Monday, October 22, 2007

Evil Genuis: Not Just Racist... He's Homophobic Too

Dr. James Watson,the famous scientist who discovered the architecture of DNA, talks about the human genome and abortion:
"If you could find the gene which determines sexuality and a woman decides she doesn't want a homosexual child, well, let her."

Dr. Watson, along with his research partner Francis Crick, won the the Nobel Prize for discovering DNA's "double helix" design. He's been in the news lately because he's now claiming that black people are genetically predisposed to stupidity. From the Sunday Times of London:

[Watson] is "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really." He claims to hope that everyone is equal, but he counters that "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true." He says that you should not discriminate on the basis of colour, because "there are many people of colour who are very talented, but don’t promote them when they haven’t succeeded at the lower level."
Yeah... James Watson is a jerk... So I've starting collecting Watson quotes for a soon to be released 2008 desk calender. Here are some highlights:

This Week in the Blogosphere

There's been a bit of a lull here on the blog this week -- I've been extremely busy. If anyone has some interesting news or analysis they'd like to post, e-mail to

Anyway, let's review some of the great stuff other bloggers looked into this week:

PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has an advance of the Max Cleland-Karl Rove debate, coming up this Friday, October 26.

Diarist Scott Cobbat Texas Kaos updates us on the growing movement to hold rogue Judge Sharon Keller accountable for her callous disregard for the responsibility of the Appeals court while she displays her intoxication with its power.

State Senator Craig Estes, Senate District 30, was given numerous examples of Texas Railroad Commission malpractice, negligence, incompetence and cronyism at his recent Town Hall Meeting in Wise County. TXsharon at Bluedaze asks: Will Senator Estes Investigate the RRC's Malpractice?

Adam at Three Wise Men looks into the future to give us his expert opinion on the 2010 Texas Gubernatorial race.

McBlogger has been keeping a watchful eye on what's happening in Congress with FISA expansion.

At Half Empty, Hal ponders the question: which Republican candidate can the evangelicals support for President?

Muse vs. State Senator Eltife. A whole lotta safe sex going on or should the the State of Texas get involved in adults getting free condoms on campus?

Todd Hill at Burnt Orange Report interviews Dan Barrett, the only Democrat in the special election race for HD 97 in Fort Worth.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson reports on some unbelievable statements made by County Commissioner Cynthia Long on the children that are being detained at the T. Don Hutto facility in Taylor, Texas.

Vince at Capitol Annex takes a look at a State Representative, Fred Brown (R-Bryan), who has scheduled an oversight hearing of an agency that is investigating his business partner.

Bradley at North Texas Liberal celebrates one of the first and only times Sen. John Cornyn has been on the right side of the issue: securing H-2B visas for seasonal workers and joining with Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland to help save small business... at least for another year.

Are government emails covered by open record laws? Off the Kuff takes a look.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme wonders if a Dallas minister will lose his church's tax exempt status by slamming Mitt Romney because 'he's not a Christian.'

Nytexan at BlueBloggin wonders why Homeland Security purchases products from China when Americans industry is disappearing and jobs are declining.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks into the pending libel and slander lawsuit against Dallas Republicans, including State Rep. Tony Goolsby.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News updated on political news and gossip in the Pasadena area. Like most gossip one item was wrong.

Think arbitration is fair? Think again. John Coby at Bay Area Houston notes that the bottom line from the data is clear. In the nearly 20,000 cases where NAF [National Arbitration Forum] reached a decision, First USA prevailed in an astonishing 99.6 percent of cases.

Refinish69 at Doing My Part For The Left thinks Texas State Senator Kevin Eltife Needs Some Education.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Harris County Republicans Oppose Cancer Research

The Houston GLBT political Caucus has endorsed Proposition 15, the cancer research bond proposal championed by State Representative Ellen Cohen. Houston, particularly the Montrose-Med. Center district, is known throughout the world for being at the forefront of health research and treatment. It is only right that our city do its part to help find a cure for Cancer. The new institution proposed in the bond will also be for good our economy, so why are the Harris County republicans opposing Prop 15?

