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HRC Publishes 114th Congress Anti-gay 'Faces of Inequality'

Inequality

The Human Rights Campaign has published a listing of six of the 114th Congress’s most ardently anti-LGBT members. The six Republicans featured in the “Faces of Inequality” hail from a wide range of different professional backgrounds, but their track records regarding gay marriage, ENDA, and anti-bullying legislation are all exactly what you would expect:

  • Jody Hice (R-GA): compared marriage equality to bestiality and incest, and said “The concept of ‘love’ is not the issue when it comes to marriage!”

  • Glenn Grothman (R-WI): promised to be “an outspoken” opponent of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) because it gives “preferences” to LGBT employees.

  • Tom Emmer (R-MN): said he would not sign anti-bullying legislation to promote safe schools because “I don’t want the government doing that for us.”

  • Cresent Hardy (R-NV): was one of only 13 lawmakers who voted against Nevada’s bill banning housing and job discrimination against transgender people.

  • Mike Bost (R-IL): opposed any form of relationship recognition for same-sex couples, saying, “I didn’t vote for civil unions and I won’t be voting for gay marriages.”

  • Thom Tillis (R-NC): has continued his fight against marriage equality in North Carolina, hiring a rabidly anti-LGBT activist attorney from the fanatical anti-equality National Organization for Marriage.

Check out the full list here.


Gay-Rights Rivalry: As Dallas Celebrates Higher HRC Score, Fort Worth Aims To Get Back On Top

RainbowLounge

Anyone who's lived in the D-FW Metroplex knows there's sometimes a fierce rivalry between Dallas and Fort Worth — and in recent years this has extended to the realm of LGBT equality. 

Following the infamous police raid on the Rainbow Lounge gay bar in 2009 (above), Fort Worth advanced several LGBT initiatives that resulted in the smaller, more conservative city receiving a higher score than Dallas on the Human Rights Campaign's first two editions of the Municipal Equality Index. 

But this year, Dallas jumped back on top, receiving a 91 on the MEI compared to Fort Worth's 83.  

One thing that hurt Fort Worth's score this year was the unexplained disappearance of LGBT issues from the city's official federal legislative agenda, even though they'd been included following the Rainbow Lounge raid. 

HendersonOn Tuesday night, the Fort Worth City Council rectified that problem, unanimously approving a resolution placing support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act on its legislative agenda for this year. Given that ENDA seems largely dead, we're assuming the resolution will mean support for a comprehensive federal civil rights bill — which would roughly mirror Fort Worth's existing nondiscrimination ordinance. 

From The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The federal legislative agenda came up for a council vote on Dec. 9, but [City Councilwoman Ann] Zadeh made the motion to delay approving it after David Mack Henderson (right), president of Fairness Fort Worth, told her that legislation seeking nondiscrimination laws for the LGBT community was not on the agenda.

“We are just asking for what we already had,” Henderson said.

“We had been frustrated that it fell of the radar, though I’m told that it wasn’t intentional. Still, any constituency wants to know that they matter, and we do. Fort Worth and other major cities in Texas are best represented with legislative packets that put our best foot forward and are progressive both for our citizens and for economic development.”

Zadeh said she would like to see the nondiscrimination legislation added the city’s agenda for the Texas legislative session, which begins next week.

KingstonMeanwhile, on the other side of the Metroplex, Dallas was celebrating a 10-point increase in its MEI score this week, which allowed it to jump both Fort Worth and San Antonio and put Big D second behind only Austin (100) in Texas. 
 

In March, the City Council passed a resolution supporting equal rights for city employees, citizens and visitors and committing to address any unequal treatment of LGBT people. The city’s Human Resources department updated its plan to play for transgender psychotherapy and hormone replacement.

In May, the city updated its Family Medical Leave Act ordinance to allow care of a “designated care recipient” as a reason to utilize it. In June, the Dallas Public Library sponsored LGBT programs and a designated book section, which brought the city points for the “visibility” of its LGBT efforts.

City Council members on the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee Monday praised city employees for prioritizing the work.

“Staff has taken the ball and run with it so well,” Philip Kingston (right) said. “When you see an outstanding effort like this, you can tell people really bought into the idea.” 


