Showing posts with label Commerce and Gay Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commerce and Gay Rights. Show all posts

March 19, 2017

The New World Order as Per Canada: Trade and LGBT Rights

 In Tanzania a gay man makes the point


Michael Motala is a member of the Overseas Press Club of America, a co-author of Egale Canada’s Just Society Report, and is writing a book on the invisible forces behind Brexit. He lives in New York City.

The context of Brexit and the unforeseen shift in the Anglo-American alliance caused by the election of U.S. President Donald Trump are equal parts threat and opportunity for Canadian foreign policy.

After Prime Minister Theresa May’s imminent Article 50 notification, Britain will undoubtedly move toward reviving its Commonwealth trade ties, reminiscent of the pre-GATT era of imperial preferences. Yet the Commonwealth as an organization is burdened by a fundamental paradox in values. While 75 other Commonwealth countries still criminalize homosexual acts, Canada, the U.K. and Australia have taken steps toward dismantling anti-gay laws.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has extended his predecessor’s foreign policy platform quite effectively. However, a plus ├ža change strategy at the Commonwealth would amount to a missed opportunity, ensuring Canada fails to punch above its weight on the global stage. As Britain rapidly shifts its foreign policy priorities, Canada must act to ensure LGBT protections are at the very centre of any new Commonwealth trading regime.

In the January, 2017, report Reconnecting with the Commonwealth – which has a foreword by former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott – British MP James Cleverly and Tim Hewish, the Royal Commonwealth Society’s director of policy and research, propose such a regime. The idea appears to be gaining traction among some British policy-makers. While the authors note “free trade is not based on utility but on justice” (quoting Edmund Burke), their report is mum on human rights.

The Commonwealth is neither a club of shared values nor ideas of justice.

“Being gay in Uganda is illegal, and the most dangerous thing you can imagine,” remarked Acram Lukyamuzi Musisi, the 28-year-old Ugandan who is at the forefront of the local LGBT rights movement. He is the founder of Pride Munyonyo LGBT Resource Center in Kampala.

While Mussisi advocates for justice and equality on the ground, the number of homophobic attacks has spiked since Uganda passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Mussisi described his fear of the daily prospect of “torture and death” because Ugandan society “regards [LGBT] people as evil, ungodly and an abomination to cultural values.”

Uganda’s anti-sodomy laws, like those of other former Commonwealth realms, are rooted in Britain’s imperial history, constituting an “alien legacy” according to Human Rights Watch. In fact, “the sodomy offence,” as the retired Australian judge Michael Kirby has argued, was “England’s least lovely criminal law export.”

During his tenure as Canada’s foreign affairs minister, John Baird was a staunch critic of LGBT treatment in the Commonwealth, which misfired in Uganda despite his good intentions. Commenting on the increased attacks after the passage of anti-gay legislation, Baird said: “reports of public incitement of hatred and the violence that followed were appalling and of deep concern to Canada.”

Details of the Canadian government’s plan to implement the first steps of Egale Canada’s Just Society Report, and in particular its 20-per-cent international focus, could be a ray of light for the Grits, renowned for their fondness of “sunny ways.”

“I’m not going to sugar-coat this for anybody,” said Randy Boissonnault, MP for Edmonton Center and Trudeau’s special adviser for LGBT issues. “There’s work to be done in our own country.”

Mr. Boissonnault is tasked with leading the government’s efforts to implement the recommendations of the Just Society Report, which was published last June. Canada’s support for human rights abroad often takes place hidden from view. “When we are abroad, we have conversations,” said Mr. Boissonnault, and sometimes “we can work with civil society organizations in [a] country more easily than we can work with legislators.”

History shows us that our Commonwealth peers are unlikely to make progress through open criticism, and local activists make it clear our hidden diplomacy is fairly impotent. Should the Commonwealth evolve into a trade pact, Canada must act to ensure that membership hinges on compliance with fundamental human rights.

“Canada has a key role to play on supporting the human rights of LGBTI people globally,” said Doug Kerr, a leader of the Canadian Dignity Initiative. “We have not been at the front of this movement in the past, but it’s about time we stepped up.”


March 14, 2017

Court Clarifies that Discrimination Against Gay Workers is Not Illegal

In a setback for gay rights advocates hoping for an expansion of workplace discrimination protections, a federal appeals court in Atlanta has ruled that employers aren’t prohibited from discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled 2-1 that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on a variety of factors, doesn’t protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The case was one of two that Lambda Legal had pending before federal appeals courts — along with an Indiana case at the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago — that the LGBT rights group had hoped would mark a significant step forward for gay rights.

Jameka Evans in April 2015 sued her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, alleging that she was discriminated against and effectively forced from her job as a security guard because she is a lesbian and didn’t conform to gender norms.

Visiting Judge Jose E. Martinez wrote in the majority opinion that the court was bound by precedent set by a 1979 case that said Title VII doesn’t prohibit “discharge for homosexuality.” Other circuits have also found that sexual orientation is not a protected class under that law, Martinez wrote.

An 11th Circuit decision from 2011 said discrimination against a transgender employee because of gender non-conformity amounted to sex discrimination and was not allowed, and Evans’ attorneys argued it should also protect gays and lesbians who claimed discrimination based on their sexual orientation.

Circuit Judge William Pryor, who was a party to that opinion, argued in a concurring opinion that the transgender case, which involved a legislative aide who was fired after telling her boss she planned to undergo a gender transition, was based on behavior rather than status.

“A gay individual may establish with enough factual evidence that she experienced sex discrimination because her behavior deviated from a gender stereotype held by an employer, but our review of that claim would rest on behavior alone,” Pryor wrote.