Here's a snip form their press release (read the complete statement here):

It may have world cycling champ Lance Armstrong, Republican Gov. Rick Perry and former Democratic Comptroller John Sharp as cheerleaders, but a $3-billion bond proposal for cancer research hasn't won the hearts and minds of Harris County Republicans.

The executive committee of the Harris County Republican Party recently voted unanimously in opposition to Proposition 15, despite the cancer initiative's bipartisan support in Austin.

"By this stance, we in no way are implying or should it be construed that we are against solving cancer,'' said Ron Brunner, precinct chairman for the Greenway Plaza area, who raised the motion.
Ellen Cohen responded:

Today's announcement by the Harris County Republican Party in opposition to Proposition 15 is shocking and upsetting, especially coming during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The bipartisan team that worked on this legislation included prominent Republicans such as Ways and Means Chairman Jim Keffer, Health and Human Services Chair Jane Nelson, and Governor Rick Perry, who I stood with today while visiting M.D. Anderson and urging support of this measure. As a cancer survivor, and the widow of a man who battled valiantly against this disease, and the representative of District 134, I will continue to campaign strongly for this measure. I will proudly stand with Lance Armstrong tomorrow in support of Prop. 15 and will campaign for passage on November 6th. I plan on celebrating with Democrats, Republicans, and independents who realize what this investment means to cancer prevention, treatment, and the hope for a cure. I urge people of all political persuasions to support Prop. 15.

Ever since we provided the pivotal support Rep. Cohen need to defeat Martha Wong last year, the Caucus has forged a loyal partnership with her office. We're proud of her efforts in regard to Prop 15, and we're enthusiastically campaigning for its passage.

State Senator Attacks Campus AIDS Prevention Project

Thanks to Vince at Capitol Annex for sharing this story.

Over the last several decades, our community has achieved significant victories in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Thanks, in large part, to outspoken GLBT advocates, new generations of young people understand the importance of safe sex and the risks of sexually transmitted diseases. State Senator Kevin Eltife wants to push back all this progress. He's speaking out against the U.T. Tyler Health Clinic's practice of providing free condoms to students.

Here's some of what Senator Eltife told KLTV in Tyler (watch the interview with Eltife by clicking on the camera in the upper right side of the screen):
"If it's such a good deal, why don't we talk about it, why don't we debate it," said Senator Eltife. "Let's debate it on campus. Let's get input from the parents, and the students, and the people who are supporting U.T. Health Center in Tyler and the entire system. Let's talk about it in the legislature, let's get it out on the table and discuss it. If it's a great idea and a great concept, let's get it out on the table and discuss it."

"I had no idea and I'd imagine most parents don't know either," said Senator Eltife. "I can assure you there are a lot of parents whose kids are going there who would probably not be happy about what they're doing."

Senator Eltife is concerned that state money is being directed to this program, but it's not just the state that helps pay for condoms at university health clinics. In Tyler, for instance, a local agency, Tyler AIDS services, is proud to provide a large number of condoms to the university clinic. This is the type work our community has engaged in for years. We know, all too well, that this issue is too real and too serious. It's above politics, and it must be dealt with honestly and directly.

Here's the bottom line: In this day and age, regressive, socially conservative politicians should be more concerned with all the truly serious problems facing our state. Texas is facing a tragic crisis when it comes to health care. We have more uninsured children than any other state. Rural access to health care is dwindling, and, due to ridiculously low wages for nurses, elderly Texans often receive inadequate care. All of these deathly consequential issues are staring Senator Eltife directly in the face, and he's worried about college students participating in safe sex. What a jerk!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Progressive Blog Round-Up

It's Monday, and that means it is time again for the Texas Progressive Alliance Blog Round Up. This week's round-up is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

Barney Frank responds to GLBT activists: "Now, this is the issue: Does a political party say to its most militant, committed, ideologically driven believers in purity that they have a veto over what the party does?" Evan at The Caucus Blog responds.

BossKitty at Bluebloggin asks why are so many Texans still illiterate?