Saks Fifth Avenue Shockingly Claims It Has A Right To Discriminate Against Transgender Employees

  LeythJamal

Saks Fifth Avenue received a score of 90 on the Human Rights Campaign's most recent Corporate Equality Index. 

But attorneys for a former employee who's suing the department store chain say it isn't living up to that score. 

Transgender woman Leyth O. Jamal (above), a former sales associate for Saks Fifth Avenue at Houston's Galleria mall, filed a lawsuit in September against the company, alleging wrongful termination based on sex in violation of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, in addition to a hostile work environment, retaliation and breach of contract.

In court filings responding to Jamal's lawsuit, attorneys for Saks shockingly allege that Jamal isn't protected against discrimination under Title VII. The court filings also misgender Jamal and argue that Saks isn't bound by the nondiscrimination policy in its employee handbook, which includes gender identity. 

Weiss

Attorney Jillian T. Weiss (right), co-counsel for Jamal, said in a statement that Saks is essentially claiming that “transgender people shouldn’t have protection from discrimination in the workplace.”

“Saks is touting its high score on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, including its gender identity protections, and then arguing that its trans employees aren't entitled to expect it to deliver on that promise," Weiss said.

In a landmark 2012 ruling, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that job bias against transgender workers qualifies as sex discrimination under Title VII. And earlier this year, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the U.S. Justice Department is taking the position that transgender employees are protected under Title VII. 

However, in a motion responding to Jamal's lawsuit, an attorney for Saks wrote: 

"Plaintiff’s claims should be dismissed in whole or in part for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Plaintiff’s sexual orientation and/or his sexual identity issues and/or his “gender identity” and/or his gender expression” and/or his alleged disability are not protected categories under Title VII." 

In a subsequent motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Saks argued:  

"Plaintiff’s discrimination and harassment claims fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because transsexuals are not a protected class under Title VII."

In her lawsuit, Jamal alleges she was forced to use the men's restroom while working at Saks. The lawsuit also alleges Jamal was told by a manager to have a more masculine appearance, and not to wear makeup or feminine-style clothing. Meanwhile, one co-worker called Jamal a prostitute and threatened physical violence against her. 

In July 2012, Jamal filed an EEOC complaint, alleging discrimination based on gender. Ten days later, she was fired, prompting her to amend the complaint to include a charge of retaliation.

Several of Jamal's co-workers corroborated her claims, and the EECO concluded:   

“Based upon the evidence, the Commission concludes that Charging Party was subjected to intimidation and harassment based on sex (male), and because of failure to conform to stereotypical male behavior in the workplace, in violation of Title VII. Further, the Commission concludes that Respondent has an unlawful policy or practice which denies employees access to restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, in violation of Title VII.”

After conciliation through EEOC failed, Jamal filed the lawsuit. 

In its response, Saks denies many of Jamal's allegations, but admits she was required to use the men's restroom. 

Read the court documents, and watch a report from Click2Houston.com, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Saks Fifth Avenue Shockingly Claims It Has A Right To Discriminate Against Transgender Employees " »


U.S. Drops The Gambia From Popular Trade Agreement Over Increasing Unjust Treatment Of LGBT People

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On Tuesday the U.S. dropped The Gambia from a popular free trade agreement, the African Growth and Opportunity Act of 2000, in response to the country's crackdown on LGBT rights and other human rights concerns reports BuzzFeedThe decision comes after The Gambia announced that three men would be put on trial for homosexuality; the three men are the first to face trial since police began arresting people on allegations of homosexuality in November. Currently 16 others are held in detention, leaving Gambian human rights activists unsure if the captives are even still alive. Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House, emailed BuzzFeed regarding the situation.

Said Price:

"The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has been monitoring the human rights situation in The Gambia for the past few years, with deepening concerns about the lack of progress with respect to human rights, rule of law, political pluralism, and the right to due process.

"In addition, in October, Gambian President Jammeh signed into law legislation that further restricts the rights of LGBT individuals, including life imprisonment for so-called ‘aggravated homosexuality.’ Reports have surfaced of arrests, detention, and torture of individuals because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity."