Pryor also argued that it was up to Congress, not the courts, to declare sexual orientation a protected class.

Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum wrote in a dissenting opinion that it is time for the court to recognize that the law prohibits workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation because that is discrimination based on sex.

“Plain and simple, when a woman alleges, as Evans has, that she has been discriminated against because she is a lesbian, she necessarily alleges that she has been discriminated against because she failed to conform to the employer’s image of what women should be — specifically, that women should be sexually attracted to men only,” Rosenbaum wrote.

Evans’ lawsuit also included a claim that she was targeted because of gender-based behavior, notably dressing like a man and having a male haircut. The majority opinion said that could amount to a claim that’s not based on her sexual orientation and instructed the lower court to allow her to amend her initial lawsuit to try to bolster that claim.

In a similar case, a three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago in July upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a 2014 lawsuit filed by Kimberly Hively of South Bend, Indiana, a former part-time instructor who said Ivy Tech Community College in her hometown didn’t hire her full time because she is a lesbian.

The full 7th Circuit vacated that panel’s decision, and all 11 of the court’s judges reheard the case in November. The ruling has not yet been announced, but several of the judges seemed to signal during oral arguments that they were ready to broaden the scope of the 53-year-old civil rights law.

Lambda Legal attorneys said they plan to ask the 11th Circuit to vacate the Evans ruling and have the full 11-judge court rehear the case, like the 7th Circuit did in the Hively case.

“This is not the end of the road for us and certainly not for Jameka,” attorney Greg Nevins said in an emailed statement. “There is no way to draw a line between sexual orientation discrimination and discrimination based on gender nonconformity because not being straight is gender-nonconforming, period.”


January 6, 2017

IBM Unveils New Rainbow Logo in Solidarity with LGBT Community


IBM has unveiled a new logo that incorporates the rainbow pride flag as a show of solidarity with the LGBT community.

The logo will be used in conjunction with diversity-focused IBM programs and initiatives, BM’s Chief Diversity Officer Lindsay-Rae McIntyre said in a news release Friday. She said the new symbol is a demonstration of the company’s continued advocacy for nondiscrimination workplace policies.

“Today, I am proud to introduce a new symbol that will represent IBM’s ongoing push for diversity, acceptance, inclusion and equal opportunity — a rainbow version of our iconic 8-bar logo,” Ms. McIntyre said. “The rainbow is recognized worldwide as the symbol of LGBT equality, and we are proud to fuse it with the emblem that has represented our company for more than four decades.”

IBM said the colors of the rainbow logo were adopted from the original rainbow colors designed by artist Gilbert Baker and commissioned by gay activist Harvey Milk shortly before his assassination.

“For nearly its entire history, IBM has been a progressive leader in diversity, advocacy and innovation,” the company said. “We proudly pay tribute to Baker’s original vision in the adaptation of our corporate logo as a way to demonstrate our solidarity, support and continued commitment to the rights of the LGBT community.”

 - The Washington Times 

December 14, 2016

Exxon Was Not a Gay Friendly Company Before and During Rex Tillerson

 Rex Tillerson

 The Senate should take a hard look at ExxonMobil's record on gay rights when it considers the nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, a leading advocacy organization says.

The Human Rights Campaign, which ranks corporations on how they treat LGBTQ employees, has consistently given Exxon poor grades. Tillerson is the CEO and has worked at the company for most of his adult life.

"Rex Tillerson's nomination raises critical questions as to how a Trump administration plans to protect LGBTQ employees and contractors affiliated with the State Department, and ultimately whether it will continue American efforts to advance equality through U.S. foreign policy," HRC president Chad Griffin said in a statement.

On Tuesday, President-elect Donald Trump said he would nominate Tillerson to be the nation's top diplomat. The Senate debate over his confirmation is expected to focus on Tillerson's ties to Russia. Some Republicans have already voiced reservations.

But Exxon's history on gay rights also may come up.

When Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999, it eliminated Mobil's domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees and removed a policy preventing discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation, according to HRC. At the time, Tillerson was a senior executive responsible for the company's operations in Russia.

When the Human Rights Campaign launched its Corporate Equality Index in 2002, Exxon received a score of 14%. The survey rates companies on policies, benefits and practices for LGBTQ employees and their families.

Tillerson, now 64, became chief executive in 2006. That year, the index changed its criteria, and Exxon's score went down to 0%.

Since Tillerson took over, ExxonMobil has slowly made improvements -- though that may have more to do with federal policy changes than moral leadership.

In 2013, Exxon reintroduced health coverage for the same-sex spouses of its employees. The change came after the Treasury Department ruled that legally married same-sex couples should be considered married for federal tax purposes.

"The decision is consistent with the direction of most U.S. government agencies," ExxonMobil said in a statement at the time. "We have made no change in the definition of eligibility for our U.S. benefit plans. Spousal eligibility in our U.S. benefit plans has been and continues to be governed by the federal definition of marriage and spouse."

The company adjusted its anti-discrimination policy in 2015 to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Human Rights Campaign. That revision followed President Obama's 2014 executive order requiring federal contractors to protect LGBTQ workers against discrimination. Exxon regularly contracts with the U.S. government.

Some shareholders had been pushing since 1999 for Exxon to expand the anti-discrimination policy. New York's retirement fund for state employees filed a request every year starting in 2001.

The company consistently opposed those proposals, calling them unnecessary. Shareholders voted them down until Exxon changed its policy to conform to the executive order in 2015.

Exxon says it has always barred discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.

"ExxonMobil does not discriminate, will not discriminate, and has not discriminated against members of the LGBT community. Period," former vice president for public affairs Ken Cohen wrote in a 2014 company blog post.

