Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"The Times of Harvey Milk" available free online


Hulu has the complete The Times of Harvey Milk documentary, by Robert Epstein and Richard Schmiechen, with narration by Harvey Fierstein. Occasional commercials make free Hulu webcasts possible. (01:27:34)





Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Marilyn Musgrave, sore loser


Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO-04), author of the first anti-gay federal Marriage Amendment, was thoroughly trounced in her re-election bid last week by Democrat Betsy Markey. Musgrave still has not conceded or congratulated the victor. Sore loser.





Monday, November 10, 2008

Tell Obama your thoughts on LGBT issues


From the Change.gov web site for the Office of the President-elect:
An American Moment: Your Story

Start right now. Tell us your story in your own words about what this campaign and this election means to you. Share your hopes for an Obama Administration and a government for the people.
Tell President-elect Barack Obama your thoughts about gay marriage, an inclusive ENDA, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gay adoption, gay immigration equality, the need for national leadership in fighting anti-gay ballot initiatives, and more at http://change.gov/page/s/yourstory .



Feeling down about the California marriage vote?


Dr. Maya Angelou tells us that we will prevail against the haters. An abbreviated version of her poem, "Still I Rise":

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear....
I rise
I rise
I rise.




Tuesday, November 4, 2008

"Godless" smites Dole; Hagan projected to win


CNN is calling it for Democrat Kay Hagan in the North Carolina Senate race.

Incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole enraged LGBT and HIV/AIDS activists earlier this year by trying to rename the federal AIDS bill for deceased GOP ogre Jesse Helms. Helms spent years demonizing gays and people with HIV/AIDS, and he repeatedly abused his power to gut funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, condemning tens of thousands of gay men and others to early deaths. Dole was Scylla to Helm's Charybdis.

Dole's infamous "Godless" attack ad on Sunday school teacher Hagan backfired badly and was the final nail of Dole's coffin, costing her several points in the polls since the ad ran.

The seat returns to Democratic hands after being held by a Democrat throughout the twentieth century until Helms won it in 1972. Helms did not seek re-election in 2002, and Dole was elected in his place.



Matthew Shepard, Gwen Araujo, and Barry Winchell can't vote...




...but Fred Phelps, Larry Craig, and George W. Bush can.

Take back your country and vote today.





Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hollywood Reporter gives Milk a rave review


The Hollywood Reporter is giving Gus Van Sant's Milk biopic of assassinated San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk two thumbs up.

According to reviewer Kirk Honeycutt, the film "is the first great film to look at civil rights from the perspective of the gay movement" and is "superbly crafted, covering huge amounts of time, people and the zeitgeist without a moment of lapsed energy or inattention to detail".

Honeycutt notes that the cast is excellent, but singles out Sean Penn's performance for "extraordinary depth and wisdom".

Read more.



THAT'S who they remind me of!







Long Beach city council opposes California's Prop. 8


The city council of Long Beach, CA, unanimously opposed Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage ballot question, at their 19 Aug 2008 meeting. The vote was 6-0, with three absences. The motion to oppose was made by Councilmember Gerrie Schipske, an out Democrat.

The video of the meeting can be viewed at the link below. There are some interesting comments made during the citizens' input section (lots of right-wing disinformation and lots of bigots insisting they don't really want to discriminate). Bonus points if you can spot the obvious closet case who spoke against same-sex marriage.

Councilmember Schipske is eloquent, as always. Vice Mayor Val Lerch spoke heatedly against bigotry, which is interesting because of his gay marriage record. At the council's 01 Jun 2004 meeting at which out Democratic councilmember Dan Baker introduced a resolution to oppose Bush's Federal Marriage Amendment, Mr. Lerch repeatedly spoke just as heatedly about how the resolution was a waste of his time. The Baker resolution died on a 4-4 tie vote; Mr. Lerch was the deciding vote against it. He was also the only vote against a watered-down substitute motion to support "equal protection under the law and to oppose any amendments that deny equal protection"; that motion passed 7-1.

In the archive search box below, either type or copy and paste "40. (08-0842)" ; include the quotation marks. That will get you to the relevant agenda item number for the 19 Aug 2008 meeting. The relevant section of the video is 39 minutes long (from 02:00:12 to 02:39:34). Click here for the archive search box.



Saturday, November 1, 2008

North Carolina GOP smears Senate candidate Kay Hagan over gay marriage


The North Carolina Republican Party has sent out a scurrilous mailer attacking Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Kay Hagan for her opposition to a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Hagan is in a competitive race against incumbent GOP Senator Elizabeth Dole and is ahead in most polls.

From the mailer, via PageOneQ:
Across America, liberal judges are overturning state laws banning gay marriage. In North Carolina a state constitutional amendment is needed to protect traditional marriage and prevent liberal judges from imposing their gay marriage agenda on the state.

