Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Endorsement Preview

Endorsement Meeting

Wednesday, August 1st

Mingle with the Candidates, 6:30 PM
Havens Center
1827 West Alabama St.

Here are the candidates that have screened with caucus so far. Tomorrow we will endorse a candidate in each of the races represented below. We will continue to screen and endorse candidates from other races as we approach election day.

Click on the names to visit campaign sites or other sites featuring information and these candidates.

Houston City Controller:

Houston City Council

At Large 2:

At Large 4:

At Large 5:

District B:

District D:

District H:

District I:

Houston Community College Board of Trustees

  • Kevin Hoffman, HCCS district I

Houston Independent School District Board of Trustees

Position 4:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Working Out

Next week the Caucus will vote to endorse candidates running for Houston City Council. The issue of employment discrimination always dominates our screening of candidates running for city office, and for good reason. Being the only major American city that does not guarantee GLBT people equal treatment in the workplace and equal, unbiased treatment when applying for jobs, Houston is sadly unique in this country.

With this in mind, I'd like to focus today's entry on two new reports that examine GLBT treatment in the workplace. The first study, HRC's "State of the Workplace for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans," shows a number of positive developments.

From HRC Back Story:
This year's report found an increase in the number of Fortune 500 employers that offer domestic partner benefits since last year - up from 250 to 267. This is also good news: almost 90% of Fortune 500 companies have anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation. And just how is the state of the workplace for the "T" constituency of our community? It seems that things are looking positive. Today, 25% percent of Fortune 500-ranked companies prohibit discrimination against transgender employees and applicants, compared to just 1 percent at the beginning of 2000.
The second report comes from the Williams Institute. Their report collects raw data from many different studies undertaken over the last two three decades. The Williams Institute does great work, and you can read their complete report here.

Here is a chart summarizing statistics about discrimination from the many studies they compared:

Lots of progress is being made, but, as the Williams Institute report illustrates, without government mandated nondiscrimination GLBT workers are too often treated unfairly. Some studies have found that nearly 70% of GLBT workers have gone through some form of discrimination in their careers. Studies show that transgendered people suffer even worse. There is an earning gap between GLBT professionals and straight professionals, but, of course, we all know these things. What are we going to do about it?

This year, for the first time, we have the chance to gain a majority on City Council. Come to our meeting, and help us pick the candidates that we'll back all the way to city hall.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Let's Talk About It

This blog often highlights instances when GLBT issues come out of the closet and into the mainstream. Last night’s CNN / YouTube presidential debate was historic for many reasons, but I was most impressed by the unprecedented amount of attention that focused on the GLBT community. Previous debates have touched on these issues, but I can’t recall a more thorough discussion than the one excerpted below. Amazingly, I felt the most substantive, emotional, even contentious moments of the two hour debate were ignited by the GLBT questions.

Of course, I think this development is great and long overdue, but all this attention on gay marriage got me thinking. I was amazed at how brief the discussion on health care was. All and all, they barely mentioned education. Few would deny that the 2008 presidential election will be extremely consequential. Our country is caught up in a thousand trials right now, from the Iraq war to the health care crisis. I’m curious… as a member of the GLBT community, what issue is most important to you in regards to electing the next president? What should we be talking about most, the environment or DADT, health care or marriage equality? Is there one, individual issue that will decide your vote in the primary? Does that issue involve GLBT civil rights?

On anther note, this is the fifty-second post of 2007! This blog was re-inaugurated in January, and since then, we’ve tried to cover a broad array of issues, both local and national. What was your favorite post? How would change the coverage?

After fifty posts, I think we should take a little time to talk about it.


Monday, July 23, 2007

GLBTube #8

Tonight CNN will host the first ever YouTube presidential debate. I'm really looking forward to it, as I've been browsing through the questions the last few weeks, and there are some very insightful ones in the mix. Obviously, only a handful of the hundreds of questions will make it onto the broadcast, so I've embedded four of the best GLBT questions here on our blog. (Interestingly, nearly all of the GLBT related questions I found were asked by men. I wonder why. What do you think?)

I also wanted to include this clip from Human Rights Campaign. Elizabeth Edwards on GLBT equality:

Friday, July 13, 2007

"Neil and Ron" in Dear Abby

Next to apple pie and the Fourth of July, it's hard to get much more middle America than 'Dear Abby.' The common-sense advice column has been running in America's newspapers since 1956, and apparently is "read by more people than any other newspaper column worldwide."

So for all the public opinion data and statistics this blog's covered the past few months about changing public opinions in the United States on acceptance of GLBT people, when 'Dear Abby' is running heartwarmingly Dear-Abbyish columns about GLBT couples and how they're being accepted by their families, that's some pretty hard evidence that public opinion is on our side. Take a look below for the column from yesterday's Houston Chronicle.