The company did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

The Human Rights Campaign now gives ExxonMobil an 85% rating on its Corporate Equality Index. It's an improvement, but the company still falls behind Walmart, Chevron, Apple and the 514 other businesses that earned a 100% score in the 2017 report.

Exxon’s score was docked because its guidelines on philanthropy permit donations to non-religious organizations that discriminate against LGBTQ people, and because its anti-discrimination policy only covers LGBTQ employees in the U.S.


December 5, 2016

On Friday Walmart Became a Mammoth LGBT Rights World Leader


Until recently, Walmart was not exactly a corporate leader on LGBTQ equality, often waiting to provide benefits and protections to LGBTQ employees until the law compelled it. Today, however, the company is a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights—and on Friday, it made an immense impact on civil rights in the United States by implicitly acknowledging that anti-gay employment discrimination is already illegal under federal law.

Walmart’s contribution to gay rights emerged, ironically, out of a company-wide policy of discrimination. For years, the company provided health insurance benefits exclusively to opposite-sex spouses, refusing to extend benefits to same-sex spouses. Walmart abolished its anti-gay health insurance policy in 2014 as part of a push to shed its discriminatory image. But by that point, thousands of gay Walmart employees had been forced to pay huge sums of money to help pay their uninsured spouses’ medical bills.

Jacqueline Cote was one of these employees. In 2012, Cote’s wife, Diana Smithson, lost her health insurance and was then diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Smithson attempted to enroll in Cote’s insurance plan, but Walmart rejected her, citing its anti-gay policy. The couple eventually incurred $150,000 of uninsured medical expenses. (Smithson died in March.) Cote filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that Walmart’s policy violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination “because of sex.” The EEOC endorsed her legal theory, and Cote launched a class action lawsuit on behalf of herself and about 1,000 people who suffered from Walmart’s anti-gay insurance policy between 2011 and 2014. (A statute of limitations issue prevented the suit from reaching back further.)

Cote’s class action put her at the cutting edge of civil rights law: She alleged that anti-gay workplace discrimination is currently barred by Title VII. That allegation might sound surprising in light of congressional Democrats’ efforts to explicitly add sexual orientation discrimination to the Civil Rights Act. But the EEOC, as well as some federal courts, believe that this addition would be redundant, because Title VII bars sex discrimination, and sex discrimination encompasses sexual orientation discrimination. This argument is bolstered by three legal theories:

1. The Supreme Court has found that Title VII forbids “sex stereotyping,” mistreating an employee because she doesn’t adhere to gender norms. According to the EEOC, when an employer discriminates against an employee for being gay, he is engaging in quintessential sex stereotyping: He believes men should date women, and women should date men and is thus perturbed when a man dates a man or a woman dates a woman. But this consternation arises from a stereotypical view of how the sexes should act—a view that is invalid under Title VII.

2. The EEOC also asserts that anti-gay discrimination is sex discrimination on its face. When an employer mistreats a male employee for dating men, his judgment is rooted in the employee’s sex. If the man were dating women—or if the employee were a woman—he would have no concerns. This fundamentally sex-based consideration violates Title VII’s clear statutory prohibition on discrimination “because of sex.”

3. Finally, the EEOC claims that anti-gay discrimination is associational discrimination, drawing an analogy to Loving v. Virginia. In Loving, the court found that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law constituted unlawful racial discrimination: The law punished Richard Loving for associating romantically with a person of a different race. In an analogous sense, anti-gay employment actions constitute sex discrimination: Employers punish gay employees for associating romantically with a person of the same sex.

Cote included all three theories in her suit against Walmart. Or, more accurately, her lawyers did: The class action was a collaborative effort between GLAD, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Peter Romer-Friedman and his colleagues at the civil rights firm Outten & Golden, and Arnold & Porter.

In a massive legal victory for the gay rights movement, Walmart declined to contest Cote’s interpretation of Title VII. Instead, the company settled the case on Friday for $7.5 million. Walmart’s decision not to challenge Cote’s legal theory marked an implicit acknowledgment that Title VII currently forbids anti-gay discrimination, including inferior treatment of same-sex spouses. (Although most of us imagine anti-gay bias taking the form of a homophobic boss maliciously firing a gay employee, formal policies like Walmart’s are equally insidious.) Thanks to Cote’s lawsuit, class members—those who suffered because of Walmart’s discrimination—will receive restitution: 100 percent reimbursement for expenses up to $60,000, and 250 percent reimbursement for expenses over $60,000.

Walmart’s reliance on the EEOC’s interpretation of Title VII significantly bolsters the growing consensus among courts, federal agencies, and the business community that federal law already prohibits sexual orientation discrimination. (A majority of Americans already believes this, too.) The ultimate goal here is a Supreme Court ruling affirming the theory that Title VII bars anti-gay workplace discrimination. Each time a corporate titan like Walmart accepts the EEOC’s interpretation of Title VII, the possibility of a pro-gay ruling from the justices grows a little more likely. A comprehensive conception of sex discrimination becomes woven into the fabric of our legal system—and society more broadly, as LGBTQ tolerance shifts from an optional policy to a fact of doing business in the United States. We aren’t quite there yet. But the Walmart case proves that companies and the courts are still evolving toward a greater understanding of true LGBTQ equality.

Mark Joseph Stern 
A writer for Slate
He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.

December 2, 2016

Walmart Settled Lawsuit That Denied Health Insurance to Same Sex Couples

 We married because we are a family. Respect us!

Walmart announced on Friday that it had settled a lawsuit that accused the company of discriminating against gay and lesbian employees when it denied health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses.