Kay Hagan is actively opposed to this needed amendment to ban gay marriage in North Carolina. Hagan opposes defining a marriage as a union between one man and one woman in our state constitution.
Dole is desperate, out of ideas, and out of time.



Rachel Maddow ridicules Kit Bond for his latest rant


Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) made a buffoon of himself Friday at a GOP campaign rally with vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. He dodderingly railed against Obama's desire to appoint judges who have "a heart, have an empathy for the teenage mom, the minority, the gay, the disabled." That's all apparently bad in Kitland.

The gay comment might have played well with the hand-picked GOP crowd, but the "teenage mom" bit might not have gone over very well with Bristol Palin's mother, who was sitting nearby.

Bond's most recent HRC scores have been 20, 11, and 0. He will be up for re-election in 2010, when he will be 71.

MSNBC talking head Rachel Maddow takes Bond to task for his assininity:





Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Indiana Democratic Party funds anti-gay mailer


The Indiana Democratic Party has funded an anti-gay, anti-choice campaign mailer for state House candidate Andy Schemenaur, according to the Bilerico Project.

Messages demanding an explanation and accountability may be sent to Indiana Democratic Party Chair Dan Parker and Executive Director Jenny Hill Weiser at dparker@indems.org and jhill@indems.org.



Monday, October 6, 2008

Look familiar?


In searching Tammy Baldwin's and Barney Frank's congressional web sites for news to share here, I noticed something of minor historical interest. The graphic on the left is a map of Frank's congressional district, Massachusetts' Fourth. The graphic on the right needs no introduction to students of American history.








Bill O’Reilly goes nuts when Barney Frank corrects him






Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't eliminate marriage for anyone


Both sides on California's Proposition 8, which would ban gay marriage, are unleashing the millions of dollars that they have raised. Below is a pro-gay marriage ad put out by the folks at NoOnProp8.com.

The worst mistake that supporters of gay marriage could make is to be complacent and to assume that, surely, liberal California will defeat the measure. There are many conservatives inland as well as in pockets on the coast, such as Orange County. Moreover, jurisdictions elsewhere, such as the District of Columbia, will be watching the result before they decide whether to move forward with their own gay marriage effort. A setback in California will be a national setback for years.





Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Matt Damon rips Sarah Palin


Money quote: "I need to know if she really thinks dinosaurs were here four thousand years ago....I want to know that -- I really do; because she's going to have the nuclear codes."





Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Emotional Newsom praises Del Martin, rips anti-marriage Democrats


From Towleroad:





Del Martin passes away


Del Martin, who married her sweetheart of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon, in June of this year after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, passed away this morning in San Francisco. She had been ailing in recent weeks.

The San Francisco Chronicle has coverage.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

                    [She] did look far
                    Into the service of the time and was
                    Discipled of the bravest: [s]he lasted long;
                    But on us both did... age steal on
                    And wore us out of act.

                         -- William Shakespeare; All's Well That Ends Well; I, 2




Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back in a few


Taking a while off for some beach time with the family. No right-wing nuts will do anything newsworthy while we're gone, right?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Obama's LGBT Vote program


Jamie Citron, Deputy Director of Barack Obama's LGBT Vote program, tells how to get involved:





Proposition 8 money tracking resources

The Los Angeles Times has online resources for following the money race to pass or defeat Proposition 8, California's anti-gay marriage amendment.

There is an interactive map that allows the reader to click on a county to see how much money came from that county and by what margin that county voted against 2000's Proposition 22, the Knight Initiative. Proposition 22 barred same-sex marriage by statute and was approved statewide by 61.4-38.6.

Click on the green bar to find figures for marriage ban opponents, and on the blue bar for marriage ban supporters.

As of yesterday, gay marriage supporters have raised $5,702,253 versus $3,500,090 for opponents.

There is also a donor database that can search by city, ZIP code, or state (use two-letter postal abbreviations). Find out what the neighbors are up to.



Monday, August 4, 2008

Jesse Helms' desk

Jesse Helms, the former Republican senator from North Carolina who built his career on blatant racism and demonizing gay people and people with AIDS, is preaching tolerance from the grave -- but only within his own family.

In his will, filed in Wake County courts twelve days after his 04 Jul 2008 death, Helms asks
that my children try to be as understanding and tolerant of each other as possible and to make every effort to avoid disharmony among themselves.
Helms infamously said that gays caused the AIDS epidemic, victimized hemophiliac AIDS patient Ryan White, threaten the survival of the American family, are in a battle against American values, and have the ultimate aim of having the American people accept "their perverted lifestyle". There was apparently no mention in his last testament that he regretted any of his atrocious behavior, but he did fret about the final disposition of his old Senate desk. He specified that if no family member wanted it, it should go to the Jesse Helms Center Foundation.

