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August 22, 2008

Arizona Democratic Party Stands Against Proposition 102

Last week the Democratic party passed a resolution to oppose Prop. 102 at its summer state committee meeting in Flagstaff.

According to a Human Rights Campaign release, Committeewoman Mohur Sidhwa and the newly formed LGBT Caucus presented a resolution during the general session of the state committee to oppose Prop 102 which will appear on November’s ballot. Prop 102 is a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The state committee unanimously approved the resolution.

Here is the text of the adopted resolution:

(Opposing Ballot Referendum 102)

Whereas: The pursuit for equality is an enduring value of the Arizona State Democratic Party, and

Whereas: The Arizona State Democratic Party supported a similar resolution two years ago, and

Whereas: The Arizona voters voted down a similar ballot initiative just two years ago, and

Whereas: The proponents of said ballot referendum are using this as a tool to raise money and turnout in a cynical manipulation of Arizona's electoral process.

Whereas: Facing a three-billion dollar budget deficit, the Republican leadership prioritized this issue, violated legislative ethics rules, and failed to adequately address vital issues such as education.

Therefore, Be it resolved: that the Arizona State Democratic Party opposes this ballot referendum which would, if passed, place discriminatory language in our State Constitution.

Be it further resolved: that the Arizona State Democratic Party requests all voters maintain the Arizona tradition of equality by voting against this ballot initiative.

August 21, 2008

Louisiana Govenor Refuses To Renew Job Discrimination Protections

The newly elected Governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, has said that he will not renew the non-discrimination order that protects gays and lesbians in the workplace.

This would effectively take away employment protections that have been in effect since ex-Governor Kathleen Blanco issued her executive order in December 2004. The order, which some church groups and Jindal have criticized over the years, is set to expire Friday.

According to a Advocate Capitol News Bureau story, Jindal said:

“We are not going to renew it and that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. The reason for allowing the order to lapse is that I don’t think it is necessary to create additional special categories or special rights. State and federal law already prohibits discrimination. We are firmly and strongly committed to fair treatment of all of our people and certainly don’t condone discrimination in any form.”

How incredibly hypocritical is that? Apparently he thinks that discrimination against the GLBT community isn't really discrimination.

According to Randy Evans, a New Orleans lawyer who is co-political director of Forum for Equality, a New Orleans-based political action committee for the lesbian and gay community in Louisiana, Jindal’s decision means “it is perfectly legal to fire anyone based on their sexual orientation even if they are a perfect employee.”

What a shame for the state of Louisiana. Jindal is moving his state backwards to appease his right wing religious supporters who can now discriminate without threat of legal action when they take state money for "faith-based" programs. He is also tarnishing the state's image of "Everyone Welcome" which is the official motto that appears in all of their promotional materials and road signs.

Considering that 90% of all Fortune 500 companies now officially endorse non-discrimination policies for lesbians and gays, it is also very possible that this could cost Louisiana jobs.

This is something that several companies have said was a major part of their decision to move or open new operations here in Arizona. In fact, to take it one stop further, the anti-gay marriage amendment proposed for the November ballot here is why some companies and corporate business scouts are either delaying decisions to open shop here or are just outright deciding against it.

In 1990, Arizona voters defeated two Martin Luther King holiday propositions. It wasn't until 1992 that the holiday was finally passed after mega-star concerts and business conventions were canceled and the NFL threatened to pull the 1993 Super Bowl out of Arizona.

Now granted, this may not seem to have the same magnitude of potential reaction that the MLK holiday had. But today, more and more of the business, entertainment and general populace are recognizing that discrimination against the GLBT community is not only morally wrong but it can be costly to their interests as well.

If the national Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) isn't passed soon, I really believe that it's only a matter of time before the same of kind of reactions start happening in states around the country. People are getting tired of the same shrill, anti-gay rantings of extremists over and over again. They're beginning to know better.

To read the full story, go to: 2theadvocate.com

August 20, 2008

Still Undecided About Barack Obama?

A Harris Interactive poll that was just released yesterday showed that Barack Obama has a huge 68% to 10% lead over John McCain among LGBT voters. There are however, 15% of us who are still undecided.

Well maybe this will help. According to a story posted at Advocate.com today, Terry Bean, who is an Oregon Obama supporter and prominent Democratic fund-raiser said in a statement, "I was appalled that George Bush got 24% of the GLBT vote in 2000 and again in 2004 and vowed to do all that I could to prevent that from happening again with John McCain."

