Mayor of Lubbock, Texas, Calls HRC Report 'Completely Bogus' After City Receives A Zero On Gay Rights
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.
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?
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Officials in the small Polish town of Tuszyn have nixed a plan to have Winnie-the-Pooh used at a local playground over concerns that the bear is an "inappropriate hermaphrodite" with "dubious sexuality."
Croatian Times reports:
Councillor Ryszard Cichy, 46, said: "The problem with that bear is it doesn’t have a complete wardrobe.
"It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children."
He then suggested a Polish fictional bear, saying: "Ours is dressed from head to toe, unlike Pooh who is only dressed from the waist up."
The meeting, which was recorded by one of the councillors and leaked to local press, then turned on Winnie-the-Pooh’s sexuality.
One official is heard saying: "It doesn’t wear underpants because it doesn’t have a sex. It’s a hermaphrodite."
Councillor Hanna Jachimska then began criticising the Winnie-the-Pooh author Alan Alexander Milne.
She said: "This is very disturbing but can you imagine! The author was over 60 and cut his [Pooh's] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity."
No words...Sphere: Related Content
The Queen Bey goes for the low budget "homemade video" route for her latest single "7/11" off the upcoming Platinum Edition of her self-titled album.
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Bill Maher Takes a Crack at Kirk Cameron's 'Saving Christmas' with a Three Point Holiday Plan of His Own: VIDEO
Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas (which is still bombing over at Rotten Tomatoes) was the subject of Bill Maher's final New Rule on the season finale of Real Time.
In the segment, Bill lays out his own plan to "save Christmas" - explaining that to him, the holiday has always been about families and memories (and the looks on the carolers faces when he sets the dogs on them).
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Todrick Hall (of Cinderoncé, The Wizard of Aahs, and Mean Boyz fame) is back with a gay parody of Pitch Perfect - with Hall's version featuring acapella team "The Bottom Notes" and a guest appearance by Chelsea Lately's Fortune Feimster.
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A Galveston County, Texas, commissioner says offering retirement benefits to the same-sex spouses of employees could lead to "the decline of the empire."
Republican County Commissioner Ken Clark (above) made the comments during a meeting of the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). Clark serves on the board of the H-GAC, an intergovernmental planning agency made up of 13 member counties and more than member 100 cities in Southeast Texas.
The H-GAC recently received a notice from the IRS stating that, due to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, H-GAC must begin offering equal 401(k) benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in other states, or lose the tax-qualified status of its retirement fund.
The H-GAC's attorneys and a budget committee recommended complying with the IRS notice and offering retirement benefits to same-sex spouses legally married in other states. But Clark and others on the H-GAC board are apparently willing to risk losing the tax-qualified status — a decision that would affect the 401(k) plans of all 241 of its employees — to avoid offering the benefits, which they say would violate Texas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
When the issue was discussed at an H-GAC board meeting on Oct. 21, Clark said:
“This is how the decline of the empire happens is we acquiesce to these sort of items little by little and it desensitizes us to it. At some point we’re gonna have to stand up and on this issue I choose to stand up to this because this is not, this is not appropriate for them to hold our employees hostage. And, if they choose to disqualify our plan, it will become a national issue. The American people, in my opinion, are not willing to let this come in incrementally the way this is happening, so that’s where I'm at on this issue.”
Listen to audio from the meeting here.
The scary thing is that a majority of Clark's fellow H-GAC board members went along with him, agreeing to table the item until their November meeting. The anti-gay Houston Area Pastor Council, which is also fighting same-sex benefits in Houston, then distributed an email to its members, in which Clark wrote:
"If we, as freemen, do not draw the line here against the political correctness, moral decline, and government fiat in this country, our children will inherit the bonds of moral slavery. What will you say when they ask; What did you do? Why did you not stand? If you wish to stand and voice your opinion on this matter, you may attend the next meeting and do just that."
Several members of the public spoke against same-sex retirement benefits at H-GAC's Nov. 18 montly meeting, where the board announced it was again tabling the issue. Which prompted both the Houston Area Pastor Council and the anti-gay group Texas Values to declare a victory:
“Thankfully some leaders in the Houston-area are starting to recognize that they must follow Texas law on marriage,” said Jonathan Saenz, attorney and president of Texas Values. “That’s encouraging, but Houston Mayor Annise Parker still thinks she’s above the law, and her violations of federal and state law are doing more damage to the Houston people every day,” concluded Saenz.
H-GAC has until Dec.31 to comply with the new IRS policy or lose the tax-qualified status. Stay tuned.Sphere: Related Content