The Texas Cloverleaf endorses Karen Guerra for 16th District Court Judge in Denton County.

Burnt Orange Report highlights the hard work being done across the nation. A broad coalition has launched a campaign to override President Bush's SCHIP veto and Kay Granger is public enemy number 1 in Texas. Ads, analysis, polls, and outrage... BOR has it all.

North Texas Liberal asks, "Could Congress override Bush's veto?" Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Kennedy seem to think that SCHIP is worth fighting for. So do we.

Vince from Capitol Annex notes that Kay Granger should have known better when it comes to her recent "no" vote on the reauthorization and expansion of SCHIP.

Gary at Easter Lemming Liberal News cannot stop writing about conservative bloggers repeatedly attacking a family who were in a terrible automobile accident and received government health care and liked it. Maybe next time your kids are in the hospitable you'll be attacked by right-wing idiots and more slime in the right-wing noise machine.

McBlogger has a story up about a State Representative you should know.

A supervisor for CPS Energy in San Antonio has a hangman's noose displayed in his cubicle. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs posts the details, including a photo.

Muse notes that Kay Bailey Hutchinson is trying out harder helmet hair styles so that the words of mean bloggers will bounce right off her in her imaginary (or not) run for governor in 2010.

Warning from TXsharon: Calibrate your outrage meter before visiting Bluedaze to read how Bush policies have weakened the Clean Water Act so Texas water is no longer fit for drinking, swimming or fishing.

CouldBeTrue from South Texas Chisme notes that Presidential Candidate Tom Tancredo wants to build that d*mn fence north of Brownsville. Either you're with the fence or he'll move the boundaries so your town's part of Mexico.

Unsurprised at Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize, nor at his acceptance speech, Hal at Half Empty surprises everyone with the Moonwalking Mannequin Bird.

Rattlebrain Randy prefers a little bit of disaster - sure it may hurt his constituents, but it helps his friends in the insurance industry, notes Blue 19th.
At Texas Kaos, diarist persiancowboy invites members of the general public to sign on to the complaint against rogue Judge Sharon Keller for her callous use of judicial power.

Off the Kuff reports that State Rep. Garnet Coleman is urging AG Greg Abbott to sue to block a recent Center for Medicaid and State Operations directive that will result in the loss of CHIP coverage for thousands of children.

Stop Cornyn is fuming about Cornyn's vote against children. After voting against Texas children twice, now Junior John wants a watered down version to save face. It is time to fully fund children's health insurance.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Barney Frank's ENDA Press Conference

Yesterday Representative Barney Frank held a press conference. The clip is below.

Here's the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned. If we leave our transgender brothers and sisters behind, they will have to wait many, many years before they are afforded their due freedom from workplace discrimination. If we stick together, we may be able to achieve equality for all of us in the very near future. If not in this congressional session, than in the next. We've waited far too long to compromise, and we must remember that transgender workers suffer the worst discrimination. We simply can't leave them behind. As much as I admire Congressman Barney Frank, on this issue, he is tragically wrong.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Caucus Allies Endorse HISD Bond

Earlier this fall the GLBT Political Caucus took a bold historic step and endorsed the revised HISD bond proposal. We were the first major community advocacy group to do so. Now the bond proposal has received the endorsement of the AFLCIO and the Greater Houston Partnership.

Today, several influential public officials held a press conference to announce their support of HISD's plans. State Representatives Garnet Coleman and Boris Miles, as well as State Senator Rodney Ellis have all come to the same conclusion that the Caucus voiced several weeks ago: Houston children need the money and the projects included in this bond.

These officials are progressive leaders in Texas. They have received the support of Caucus in their elections, and I'm glad to see that they share our goal for Houston's schools. It's validating to share a point of view with these courageous leaders.

Barney Frank's House Floor Speech on ENDA

This is a provocative excerpt from Barney Frank's floor speech on ENDA. What do you think?

