Archive for February, 2013

54 groups to Obama: Time to act on ENDA order


Photo: Michael Key. Washington Blade.

Repost from the Washington Blade

A coalition of 54 groups is ramping up pressure for President Obama to sign a heavily sought-after executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

In a letter dated Feb. 20, a coalition of LGBT advocacy group and other civil rights organizations — such as those representing the black and Latino community — call on Obama to take administrative action to protecting workers from anti-LGBT workplace bias.

“Over the past 70 years, both Republican and Democratic presidents have used executive orders to ensure that taxpayer money is not wasted on workplace discrimination or harassment based on characteristics such as race, gender, and religion,” the letter states. “These contractor policies exist to this day, and they cover almost one in four jobs throughout the United States. It is now time for an executive order ensuring the same workplace protections for LGBT Americans.” Continue Reading.

Read the Letter: Federal contractor EO POTUS sign-on letter 2-20-13

An Executive Order to Prevent Discrimination Against LGBT Workers

workplace_onpageRepost from Center for American Progress

By Lee Badgett, Crosby Burns, Nan D. Hunter, Jeff Krehely, Christy Mallory, and Brad Sears

Under federal law it is entirely legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. While many states, municipalities, and corporations have instituted policies that shield LGBT workers from workplace bias, LGBT individuals currently lack adequate legal protections from employment discrimination.

In fact, a majority of workers currently live in states that have not passed laws giving LGBT workers legal protections from workplace discrimination. Only 45 percent of American workers live in a jurisdiction where they are covered by a nondiscrimination policy based on sexual orientation. Only 34 percent of workers live in a jurisdiction where they are covered by a nondiscrimination policy based on gender identity.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would bring uniform protections to all American workers under federal law. Short of such a law, however, President Obama has the authority to extend significant protections to the LGBT workforce. Executive action from the president would give real, meaningful, and immediate legal protections to LGBT workers—protections that could mean the difference between being employed and unemployed.

Read more and download the full issue brief here.

State Department LGBT Travel Information

travel-globe-passportAs you ponder your next travel adventure as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person the U.S. State Department has published a webpage with travel tips and resources for the LGBT community. You can find information on passport issues, documents that LGBT families should carry, countries that have restrictions on entry with HIV, and links to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. There is also information on identification requirements for gender reassignment U.S. passport applicants.

As the webpage states, “Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states.  Most LGBT travelers encounter no problems while overseas, but it helps to be prepared and research your destination before you go.” We agree and we wish you happy and safe travels.

Visit the webpage here.

Heartfelt Praise to a National Leader

secclintonThere’ve been many encomia to Hillary Clinton over the last week, all richly deserved.  To these we add our own deep measure of heartfelt praise to a national leader whose energy and commitment in integrating the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people into U.S. foreign policy has shown a clear-eyed understanding that, as she said in her landmark December 2012 speech at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, “gay rights are human rights.”

Secretary Clinton’s four-year legacy in integrating LGBT rights into our country’s international human rights policy goes far beyond even the expectations framed by a rapidly changing recognition in this country that the equality of LGBT people is a moral imperative.  Under Clinton’s direction:

  • Annual human rights reports now include LGBT-specific sections, and a new “toolkit” is helping our embassy personnel address LGBT human rights issues in foreign countries and cultures;
  • Regional bureaus, particularly WHA and AF, have integrated LGBT equality goals into their work programs;
  • The Department’s public diplomacy tools – including speakers, international visitors, and other exchanges – are being used to increase international acceptance and understanding of LGBT people;
  • The Bureau of Consular Affairs has revised passport and reports of birth abroad forms to accommodate same-sex couples and parents, and has simplified the ability to change gender markers for passport issuance;
  • The Department has shown leadership in addressing LGBT human rights issues in the Human Rights Council, and at the United Nations in New York;
  • The Department’s Democracy Fund is being used to support LGBT civil society needs, and a new Global Equality Fund will expand that support in exciting new directions, in support of U.S. democratic and foreign assistance goals; and
  • The families of gay and lesbian Foreign Service personnel now enjoy the same benefits as those enjoyed by their straight counterparts.

These and other smaller, less-visible steps reflect Secretary Clinton’s clear-eyed appreciation that we, as a country, honor our founding principles of equality, fair play, and freedom only when those principles are applied universally to all minorities, all people.  The clarity and consistency of her call for other countries to respect the rights of LGBT people has lent new integrity to our human rights policy.  Equally, it has restored the credibility of government to many of us who have long waited for the leadership that Secretary Clinton has so admirably shown.

The Council has enjoyed a close partnership with many State Department political appointees whose immediate time in government service is over.  We look forward to working with them, and indeed with Secretary Clinton as well, in other capacities in the future.  However, Secretary Clinton’s strongest legacy is the Department she leaves behind:  one where career professionals understand that international LGBT rights are firmly included in what we as a country must advocate, and where those professionals feel it is politically safe to stand proudly for the inclusive values on which our country was founded.

For that as much as any of the specific accomplishments cited above, we say thank you to Secretary Clinton.  The world is a better place because of her tiresome advocacy of fairness and equality.  So, indeed, is our country.

Rainbow Coalition

rainbow-fpRepost from Foreign Policy

A gay rights revolution is sweeping across the Americas. It’s time for Washington to catch up.

In his second inaugural address, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to make the United States a beacon for the world by recommitting the country to its ideals of equality. He also made history by saying those ideals demand marriage rights for same-sex couples just as they have demanded equal citizenship for women and African Americans.

But even if the Supreme Court or lawmakers soon agree with Obama’s words — “for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well” — the United States will be a latecomer to advancing marriage rights. The world’s leaders on this issue are not just from places Americans might expect — Western Europe or Canada — but many countries in our own hemisphere; places not usually known for progressivism on social issues. While Obama was undergoing his “evolution” on marriage rights, there has been a gay rights revolution that has stretched from Tierra del Fuego to the Rio Grande.

One dramatic illustration: When a broad coalition of human-rights activists brought a gay rights charter to the United Nations in 2007, the push was led not by the likes of Sweden or the Netherlands, but by Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Same-sex marriage was not legal in any of these countries then, but a lot has changed in the years since. Continue Reading

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