By the time an HIV vaccine is discovered, tens of millions of people will have died of AIDS, many of whom could have been saved if Helms had not blocked funding for prevention and treatment. Once a vaccine -- or even an outright cure -- is discovered, it is reasonable to suppose that there will come into being an AIDS Holocaust Museum, located perhaps in San Francisco, New York, or even southern Africa. Just as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum displays artifacts from the Nazi regime, an AIDS Holocaust Museum would be a suitable setting for Helms' desk, along with a display of his monstrous statements with which he profaned the floor of the United States Senate.



John Kerry supports gay marriage, sort of

Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) came out in favor of Massachusetts' recent decision to allow out-of-state gay couples to get married there, but he quickly asserted the right of other states not to permit gay marriage. From Ryan Burgess at Boston's Capitol News 9:
Presidential politics isn't the only issue on the senator's mind, especially after the Bay State recently passed legislation that allows out-of-state gay couples to marry in Massachusetts.

"I think it's the right thing for Massachusetts to have done to make its law apply to anybody who wants to be here, but in terms of right of recognition, every state has its own choice, and that's the way it works," said Kerry.
The senator also fended off questions about the possibility of joining an Obama cabinet -- perhaps as Secretary of State.

Could a Kerry Senate vacancy result in a Senator Barney Frank?



Roundup


Barack Obama has quietly called for full convention delegate status for Florida and Michigan. Oddly, I had to get this from Hillary Clinton's web site.

♦ "Nonprofit status is what created the Bible Belt. The tax code brought religion back to this country." -- Gore Vidal (right), oracle laureate of the United States.

♦ At the end of June, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (say "D-triple-C") had $56.6 million in the bank, and the National Republican Congressional Committee had only $8.4 million.

♦ Although the Jesse Helms-sponsored HIV travel ban has been lifted as a matter of law in the PEPFAR bill that was signed last week, it can still remain as a matter of administrative fiat. Whether it stays or not depends on the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and ultimately on the President of the United States.



Friday, August 1, 2008

Only 83% of Virginia county identify as heterosexual

What's the deal with the 9.7%? From today's Washington Blade:
A survey published by Arlington, Va., officials last week asked responders to identify their sexual orientation and found that 5.7 percent of county residents said they are gay.

While 5.7 percent of county residents identified as "homosexual," 83.4 percent said they were "heterosexual," 1.2 percent identified as "other" and 9.7 percent did not respond to the question.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

What is it?








    Andrew Sullivan knows >>>




Comics used against another anti-gay politician


Although Oklahoma county commissioner Brent Rinehart's bizarre anti-gay comic blew up in his face last night, a properly done comic has created viral interest in one legislative campaign in Kansas and is bringing in massive contributions. Democrat Sean Tevis (right), running for Kansas's 15th legislative district House seat against an entrenched incumbent Republican, has raised $96,512.76 in less than two weeks -- $95,312.76 of it online -- using a clever online cartoon. His comic is based on xkcd, a stick figure strip that is popular with programmers and other geeks and wonks. Tevis is a programmer and former journalist.

In contrast, Tevis' opponent, Republican incumbent Arlen Siegfreid, has raised only $5,492.00 since 01 Jan 2008, bringing his cash available this period to $16,910.27. Much of it is from PACs, corporations, and other special interests. Siegfreid caused a bit of a fuss last year when Democratic Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed an executive order protecting state employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The numbers behind Tevis' success are staggering. According to his 28 Jul 2008 campaign finance report, $69,391.93 of his contributions were of $50 or less, and there were 5,449 of those. Almost all of his itemized contributions were received in a single three-day period. A blurb about his web site was posted on geek favorite BoingBoing and another on Daily Kos on 16 Jul, and the contributions started pouring in.

The comic strip itself is quirky and amusing, with a stick-figure Tevis listening to a crackpot politician rail against gay marriage and other right-wing shibboleths. Tevis' masterstroke, though, was to embed a special message in the strip's source code asking any geeks who bothered studying the code (there are people who do that for fun *ahem*) to send in an amount ending in 88¢ to tag themselves as fellow geeks. According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly 20% of his 5,698 online donors have done that.

The entire strip is here. And he's married.




Rinehart loses big in Oklahoma

Indicted Oklahoma county commissioner Brent Rinehart, who made national news for sending out a crazy anti-gay comic book as a campaign mailer, came in third out of three candidates for the Republican nomination in yesterday's primary. He received 21% versus 47% and 32% for the other two candidates, who must go into a runoff next month to determine the Republican nominee.

The bad news is that in this heavily Republican district, Rinehart is likely to be replaced by a smoother, less stupid bigot who is thus more durable.

Rinehart must face trial in September on several felony charges relating to the financing of his last campaign four years ago. And he must face the IRS as well for alleged tax improprieties as well.

The sixteen-page comic book can still be seen here. Especially check out the beefy guys in togas on pages 5 and 8.



Still Black film clip (01:15)

Kylar Broadus, Esq., chair of the National Black Justice Coalition, makes us think and laugh at the same time. The NBJC is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering black same-gender-loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.