Now, this is the issue: Does a political party say to its most militant, committed, ideologically driven believers in purity that they have a veto over what the party does? And I say that procedurally because substantively I agree with them. I have spoken on this floor and in committee for including people of transgender. I have argued that with my colleagues in private. I have argued that with the Democratic Caucus. But I also believe that I have a broader set of responsibilities than to any one group and my job is to advance the moral values that I came here to advance as far and as fast as I can and not voluntarily to withhold an advance because it doesn't meet somebody's view of perfection. And the question is, how do we relate to those people? And it has become an increasing problem for both parties.

Frankly, until recently I have felt that one of the advantages we Democrats have had over our Republican colleagues is that we were more willing to be responsible, less susceptible to the most committed minority of our party having a veto. I think from the days of Terri Schiavo and before and since, the Republican Party has suffered from that. I don't want the Democratic Party to suffer from it. Not because I want to protect the Democratic Party as an end in itself, but because the Democratic Party is the means by which these values I care about are most likely to be advanced.

And let me talk about this ideological faction that we have. There are some characteristics that they have that I think led them to this profoundly mistaken view that the greatest single advance we can make in civil rights in many, many years would somehow be a bad thing because it would only include millions of people and leave some hundreds of thousands out. And I want to include those hundreds of thousands. I have done more to try to include them than many of the people who say we should kill the whole thing, but I don't understand how killing the whole thing advances that.

Read the entire speech here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More ENDA Clips

Congressman Rush Holt talks about FISA and ENDA with Jay Lassiter from Blue Jersey.

Protesting HRC in Washington and in Arizona.

Dear Abby to Recieve PFLAG Award

In July I posted an installment of Dear Abby, where a mother shared her appreciation for a gay son. Jeanne Phillips, who writes under the name Abigail van Buren, or Dear Abby, has become, over the decades, America's conscience. You can't get more main stream. Well... Today, Dear Abby's telling the A.P. that she supports marriage equality.

"I believe if two people want to commit to each other, God bless 'em," the syndicated advice columnist told The Associated Press. "That is the highest form of commitment, for heaven's sake."

"I'm trying to tell kids if they are gay, it's OK to be gay. I've tried to tell families if they have a gay family member to accept them and love them as they always have," she said Friday.
Because of statements like these and her unwaivering bold support of the LGBT community, PFLAG is honoring Jeanne with their "Straight to Equality Award" at their annual convention, to be held later this month.

Keep reading Dear Abby. 365 Gay reports that she's working on a column that addresses transgender

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Blog Round-up

It's Monday, and that means it is time again for the Texas Progressive Alliance Weekly Blog Round Up. This week's round-up is compiled by Vince from Capitol Annex.

TXsharon says, "YOU SUCK AT&T" and she can only say that because she doesn't use AT&T. Over at Bluedaze she tells why, if you use AT&T for your Internets, you can't say they suck.

Stace at Dos Centavos reports on racism and bigotry committed by a corporation and a UT fraternity.

What's really going on in Irving? Xanthippas at Three Wise Men notes there's more going on in the immigration crackdown than possible profiling and arrests.

CouldBeTrue at South Texas Chisme notes that NOW wants to know why U.S. District Judge Judge Samuel Kent was 'punished' with a 4 month vacation after the investigation into sexual harassment charges concluded.

Criticism of Hillary Clinton's laugh is no laughing matter, so says PDiddie at Brains and Eggs in HRC:LOL.

Might be time for a bit of horsetrading on the floor of the Senate, and one of Texas Kaos' regular diarists, Fake Consultant, has a bit of advice on the subject for Majority Leader Harry Reid in On Larry Craig, And Filibusters or Wanna Make a Trade?

Truth, it has been said, is the first casualty of war. The Republican-Media coalition must have declared war on Social Security, and Blue 19th exposes their lies.

Human rights advocates cheered the Williamson County Commission's vote to sever ties with the operator of the T. Don Hutto holding facility for undocumented immigrants, but Eye On Williamson's wcnews wonders if a battle within the Republican party over the county's share of the profits may have driven their decision.

