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Gay Group Goes Public to Celebrate DADT Repeal – Members Leave in Response

September 20, 2011 By: jaysays Category: Thought of the Gay

Gay San Antonio Facebook GroupThe Facebook group titled “Gay San Antonio” will be marking the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by “coming out” from the “private” setting to the “public” setting on Facebook.  When the Administrators formed the group, they originally set the privacy settings so that, without an invitation, the group postings and its members remained hidden.  The chosen method of celebration seems appropriate and symbolic, but not all members support the change. Several of them announced that once the group goes public, they will be removing themselves from it for fear of retaliation by their family, co-workers and friends.

One of the group members who is leaving stated:

Sorry I can’t be a part of it but being a part of a political organization like this in the public eye will greatly harm my credibility at work. I’d rather be semi-in-the-closet and employed than openly gay and broke.

This is a very real and reasonable fear shared by many. “Coming out” of the closet as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is far too often a career killer.  It’s no wonder that the repeal of DADT is so bittersweet for me.  I see through the rose-colored, celebratory glasses and look directly at our oppressors and oppressions ruling us with fear.  The reality that our lives are still governed by this fear is a grotesque ode to the heavy toll denying dignity and freedom to a people has on their lives.

So to all members of Gay San Antonio (past, present and future), I offer you this video of Ms. Nina Simone, answering the question, “What’s freedom?”:

Stupid Things People Say About Gays, “I Just Can’t Work With F*gs.”

July 09, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

If you follow gay news as much as I do, you’ve likely been overwhelmed with the plethora of happy endings happening all over the country: New York state passed anti-bullying legislation; in the Gill case, the Federal Court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional; two proteins were isolated that makes a cure for HIV/AIDS much less fantasy and much more plausible; the Today Show caved to pressure to remove the heterosexuals only rule from it’s Modern Wedding Contest; and those wacky Presbyterians might let gays be clergy and have sex too! All of this was enough to cause my head to spin in circles while trying to pick the next blog post.

But one headline caught my attention that wasn’t happy news.  The “HK bar Bull Moose Saloon” in New York City, which recently re-opened as a gay bar, suddenly suffered a set-back when one of the investors (and owner),  decided he couldn’t work with gays.  While it’s possible that the brilliance of homosexuals made him feel inferior as a businessman, the owner’s banishment of gay clientele and the gay investors was much more likely the result of his own homosexuality. (Ok, I admit I’m stretching it there – but not much).

According to a “friend of a friend” styled blog posting over at the Village Voice, Dave Sheeran, the owner in question, locked out the gay investor initially claiming that he didn’t expect the bar to be so loud; however, according to the linked blog, Sheeran later admitted, “I just can’t work with f*gs.”  It’s outrageous, isn’t it?  To think that in 2010 a New York City bar owner would make such a declaration about who he can and cannot work with?  However, comments on the blog call into question the truth of the story as Sheeran has not responded to inquiries.  Now, we can tolerate the news, can’t we?  It may not be true so it seems easier to swallow.

Whether or not Dave Sheeran made these comments, we should be outraged, but not just by Dave Sheeran.  We should be outraged that the United State’s number one employer stamps “I just can’t work with f*gs,” into law and fired 428 employees in 2009 because of their sexual orientation.  I’m referring, of course, to the U.S. Military.  The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy does exactly what Sheeran has allegedly done.  It denies gays and lesbians employment because of their sexual orientation based on the theory of “I just can’t work” with the gays.  Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton (who’s administration implemented the discriminatory policy) have all declared, “I just can’t work with f*gs,” by allowing it to remain policy.

We’ve also been fighting for a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination act.  Many have declared ENDA dead, but others are refusing to give up the fight.  This piece of legislation would, if we can get it out of the legislative black hole, protect people like Sheeran’s investors from being discriminated against based solely on their sexual orientation.  The roughly 26% of Americans who remain critical of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) argue that sexual orientation and gender identity are choices and not protection of a class of people.  However the current ENDA already protects based upon many “suspect class” identifiers, including religion.

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You Have the Right to be Fired

June 27, 2010 By: geekgirl Category: Discrimination, Featured

The Equality SummerYou have the right to be fired. You have the right to remain silent. You do not have the right to an attorney. Anything you say will not help you and will most certainly be used against you. Unless you are straight. You have the right to be straight and cisgender.