Under the deal, Walmart will set aside $7.5 million, mostly to compensate employees affected by the denial of spousal benefits during the three years before Jan. 1, 2014, when the company changed its policy. More than 1,000 people may be eligible.

But the agreement also signals how legal doctrine on discrimination against gays and lesbians is rapidly changing, making it increasingly likely to be considered a form of sex discrimination. Such a doctrine would generally make it easier for gay and lesbian plaintiffs to prevail in court, as federal civil rights laws prohibit sex discrimination.

“We’re happy both sides could come together to reach a resolution,” Sally Welborn, a Walmart senior vice president, said in a statement. “We will continue to not distinguish between same- and opposite-sex spouses when it comes to the benefits we offer under our health insurance plan.”

Since the late 1980s, the primary way for plaintiffs to fight discrimination based on their sexual orientation has been to argue that an employer treated them unfairly because they did not conform to gender stereotypes.

So, for example, a gay plaintiff might win in court by arguing that he was denied a promotion because he did not appear sufficiently masculine. But he was unlikely to win by arguing that he had been denied the promotion because he was gay or in a same-sex relationship. This frequently limited plaintiffs’ ability to prevail.

In recent years, however, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, along with some federal courts, have found that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is “inherently” sex discrimination, as the commission wrote late year, and therefore outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The commission’s stance could change under President-elect Donald J. Trump, who will nominate new commissioners to the agency over time. But by then there could be an emerging consensus in the federal courts, making a reversal less relevant.

The Walmart settlement, pending preliminary approval by the judge in the case, William G. Young of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, appears to reflect the growing acceptance of the commission’s analysis by private sector employers.

In their motion for preliminary approval of the settlement, lawyers for the lead plaintiff, Jacqueline Cote, argued that Walmart had discriminated against Ms. Cote because she was married to a woman. They also made the more traditional argument that the company had discriminated against Ms. Cote because she did not conform to the stereotype that women must marry only men.

Although Walmart did not endorse any particular legal theory as part of the settlement, it also did not move to dismiss the case on grounds that the arguments were flawed.

“Some employers, as well as some employee groups, will be wondering if this reflects Walmart’s assessment of where courts might be moving,” said Helen Norton, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School.

Ms. Cote began working as an associate at Walmart in Maine in 1999 and worked continuously at the company there and in Massachusetts through 2015. In 2004, she married Diana Smithson, another Walmart associate, in Massachusetts, where she lived.

In 2008, Ms. Smithson left the company to become the primary caregiver for Ms. Cote’s mother. Around that time, Ms. Cote began trying to enroll Ms. Smithson in Walmart’s spousal health insurance plan. The company repeatedly blocked her from signing up because of its policy of denying health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses.

In 2012 Ms. Smithson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the couple ran up some $150,000 in uninsured medical expenses over the next few years.

Under the deal, Walmart will reimburse current or former employees affected by its previous policy for the full out-of-pocket cost of their spouse’s health care from Jan. 1, 2011, to Dec. 31, 2013, if they submit documentation of the costs incurred. The company will also pay 250 percent of out-of-pocket costs for those who submit documentation for expenses of $60,000 or more in health care expenses for their spouse.

The settlement identifies roughly 1,100 people who may be eligible for compensation, though it acknowledges that the number could be higher.

The company also committed to treating same-sex couples and heterosexual couples equally when administering its health benefits. Walmart made same-sex spouses eligible for health benefits in 2014, but even after this it claimed it had no legal obligation to do so. Ms. Cote’s lawyers argued in their complaint that this left same-sex couples in a more precarious financial situation, since Walmart could easily rescind the coverage.

“We are glad that as part of the settlement Walmart will continue to provide the same health insurance benefits regardless of the gender of the associate’s spouse,” Peter Romer-Friedman, one of Ms. Cote’s lawyers, said in a statement.

A judge’s preliminary approval in this sort of settlement typically happens within a matter of weeks.

The broader legal landscape suggests a coming shift in federal courts’ thinking on whether discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates existing civil rights law.

While much of the recent litigation in this area has focused on employment-related issues, plaintiffs may successfully challenge similar discrimination in the realms of housing and lending, where federal law also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. At least one plaintiff has brought such a complaint.

Cases litigating the question of whether sexual orientation discrimination is inherently sex discrimination are pending in multiple federal appeals courts, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch told BuzzFeed this spring that the Justice Department was “looking” at whether to adopt the new position. (The department declined to comment on when it would reach a conclusion.) The issue could come before the Supreme Court in the next few years.

One prominent case had a rehearing last month before the full United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, after a three-judge panel from the court had rejected the new discrimination doctrine. At the rehearing, the judges appeared sympathetic to overturning the court’s previous position.

“The trend lines are very positive,” said P. David Lopez, general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “The courts have really drilled down and started to re-examine whether prior precedent makes sense.”

He added: “Walmart is the latest data point in what we’ve seen is a real fundamental shift.”


November 9, 2016

Companies With Non Discrimination Clause Are More Innovative

Companies in states with nondiscrimination laws are more innovative, issuing many more patents than those in states that allow discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Not only that, say the authors of a new study, innovative firms tend to attract more open-minded people, "who are generally more creative than antigay employees."

The study comes from economists Huasheng Gao and Wei Zhang, and is published in the journal Management Science. It looks at the effects of U.S. state-level employment nondiscrimination acts (ENDAs) on business activities, and finds that companies headquartered in states with ENDAs are more innovative than those in states that allow discrimination.

