the locations of their meetings: 

“The community as a whole — the actual living citizens that make up the city of Lubbock — has come a long way and does not warrant this,” said Tony Thornton, president of the Lubbock chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

Hell, Texas Tech even hosts an annual drag show fundraiser, according to the article, whereas drag queens only used to feel safe going out on Halloween. Doesn't that count for something?!

Actually, no, because the HRC survey doesn't claim to measure intangibles like overall quailty of life. It doesn't factor in the number of gay bars or LGBT organizations. Case in point: Houston received a 53, while Norman, Oklahoma, received a 60. Say what you want about Houston, and no offense to Norman, but as an LGBT person, where would you rather live?  

You see, folks, the HRC survey is merely a barometer of what city government has accomplished on a policy level to be LGBT-inclusive, and in the case of Lubbock, that would be a grand total of zilch. Lubbock doesn't have nondiscrimination protections for LGBT city employees, it doesn't offer domestic partner benefits, etc. 

Let's check back in with Mayor Robertson: 

Equality in Lubbock, from Robertson’s perspective, doesn’t seem to be a problem. In his two-plus years as mayor, he’s heard few complaints from the LGBT community.

“I haven’t seen it. I haven’t seen any problem. That doesn’t mean we don’t have it, but if we do, nobody’s being vocal about it,” he said. “Typically, if somebody’s being treated differently because of their gender or sexual orientation, they speak up, and I have heard nothing.”

Equality is not a problem, Robertson said, so it’s not a priority.

OK, this is getting ridiculous. Earlier this year, when Lubbock social worker Casey Stegall was fired for being gay, and it made national news, Robertson himself told this very same newspaper he was open to considering a nondiscrimination ordinance:

“If anybody brought that issue forward, I’d be open-minded and look at it," he said. 

Ultimately, though, despite his selective memory, Robertson's outrage over the goose-egg is perhaps a good thing. After all, if he were rabidly anti-LGBT, he'd be proud of the HRC score. 

Now, it's just a question of LGBT leaders talking some sense into the mayor, which is what Thornton, the PFLAG president, says he plans to try to do:  

“I think the city needs lots of work from the perspective of policy and administration in these areas,” he said. “And I want to work with the city. I want to work with the mayor and the City Council and the HR directors to fix this.”

It sounds like the biggest challenge will be convincing Robertson there's a problem to begin with. But at some point the question also becomes, even if you fix the HRC score, can you ever really fix Lubbock?  

 


LGBT Groups Remain 'Deeply' Dissatisfied with President Obama's Immigration Order

Obama

President Obama's announced executive action to provide temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants was met with lukewarm reception from LGBT rights groups concerned the proposal leaves out a disproportionate number of undocumented LGBT immigrants. 

Said Francisco Dueñas, Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Proyecto Igualdad at Lambda Legal:

"While we praise President Obama’s efforts to do what is in his executive power to improve immigration, we are deeply disappointed that his plan unfairly excludes many members of the LGBT community.  President Obama’s plan allows immigrants who have children who are citizens or  lawful permanent residents to obtain legal work documents and temporarily be protected from deportation. 
 
"We urge President Obama to undertake reforms that are more LGBT-inclusive, such as recognizing length of residency as a stand-alone qualification. Thousands of LGBT immigrants, many who have fled countries where LGBT people are unprotected and subjected to horrific abuse and violence, have been waiting for humane immigration reform for years due to Congressional inaction and cannot afford to wait any longer.

In a separate statement, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Policy Director Maya Rupert said that while she welcomed this "first step" towards ending the country's "broken and discriminatory" immigration system, more can be done to ensure the system is "inclusive and humane for all."

Said Rupert:

ImmigrationLGBT families are less likely to have legally recognized or biological relationships with each other, and thus relief based wholly on familial ties will exclude too many LGBT families. In addition, many of the restrictions requiring consistent employment and limiting access for people with non-violent criminal histories will disproportionately impact LGBT immigrants, especially in the transgender community.”


International Olympic Committee Proposes End To Anti-Gay Discrimination - READ

Sochi

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced a proposal to include sexual orientation in the non-discrimination language in Principle 6 of the Olympic Charter, reports The Advocate.