Tuesday, July 29, 2008

GOP Rep. John Kline questions need for transgender protections

Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02), the ranking minority member of the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee, had a chance to address the issue of legislating transgender employment protections during the 26 Jun 2008 hearing. His head didn't spin 360°, he didn't projectile vomit pea soup, and he didn't sound like Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Preparedness when she made herself sound like a loon tesifying on Don't Ask Don't Tell last week.

Kline is more incisive and surgical than that, crisply calling into question whether there is any evidence that anti-transgender discrimination even exists and whether proposals to pass an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act constitute legislating for its own sake. In doing so, he has set up the Republican rationale for voting against any version of ENDA at all, let alone one that encompasses gender identity.

Committee Statement
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2008
CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527


Kline Statement: Subcommittee Hearing on "An Examination of Discrimination Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace"

Good morning. I'd like to begin by thanking the witnesses for taking time out of their schedules to be here. I would also like to express my appreciation to Chairman Andrews for his flexibility in scheduling this hearing.

The issue we are here to examine – gender identity and workplace discrimination – follows on the Majority's efforts last fall to include protections for transgender individuals in the employment non-discrimination legislation. The purpose of this general hearing is to allow for thorough and thoughtful consideration of this issue, and any future proposals that might affect the American people.

That said, I am somewhat puzzled as to why the Committee did not hold this hearing last year, before the Majority rushed to consider legislation on this issue.

Last September, this Subcommittee held the only hearing on this topic. It was a hearing on a prior bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which broadly aimed to prohibit organizations from discriminating in their employment practices against individuals on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. During that hearing, we heard testimony from experts who cautioned that some of the provisions in that bill could be confusing, difficult to comply with, and potentially fraught with litigation. Complex questions were raised about how that bill would impact employers; whether it would preserve religious freedom and encroach on employee privacy; and how it would comply with existing anti-discrimination statutes.

The bill's sponsors scrambled to address these questions and concerns. Ultimately, they decided to split the original ENDA bill, separating the protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and attempting to address some of the technical concerns. But only the new bill involving sexual orientation discrimination was rushed to the House Floor for a vote. The flawed bill still raised many of the same serious concerns that were previously identified. After the bill passed the House in November 2007, it stalled in the Senate, where it still awaits action.

I can only speculate as to why no legislative action was taken on the other bill that sought protections based on gender identity. Despite the good intentions of those who supported these proposals, there still appeared to be too much uncertainty and too many unanswered questions. This explains why we are here today, examining an issue that perhaps should have been reviewed in greater detail before rushing to legislate.

We are all committed to the principle that no employee should be subject to discrimination. Before we consider and enact any new federal mandates, however, we must first determine whether a new law is necessary. Is there evidence that this type of discrimination is occurring? Are current laws and employer policies unable to protect employees? We have numerous federal and state laws and employer policies already on the books that help prevent discriminatory practices. Do we need yet another federal law? It is my view that the role of this Committee, and Congress, is to build upon this framework only when needed, and to avoid legislating for its own sake.

I look forward to hearing the testimony to be offered by our witnesses about the practical impact, benefits, and problems associated with this issue. I'm pleased that we will hear multiple perspectives on this topic, and hope this testimony will help ensure that any future well-intentioned efforts do not result in harmful, unintended consequences.

I yield back the balance of my time.




Text of Shannon Minter's testimony at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Shannon Minter, Esq., legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. The text of his testimony is below. A PDF of his testimony can be found here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.

Written Statement of Shannon Price Minter, Esq.
Legal Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
To the
Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Committee on Education and Labor
United States House of Representatives
Room 2175
Rayburn House Office Building
An Examination of Discrimination Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace
June 26, 2008


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

This is truly a historic day, and one that is deeply meaningful not just to transgender people, but to all of our family members and loved ones as well. This is the first time that most transgender people have had the reality of our lives addressed by Congress. I am grateful to have this chance to speak to you today both as an attorney who specializes in transgender legal issues and as a transgender man.

I was born female and transitioned from female to male at the age of thirty-five, about twelve years ago. Growing up as a transgender young person in rural East Texas, I never would have dreamed of having this opportunity to address our nation’s legislators. I am keenly aware, as I am sure my fellow witnesses are as well, that we speak to you on behalf of your transgender constituents across the country, whether it be others living in rural Texas, suburban New Jersey, or metropolitan Minneapolis.

I am going to touch on three issues: who transgender people are; the pervasiveness of workplace discrimination against transgender people; and the inadequacy of current federal law to address that discrimination.

Transgender people are individuals whose internal identification as male or female does not match their assigned sex at birth, including many who undertake the medical process of changing their physical gender. Transgender people have existed throughout history and have been part of almost every culture and community. In the United States, transgender people come from every racial and ethnic group and live in every part of our country. Transgender people also work in virtually every occupation.(1)

Like other Americans, transgender people fervently wish to be able support ourselves and our families and to have the dignity of being treated as equal members of society. As employees, we want to be judged based on our skills and our qualifications—on what we have to offer, not on whether we happen to be transgender.