Dear Abby:

My husband and I raised our two sons and two daughters. One son and both daughters married well. Our other son, "Neil," is gay. He and his partner, "Ron," have been together 15 years, but Neil's father and I never wanted to know Ron because we disapproved of their lifestyle.

When I was 74, my husband died, leaving me in ill health and nearly penniless. No longer able to live alone, I asked my married son and two daughters if I could "visit" each of them for four months a year. All three turned me down.

When Neil and Ron heard what had happened, they welcomed me into their home and even removed a wall between two rooms so I'd have a bedroom with a private bath and sitting room.

They also include me in many of their plans. Since I moved in with them, I have traveled more than I have my whole life and seen places I only read about in books. They never mention the fact that they are supporting me or that I ignored them in the past.

When old friends ask how it feels living with my gay son, I tell them I hope they're lucky enough to have one who will take them in one day. Please continue urging your readers to accept their children as they are. My only regret is that I wasted 15 years.


Dear Grateful Mom:

You are indeed fortunate to have such a loving, generous and forgiving son. Sexual orientation is not a measure of anyone's humanity or worth. Thank you for pointing out how important it is that people respect each other for who they are, not for what we would like them to be.

You could have learned that lesson long ago, had you and your husband contacted Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (1726 M St. N.W., Suite 400, Washington, DC 20036; www.pflag.org) when you first learned that Neil was gay. Among other things, the organization offers support groups and education for parents who need to learn more about gender issues.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

We're Here, We're Queer, They're Used to It

The Economist reports:
The last full census, in 2000, counted nearly 600,000 same-sex couples. Five years later, the American Community Survey (in which the Census Bureau quizzes a statistically representative sample of 1.4m households) estimated that that number had increased by 30%, to 777,000.

The increase was most pronounced in the Midwest, with Wisconsin showing an 81% jump in the number of same-sex couples and Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and Indiana also among the ten fastest-growing states in this respect. What this means, perhaps, is that gay America is becoming more like Middle America. “Much of the stereotype around gays is a stereotype of urban white gay men,” says Mr Gates. “The gay community is becoming less like that, and more like the population in general.” Gay couples are still more likely than straight ones to live in cities, but the gap is smaller than popularly believed, and closing. In 1990, 92% of gay couples but only 77% of American households were in what the Census Bureau calls “urban clusters”. By 2000, the gay figure had fallen to 84% while the proportion for households in general had risen to 80%, a striking convergence.
Over the last several days, the Caucus has been screening candidates seeking to win offices in this November's city elections. We're talking to candidates from all over the city, not just Montrose, and as we look forward to elections in 2008, we're even planning on targeting state rep. districts outside the 610 loop. As the above article describes, GLBT families exist everywhere, and we can demonstrate our influence everywhere. I truly believe we're fast approaching the threshold of significant change. We owe so much to the previous generation of activists. Those queers got out there, everywhere, and now everyone's used to us.

Unfortunately, we still don't have equality, but Houston and America is ready, so let's get to work.

Monday, July 09, 2007

GLBTube #7

Sometimes the fight for equality gets a little bit dirty (wink, wink) …

Ex…Ex…Ex… Exposed, ex ex-gay, Michael Busse, comes out about leaving Exodus ministries. Amazingly, Busse and his partner were both founders of the organization. They met and fell in love while trying to convert people away from homosexuality.

Turn the Other Cheek… No! That’s not pillow talk; that’s biblical. This story’s pretty amazing. On Saturday, July 7th, evangelicals from across Tennessee marched through Nashville’s GLBT neighborhood, condemning homosexuality and abortion. GLBT residents did not respond in kind to the hateful intrusion. Instead OutLoud, a local advocacy group, offered the marchers cold water and hugs. There peaceful efforts made national news, drowning out the impact of the prejudiced march. Here’s a great clip recording the events:

Truth or Dare… Bill Graham, a retiring minister of the Canadian Parliament, reflects on his 23 years of service. Graham’s discussion of the gay marriage debate is very illuminating.

Mos and Microsoft

Mo Money, Mo Money, Mo Money

Cascade Investment LLC, the private investment firm of Bill Gates, the worlds richest man, has put 26 million dollars behind PlanetOut!

(I found this photo over at Seattelest, and I thought it was just too good to leave out.)

The Nasdaqu traded stock of PlanetOut, the umbrella company behind The Advocate, Out Magazine, and gay.com, has struggled since going public in 2004, but, oh, how quickly things change. It seems that Gates, certainly one of the world's most savy and insightful business leaders, sees great potential in GLBT media. I suspect this is just another indication of growing trend I describe in previous posts: more and more, the growth GLBT tolerance positively correlates with economic growth.

What does this mean for us? Now is the time. We have momentum. We have powerful advocates, like Bill Gates. Let's be bold in our activism.