McBlogger at McBlogger speculates as to the reasons Sharon Keller (Chief Justice of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals) needed to get out of work at 5 on Sept. 25th.

Vince at Capitol Annex tells us about the Texas Conservative Coalition's new Election Integrity Task Force, its new Chairwoman and its likely recommendations.

Peter at B and B writes about the quixotic attempts by a group of environmentally-conscious Republicans to get their chosen political party to care about conservation and stewardship: Republicans for Environmental Protection, all 70 of them, meet in San Antonio.

Off the Kuff looks at the ongoing dispute between the Harris County Appraisal District and the State Comptroller over how commercial properties are taxed.

In Texas Kaos dairy, Dallas and Denton drinking water at risk by TxDOT's route selection choice for FM299, Faith Chatham's shares a letter from Highland Village Parents Group activist/homeowner Susie Venable to Mayor Tom Leppert of Dallas regarding the City Water Department's failure to monitor possible MTBE contamination issues. Despite cries of running out of money, TxDOT selected the only route (of 8) which would double project costs by requiring bridges to be built across three tributaries to Lake Lewisville (drinking water source for Denton and Dallas Counties) in the area of the lake already contaminated by MTBE.

Gary at Easter Lemming updates the Pasadena Mayor Manlove resignation and his running for Lampson's seat. There are a lot of happy faces at city hall. Easter Lemming broke the story back on the 22nd.

Trinity Trickey strikes again at The Texas Cloverleaf. This time pro toll road literature features the war on trees and the fight against Angela Hunt by the powers that be. Only in Dallas.

This week's installment of GLBTube at the Houston GLBT Political Caucus Blog is a double feature: first, a sampling of clips related to ENDA; then gay republicans are running ads in order to sabotage hypocritical presidential candidates!

WhosPlayin hammers away on GOP Congressman Michael Burgess for dissing Muslims and being one of 30 boneheads to vote for giving mercenary firms like Blackwater a license to kill.

The Texas Blue looks at how the evangelical social movement isn't playing nice-nice with the Republican Party any longer, and why that is good for America.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson, author, syndicated columnist, political analyst and commentator, who is on a virtual book tour will stop by Para Justicia y Libertad on Oct 11 to discuss his new book The Latino Challenge to Black America: Towards a Conversation Between African-Americans and Hispanics.

Hal at Half Empty counted a Lucky Seven congressional candidates that want to run against Nick Lampson in Texas CD 22. He ROFLs and LMAOs.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

GLBTube #11

>>>Double Feature!<<<

Part 1:

First, with ENDA dominating the blog this week, I thought I'd bring you guys some clips of the main actors in the congressional debate.

Representative Tammy Baldwin talks about the ENDA fight and what its like to out in office.

Representative Barney Frank testifies about ENDA before the House Education and labor sub-committee on Health, Employment, labor and Pensions.

The Chair of that same committee, NJ Representaive Rob Andrews, discussed the ENDA fight with Jay Lassiter from Blue Jersey.

Part II

As the presidential primary battles heat up on both sides, I wanted to chronicle an interesting phenomenon that has emerged on the Republican side. Two candidates, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani, have strong records supporting GLBT folks, but they have been running hard from their pasts, saying some of the most unfair, unkind statements against our community. Well, the gays are pissed.... especially the Republican ones. So they're going on the air with adds that remind everyone just how phony these guys really are.

First, the following add from the Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans is actually running on TV air in Iowa and of FOX news!

This clip on Giuliani has been popular on the web for several months.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

An Interesting Perspective

Thank you Caucus President Jenifer Rene Pool for passing this on.

The LA Times sports writer Christine Daniels is a true hero for our community. She has been breaking down barriers since April when she announced to the paper that she, then Mike Penner, would begin transitioning her body to express her true gender.

Read about her transition here.

Christine offers a powerful perspective on the current ENDA fight. She is lucky enough to work in a place that rejects discrimination and celebrates Christine's heroic authenticity. Unfortunately, this is not true for many transgender workers who need protection from workplace discrimination.

