Friday, July 30, 2010

Open Letter to Pelosi on ENDA

Eight LGBT groups including GetEqual, the Transgender Law Center, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights have written an open letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanding a floor vote on ENDA immediately.

From San Francisco Pride at Work, One Struggle, One Fight, GetEqual, Harvey Milk Democratic Club, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, El / La, and National Pride at Work

An Open Letter to the House Speaker on ENDA

We are writing to express how extremely troubled we are that the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has not yet been scheduled for a vote by the full House of Representatives. We believe a floor vote must be scheduled for ENDA immediately.

It would be devastating for LGBT workers for this Congress to not complete its work on ENDA before the end of this session. ENDA would be historic in the number of LGBT people who would benefit from its passage. During this economic crisis, it is more important than ever to prohibit the often impoverishing effects of workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Most LGBT workers have no protections from workplace discrimination. ENDA would provide legal protection against discrimination nationally. Over and over we have been promised that a vote would be scheduled on ENDA, and these promises have been repeatedly broken. In 29 states, it is still legal to fire someone solely because they are lesbian, gay or bisexual. And in 38 states it is legal to fire someone solely for being transgender. The current version of the bill would outlaw discrimination on both sexual orientation and gender identity.

A 2006 study by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the Transgender Law Center found that 60 percent of transgender people in San Francisco earn less than $15,300 per year, only 25 percent have a full-time job and nearly 9 percent have no source of income.

Only 4 percent reported making more than $61,200, which is about the median income in the Bay Area. More than half of local transgender people live in poverty, and 96 percent earn less than the median income. Forty percent of those surveyed don't even have a bank account. What this study reveals is that even in a city that is considered a haven for the LGBT community, transgender workers face profound employment challenges and discrimination.

A 2007 meta-analysis from the Williams Institute of 50 studies of workplace discrimination against LGBT people found consistent evidence of bias in the workplace. The analysis found that up to 68 percent of LGBT people reported experiencing employment discrimination, and up to 17 percent said they had been fired or denied employment.

Public opinion polling shows that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of making sure LGBT Americans get the same employment opportunities as everyone else. In fact, the latest surveys shows that nearly 90% of Americans support workplace fairness for LGBT workers.

As you know, in a few weeks, Congress will finish it's legislative business for the year so that they can return to their districts to run for re-election. Last month at a LGBT Pride event, Congresswoman Jackie Spier announced to the LGBT community that not only would we not get ENDA before the end of the legislative session, that she did not think we would get it for five years because we won't have enough votes in Congress again to ensure passage. It is ironic that Congress plans on leaving town and going home to campaign for their own jobs while leaving thousands of LGBT workers without protections for the next five years. When 90% of Americans support workplace fairness, it is challenging to believe that anyone fears a backlash from the voters. The time to pass ENDA is now. The American people support it, the politicians promised it. No more broken promises. We demand that a vote be scheduled now.


SF Pride at Work, One Struggle, One Fight, GetEqual, Harvey Milk Democratic Club, Transgender Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights, El / La and National Pride at Work

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Target CEO defends Minn. donations

Target CEO defends Minn. donations

Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel said gay employees have been raising concerns about the money helping state Rep. Tom Emmer, who opposes gay marriage. Target gave $150,000 to MN Forward, a group staffed by former insiders from outgoing Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration. MN Forward is running TV ads supporting Emmer.

Emmer is a fiery conservative who lauds Arizona’s strict approach to illegal immigration, once advocated chemical castration for sex offenders and wants to lower taxes. His profile contrasts with Target’s moderate image in Minnesota, where the company is known for donating to public school programs, food pantries and the annual Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival.

Target donated to MN Forward under new laws allowing corporations to spend company money on election campaigns. Corporate donations have been flowing since the U.S. Supreme Court threw out parts of a 63-year-old law that prohibited companies and unions from donating to campaigns for or against candidates.

Target’s donations to MN Forward – $100,000 in cash and $50,000 in brand consulting – slightly exceeds the total amount the company has given this year to all campaigns and causes at the federal level. By contrast, individuals can give a maximum of only $2,000 to candidates under Minnesota law.

Three Democrats, House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton and former state Rep. Matt Entenza, are running in the Aug. 10 primary. Pawlenty chose not to seek a third term and is instead exploring a 2012 presidential bid.

Although corporate donations are now legal, they could be sensitive for companies that serve customers of different political orientation. “You’re never going to please everyone,” said Elliot Schreiber, a professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia and consultant on corporate image management. “Taking sides is only going to exacerbate the situation.”

MN Forward is technically nonpartisan, but executive director Brian McClung, Pawlenty’s former spokesman, said Emmer is the only gubernatorial candidate the group supports.

“We believe that everybody has the right to express their opinions and we’re going to run a fair and factual campaign,” McClung said. “Our first ad is a positive ad talking about a candidate’s vision for creating jobs.”