The test their theory, Gao and Zhang looked at the activities of 58,009 U.S. corporations between 1976 and 2008, comparing their patent activity with the years in which ENDAs were introduced in various sates. They found that companies in states with anti-discrimination laws consistently out-innovated companies in more backward states. But why? Because the laws helped them attract brighter employees.

In general, those who are more likely to be pro-gay are younger, better educated, more tolerant, more open-minded, more risk-taking, have diverse backgrounds, and exhibit a stronger ideological liberalism. Further, these types of people also tend to be more creative. In contrast, those who are older, are more conservative, and exhibit a stronger religiosity tend to be antigay.
The authors say that these smart, innovative employees are more likely to join companies in states with ENDAs, "since these firms cannot pursue discriminatory employment policies toward homosexuals." The result is that companies based in ENDA states filed 8% more patents, and increased the number of patent citations by 11%.

This could be anecdotal, but another piece of information cements the theory. Companies that had previously implemented nondiscrimination policies saw a smaller jump in innovation (as measured by patent filings) when state ENDAs were introduced. That is, they were already enjoying the services of smarter, enlightened employees because of their company policy, so the same rules enforced at state level had a smaller cumulative effect. The authors also examined the relocation decisions of individuals to determine their reasons for moving.

It's still possible that the evidence is circumstantial, though. The authors point out that a state may adopt ENDAs due to pressure from "forward-thinking, progressive business leaders." It's also possible that the passing of ENDAs is a part of a general package of business-improving policies in a state, which would relegate ENDAs to an indicator, instead of the cause for more innovation.

Still, the numbers are startling, and demonstrate that bigotry and chauvinism are not just bad for individuals, but bad for business. Until federal anti-discrimination laws take care of the problem for the whole country, maybe even the most backward states will enact ENDAs if they can see how it affects the bottom line.

August 13, 2016

BIG Kiss for Sainsbury-London After A Gay Couple asked to Leave


A gay couple left “humiliated” after being told to stop holding hands in Sainsbury's have inspired protesters to stage a peaceful "kiss-in" at a north London branch of the supermarket giant.

Thomas Rees and his boyfriend Josh were shopping after work at a Sainsbury’s store in Hackney, London, on August 8, when a security guard called them over.

He asked them to follow him outside and explained that a female shopper had complained they were touching and behaving inappropriately.  

Later, they were offered a £10 gift card as compensation, but the gesture wasn't enough to lay the incident to rest.

Couples - mostly same-sex - now plan to fill the aisles of the supermarket and embrace in support of the pair.

Campaigner Michael Segalov has organized a "big gay kiss in" on Facebook, which encourages LGBT people to gather at the branch where the "inappropriate hand holding" took place. Writing on Facebook, he said: “In a year that’s seen attacks all too often on the LGBT community, it’s high time that Sainsbury’s – with profits over £500 million this year – put their money where their mouths are and use their resources to ensure that homophobia becomes a thing of the past. A £10 voucher just doesn’t cut it.

“Come down to Sainsbury’s at 7pm this Saturday: hold hands, pucker up, and tell Sainsbury’s enough is enough.” Sainsbury's has come under fire before for staff treatment of LGBT people. In October 2014, a lesbian couple complained after a security guard at a branch in Brighton reportedly told the couple that another customer found them “disgusting” when one pecked the other on the cheek, and asked them to leave if they continued to show affection.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: "We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh.

"We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores.

“We will take appropriate action once we've concluded our investigation with our security contractor."

August 12, 2016

Gay Couples and Other Gays Being Victimized at Major Uk Locations

I encourage gay couples and others LGBT’s to report to the media(this blog), tweets, police over any victimization they receive at any store particularly in the UK, EU countries and the US. Only thru bringing light to these systemic acts of intolerance can we bring the message that this is not the world of your grandparents but of the 21 century in which we should not be discriminating nor asking who we go to bed with because simply is none of their darn business. Adam
Thomas Reed

A gay couple who held hands in a supermarket have expressed their anger after a security guard told them they were acting inappropriately.

Thomas Rees and Joshua Bradwell were in a Sainsbury's store in Hackney when the guard told them a woman had complained about their behaviour.
“It's really knocked me for six and I've spent the last day or so analyzing how I'm perceived," said Mr Rees.

Sainsbury's apologised and offered them a £10 voucher.
The 32-year-old said they were holding hands, and that he may have put his arm around his partner's waist as they were buying their food on Monday evening.
"We weren't celebrating good news, we weren't all over each other, we weren't in the throes of passion - it was essentially just holding my boyfriend's hand as I do every day. I’m very much in love and that's how I express my love," he said.

After they paid, a security guard told them about the complaint after he beckoned them outside so they would not be embarrassed, which "aggravated it more".

"I have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. I shouldn't be removed from the store," said Mr Rees.
"All it's done is strengthen the importance that if you love someone, irrelevant of their gender, that is love and you should express that love in whatever way you desire or wish to. "
Mr Rees tweeted the supermarket giant and got a message back apologising and offering the voucher.
But he said he would like a phone call from them instead explaining how they train staff members to deal with diversity.
He added: "I do feel for the security guard because he was clearly unable or poorly equipped to handle these situations.

"He explained that he was brought up to believe 'live and let live' but he had to let us know that a complaint has been made and he kept repeating this complaint which was infuriating."
A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: "We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh.
"We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores.
"We will take appropriate action once we've concluded our investigation with our security contractor."
Walked off

Jo Wales, 35, contacted BBC News to claim he was also victimized at a Sainsbury's store in Wimbledon when a cashier apparently refused to serve him and his male partner at Christmas and instead glared at them from two checkouts away.

