Kansas Senate Comes To It’s Senses And Nixes Extreme Anti-Gay (Jim Crow) Legislation [politicususa.net]

kansassealBy: Justin Baragona / politicususa.net
The Kansas Senate decided on Friday that they would kill the legislation that was passed earlier this week by the state’s House of Representatives. The bill, known as House Bill 2453,would have opened the door to widespread segregation and discrimination of those in the LGBT community. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives, which is overwhelmingly Republican, passed the bill with ease by a vote of 72-49. It was assumed that with a large majority in the state’s Senate and the extremely conservative Sam Brownback as Governor, the legislation was going to fly through and become law.

Well, something happened along the way. Perhaps it was the fact that the law made national headlines and had a lot of blowback. Or maybe it was due to what Andrew Sullivan wrote on Friday regarding what the law would do for the LGBT community. In his column, Sullivan accurately noted that passing a law that so blatantly discriminates gays and treats them like second-class citizens would inevitably be the death knell for the religious right in its attempt to prevent the advancement of gay rights.

Basically, by going forward with this, the gay community could rightly point to this law and compare it to the Jim Crow laws of the South. It also would have an avalanche effect on the GOP, as young voters would be turned off by them for good due to their penchant for bigotry. Sullivan nailed it with the following paragraph:

If the Republican Party wanted to demonstrate that it wants no votes from anyone under 40, it couldn’t have found a better way to do it. Some critics have reacted to this law with the view that it is an outrageous new version of Jim Crow and a terrifying portent of the future for gays in some red states. It is both of those. It’s the kind of law that Vladimir Putin would enthusiastically support. But it is also, to my mind, a fatal mis-step for the movement to keep gay citizens in a marginalized, stigmatized place.

Transgender woman wins landmark employment discrimination suit [salon.com]

In a historic first, the federal government has ruled in favor of a transgender woman in a work harassment case


The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was verbally and physically harassed at her job with a federal contractor in Maryland. The court ruled that the woman’s supervisors created a hostile work environment by failing to intervene after being informed of the harassment, in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The ruling is a historic first, advocates say.

“We applaud the EEOC for conducting such a thorough investigation and interviewing so many witnesses to the anti-transgender harassment,” Tico Almeida, president of the LGBT organization Freedom to Work, told the Advocate. “Coming just a few months after the EEOC issued its historic decision that transgender people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the EEOC’s reasonable cause determination in this case is, to our knowledge, the first time in history that the EEOC has investigated allegations of anti-transgender harassment and ruled for the transgender employee. This case shows that the EEOC takes very seriously its role in protecting LGBT Americans’ freedom to work.”

The details of the first case have been kept confidential as part of the settlement.

Another case, adjudicated around the same time, is also a major victory for transgender rights.

That case, known as Macy v. Holder, was initiated after the plaintiff, Mia Macy, was denied a job with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives after she came out as transgender.

More from the Washington Blade:

After applying for the job, Macy was told in January 2011 that she would receive a position at the laboratory. But after she disclosed in March 2011 she would transition from male to female, the contractor informed Macy the position was cut. Later, she was told someone else was awarded the job.

The 51-page decision — which was signed by Complaint Adjudication Officer Mark Gross and Complaint Adjudication Office Attorney Carl Taylor — lays out several terms for relief in the Macy case.

First, the Justice Department says ATF within 60 days of the decision must offer Macy that job she was seeking at the Walnut Creek factory and award her back pay and benefits — with interest — for the period between April 2011 to January 2012.

Additionally, the Justice Department says ATF must take corrective action to ensure future discrimination never occurs again; award Macy compensatory damages for any injuries she may have received; refund Macy her attorney’s fees; and post a notice within 30 days consistent with employment law.

“I never thought in my life that it would be over, but to have it not only be over but to have them say, ‘Yes, unfortunately, your civil rights were violated. They did do this.’ To have that vindication, it’s surreal,” Macy told BuzzFeed in a comment on the victory.

Greg Nevins, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, says these cases demonstrate the importance of federal protections for LGBT workers, as he told the Blade: “We need action by the 113th Congress to pass the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, and even more immediately, President Obama should sign the executive order banning LGBT discrimination by companies that profit from federal contracts,” Nevins said. “That executive order should have broad support across the political spectrum, since federal dollars should neither fund discrimination nor go to employers whose personnel and productivity suffer because discrimination and harassment are tolerated.”


Iowa Still Believes Women Can Be Fired For Being Too Attractive [gawker.com]

by Max Rivlan Nader / gawker.com

A few months ago, the Iowa Supreme Court made the surprising decision that women can be fired from their jobs for being too attractive, regardless if they’ve engaged in activity that compromises their job performance.

Melissa Nelson, a thirty-three year old dental assistant from Fort Dodge, was fired after the dentist she worked for, Dr. James Knight, believed that she was too tempting to be kept around the office, lest he decide to sleep with her. Because Nelson would be totally into it, obviously.

After filing an appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision, Nelson was once again rebuffed by the all-male bench, which found “that bosses can fire employees that they and their spouses see as threats to their marriages.”

The court found that Nelson was legally fired “because of the activities of her consensual personal relationship.” These activities included text messages between her and her employer that were not found to be flirtatious or leading in any way.

So, beautiful employees of Iowa beware! You can totally be fired for just looking like your aesthetically pleasing selves.


Sundance 2013: Anita Hill takes her story to film in new documentary [denverpost.com]

by Ben Fulton, The Salt Lake Tribune

Resplendent in gold jewelry and black-brown ensemble, Anita Hill is having far more fun during this year’s Sundance Film Festival than she did 22 years ago in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I can never go back to the person I was at that moment,” Hill said during a brief interview inside a lounge on Park City’s Main Street. “We grow. We develop. We move on. Hopefully, we evolve into that person we want to be.”

