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Looking Out: Maryland companies score high marks in LGBT equality report

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

Several companies in Maryland scored high marks for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual Corporate Equality Index, released this week.

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Of eight companies in the state included in the study, six earned a perfect 100 percent score.

They were Choice Hotels International Inc., DLA Piper, Lockheed Martin Corp., Marriott International Inc., Sodexo Inc. and T. Rowe Price Associates Inc.

Nine Connecticut Companies Praised For Inclusive Policies For LGBT Employees

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

A human rights group this week gave nine large Connecticut companies perfect scores for their treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization, rated 781 companies for its 2015 “Corporate Equality Index.”

In Connecticut, the following companies received perfect scores of 100 percent: Aetna, Boehringer Ingelheim USA Corp., Cigna Corp., Diageo North America, General Electric Co., The Hartford Financial Services Group, Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, United Technologies Corp. and Xerox Corp.

The Travelers Cos. and Day Pitney scored 90 percent. FactSet Research Systems Inc. and Pitney Bowes Inc. each scored 80 percent. RBS Securities Inc. scored 75 percent. Praxair Inc. scored 50 percent.

Human Rights Campaign rated 14 Connecticut companies. However, some companies that are headquartered in other states, and have major operations in Connecticut, received a rating, too. Travelers is an example of a company that was not listed as one of the 14 in Connecticut.

The companies were rated in five categories: non-discrimination policies; employment benefits; demonstrated organizational competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion; public commitment to LGBT equality; and responsible citizenship.

The Human Rights Campaign evaluates all Fortune 500 companies based on information publicly available and any information the companies voluntarily submit. The campaign also invites Fortune 1000 companies, businesses with 500 workers or more, and top law firms to participate.

“When it comes to LGBT equality, Corporate America is a leader, not a follower,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “At every turn, from advocating for marriage equality to providing vital support for transgender employees, this country’s leading companies have asked, ‘what more can we do?,’ and they’ve worked tirelessly to achieve new progress. That kind of leadership changes countless lives around this country, and sets an important example to other companies around the globe.

The full report is available at http://www.hrc.org/cei

Copyright © 2014, Hartford Courant

Article source: http://www.courant.com/business/hc-lgbt-business-human-rights-20141121-story.html?track=rss

It Gets Worse: Russia's Kremlin Targets LGBT Youth Support

Friday, November 21st, 2014

A Russian communications oversight agency has charged a social media group that connects LGBT teens to one another with violating the country’s draconian ban on so-called gay propaganda. 

The state agency, Roskomnadzor, has charged Lena Kilmova with “promoting homosexuality to minors,” reports BuzzFeed

Kilmova is a Russian journalist and the administrator of a page called Children-404, hosted on Facebook and its Russian equivalent Vkontakte, which offers what may be the country’s last online refuge where Russian LGBT teens can speak freely about the struggles they face growing up in an increasingly homophobic society. The group’s name is a reference to the “page not found” prompt that appears online when a URL is entered incorrectly or has been removed from the Internet. 

Earlier this year, Kilmova was issued an “infringement notice,” informing her that the page was in violation of the nationwide ban on the promotion of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors — in this case on social media. The initial complaint was filed by St. Petersburg lawmaker — and key sponsor of the local and nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda — Vitaly Milonov, who most recently made headlines in the U.S. for demanding a lifetime ban on Apple CEO Tim Cook entering Russia after Cook came out as gay last month.

After Milonov filed his initial complaint in January, a local judge dismissed it the following month, noting that Kilmova had not established or promoted the group, but merely served as its administrator. The judge’s ruling, which acquitted Kilmova of all charges, was strikingly sympathetic, and recognized that “the group is of great help for minors facing problems because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Roskomnadzor claims the latest charges are the result of more than 150 complaints the agency says it has received about the group, including allegations from an antigay, pro-Kremlin youth activist who contends the only reasonable response to someone coming out as LGBT is “disgust,” notes BuzzFeed

If found guilty of violating the ban, the group could be taken offline for up to 90 days, while Kilmova could face a fine of 1 million rubles (roughly $21,000 U.S.). If the charges stick this time around, the page could be shuttered permanently, BuzzFeed reports. 