He wrote an email to the supermarket giant’s CEO but did not hear back until about a month later, by which point he said he had moved on.

Sainsbury’s said it was unable to investigate this incident because it happened so long ago, but added it was not something which happened often.

Two years ago, a “big kiss" protest was held at a Sainsbury's store in Brighton after a lesbian couple was asked to leave when one gave her partner a kiss on the cheek.

July 21, 2016

Large Companies Love LGBT and Here is Why


Annual study comes as companies target growing demographic

About 7% of U.S. adults identify as gay, bisexual, transgender. We are up from 3% the Republicans were insisting back during the Reagan administration. That was down from 10% which then went down to 5%. Was this an organized, systemic way to bring down or erase as many LGBT people as possible?  The LGBT community has always felt a sense that the government and the church wanted to erase the numbers if not erase them totally.. A community without numbers is a community without power. Even if the numbers are not visible it basically has the same effect. 

The numbers have always been based on fictitious science. If you have a bad base of samples you will get a bad set of numbers. When measuring the amount of gay people there are,  you have to take into account the possible amount of numbers you might be missing (closeted). You are not just going to add them to the base numbers but they will guide you if you get a very low number you know the example of people you are using are not being honest with you. After getting marriage equality in the United States you had enough gay people feeling good enough about themselves to say “yes” I am gay, bisexual, lesbian, etc. Meaning the numbers there should be mostly accurate depending on the questions asked to obtain those numbers. 

Professional sales people know how to get a yes from a reluctant customer and is the way you ask the questions. For instance:  “Do you need a bracelet?” Answer: ? but instead,  “Wouldn’t that bracelet look gorgeous on that hand of yours?” Which one do you think is going to get the yes?

It all depends on how you ask a question. So the first rule is to get an unbiased team to do the survey. I keep pointing out about how one get answers on a questionnaire because I feel 7% is too low. 
Not for the people that are in the closet but the people that do gay stuff like getting married, buying wedding bands. Coming out is not something you do once but many times.  You have gay people after coming out, not coming fourth when they should have said they were gay. 
It could be a public or private family gathering or coworkers. For that reason I believe that 7% is way too low. I think a 10% is fairer and there is some evidence of it, including the gay people out in the armed forces. 

Still 7% is high enough to currently cause a revolution on the business community that cater direct to the customer. You always had the savvy small business man. Companies like Exxon remained ‘anti gay” following the feeling to the Chairman of the board.  But now You have companies like PayPal threatening to cut their work force in Indiana in [which they are a major employer] when the bathroom, religious anti gay law was passed. This was a law that would allow anyone to refuse service on religious grounds to anyone they suspected of being LGBT including Doctors and Paramedics! When you let the religious people dictate terms to what they see as social problems they don’t fuzz around, they go for death, so it is seldom about a cake or just a law. 

There are always extra and hidden implications to discrimination laws. Coming back to Pay Pal, they never threatened to cut service in countries like Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan where they hang and incarcerate members of the LGBT community for being just that.

Even during the Republican convention in Ohio they (PayPal) were invited and they accepted to be a speaker there.  A Convention put out by a homophobic GOP party with a platform against Gays that goes back to the Reagan years. The most fowled mouth and full of hatred language filled towards a popular President and Democratic Contender that while I write have 5% plurality against the Convention’s GOP Nominee Donald Trump [40-45%].  So far he isn’t getting any bump in the numbers and I don’t wonder why. What is Pay Pal doing there??  Back to the numbers….

Bloomberg  posted the following report on business generated by the LGBT percentage yesterday Wednesday July 20:
The combined buying power of U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults rose about 3.7 percent to $917 billion last year, rivaling the disposable income of other American minority groups, according to an annual analysis.

The forecast, based on an estimate that as many as 7 percent of adults identify as LGBT, reflects the growing acceptance by society as more people are willing to self-identify, said Bob Witeck, who for the past decade has been conducting the annual study through his Washington-based communications firm.

“The footprint that gay people have today in the economy is much, much more present, much more visible,” Witeck said in an interview. “Also, companies are responding not just to LGBT purchasing power, they are responding to others who are aligned and sympathetic.”

Gay political and economic power is coming into sharper focus as advocates battle for full equal rights at the federal level. At the same time, hundreds of laws were introduced in state legislatures this year that are seen as eroding rights for LGBT people. In support of their gay employees, Dow Chemical Co.,, Walt Disney Co. and other companies publicly pressured states to abandon discriminatory laws.
In comparison, purchasing power for black Americans was estimated at $1.2 trillion last year, with Hispanic buying clout at $1.3 trillion and Asian disposable income at $825 billion, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth. The same methodology is used to estimate LGBT buying power, Witeck said. Total U.S. disposable income last year was $13.5 trillion, according to the Selig Center.

The LGBT estimates are for adults only, while estimates for blacks and Hispanics include children without income, which reduces the average disposable income available for those bigger demographic groups. Gay Americans are included among those minority groups as well, Witeck said.
The trend is likely to continue. With legal gay marriage now a year old in the U.S., the purchasing power of LGBT people is starting to look more and more like the purchasing patterns of other groups, Witeck said.

“It reminds companies how visible the population is today,” he said. “In a year’s time, marriage has changed things forever, and that genie is not going back in the bottle again. Families are now quite evident. They are coming forward to buy things for their households. They’re shopping for cars. They’re buying for the kids they are having.”