You don’t know what I am talking about? Read on.

HELP WANTED: I am recruiting you to end straight, cisgender privilege. I am a very well employed, with all rights granted by the US government, married, straight, cisgender, white collar, white woman. And I need you. That’s right. I have everything. And I need you. In fact, it’s not just me. It’s we. Who are we? Keep reading.

Did you know that you have the right to be fired just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? In 38 states you can be fired for your gender identity or gender expression. In 29 states you can be fired for being gay, lesbian or bisexual.  Let’s put that in a different perspective. In 12 states out of 50, you are protected if you are transgender. Twelve. That’s a little more than 20% of states. In 21 states out of 50, you are protected if you are LGB. Twenty one.

You can give up this right. You can fight. You have the right to relentlessly advocate for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. You remember ENDA, don’t you? That legislation that has had various forms for at least 16 years, probably more? But isn’t ENDA dead? It is if we let it die. A small group of activists started talking. We know that if ENDA does not pass in this term, and if Democrats lose seats in the Senate or even the House, then ENDA will die. Again. We decided to do something about it. Who are we? Keep reading.

We are pushing ENDA this summer. How will we do this? We will not march on Washington D.C. Washington D.C. will come to us. We need one to five people from every state to visit their Senators. We need one to five people from every Congressional District to visit their representatives. Every summer, Senators and Representatives are back home. We are going to make appointments. to visit with them or their staffers. We are going to publish the schedule. And when I say we, that includes you.

We are asking YOU to volunteer to visit your Senator or Congressperson. If you choose to volunteer,  we will train you on what to say and do. We are asking every group out there that supports ENDA to speak up. We invite all LGBT groups. We invite straight allies. We invite people who have never spoken up, never made a phone call. We do not care if you are Gay, Inc, GetEqual, GLAAD, a blogger, NEM, Equality Across America, PFLAG,  or just an individual. We are not enemies with each other, no matter what our differences.

As a straight woman, a straight ally, I am going to tell you this. There is a wide range of thinking about strategies in the LGBT activist community. The strategies range from not rocking the boat to rocking the world. Working inside the system, disrupting the system. These discussions are all valid. You know why? Because none of us has the magic answer to what will create change. So we try different approaches. The sad part is that we argue about them, sometimes in non-constructive ways.

But I know one thing. If you do nothing, nothing will happen. I know that it cannot hurt to go directly to our representatives, face to face. I know that it cannot hurt to call them, email them, fax them. How do we know this? Because we have seen it work for other groups, including our enemies.

We do have a top priority list. Senators who are on the fence. Why? Because we know the House will pass ENDA. It has 202 sponsors. The problem is the Senate. And until the Senate votes are there, the bill will stay in committee.

In order to break this cycle of insanity (and it is insanity), we must intervene.

We must get the votes from the Senators. We will be publishing our strategy soon. I can hear you now. You have called your representative. You have emailed, written letters, sent faxes. You have attended protests. You think marriage equality is more important. You think DADT is more important. Here is news for you. DOMA and DADT can fall. But their fall does not ensure protection from being fired.

Who are we? We range from Washington insiders to radicals who believe in direct actions. We range from straight to gay to lesbian to  transgender. (Wanted: Bisexual to join our team.)  We range from atheists to ministers. We range from college students to ready-to-be grandparents. We are a small group of people. We have no name. We have no money. We are not asking you to stop using other strategies. We are not asking you to be assimilated or pledge allegiance. We believe in the power of voices. All voices.

I cannot guarantee success. We have no magic wand. We are not delusional. We understand the system. We understand the need. And we understand that some Senators are afraid. But we are not afraid. We may fail. But if we do not try, failure is guaranteed. It’s that simple.

What do I, as a straight, cisgender woman, gain from this? Nothing for myself. Everything for the world.  I cannot be fired for being straight. So I do not want to hear that you are protected in your state, that your employer has protections or that you feel it cannot happen to you. I do not want to hear that you do not have time for a phone call or an email. Because this is a community. If one is not equal, none are equal.

I want you to volunteer. One simple mission. Tell our representatives we need ENDA. It’s time. It’s long overdue.