Today a professor of law, social policy and women’s studies at Brandeis University, Hill speaks tirelessly on behalf of women’s equality.

At the same time, she knows her name will forever be tied to those October days in 1991. That’s when as a young, soft-spoken law professor she stunned the nation with graphic testimony against then-Supreme Court justice nominee Clarence Thomas, bringing the issue of sexual harassment out of the workplace and into the public arena.

Hill turned down past offers to have her story told on film. In Freida Mock, Academy Award-wining director of “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision,” Hill said she at last found a filmmaking voice she knew she could trust. “You feel really flattered when someone as accomplished as she is approaches you,” Hill said.

“Anita,” which Mock said she appropriately began shooting three years ago on Martin Luther King Day, reminds audiences that, behind every brave face going public, the personal story informing their decision is never far behind.

The film, which received its world premiere Saturday at Park City’s Marc theater, walks back into time to tell the story of Hill’s rural Oklahoma upbringing. The youngest of 13 children, her parents raised her under the saying familiar to many black children, “You’ve got to be twice as good to get half as much.” The Yale Law School student who graduated with honors in 1980, and was admitted to the District of Columbia Bar that same year, did not disappoint.

“When people ask how I got my courage I say, ‘You can start there [with my family], particularly with my mother,’ ” Hill said.

Click to read the rest of the story…

Click here to view video interview…

Michigan House Passes Anti-Gay ‘License To Condemn’ Counseling Bill [thinkprogress.org]

by Zack Ford / thinkprogress.org

At question in Michigan is whether or not a Christian counseling student should be required to provide support to gay clients in violation of their religious beliefs. This week, the Michigan House passed HB 5040, the “Julea Ward Freedom Of Conscience Act,” which gives college students a pass from providing any kind of counseling that compromises their religious beliefs, including affirming gay clients:

A public degree or certificate granting college, university, junior college, or community college of this state shall not discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services.

Julea Ward’s story doesn’t hold much merit for the issue at stake. She sued Eastern Michigan University after she was kicked out of her counseling graduate program — she refused to affirm a client’s gay orientation because it “goes against what the Bible says.” A federal district court judge dismissed her suit, ruling that the university “had a right and duty” to enforce the professional ethic rules that dictate its counseling accreditation. He added that Ward’s dismissal “was entirely due” to her “refusal to change her behavior” rather than her beliefs. The 11th Circuit similarly ruled against Jennifer Keeton, who experienced a similar situation at Augusta State University in Georgia, stating that “counselors must refrain from imposing their moral and religious values on their clients.”

By advancing this legislation, Michigan lawmakers are essentially attempting to circumvent — if not dictate — counseling ethical standards. While it’s very true that in a professional setting, a Christian counselor could defer a gay client to another counselor, there’s no guarantee that they will. Even the very act of deferring could add to the stigma and harm the client is already experiencing, let alone the potential that harmful ex-gay therapy might be offered instead. The ethical standards exist for a reason, and should HB 5040 become law, it would compromise the integrity of all counseling programs in the state of Michigan.

As activist Wayne Besen pointed when the legislation was first introduced, “counseling should be about the client, not the self-serving needs of the therapist.” But Michigan lawmakers have made clear this year how little concern they have for gay citizens. In December, they banned all domestic partnerships, and in November, they almost created a “license to bully” in schools. Through it all, Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has refused to even meet with LGBT press outlets.


Man tells senators transgendered people ‘lose their careers’ [latimes.com]

by Jamie Goldberg / latimes.com

WASHINGTON — When Kylar Broadus told his employer he would be making a gender transition from a woman to a man, he was harassed and ultimately forced out of his well-paying job at a financial institution, he said. It took him a year to find other employment.

“People lose their careers. It’s over when people find out you’re transgender,” said Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, who some senators said was the first openly transgender person to testify before theU.S. Senateon Tuesday.

Following a letter from Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions reopened discussion on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit nonreligious employers with at least 15 employees from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Forty-two percent of homosexuals and bisexuals reported employment discrimination because of their sexual orientation, according to the 2008 General Social Survey, a sociological survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

Seventy-eight percent of transgender people reported harassment at work because of their gender identity, according to a 2011 report by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Among those who say they have faced discrimination are Jacqueline Gill, a temporary instructor at a community college in Texas, who was told by her supervisor that “Texas doesn’t like homosexuals” and Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman who says she was fired from her job at the Georgia General Assembly for her gender expression.

“We have decades of social science research that tell us that those stories, which are just a sample of many, are repeated in workplaces all throughout America,” testified M.V. Lee Badgett, research director for the Williams Institute. However, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has had little success in Congress. ENDA has been introduced in nearly every Congress since 1994, and in 2007 a modified version, without protections for transgender individuals, passed through the House before dying in the Senate.

While committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) expressed a commitment to seeing the bill move quickly through committee, he could not give any time frame. No Republicans attended what was supposed to be a full committee hearing.

Freedom to Work, a national organization committed to banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid(D-Nev.) on Tuesday urging him to bring the bill to the Senate floor. Freedom to Work President Tico Almeida plans to continue to press Harkin to push the bill through the committee.

Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and it is illegal in 16 states and the District of Columbia for employers to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

While Broadus finds himself lucky to be employed once again, he still hasn’t recovered financially and emotionally from the discrimination he faced.

“It will go with me to my grave,” Broadus said.