Many transgender people are fortunate to have support in their workplace and are able
to continue working in their chosen careers both during and after their transition from one gender to another; unfortunately, however, many others face some of the most blatant and severe workplace discrimination imaginable, to a degree that is often truly shocking. All too often, the mere disclosure that a person is transgender and intends to undergo, or has undergone, sex-reassignment results immediately in severe harassment or job loss. That is true even for highly skilled employees who may have served in their position for years.

For example, in a case that attracted national attention last year, Steve Stanton had served as the City Manager of Largo, Florida for 14 years, longer than any other City Manager in Largo’s history. Throughout his tenure, Mr. Stanton always received excellent job evaluations and was widely respected as one of the most effective city managers in the country. During his last evaluation, in September, 2006, he was given a large raise in recognition of his long tenure and accomplishments. But just seven months later, the Largo City Commission abruptly fired Mr. Stanton after a local news article disclosed that he was transgender and intended to transition from a man to a woman. The Commission refused to reconsider its decision. As a result, the City of Largo lost a valuable employee, and Stanton, who has subsequently changed her first name to Susan and is now living as a woman, has been unable to find another job.(2)

Unfortunately, there are many similar stories, most of which receive little or no public attention. One such story concerns Kathleen Culhane, a veteran who also served in the Iowa National Guard. Prior to her transition from male to female, Ms. Culhane had worked for several years as a research assistant at a state university in Iowa. She informed her supervisor that she was transgender and would be transitioning from male to female. Within weeks of that disclosure, Ms. Culhane was told she would be fired. She applied for positions in other departments, but no one was willing to hire a transgender person. Ms. Culhane lost her job and was forced to move to another state to find work, leaving behind her home of sixteen years.(3)

In another case, Anthony Barreto-Neto, an experienced and skilled police officer, was hired by a local police department in Hardwick, Vermont. Shortly thereafter, town officials found a website that described Mr. Barreto-Neto as "transsexual" and disclosed the fact that he had been born female and had undergone sex-reassignment several years earlier. The town officials communicated that information to senior police department personnel, who then subjected Mr. Barreto-Neto to severe harassment and dangerous workplace conditions, including issuing him faulty security equipment. In a subsequent investigation by the Vermont Attorney General, a former police chief testified that he was directed to make Mr. Barreto-Neto so uncomfortable that he would leave the force. Mr. Barreto-Neto was able to settle his case; however, the police department took the position that discrimination against a transgender person was not prohibited by law.(4) A few years later, the Vermont Legislature enacted a statewide law specifically prohibiting such discrimination.

As lawyers who specialize in this area are well aware, such stories of discrimination are painfully common. Employees who disclose their transgender status or who attempt to transition on the job risk being summarily dismissed, regardless of their qualifications or prior history.

State and local lawmakers throughout the country increasingly are addressing this type of discrimination. Currently 12 states and the District of Columbia have laws that specifically ban workplace discrimination based on gender identity: California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.(5) The first such statewide law was passed by Minnesota in 1993; however, most have been enacted in the past three to five years. Several other states are considering similar laws, and earlier this month, on June 3, 2008, the New York State Assembly passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act by a vote of 108 to 34.(6) More than 100 cities and counties have enacted local non-discrimination laws protecting transgender workers.(7) And many of the country’s employers, both large and small, have adopted non-discrimination policies that prohibit gender identity discrimination.(8)

Despite these advances, the current patchwork of local and state laws is inadequate to remedy the pervasive gender identity discrimination taking place across the country. Most transgender employees do not live in a jurisdiction that provides them with legal protection. In most states, a transgender worker who is fired or harassed for being transgender has no legal recourse.

Existing federal law, including Title VII, does not adequately protect transgender employees. As a logical matter, discrimination against a person for changing his or her sex should be recognized as discrimination based on sex, just as discrimination against a person for changing his or her religion or nationality is recognized as discrimination based on religion or nationality. Many legal scholars, as well as women’s rights and civil rights advocates, strongly support the view that the prohibition of sex discrimination in Title VII logically, and as a matter of principle, should prohibit transgender discrimination. In practice, however, most courts have rejected that view, creating a significant loophole in sex discrimination law. For decades, starting in the 1970s, courts summarily held that Title VII does not protect transgender people from discrimination.(9) Too often, those decisions not only denied protection, but spoke about transgender people in disparaging and demeaning terms. In recent years, some federal courts have begun to hold that, at least under some circumstances, Title VII may protect transgender
people who are discriminated against because they do not conform to gender sereotypes.(10)

The most notable example is the Sixth Circuit, which thus far is the only federal appellate court to issue such a decision.(11) This is a welcome development, and has provided a remedy for some transgender employees against some forms of gender identity discrimination. For the most part, however, courts have continued to apply Title VII narrowly to exclude transgender people.(12) Moreover, even the few courts, including the Sixth Circuit, that have held that Title VII may protect transgender people against discrimination based on gender stereotypes have stopped short of holding that Title VII prohibits discrimination simply because a person is transgender.