Your right to be fired will remain guaranteed. Unless we pass ENDA. So where do you sign up? Reply here – or go to the Facebook group ENDA Summer 2010 for more information.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude, the author of this post, is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science. More of LGBT Lessons for Straight People can be found here.

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ExxonMobil Says No Gay Rights Without Legislative Intervention.

May 22, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured

Boycott ExxonMobilBefore 1999, Exxon and Mobil were two different companies. Mobil was generally progressive on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employment rights and had a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination policy. By that, I mean their policy prohibited discrimination in employment matters based upon sexual orientation AND gender identity.

Unfortunately, progress took a hit with Exxon Corp’s purchase of Mobile Corp 11 years ago. Exxon’s employment policies were not inclusive of sexual orientation or gender identity. Essentially, without such a policy, LGBT employees of ExxonMobil could be fired simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.  This sparked a boycott of the newly created company, ExxonMobil. Unfortunately, time took its toll on the memories of LGBT people and our allies. Not only did we fail to relay this tidbit of gay history to our youth, but we altogether stopped talking about it – kind of like the Exxon Valdez oil spill for which the company still hasn’t paid.

Recently, GetEQUAL has offered a reminder of gays gone by and launched protests outside of ExxonMobil stations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After the first protest, organizers for GetEQUAL contacted ExxonMobil to request a policy change. The response from the Vice President of Investor Relations was telling. In a few more words, which I’ll quote shortly, he essentially said that ExxonMobil will only change the policy if they are forced to do so by law, or to put it another way, “go ahead faggots, make us.”

Here’s what ExxonMobil had to say, in their own words:

Where we [ExxonMobil] operate in countries in which the national laws require specific language regarding nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity be included in policies, we have amended our policies as appropriate.

Seems where there’s no law, they aren’t going to bother.  The battle line has been drawn and it is obvious that a full scale, vocal boycott of ExxonMobil is in order. This time, may we not forget.

I implore you, dear reader, grab your friends and your signs and head to the nearest ExxonMobil station. Make fliers to hand out at local events encouraging others to do the same. While we fight for full equality legislatively, we must also do so with the power and force of the free market. Together, we are millions of dollars lost.

ENDA: Call to Action NOW

December 06, 2009 By: geekgirl Category: Featured, LGBT Action Alerts

eeocIn 29 states, it’s still legal to fire someone because they’re LGBT; in 38 states it is legal to fire someone for being transgender. ENDA will make it illegal to fire a person based on their sexual orientation or genetic identity (as usual, some restrictions apply). Here is a  Summary of legislation and cosponsors.

ENDA, the Employment Non Discrimination Act, has been delayed by House Committee Chairman Gordon Miller. It is important to take action on this bill immediately. It is so close to passing and will take so little to make it pass.

We recommend that you focus your energy on committee members who can stop the delay.
If you do not know the phone number of a Congressperson, call (202) 224-3121 to reach the main switchboard.
Contact the following Congresspersons as they are believed to have the most influence in moving ENDA forward.

  • House Committee Chairman Gordon Miller 202-225-2095
  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey, CA 202-225-0855
  • Rep. Jared Polis, CO 202-225-2161
  • Rep. Robert Andrews, NJ 202-225-6501
  • Rep. Rush Holt, NJ 202-225-5801
  • Rep. Yvette Clark, NY (use House switchboard number)

What to say? They will ask you if you live in their district. Tell them that you are requesting that bill H.R. 3017 is delayed and you know the representative is on the Committee. Tell them you would like the bill to not be delayed. Be specific, know the bill number and name, be brief and polite.

It doesn’t matter if you are in their district. As committee members, they represent all Americans and have the power to push for ENDA.

The delay was prompted by the desire to do some minor tweaking in the bill. In a conference call today led by Dr. Jillian Weiss, who posts at the Bilerico Project and is a law professor, she said these tweaks are very minor. We cannot delay ENDA. A delay means that it will be bumped behind other legislation.  Worse, as mid-term elections come closer, some members may be afraid to vote for this measure.

This delay can be avoided if three committee members ask that the bill not be delayed.