April 7, 2016

Corporate America is Writing on the Wall: ‘No Discrimination for LGBT'

You may have noticed — or perhaps not — that almost every time a state government  anywhere in America entertains the notion of adopting laws that might infringe upon the rights of gay people,   the political backlash these days comes in part from big businesses.
Last year, for example, the business community raised a great  fuss about a so-called religious liberty bill in Indiana, prompting the state to weaken the measure somewhat. But the controversy still is said to have cost Indiana about $60 million in revenues.
In various other cases, large corporations with familiar names similarly have threatened to withdraw from states where anti-gay legislation is under consideration. Even the National Football League indicated that plans for a Super Bowl in Atlanta would be reviewed if Georgia adopted a certain measure seen as homophobic.
The irony in all of this is that it represents a new  strain in relations between business interests and social conservatives in the Republican Party. GOP leaders are now torn between their traditional pro-business fealty and their fear of right-wing religionists.
Still, the times are changing — and Republicans won't be  able to turn back the clock.
[Posting from my fellow blogger Leavenworth Times]
An analysis in the Washington Post the other day said THIS:
Corporate America's evolution on gay rights appears to have reached  a tipping point, one where so many companies have taken a stand on the issue  that the risk of speaking out has  been  superseded by the risk of not doing so.  The watershed levels of opposition to recent legislation in Indiana, Georgia and North Carolina has turned the question of “why would a company  publicly wade into social issues like gay rights?” into another one: “Why wouldn't they?”
What was once exceptional has become, in other words, almost expected.
How did it happen? Public sentiment surely is playing a role.  A recent survey by Public Religion Research Institute finds that 71 percent of Americans support laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations.  Data from the Pew Research Center recently  found that 55 percent of Americans, and 70 percent of millennials, support same-sex marriage.

April 5, 2016

PayPal Cancels Plans to Hire 400 Employees due to Anti Gay NC


PayPal Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Dan Schulman said Tuesday his company is cancelling plans for a new global operations center in Charlotte, N.C., where PayPal would have employed more than 400 people.
The online-payments company announced its expansion plan just two weeks ago, but is pulling back because of a new North Carolina law that says transgender people must use public bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificates, among other measures.
“The new law perpetuates discrimination, and it violates the values and principles that are at the core of PayPal’s mission and culture,” Mr. Schulman said in a statement Tuesday. “As a result, PayPal will not move forward with our planned expansion into Charlotte.” 
Mr. Schulman was one of more than 120 business leaders who sent North Carolina’s Republican Gov. Pat McCrory a letter last weekraising objection to the new law. Opponents are seeking a repeal of the law. Mr. McCrory has defended the law as a common-sense measure.
The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the cancelled PayPal plan. 
PayPal processed $282 billion worth of transactions last year, spent $1.2 billion on customer support and operations, and employed 9,800 people in the U.S. Based in San Jose, Calif., it is valued at $47 billion, after splitting off from eBay Inc. last year.
Write to Jon Kamp at 

September 30, 2015

Economic Report: LGBT Inclusion is Good for Economic Growth, Productivity and Profitability


Open, inclusive and diverse societies are better for business and better for economic growth. This report presents the evidence base that supports this: it demonstrates that businesses thrive in tolerant societies and that the spread of anti-LGB&T policies runs counter to the interests of business and economic development.

The report draws upon the global perspectives of the companies supporting Open For Business, and they have contributed their experience and expertise on the business case for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGB&T) inclusion. It also incorporates the perspectives of activists in countries that are on the front-line of LGB&T discrimination, to ensure it is grounded in local country realities.

There are many strands of work which have studied the subject from different angles, including economic growth and development, business performance and productivity, and human resources and talent management. This report brings these together for the first time. As a result, this report represents the most comprehensive evidence base yet published on this subject.

The report begins with an overview of the Global Situation: in many parts of the world, recent years have seen a growing a culture of respect for LGB&T individuals, and their ability to fully participate in society is protected by law. In other parts of the world, there is rising antagonism towards LGB&T people, who are suffering discrimination at the hands of politicians and lawmakers.

The report then looks at the economic opportunities associated with LGB&T inclusion, and the business risks of operating in territories that practice discrimination against LGB&T individuals. These opportunities and risks can be summarized as follows:

Economic opportunity

A. Economic performance
Stronger growth and higher levels of entrepreneurialism
B. Business performance
Superior performance, innovation and profitability.
C. Individual performance
Greater employee productivity and contribution.

September 19, 2015

Conservative Brains Explode over {{Doritos}} Rainbow Colors


Kentucky clerk Kim Davis' attempt to turn Rowan County into a no-gay-marriage zone has failed, but conservative enthusiasm for pointless posturing about the supposed evils of homosexuality marches on. The latest target? Snack food. 

Specifically, homophobic bigots are freaking out about Doritos this week, upon the news that the popular cheesy chip-maker is releasing a special rainbow-colored bag in partnership with the It Gets Better Project, a non-profit established by sex advice columnist Dan Savage to combat mental illness and suicide in LGBT youth. Conservative media is not interested in your talk of preventing youth suicide, it seems. That bag looks queer, dammit, and they will not have it.

(Here are some of the more over-the-top responses)

Cheese dust will turn you kids gay
"Doritos are a product marketed to children, so they make the perfect gateway snack to introduce children to the joys of homosexuality," writes Ed Straker of the ironically named American Thinker website. "What business does PepsiCo have pushing homosexuality on our kids?"

Kim Davis Conservative Heads Explode Over Kentucky's Bigoted Clerk »
While Straker classifies the different colored Doritos – "green are homosexual, the pink are lesbian" – he fails to tell readers how many chips you have to eat in order to turn gay.

As a reminder, the It Gets Better Project is about saving young people from depression and suicide by giving them resources to survive living in homophobic families and communities.