The IOC received criticism from LGBT advocacy groups for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, given the country’s national law against “gay propaganda”. During the the games, the IOC appeared to defend the arrests and beating of LGBT activists.

Principle 6 currently states:

“Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.”

Supporting the proposal, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said:

“No athlete or fan should face fear of discrimination because of who they love. The International Olympic Committee must seize this opportunity to protect Olympic attendees and affirm its commitment to equality across the globe.”

The IOC will vote on this and 39 other proposed amendments in December.

Read the full report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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NOM Is Near Death: HRC Reports Lack Of Funding And Support Crippling The Organization

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 1.12.17 PMThe Human Rights Campaign issued a press release today that contained results from a study they conducted on the National Organization for Marriage's funding and found the organization is rapidly losing support. HRC examined NOM's tax filings from 2013 and found that the organization's funding for the year dropped a whopping 50 percent from 2012, raising only $5.1 million in funds this year. Only two donors account for donating half of those funds alone, which indicates NOM's support base merely consists of a very few wealthy people and a minuscule amount of the general public.

The NOM Education Fund also dropped nearly $3.5 million in funding; a drop of almost 70 percent since the previous year. NOM ended the year more than $2.5 million in debt. Fred Sainz, the HRC Vice President of Communications, urges NOM to give up the ghost already.

Said Sainz:

“If I were Brian Brown, I’d be worried that my two or three mega-donors are soon going to come to terms with the fact that they’d largely be better off flushing money down the toilet.  Americans certainly aren’t buying what NOM is selling, and it’s only a matter of time before the trickle of money keeping the lights on at NOM HQ dries up.”

NOM fought to keep their 2013 990s secret however, HRC made an in-person request for the public financial documents on Monday morning and again Tuesday – in both instances, NOM didn't produce the documents. Federal law requires organizations to publicly release their 990s the same day an in-person request is made. HRC filed a complaint with the IRS in order to force NOM to abide by the law. 

Within the last year NOM suffered crippling blows to its core purpose and mission with the number of states allowing gay marriage jumping from 15 to 33 states, with 62 percent of the nation's population living in states that allow same-sex marriage. Both Democratic and Republican appointed judges are striking down marriage bans and the Supreme Court of the United States judges decreed that federal court rulings granting marriage rights to same-sex couples to become the law of the land in 11 states in the last two years: California, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Recent poll results show that NOM’s radical and exclusionary brand of anti-LGBT rhetoric is falling on deaf ears. An HRC survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted June 6-10 this year by Republican pollster Alex Lundry of TargetPoint Consulting, found that the number of Americans strongly opposed to national marriage equality dropped to 28 percent. Of the people polled, only three percent would challenge the Supreme Court of the United States judges if they struck down marriage bans across the country.

NOM President Brian Brown, realizing his organization is becoming obsolete in the states, took his rhetoric to Russia to support a bill – now law – banning the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples or parents living in countries where marriage equality is legal. Although Brown would experience success in Russia, NOM's death knell is ringing loud and clear here in the states, but the organization continues to shuffle on like an undead zombie; aimless and spouting incoherent nonsense. 


Kansas Supreme Court Clears Way For Same-Sex Marriage In At Least One More County

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb07a7cca5970d-250wiEarlier today, we told you about the chaos and confusion that pervades the state of Kansas on the question of the legality of same-sex marriage. Now, a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court has this evening further complicated matters, clearing the way for same-sex marriage in Johnson County but not necessarily the rest of the state. Just exactly how far reaching the court's ruling will be depends largely on how judges throughout the state will interpret it. From the Kansas City Star:

The decision means Johnson County will join a handful of Kansas jurisdictions where marriage licenses can be issued to same-sex couples. At least two such couples are expected to seek the licenses Wednesday, supporters of same-sex marriage said.

But the ruling eventually might be expanded beyond Johnson County. The court said other Kansas judges were free to reach the same conclusion as [Judge] Moriarty [who in October authorized the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Kansas] — language that might convince other judges to order the licenses in their courthouses...

The Kansas Supreme Court did not determine whether the Kansas ban on same-sex marriages is constitutional. Instead, the court said it wouldn't decide until after the U.S. Supreme Court settles the issue.

You can read the court's order HERE


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