It won’t hurt to contact other committee members and sponsors of the bill. This bill has 192 sponsors, which is a lot of sponsors, and has 222 House members on board, with another possible 30. It takes only 218 to pass the House. In the Senate, 56 Senators are on board with another possible 9 senators. This legislation can pass. But it has to stop going to the back of the line. The subcommittee members are:

Democrats (13) Republicans (8)
Robert Andrews, NJ Chairman Tom Price, Ranking Member
David Wu, OR (202) 225-0855 John Kline
Phil Hare  25 Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
John F. Tierney MA (202) 225-8020 (978) 531-1669 Peabody Office Joe Wilson
Dennis J. Kucinich OH 202) 225-5871 Brett Guthrie
Marcia Fudge Tom McClintock
Dale E. Kildee Duncan D. Hunter
Carolyn McCarthy David P. Roe
Rush Holt NJ
Joe Sestak
David Loebsack
Yvette Clarke
Joe Courtney

You can also call one of the main sponsors of the bill, Tammy Baldwin, WI (202) 225-2906

People lose their jobs every day.  Full equality now. Not tomorrow. Not some time next year. Not when it is convenient. Do it now.

jaysays.com contributor geekgirlgeekgirl: Jude is a straight woman, a mom and has been married for 32 years to the same wonderful man. She believes in Buddhism and attends the United Church of Christ. She is a molecular biologist, her best friend is a lesbian, and she believes that every human deserves equal rights, respect and a life free from hate, fear and discrimination. The only thing she hates is pickles. Her science blog can be found at LGBT Latest Science.

Closet Talk: Candace Metzler and ENDA

September 10, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Closet Talk, Community Outreach, Featured

Closet TalkCandice Metzler lost her job after beginning her transition from man to woman. Her employer was initially fine with the transition, but after clients began taking their business elsewhere after learning of Candice’s transition, the struggling company felt it had no choice but to let Candice go.

Unemployment didn’t take long to scar Candice’s life, leaving her homeless and forcing her to rely on the friends that remained in her life after her coming out.

Candice tells her story in this episode of Closet Talk and explains how employment discrimination impacted her and her family. Although her story is full of tragedy, it is a story is of hope and determination.

Recently, Candice organized a community forum on workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender employees. and continues to work toward the passage of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

What I’ve Learned Thus Far – The Nationwide DOMA Protest (cont.)

January 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

After my last  post describing my adventures in downtown San Antonio while attempting to gather signatures to the Open Letter to Obama, I took to the streets again.  It was about 10:30 p.m. when I, along with three others, pulled into the parking lot near a local gay bar.  The crowds were coming at full force and we could have used several more people to try to obtain everyone’s signatures.  It was windy and cold, but our reception was warm and tender… for the most part.

We split into two groups of two people, each with pads of signature pages, the letter and pens.  As people walked toward the clubs, we would stop them and ask for their support.  Many were anxious to get inside into a warmer climate, but those that took time to hear us out were grateful for our involvement and some offered their stories.  One kindly gentleman took a look at the letter and advised me that it hit very close to home for him as he had lost his job due to his sexual orientation.  He told me about his lawsuit and how difficult it was for him.  We discussed the Tennessee man who was recently fired for his sexual orientation as well.  I learned that, in spite of my very comfortable and supportive employment, I wasn’t immune from the reality of sexual orientation discrimination in my own employment.  After our conversation, he thanked me for what I was doing.  It was a very touching experience and I learned that in my zeal to make a difference, I must not forget compassion.

I then spoke with two ladies who were members of our military and serving under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (“DADT”).  We discussed the policy and the efforts to revoke it – and the likelihood that the Obama Administration will do away with the discriminatory policy [at 4:15].  I then inquired as to the murmurs I’ve heard from other military personnel that DADT protects LGBT soldiers from discrimination and aggressive acts by other members of the military.  They were stunned by the representation and completely disagreed with the argument.  They did state, in summary, that lower ranking military members may feel that way, but the truth of the matter was that the DADT was not a protection but a discriminatory policy.  I learned that we must continue to work to repeal DADT and hold the Administration accountable should it remain in effect.