(Not getting the joke)
John Nolte of Breitbart News wrote an explosive column yesterday, calling Savage an "infamous anti-Christian bully and bigot" because of Savage's reputation for irreverent mockery of homophobic politicians.

"Savage has demanded Republican presidential contender Ben Carson... 'suck his dick,'" Nolte fumed. "He's demanded the same from Republicans Herman Cain and Mike Huckabee. Savage went on a smear campaign against Rick Santorum to destroy Santorum's reputation in Google searches."

What Nolte fails to note is that Savage's remarks were in response to actual bigotry aimed at gay people. When politicians say sexual orientation is a choice, Savage invites them to suck his dick to prove it. The pranking of Santorum by associating his name with a byproduct of anal sex was Savage's response to Santorum comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality. Perhaps the new tagline for Breitbart News should be: "Able to dish it out, unable to take it."

Unable to muster an intelligent argument for why Doritos shouldn't fundraise to stop youth suicide, many conservative pundits just tried grossing you out instead. "It gets ickier: Doritos teams up with door-licking nutball Dan Savage," Michelle Malkin primly tweeted, referencing a comedy article that Savage wrote 15 years ago in which he joked about how he wished he could give anti-gay Gary Bauer the flu. (Needless to say, the common theme in anti-Savage diatribes is a complete lack of humor on the part of conservatives.)

"Here's something that you don't want to think about while snacking on your chips," Bethany Blankley of Charisma News writes. "Left out in nearly all discussions about homosexuality is the reality that sex often infects people with E. coli bacterial infections, spreads sexually transmitted diseases and can cause anal cavity bleeding and rupturing." (In reality, gay sex – which Blankley seems to believe is only anal sex – is not inherently any more dangerous than hetero sex.)

It seems homophobes have learned well from their compatriots who fight reproductive rights: If you can't win an argument with facts and logic, try turning their stomachs instead.

Conservatives have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #BoycottDoritos, so everyone can pretend for a day they're actually doing something before moving onto the next shiny outrage fodder. But for now, it's certainly a cavalcade of charming people. "What's next, rainbow Cheerios? Maybe the Doritos fag bags come with a toy dildo?" writes one thoughtful gentleman.

"I'm sick of the liberal left shoving godlessness and immorality down our throats," tweets another.

As a word of warning, you really shouldn't be shoving Doritos down your throat. Those things are sharp and can really tear up your esophagus. When eating Doritos, whether they come in the godless immorality flavor or are the just plain cheese variety, chew thoroughly, then swallow.

August 27, 2015

Why is Denver staying steadfast in blocking anti gay Chick fil-a from Int. Airport?


The Denver city council is ruffling some feathers for its reluctance to allow Chick-fil-A to open a restaurant at the Denver International Airport, due to the chicken chain’s stance against marriage equality.
On Tuesday, the council’s Business Development Committee voted to delay consideration of a seven-year deal between the airport and a new Chick-fil-A franchisee. Robin Kniech — the council’s first openly gay member — told the Denver Post that she was hesitant to approve a company that has used “corporate profits … to fund and fuel discrimination.” Back in 2012, the company gave money to anti-LGBT groups, a practice which it has since mostly stopped. 
Conservatives and liberals alike have expressed outrage over the delay. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum argued that the political leanings of a large company’s CEO should not affect these types of decisions if that company is following the law. “If the Denver City Council were giving a popular fast-food outlet a hard time because its CEO contributed to Planned Parenthood four years ago, we’d be outraged — and rightly so,” he wrote. “I don’t blame conservatives for being equally outraged about this.” In addition, the deal with the airport has the potential to bring a great deal of money to the city — about $616,000 a year in fees.
So why, then, is this happening? Denver is certainly a liberal city, but it’s not the most liberal. Researchers from MIT and UCLA ranked Denver as only the 20th most liberal city in America. Pittsburgh, Austin, and Buffalo are all more liberal than Denver, according to the research
But while it may not be the most liberal city overall, Denver consistently tanks high on indexes of gay-friendly cities. For instance, when the Human Rights Campaign graded different cities on the friendliness of their laws and policies for LGBT individuals, Denver scored 97 out of 100 points. Denver’s government, the organization found, had a near-perfect record on non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, municipal employment practices, city services, law enforcement, and municipal leadership. Vocativ ranked Denver as the ninth most LGBT-friendly city in America, with the fourth most LGBT-friendly businesses per capita.
At the same time, marriage equality is the one thing that’s historically been a sore subject for Denver, and Colorado in general. It wasn’t until late 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would not hear appeals from states seeking to ban gay marriage, that same-sex marriage became legal in the state. Until then, Republican Attorney General John Suthers had been defending the state’s constitutional ban on marriage equality. 
So marriage equality itself is less than a year old in Denver, which may be one of the reasons the city council is so sensitive to approve a business with a history of opposing it. Though Chick-Fil-A has eliminated nearly all its charitable giving to anti-LGBT groups, its owners still vocally oppose same-sex marriage. 
After such a long fight for marriage equality in the city, that opposition means something to constituents, according to the Denver city council.
“Gay and lesbian families have been fighting for decades for full recognition of their relationships,” a statement from the council read. “Denver has been at the forefront of honoring gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees and their families with non-discrimination clauses and partner benefits for many of these decades.”
“These are long standing values Denver has held,” it continued. “When Denver International Airport proposed a concession with a company that had a history of funding opposition to this recognition, it was important that we as a City Council take a pause to ensure that all the policies are in place with all of the entities involved to ensure there will be no discrimination, and that benefits will be provided equally to all employees and their spouses, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Tuesday’s decision by the Denver city council has delayed consideration of the Denver Airport lease for two weeks. What will happen then is anyone’s guess.

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