As of Tuesday, Target was the largest single donor to the group, which had raised more than $1 million from industry trade groups and companies, including Pentair Inc., Hubbard Broadcasting Inc., Davisco Foods International Inc. and Polaris Industries Inc. Electronic retailer Best Buy Co. gave $100,000 to the group according to an MN Forward report made public Tuesday.

The Supreme Court ruling left in place state prohibitions against companies giving directly to the candidates. The money can go to independent groups supporting the candidates. But individuals can donate directly to the candidates’ campaigns.

Money from Target’s top executives has gone mainly to Republicans. Former Chief Executive Officer Robert Ulrich, who retired last year, gave $617,000 during his time as Target’s leader, most of it to the state GOP. Current Chief Executive Gregg Steinhafel has donated about $25,000, almost exclusively to Republican candidates and causes.

UPDATE: The Candidate Target Would Not Support

When given a choice between a candidate who supports gay rights and raising taxes on the rich, and one which opposes gay rights and raising taxes on the rich, guess which one Target chose?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fox News Scares White People

REPORT: Fox News has hyped phony New Black Panthers scandal at least 95 times

Fox "News" (i.e., The White Fascist Resistance Network) continues it's race-baiting campaign to scare stupid White People.

Rachel Maddow on how Fox News Stokes Racial Fear Among Whites

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shirley Sherrod - Fox News Destroying an Innocent Woman to Attack Obama pt8

Fox News is now claiming that they didn't cover the Shirley Sherrod story until AFTER she was fired by the Obama administration. Of course they are lying, and trying to rewrite the history of what happened.

Media Matters documents the timeline of the story

Keep up with this story and all the right-wing propaganda on Media Matters

Partners in Crime: Fox News Figures Aided & Abetted Breitbart's Racial D...

Pattern of Deception: Fox News' History of Teaming Up With the Disgraced...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Memphis Churches Oppose Non-Discrimination Ordinance

It's unbelievable that a city the size of Memphis, Tennessee, with its historical role in the civil rights movement, would be one of the few major U.S. cities that does NOT protect gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people from discrimination.

I began work on a city non-discrimination back in 1996 as co-chair of the Memphis Lesbian & Gay Coalition for Justice. We had the support of then Mayor Willie Herenton and a few city council members, but the ordinance was stalled for years. (Herenton is now running for the U.S. House of Representatives against Steve Cohen by opposing gay marriage and pandering to anti-gay black pastors and churches!)

Now the Tennessee Equality Project has revived the city non-discrimination ordinance and it is finally being introduced to the Memphis City council by council member Janis Fullilove.

As expected, the anti-gay churches, led by conservative mega-church Bellevue Baptist Church are opposing the ordinance, claiming that the ordinance would somehow discriminate against Christians and churches.

The ordinance was presented for the first time today, and will be up for several readings and more debate and discussion in coming weeks.

If you live in Memphis, TAKE ACTION now to contact the Memphis City Council and urge them to support the ordinance.

Memphis Gaydar: Council Members Offer Mixed Opinions on Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Churches Say Non-Discrimination Ordinance is Dangerous

Non-Discrimination Ordinance Heats Up City Council Meeting

Grand Divisions: Misconceptions in Memphis

Commercial Appeal: Ordinance Banning Sexual Orientation Discrimination Goes to full City Council

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gays March in Catholic Poland

WARSAW (AFP) – Thousands of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and supporters of equal rights for sexual minorities marched through the streets of Warsaw on Saturday, urging Poland's government to give homosexual partnerships legal status.
But they admitted legislation was not on the cards in the strongly Catholic country, where homosexuality is still a social taboo and relatively few people choose to be openly gay.

Opinion surveys show that 80 percent of Poles oppose gay marriage and 93 percent believe gay and lesbian couples should not have the right to adopt children. Two out of three Poles oppose gay demonstrations.
Saturday's event is the first time the annual Europride parade is being held in an ex-communist state. Last year's march, in Zurich, Switzerland, attracted some 50,000 people.

Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina became the first Latin American nation to legalize gay marriage Thursday, granting same-sex couples all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage brings to heterosexuals.

The law's passage – a priority for President Cristina Fernandez's government – has inspired activists to push for similar laws in other countries, and a wave of gay weddings are expected in Buenos Aires. Some gay business leaders are predicting an economic ripple effect from an increase in tourism among gays and lesbians who will see Argentina as an even more attractive destination.

Will the United States be the last country in North and South America to legalize gay marriage?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Fall of Obama and the Democratic Party

Just a few years ago, when the Democrats took control of Congress in the last years of the worst Presidential administration in modern U.S. History, things looked so good for the Democrats. The they won the White House and a young, charismatic African-American Democratic President brought hope and change... and then.. they blew it!