From the LA Times:

ENDA: We've only just begun

The basketball expression for it is “low-bridge.” It is the dirtiest foul in the sport, the act of suddenly taking out a player’s legs as he or she leaps for a rebound, pass or to attempt a jump shot. It’s a cheap and devious move, often appearing to happen spontaneously but almost always pre-meditated -- and almost always a prelude to a fight.

That’s what happened to the transgender community during the past week. We were low-bridged. By -- of all people -- Democratic Congressional leadership that included Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi.

In a shocking upset, the transgender community picked itself off the court, dusted itself off, rubbed its newly scraped elbows and decided to fight back.

Frank, Pelosi and Co. didn’t know what hit them....

I realize I am lucky. California is one of about a dozen states with such protection for transgender employees. My friend Susan Stanton did not have that kind of backup in Florida and lost her job as Largo city manager in February despite a long and outstanding record of public service.

So I have a personal and professional stake in what’s happening to ENDA right now. So do you, if you care about the most basic rights being extended to a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend who might be transgender but afraid to tell anybody because a national ENDA is still but a concept being picked apart by some short-sighted political opportunists.

A program handed out at last month’s Southern Comfort transgender conference in Atlanta included several advertisements posted by gender-friendly corporations. One of them read:

“Whether or not it’s a choice, we’ve made ours.

“Before committing to treating GLBT individuals inclusively, some people believe that you have to answer the ‘choice or nature’ question.

“At PricewaterhouseCoopers, we believe that it’s not our business to decide.

“We accept you as the person that you are.

“Because when you can be yourself, you are happier, more fulfilled and more productive.

“We welcome among our professionals all persons committed to excellence, teamwork, and leadership.”

That sounds like the American way to me.

Read the entire editorial here.

HRC Makes Me Dizzy... and a Little Angry

After feeling some relief that Human Rights Campaign had finally signed onto a letter supporting the inclusion of transgender workers in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), earlier this week it seemed like they were, unfortunately, back peddling again. Several days ago HRC refined its position to say that they do, in fact, support an all inclusive bill, but they will not openly or actively oppose a bill that excludes transgender workers. That's not good enough, as it implies a neutral position on the fate of transgender workers.

As a consequence of this position, yesterday, Donna Rose, HRC's lone transgender executive board member resigned:

The current situation regarding ENDA is nothing short of a politically misguided tragedy. A tool that could and should be a unifying beacon on the heels of the historic passage of fully inclusive Hate Crime legislation has been split. Transgender brothers and sisters again find themselves separated, isolated, and disempowered. People in positions of power have decided that their personal legacy and the promise of political expediency are more important than protecting our entire beautiful community. The time is here to make a strong statement to demonstrate to them that they are wrong.

In 2004 the HRC Board voted to support only fully-inclusive Federal legislation. That decision paved the way to my participation with the organization, and was a significant step in the healing process. Since that time we have worked together tirelessly towards a goal of Equality for all. Less than a month ago HRC President Joe Solmonese stood before almost 900 transgender people at the Southern Comfort Conference in Atlanta to pledge ongoing support and solidarity. In his keynote address he indicated that not only would HRC support only a fully inclusive ENDA, but that it would actively oppose anything less. That single pledge changed hearts and minds that day, and the ripple affect throughout the transgender community was that we finally were one single GLBT community working together. Sadly, recent events indicate that those promises were hollow.

An impressive coalition of local and national organizations has lined up to actively oppose the divisive strategy that would leave some of our brothers and sisters without workplace protections. This effort has galvanized community spirit and commitment in ways few could have imagined, and it has demonstrated to those who would divide us that anything less than full inclusion is unacceptable Organization after organization has seized the moral high ground knowing that this is a historic opportunity that cannot be squandered, and that it is our moral obligation to ourselves and to generations that will follow to make a loud, clear, unmistakable statement that we are a community and we will not be divided. There is a single significant organization glaringly missing from that list. The Human Rights Campaign has chosen not to be there.

Read her complete resignation letter here.