Thus, it is essential that Congress make clear that discrimination against transgender people because of their gender identity is against the law.

Thank you for your leadership in convening this historic forum and for the opportunity to testify. Growing up in my small Texas town, I could not have imagined a day like this. So many transgender people and their families around the country are waiting and watching, hoping that Congress will take action to address this harmful discrimination and to help ensure that transgender people have an equal opportunity to work.


(1) The representation of transgender people in virtually all professions is evidenced by the broad range of occupations that have been the subject of transgender employment discrimination actions. See, e.g., Enriquez v. West Jersey Health Systems, 777 A.2d 365 (N.J. Ct. App. Div. 2001) (medicine); Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 742 F.2d 1081 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1017 (1985) (airline industry); Broadus v. State Farm Ins. Co., 2000 WL 1585257 (W.D. Mo. Oct. 11, 2000) (insurance industry); Mitchell v. Axcan Scandipharm, Inc., 2006 WL 456173 (W.D. Pa. Feb. 17, 2006) (sales); Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2004) (firefighting); Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729 (6th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1003 (2005) (law enforcement); Schroer v. Billington, 525 F.Supp.2d 58 (D.D.C. 2007) (terrorism research analysis).

(2) Deborah J. Vagins, "Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans," at 17 (American Civil Liberties Union, Sept. 7, 2007).

(3) Id. at 19.

(4) Mr. Baretto-Neto was represented by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. For a description of his case, see http://www.glad.org/News_Room/press73-4-23-04.html.

(5) California (Cal. Gov't Code §§ 12926(p), 12940, 12955, Cal. Penal Code § 422.76); Colorado (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-34-401(7.5)); Illinois (775 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/1-102, 5/1-103(O-1)); Iowa (Iowa Code § 216.6); Maine (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 5, § 4552, 4553(9-C)); Minnesota (Minn. Stat. § 363A.03(44)); New Jersey (N.J. Stat. Ann. §10:5-3 et seq.); New Mexico (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-1-2(Q)); Oregon (Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 175.100, 659A.030); Rhode Island (R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-5-6, R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-24-2.1(a)(8)); Vermont (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 1, § 144); Washington (Wash. Rev. Code § 49.60.040); and the District of Columbia (D.C. Code Ann. § 2-1402.11).

(6) A06584A, 231th Leg. (N.Y. 2008).

(7) National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, "Jurisdictions with Explicitly Transgender-Inclusive Non-Discrimination Laws"(April 2008), available at http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/fact_sheets/all_jurisdictions_w_pop_4_08.pdf.

(8) Transgender Law & Policy Institute, "Employer and Union Policies Prohibiting Discrimination Against Transgender People,"available at
http://www.transgenderlaw.org/employer/index.htm.

(9) See, e.g., Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, Inc., 742 F.2d 1081 (7th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 471 U.S. 1017 (1985) (pilot did not have a cause of action under Title VII because, based on the plain meaning of the word "sex" and the legislative history of Title VII, sex does not include a person's transsexual status); Sommers v. Budget Marketing, Inc., 667 F.2d 748 (8th Cir. 1982) (Title VII does not encompass discrimination against transgender persons); Holloway v. Arthur Andersen & Co., 566 F.2d 659 (9th Cir. 1977) (Congress did not intend for Title VII to protect transgender employees); James v. Ranch Mart Hardware, Inc., 881 F. Supp. 478 (D. Kan. 1995) (same); Powell v. Read's, Inc., 436 F. Supp. 369 (D. Md. 1977) (same); Voyles v. Ralph K. Davies Medical Center, 403 F. Supp. 456 (N.D. Cal. 1975) (same), aff'd, 570 F.2d 354 (9th Cir. 1978); Oiler v. Winn-Dixie Louisiana, 89 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1832, 2002 WL 31098541 (E.D. La. Sept. 16, 2002) (male grocery store clerk denied Title VII protection when fired for wearing female clothing off the job).

(10) Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2004) (holding that transgender firefighter who was transitioning from male to female was discriminated under Title VII against based on failure to conform to masculine gender stereotypes); Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729 (6th Cir. 2005) (holding that transgender police officer who was transitioning from male to female was discriminated against under Title VII based on failure to conform to masculine gender stereotypes), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1003 (U.S. 2005); Lopez v. River Oaks Imaging & Diagnostic Group, Inc., 542 F.Supp.2d 653 (S.D. Tex. 2008) (denying employer’s motion for summary judgment and holding that transgender plaintiff was entitled to prove her gender stereotyping claim).