Gambian human rights activists secured meetings with high-ranking U.S. officials after several unsuccessful years trying to get the State Department to respond to the terrible human rights record of President Yahya Jammeh. With the help of the Human Rights Campaign, activists believe the Obama administration is finally regarding them as a force in influencing U.S. foreign policy.

The meeting earlier this month that was held with Gambian human rights activists and White House officials was the first time they met with someone from the State Department regarding Jammeh's human rights record. Under the AGOA trade agreement, The Gambia was exporting an estimated $37 million in goods to the U.S. each year, duty-free. The U.S. essentially expelled The Gambia from the special trade status. This marks the first significant time the U.S. revoked trade status with an African nation, except when a government was overthrown in a coup according to statements from Jeffrey Smith, the advocacy officer with the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. Sudan was also dropped from the agreement for refusing to move toward peaceful solutions however, the country does not have any significant trade between itself and the U.S. 


HRC Publishes Its Tone-Deaf, Annual Corporate Equality Index

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It’s the most listicle time of the year, which is to say that it’s the holiday season and publications across the internet are putting out end of the year lists (we’ve got a couple of great ones here, here, and here.) Never one to miss out on a party, the Human Rights Campaign has published its annual Corporate Equality Index, a roundup of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

One might assume, given the somewhat odd naming, that the list would focus on companies working to further LGBT equality. One would be wrong. Rather, the CEI is a choice selection of large companies with fairly strict non-discrimination policies on the books. The problem, as Jordan Krueger explains in the Huffington Post, is that the index is more or less an exercise in tone deaf corporate nonsense:

“There's no consideration of the larger picture of a corporation's actions, its misdeeds, or how working for a company on this list oftentimes means working directly for, or closely with, enemies of equality.”

Abercrombie & Fitch, Comcast, and Chevron all made the list. It doesn’t take the most media-conscious person to know that none of these companies has the strongest of track records when it comes to being objectively “good.”


Apple CEO Tim Cook Makes 'Substantial' Contribution To HRC Campaign Targeting His Home State Of Alabama

Six weeks after coming out publicly, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a "substantial" contribution to a campaign aimed at bringing LGBT equality to his home state of Alabama. 

Cook.TimThe Human Rights Campaign announced Cook's contribution Thursday to its Project One America, an $8.5 million, three-year effort targeting Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Cook grew up in South Alabama and attended Auburn University. 

The Associated Press reports: 

The amount of Cook's contribution to the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign wasn't disclosed, but the advocacy organization called it "substantial." ... 

The campaign includes advertising on TV and elsewhere, direct-mail fliers and staff members hired in each state.

"We hope Tim Cook's substantial personal investment inspires others to support this vital and historic project," Jason Rahlan, a spokesman for Human Rights Campaign, said in an email.

President Chad Griffin wrote on HRC's blog

When Tim first learned about HRC's Project One America – our bold, comprehensive campaign to dramatically advance equality for LGBT Americans in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi – he said, “I'm in.” Thanks to his generous personal financial investment in the program, together we will move the needle forward at the local and state level, tearing down misperceptions and providing concrete protections for those who need it most.

Shortly before coming out, Cook delivered a speech in Montgomery in which he said Alabama was moving "too slow on equality for the LGBT community." The state's only openly gay lawmaker recently announced she plans to name a nondiscrimination bill after Cook in the upcoming legislative session. 

Cook, who heads the world's largest corporation, is the only openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company. 

RedIn related news, Cook announced in an email to employees that Apple's Product (RED) holiday campaign raised over $20 million for AIDS research, Business Insider reports: 

"I’m thrilled to announce that our total donation for this quarter will be more than $20 million — our biggest ever — bringing the total amount Apple has raised for (PRODUCT) RED to over $100 million. The money we’ve raised is saving lives and bringing hope to people in need. It’s a cause we can all be proud to support," Cook wrote. 

Watch a video for HRC's Project America campaign in Alabama, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Apple CEO Tim Cook Makes 'Substantial' Contribution To HRC Campaign Targeting His Home State Of Alabama" »


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