The video below captures the speech Rose refers to in her letter:

This morning HRC has launched a "call to action." They are encouraging everyone to contact their congress members, demanding that the inclusive ENDA bill be passed.

HRC Executive Director, Joe Solmanese, released this statement in the form of a web video.

This is a stronger statement against the new, non-inclusive ENDA bill, but it still falls short of what our community expects. I appreciate HRC's efforts to help us contact Congress. Let's face it, in our community, no group has closer ties to capitol hill, but HRC has truly disappointed everyone by not showing proper leadership on this important issue. They were tragically slow to denounce the non-inclusive ENDA bill, and they have yet to release a statement that unequivocally rejects moving forward without our transgender brothers and sisters. Transgender workers need protection more than any of us.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Meeting Tonight - Meet the Caucus Candidates

Meeting Tonight!

October 3, 7:00 pm
Havens Center
1827 W Alabama St

A reception will be held prior to the meeting, starting at 6:30.

Come meet our Caucus Candidates! Endorsed candidates for this November's city election will be addressing the Caucus, discussing their campaigns.

Here are our candidates:

Houston Mayor
Bill White

Houston Controller
Annise Parker

City Council At-Large 1
Peter Brown

City Council At-Large 2
Sue Lovell

City Council At-Large 3
Melissa Noriega

City Council At-Large 4
Ron Green

City Council At-Large 5
Jolanda Jones

City Council District B
Jarvis Johnson

City Council District C
Anne Clutterbuck

City Council District D
Wanda Adams

City Council District H
Adrian Garcia

City Council District I
James Rodriguez

HISD District 4
Paula Harris

HCCS Trustee District 1
Kevin J. Hoffman

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

HRC Breaks Its Silence; ENDA Vote Delayed

Human Rights Campaign has co-signed a letter demanding that transgender workers be protected from discrimination. Joining with a number of other prominant civil rights groups, including the ACLU and People for the American Way, HRC denounced changing the proposed ENDA bill to exclude transgender workers in a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congress members Barney Frank and Tammi Baldwin. Since 1994, HRC has included transgender workers in their demands for equal employment rights, but they have been slower than other prominent LGBT advocates in denouncing a new version of ENDA that leaves transgender protection out.

HRC has posted the letter on their blog:

Thank you Human Rights Campaign!

The mounting pressure from LGBT groups appears to be having a positive affect. Late Monday Nancy Pelosi's office confirmed that the vote on ENDA, originally scheduled for today, will be postponed to later in the month.

LGBT groups have come out strongly against excluding transgender workers from protection.

From 365 gay:

"In this defining and morally transformative moment, our community has come together in an unprecedented way and said once and for all that we will leave no part of our community behind," said Matt Foreman the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"We appreciate that a decision has been made to slow down this process, and we look forward to working with Congress over the upcoming weeks to educate them as to why this substitute bill strategy is seriously flawed, convince them to abandon this strategy, and instead advance a fully inclusive ENDA later this month."

Lambda Legal has analyzed the new bill, and they fear that several provisions, beyond the absence of transgender protection, make the revised ENDA language unacceptable.

"Leaving out protections for transgender people is unacceptable, and passing a bill riddled with loopholes will make it harder to achieve equality on the job," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda Legal.

"You can't be fired for being a lesbian or a gay man, but you can be fired if your boss thinks you fit their stereotype of one."

This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit, said Lambda.

Here's a summary of Lambda Legal's complaints about the new bill:

  • As a point of clarity for the community: The recent version is not simply the old version with the transgender protections stripped out — but rather has modified the old version in several additional and troubling ways.

  • In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians and gay men who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act. This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit.

  • This version of ENDA states without qualification that refusal by employers to extend health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees that are provided only to married couples cannot be considered sexual orientation discrimination. The old version at least provided that states and local governments could require that employees be provided domestic partner health insurance when such benefits are provided to spouses.

  • In the previous version of ENDA the religious exemptions had some limitations. The new version has a blanket exemption under which, for example, hospitals or universities run by faith-based groups can fire or refuse to hire people they think might be gay or lesbian.

Read their complete press release here.