(11) See Smith v. City of Salem, 378 F.3d 566 (6th Cir. 2004); and Barnes v. City of Cincinnati, 401 F.3d 729 (6th Cir. 2005), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1003 (U.S. 2005).

(12) See, e.g., Sweet v. Mulberry Lutheran Home, 2003 WL 21525058 (S.D. Ind. June 17, 2003) (holding that termination because of employee’s intent to change sex was not actionable as sex discrimination under Title VII); James v. Ranch Mart Hardware, Inc., 881 F. Supp. 478 (D. Kan. 1995) (holding that Title VII does not prohibit discrimination against transgender people).




Shannon Minter testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Shannon Minter, Esq., legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. The text of his testimony is here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); Diego Sanchez; William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; and Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. A PDF of her testimony can be found here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); Diego Sanchez; William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





Bill Hendrix testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, William H. Hendrix III Ph.D., chair of Dow Chemical's Gay, Lesbian, and Allies at Dow employee affinity group, testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. A PDF of his testimony can be found here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); Diego Sanchez; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





Text of Diego Sanchez's testimony at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Diego Sanchez testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. The text of his testimony is below. A PDF of his testimony can be found here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.

Written Statement of
Diego Miguel Sanchez

To the

Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions
Committee on Education and Labor
United States House of Representatives
Room 2175
Rayburn House Office Building
June 26, 2008


Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for adding my voice to those you hear today. My name is Diego Miguel Sanchez, and I am a 51-year old transsexual Latino man. I was born female and
transitioned to male. I grew up as an Army brat around the world, ending up in Augusta, Georgia, where my 80-year-old mother lives today.

When I was five, I told my parents that I was born wrong, that I felt like a boy inside. My mother showed me a magazine with Christine Jorgensen on the cover. She told me that she didn't know if there were other people like me – girls who felt like boys -- but that this woman was born a boy, felt like a girl and was able to become a woman later in life. Mom told me that by the time I grew up, it would be okay. From that time, my parents gently, privately, dually socialized me, but it was our secret, of sorts. My mom prepared me for life as girls are expected to be, and my dad taught me the lessons that boys needed to become men. It was rough – I had as many tutus as Tonka Trucks. But I could survive the former because of the latter. My parents always gave me hope, and my positive outlook on life, despite painful hardships, is the fruit of that loving labor. Mom was mostly right; it's almost okay for me these days.

I am grateful to be gainfully employed as the Director of Public Relations & External Affairs at AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts and AIDS Action Council in Washington, D.C. My college degree is in Journalism with a major in Public Relations from the University of Georgia. I am the only male Georgia letterman I know of who earned it on the women's tennis team. I was one of those Straight A, perfect attendance students. Dad always told me, "The harder you work, the luckier you get." I worked hard. I am lucky.

Because sex reassignment procedures weren't as developed in 1980 as today, I focused on work, hoping to make changes in the future. I spent nearly 20 award-winning years climbing the corporate ladder at several global companies including Coca-Cola, Burson-Marsteller, Holiday Inn, ITT Sheraton and Starwood Hotels.

I'm a loyal worker, a passionate leader and a man who had to wait, for fear of being fired, to be who I was always destined to be: Diego Miguel Sanchez, an honorable man. My career entailed navigating the newly named Glass Ceiling, probing limited opportunities for female professionals of color and trying to find a way to be a man while I looked like a woman in the workplace. It was heart-breaking and painful. But it was necessary. I did it because it was the only way I knew to save money to pay for sex reassignment, which I did later from my own savings.

I struggled with finding self-respect in a world that I never imagined would allow -- let alone accept or embrace -- someone like me, someone born seemingly wrong. I was an honest person who could be honest about everything except about me. I negotiated with my corporate colleagues for things that would moderately affirm me. It's the little things that seem like 'nothing' to others, that meant so much. It warmed my heart to receive a tie rather than a scarf as a company talisman. I asked people to use my first initial as my first name until I could change things medically and legally.

I have lived long enough to achieve those gains because I was able to do the ONE thing that military families are ordered to do when there’s a challenge: I sucked it up.

But when my head hits my pillow every night, I close my eyes and think about my friends who are transgender whose lives aren't easy. I miss my friend Alexander John Goodrum who took his own life. I feel guilty about my friend Ethan St. Pierre who lost his job just because he began his transition from female to male. I was the first transman he met, and he lost his job because he is brave and honest. It wasn't right. I still lose sleep over that injustice.

Because I work in public health, I know countless transgender people who are homeless, and I know these people by their names and character. These are good people who can't get work and whose lives are cast to the streets in large cities and small towns. It's a disgraceful injustice.

I flash my ID every day without concern. It's not questioned because I have had the luxury of personally paying to transition to male and aligning my IDs and myself. But I have friends whose licenses' and passports' gender don't match their identity, so they are disclosed as transgender the minute they show an ID, including when they try to get a job. I face these burdens when recruiting firms ask for my former names as part of their due diligence. It closes doors for me, and it limits the lives of my friends.