Many LGBT people have made several comments that the African American community is not supportive of LGBT rights and issues.  While working the streets downtown, we approached three African American ladies in a group.  They had a small child with them.  They listened to us and reviewed the letter.  As one of them read the letter, she saw the portion which requested that DOMA be repealed and said, “That’s what I wanted to see.”  She grabbed the pen, pointed it out to her friends and they all anxiously signed the letter. Overall, the “group” that was seemingly the most responsive and most interested in the issue was the African American population.  Not one African American we approached refused to sign the petition.  One of the ladies was wearing a shirt that said, “All we need is love.”  That is what I learned from them.

I noticed that many of the younger people had no interest in signing the petition, even young LGBT people at the clubs.  Most were in too big of a hurry to meet up with their friends inside or stated things such as “I’m not political”.  The older generation (late 20’s and above) seemed much more receptive and had many stories to tell about things that have happened to them.  I learned that, until it happens to you, you probably won’t care too much about it.  I also learned that I miss the ignorant bliss of youth.

Many of the LGBT people I spoke with had never heard of DOMA and required a bit of a history lesson on the subject.  I learned from them that we have a lot of educating to do of our own community.

Some of the more trivial things I learned were: that when it is cold outside, you should wear gloves even if you don’t think you need them; when people have to “pee” you shouldn’t ask them to sign a petition, even though you have no access to a restroom and have had to go for over an hour; that you can never have too many pens; and that people wear too much cologne to the clubs.

Perhaps the most defining thing I learned was that I am s till frightened.  I thought I had overcome my fear of reactionary people and what they may do to me as a gay man, but instead of being the strong, self-assured person I thought I was, I was shaking inside everytime I approached a heterosexual couple and asked them to support LGBT equality.  In that I learned that I was “heterophobic” by the strictist definition.

How I Scare Lesbians – The Nationwide DOMA Protest

January 10, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

The National DOMA Protest was conducted today.  I made it to the rally point and met up with the handful of people that showed up.  With letters in hand we took to the streets of San Antonio and began asking for signatures.

After approaching many presumably heterosexual people and a few people who declared their homosexuality, I noticed a lesbian couple (complete with hand holding) and approached them and asked whether or not they would sign the petition to support gay rights and repeal DOMA.  I was flabbergasted when they told me firmly, “no.”  I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t even say my typical, “thank you anyway, have a beautiful day” or any other nicety.  I just stood their – staring blankly.  Two of the people obtaining signatures with me were standing nearby.  I turned and saw their puzzled looks as well.

The night before, I took to the streets handing out fliers near the local “gay” district.  As I approached a group of presumably lesbian women in front of a local gay bar, I attempted to disarm them with a big smile, a pink piece of paper, the lesbian friend nearby and a huge “Hi!”  They scattered.  I turned to one and said, “Would you like to participate in the DOMA protest tomorrow to support gay rights?”  She rolled her eyes at me and said, “no… thank you,” in what was likely the most condescending tone anyone has ever spoken to me in.  The one remaining woman was likely humoring me with her “interest.”  Ultimately, it became clear she had no intention of attending.

But, not all was lost.  An adorable couple and their little girl (roughly 5 or 6 years old) stopped to sign the letter and talk with us.  While her parents were reviewing the letter, the little girl was asking all sorts of questions to her parents about what we were doing.  She was trying to read the letter her mother was holding and said, “Is that so gay people can get married?”  Her mother responded with a yes and the little girl says, “FINALLY!”  My heart glowed with joy.

In a conversation with another couple (also adorable) I began my speech about the first section of DOMA and how it violates Article IV Sec. I of the U.S. Constitution and that even its author, Bill Barr, supports its repeal.  After talking for several a couple of minutes, the young lady looks at me and says, “Can you dumb this down a bit?”  We shared a laugh and I advised its generally in support of “gay marriage” and hate crimes legislation.  Her husband (or boyfriend) said, “If I sign this does it mean I have to marry someone of the same sex.”  I quickly advised him, “No.  But if your interested I do know some people.”

Over all, the experience was positive – for me, it was an excercise in confidence.  Each time I approached someone I was essentially coming out of the closet all over again.  The most negative response received that I’m aware of was “God doesn’t like homosexuals.”  I wasn’t there at the time, but I’m sure I would have simply asked, “Does God like chocolate?”  Just to find out if they knew the answer.