If ever there was a time for a great progressive/left awakening and a political realignment from the failed policies of Ronald Reagan, George Bush and yes, Bill Clinton, it was now. Capitalism was in its biggest crisis since the Great Depression--we were in another depression! Thirty Years of Reaganomics and "free trade" (NAFTA, etc.) had lead the country off the cliff--deregulation led to economic disaster and the collapse of the banking system. The auto industry was on the verge of bankruptcy. The gap between the rich and poor continued to grow. Good paying American jobs were moved overseas, and wages declined.

Instead of taking this historic opportunity to change course and put government on the side of workers and labor to rebuild the middle class, the Obama administration continued to policies of George W. Bush to bail out the banksters who caused the economic disaster, then bailed out the failing auto industry, and continued the Bush administration's lenient regulation of the oil industry and then the BP oil disaster hit and demonstrated the complete failure of capitalism and the criminal activities of the oil companies, and instead of challenging the corporate ruling elite, the Obama administration sided over and over again with Wall Street and the corporate rich.

We needed at least another FDR to stand up to the corporate aristocracy and put workers back to work with massive public investments, instead we got a watered down package of tax cuts and far too little public investment to create jobs. Instead of a single-payer national healthcare system, or even the choice of a public option to private insurance, we got a watered down health insurance industry friendly expansion of private insurance, and a mandate for strugging workers and families to buy private insurance. Even with all these concessions to capitalism and the corporate elites, Obama was still labelled a "socialist" by the right-wing media.

So now we face the inevitable defeat of Obama and the Democratic Party in November 2010. While the Republicans played their hand well, blocking every progressive legislation and even opposing moderate and conservative policies they supported in the past, Obama and the Democrats failed to use all the power they had to push back against the corporate backed right-wing regressive forces and push a progressive agenda. Obama was NOT a FDR, he wasn't even a good Jimmy Carter. He stayed on the sidelines as Congress made a mess out of healthcare and financial regulation reform. He did not lead. Obama shares much of the blame for the defeat of Democrats in November.

Maybe if the Republicans take control of Congress and push their radical, right-wing, anti-labor, pro-business agenda, the American progressive/left will rise up as the right-wing Tea Party has and change the direction of the Democratic Party, or even better, begin organizing a post-Democratic Party socialist/labor party.

Rob Kall lays it out on OdEd News
The Democrats are going to lose big in November, possibly really big.
It's probably too late to do anything about it.
Here's a partial list of the guilty parties who caused the Democratic party to fail:
Who To Blame When Dems Loose Big in November

Another interesting article by Cenk Uygur comparing Obama to Ronald Reagan:
Who is More Conservative: Ronald Reagan or Barack Obama?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Federal Judge Overturns DOMA

BOSTON — The federal law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Boston.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, a 1996 law that the Obama administration has argued for repealing. The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro, appointed to the federal bench in 1972, ruled this afternoon in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act violates the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A companion decision in Massachusetts v. U.S. Dep't of Health and Human Services also was issued, with Tauro finding that DOMA also violates the Tenth Amendment and the Spending Clause of the Constitution.

The Obama DOJ defended DOMA, and will probably appeal the ruling to the Circuit Court and eventually the SCOTUS.
Obama Administration Walks Tricky Political Line on Gay Marriage Ban

Read the Ruling

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bigotry Wins: Hawaii Governor Vetoes Civil Unions

Hawaii's governor on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would have permitted same-sex civil unions, ending months of speculation on how she would weigh in on the contentious, emotional debate.

Republican Gov. Linda Lingle's action came on the final day she had to either sign or veto the bill, which the Hawaii Legislature approved in late April.

Lingle claims that she agonized over the veto but decided that the rights of gays and lesbians in Hawaii should be put to a popular vote! Actually, she caved in to the Religious Reich in Hawaii and blocked equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Evan Wolfson: Lingle Veto "Profoundly Disingenuous

Monday, July 05, 2010

Capitalism in Crisis

As Marx predicted, Capitalism has been a crises prone economic system since its beginnings. Bascially, capitalism has an inherent contradiction between accumulation of capital/profit and increasing demand (wages, etc.) which creates a constant struggle between labor and capital. Here's a video presentation of radical Marxist sociologist David Harvey summarizing the Marxist analysis of the crises of capitalism:

Here's more evidence of the growing crises and the class struggle between labor and capital:

U.S. Experiencing the Worst Period of Prolonged Unemployment Since the Great Depression

Brutal Unemployment Report: Economy Sheds 125,000 Jobs

Unemployment Rate Above 10% for Past Year

The Unemployment Crisis in Charts

On the Road to a Jobless Recovery

Myths of Austerity

No Age of Austerity for the Rich

Sticking the Public for the Bill for the Bankers' Crisis

Sunday, July 04, 2010

We hold these truths to be self-evident

Some thoughts on Independence Day
We hold these truths to be self-evident

And this classic essay on "patriotism" and Independence Day from the late radical historical Howard Zinn
Put Away the Flags