His idea was to develop a website that would give voters information contrasting Barack Obama's record on LGBT issues and legislation with that of John McCain. And also offer interactive functions to allow visitors to input comments and even dialogue with other visitors.

Well, he's done a lot more than that. The new, independent, website will also offer a star-studded lineup of bloggers, including such LGBT notables as former HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch, blogger Pam Spaulding, longtime activist David Mixner, and the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson.

Site adviser Michael Crawford said "We've integrated a number of Web 2.0 tools into the LGBTFOROBAMA.com platform. Users can engage in discussions, comment on news items, post video testimonials, and tell the world why winning this election is vitally personal to them."

To access this site, go to: LGBTFOROBAMA.com

To read the Advocate story, go to: Advocate.com

August 19, 2008

Unanimous Supreme Court Decision Bars Discrimination By Doctors

In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court told doctors that they could not use their religious beliefs to withhold medical care from gays and lesbians.

According to a release by the Associated Press,

Justice Joyce Kennard wrote in the ruling that two Christian fertility doctors who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian have neither a free speech right nor a religious exemption from the state's law, which "imposes on business establishments certain antidiscrimination obligations."

Guadalupe Benitez, 36 of Oceanside filed the original lawsuit that led to the decision. According to Ms. Benitz, the doctors who treated her with fertility drugs and then showed her how to inseminate herself at home refused to assist with the actual insemination itself because it would conflict with their religious beliefs.

Those filing friends of the court briefs backing Ms. Benitz included the American Civil Liberties Union, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, the National Health Law Program and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

To read the AP release go to: Associate Press Release

August 18, 2008

Openly Gay Primary Winner Likely To Go To Congress

Jared Polis, a 33-year-old openly gay entrepreneur from Boulder, Colorado, who won last Tuesday's Democratic primary will very likely be elected in November.

According to Scott Adler, an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado, “The Republicans don’t have a real shot at this one, and they know it. They would be wasting a lot of money putting dollars into this race.”

There have been five other gay and lesbian members of Congress, including current Representatives Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin who are both Democrats. If elected, Jared would become the third current openly gay or lesbian member of Congress. Ms. Baldwin and Mr. Polis would be the only two who went public with their sexuality before they were elected.

According to the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund (a group that supports gay candidates for public office), Mr. Polis would be the first openly gay man elected to Congress as a nonincumbent. He would be filling Democrat Mark Udall's seat who is now running for the Senate.

“I think this sends a signal to young gays and lesbians across the country that they can consider a career in public service and they shouldn’t be scared away from that merely because of their sexual orientation,” said Mr. Polis, who introduced his partner, Marlon Reis, at Tuesday night's victory party.

Source for this story: New York Times

August 17, 2008

Wal-Mart Threatens Workers' Jobs If They Vote For Democrats

Wal-Mart has already been ruled against several times by the National Labor Relations Board for violating the law by retaliating against workers for supporting a union. Now they're trying a more insidious approach in an effort to control who their workers vote for in November.

Wal-Mart has a long history of breaking laws, abusing their workers and decimating small towns across the country. Now they're threatening their workers with the loss of their jobs if they vote for democrats.

According to a NY Times article, several labor groups filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission, accusing Wal-Mart of violating election rules. The unions learned that thousands of Wal-Mart store managers and department heads were summoned to mandatory meetings where they were told that if Democrats won in November they would likely pass a law to make it easier to unionize companies.

They then warned that if that happened, Wal-Mart would be forced to cut jobs and that even those employees who weren't fired would end up having to pay union dues and be forced to go on strikes, which would, of course, result in lost pay.

By telling workers who are paid by the hour (which includes all of their department supervisors as well as virtually all floor employees) how to vote, they blatantly violated the Federal Election Campaign Act.

The law they were referring to is the proposed Employee Free Choice Act which would allow unions to organize companies if more than half the workers signed cards agreeing to join, dispensing with the need for a secret ballot. That legislation is supported by a vast majority of Democrats, including Senator Barack Obama, who co-sponsored the bill.

I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart years ago as soon as I learned about them locking employees in the stores and forcing them to work overtime without pay.

I do understand that many people shop there solely because they can save money during these financially stressed times. But that comes with a very high price. Even though I've been out of work since February and could save a lot of money simply by going to a Wal-Mart, I just can't bring myself to walk through their doorways. To me, they represent the worst of what a so-called American business can be.

I know that many of you will still feel that you have to shop there. The only thing I can do is ask you - where do we, as human beings, draw the line?

To read the full NY Times story, go to: New York Times