It's an injustice that we are ever evaluated for employment based on other people's comfort with our existence. I grew up in the South, where I wasn't allowed to swim in public pools because I'm not white. This experience today feels like a flashback.

I am before you today to affirm that transgender and transsexual people, including me, are equally human and deserve to be treated like other people. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Diego Miguel Sanchez, APR




Diego Sanchez testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Diego Sanchez of the Massachusetts AIDS Action Committee testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. The text of his testimony is here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





Col. Diane Schroer testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.) testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. A PDF of her testimony can be found here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); Diego Sanchez; William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





Rep. Barney Frank testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04) testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections.

Other witnesses included Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); Diego Sanchez; William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





Text of Rep. Tammy Baldwin's testimony at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02) testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. The text of her testimony is below. A PDF of her testimony can be found here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); Diego Sanchez; William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin
Statement for Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee
Hearing on Gender Identity
Tuesday, June 26, 2008


Thank you Chairman Andrews, Ranking Member Kline, and members of the Committee for allowing me the opportunity to testify today at this historic hearing.

Many of my colleagues have asked about the phrase "gender identity" and why employment protections based on gender identity and expression ought to be included in any employment discrimination legislation Congress takes up. I'll do my best to
answer any lingering questions and clarify what drives many in the LGBT community to demand an inclusive approach to eliminating discrimination in the workplace – one that does not leave the smallest and most vulnerable part of our community behind.

As you may know, gender identity is a person's internal sense of his or her gender. In the vast majority of the population, an individual's gender identity and his or her birth sex "match." But for a small minority of people, gender identity and anatomical sex conflict. A common way for many transgender people to describe this feeling is to say something to the effect of being "trapped in the wrong body." Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same and transgender people may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual.

There are thousands of transgender Americans who lead incredibly successful, stable lives, are dedicated parents, contribute immeasurably to their communities, their country. I personally know transgender people who work in fields as diverse as defense contracting, broadcasting, community organizing, the legal profession – I could go on. They have transitioned successfully, many with the full support of their employers.

Despite these successes, because an individual was born one sex and presents themselves to the world as another—or in a way that other people may think is inconsistent with how a man or a woman should present themselves—he or she can face many forms of discrimination.

Hate crimes against transgender Americans are tragically common. Transgender people also face discrimination in the mundane tasks of the everyday – trying to find housing, apply for credit, or even see a doctor...and, of course, in the focus of today’s hearing: trying to provide for themselves and their families.

Some of you know that I practiced law for a few years in a small general practice firm before I was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly. On occasion, I represented clients who were fired in violation of Wisconsin's 1982 non-discrimination law that added sexual orientation to our state’s anti-discrimination statutes.

During that time, I met a transgender woman who left a lasting impression, though she was never a client. This woman had been fired from a management position at a large local employer when she announced to her boss that she intended to transition. And because Wisconsin law gave her no legal recourse, she faced an impossible situation – and ended up moving to a different state. I remember a time in my own life, when I thought I had to choose between living my life with truth and integrity about who I am, as a lesbian, or pursuing the career of my dreams in public service.

Among the things that made me change my mind was Wisconsin's Non-Discrimination law that passed four years before I first ran for local office… as an out lesbian.

The importance of nondiscrimination laws cannot be overstated. Substantively, they provide real remedies and a chance to seek justice. Symbolically, they say to America, judge your fellow citizens by their integrity, character, and talents, not their sexual orientation, or gender identity, or their race or religion, for that
matter. Symbolically, these laws also say that irrational hate or fear have no place in our work place.

Today, 39% of Americans live in areas explicitly banning discrimination based on gender identity and expression and at least 300 major U.S. businesses now ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Corporate America and the American people are way ahead of the Congress in acknowledging the basic truth we hold to be self-evident... that all of us are created equal... and the laws of the land should reflect that equality. It is high time that America declare discrimination based on gender identity and expression unlawful.

Mr. Chairman, I wholeheartedly support your Committee's efforts to do just this. For the record, I support an inclusive bill which ensures that hard-working Americans cannot be denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise be discriminated against just because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

All of us who have had the honor of working in this institution know that one of the greatest things about America is that it is both a nation and an idea. Our American Dream promises that no matter where we start, no matter who we are, if we work hard, we will have the opportunity to advance. This Committee can help fulfill that promise.

Thank you.




Rep. Tammy Baldwin testifies at transgender protections hearing

On 26 Jun 2008, Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-02) testified before the Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee of the House Education and Labor Committee on transgender employment protections. The text of her testimony is here.

Other witnesses included Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-04); U.S. Army Col. Diane Schroer (ret.); Diego Sanchez; William H. Hendrix III, Ph.D.; Sabrina Marcus Taraboletti; and Shannon Minter, Esq. Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ-01) is the subcommittee chair.





 
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