Since its creation in 2013 amid the height of outrage and fear surrounding Russia’s ban on “gay propaganda,” Children-404 has published thousands of poignant pleas and anonymous posts expressing the pain, fear, courage, and sorrow of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Russians. Many respondents on the page — some anonymous, some from far-flung nations — appear to try to give hope to the young members and remind them that they are not completely alone, despite the state-sanctioned homophobia they face every day.

“I was 13 when I understood that something was wrong with me,” one teen from central Russia wrote on Children-404′s social media page, according to BuzzFeed. “I just started liking one of my classmates one day, and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

In addition to peer support, Children-404 also provides suicide prevention services and occasionally, in the the most serious of cases, connects troubled LGBT youth with volunteer psychologists, according to BuzzFeed.

Although Roskomnadzor’s complaint reportedly fails to list the specific ways Children-404 has violated the ban, it does draw attention to the group’s suicide prevention work.

“What’s the state offering for these teens right now?” Kilmova asked independent Russian news site Slon, according to BuzzFeed. “The answer’s obvious: nothing. Roskomnadzor says that it’s found homosexual propaganda, but instead of showing where I have forbidden materials, they’re writing that I just don’t have the special knowledge to publish them. It’s absurd!”

No Mother’s Love for LGBT Russians 

Under President Vladimir Putin, selected as The Advocate’s 2014 Person of the Year for being the single greatest threat to LGBT people worldwide, Russia has become a living hell for LGBT people of all ages — and things are only getting worse.

According to Pew Research’s 2014 Global Attitudes Project, 72 percent of Russians think homosexuality is morally unacceptable. This hints at the increasing power of the Russian Orthodox Church, which between 1991 and 2008 saw the proportion of adults calling themselves adherents increase from 31 percent to 72 percent.  

In July 2013, Patriarch Kirill I, leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, deemed same-sex marriage “a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse,” a sentiment that appeals to Putin’s conservative base. Julie Dorf, a senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality, argues that Putin relies on the church to legitimize his rhetoric, and in turn, the church gets greater political access.

Homophobic Acts: Inane to Olympic

In June the Human Rights Campaign released a report on the state of affairs for LGBT people in Russia to mark the one-year anniversary of President Putin signing into law the ban on so-called gay propaganda. The report, titled simply “Russia: Year in Review,” catalogued the law’s far-reaching impacts. Among the more absurd applications of the law are an elementary school that was fined because children there were allowed to exchange Valentine’s Day cards with students of the same gender, and a rating of 18+ for a Sims video game that allows characters to be in same-sex relationships.

“No violation is too small or silly to escape notice of the anti-LGBT crusaders,” the report stated. “And targets for investigation have included children’s books, a ninth-grade girl, and video games.” 

Outside of the realm of homophobia-driven, government-backed watchdog groups, the draconian antigay law has spurred a marked uptick in violence, according to HRC.

“Witch hunts, arrests, poisonous gas attacks, and murders” are commonplace in modern Russia, writes Ty Cobb, the HRC Foundation’s global engagement director. “Not only do these terms evoke powerful memories of brutal regimes that fill the pages of history books, they also represent the very real dangers that LGBT people face each and every day in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

“The evidence is clear,” Cobb continues. “State-sponsored homophobia and transphobia in Russia poses a direct threat to the safety and welfare of LGBT Russians, and that threat is growing.”

Even the threat of being seen as backwards, a particular sore point for Russia historically, did not deter Putin’s acolytes from bearing down hard on foreign and Russian LGBT people during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Despite presidential promises that the Sochi Games would not be a dangerous venue for LGBT athletes and spectators, HRC documented numerous violations of that promise — including the arrest of a trans Italian Parliament member who wore rainbow attire.

‘Western Influences’
A consistent theme underlying Russia’s state-sanctioned homophobia is the contention that homosexuality — and general acceptance and tolerance of LGBT people — in a uniquely Western phenomenon that is incompatible with traditional Russian values.

During the Moscow premiere of a documentary about Children-404 earlier this year, protesters held signs declaring “Western Depravity Must End.” Putin and his allies in government nationwide frequently use such rhetoric to paint Europe and the West as backwards and doomed to fail — along with any politically unpopular ideas (or people) the leaders decide to equate with such “filth.”

Yet large crowds continue to pay to see big-name Western recording artists and pop stars, while authorities permit them to hold massive concerts — even knowing that artists like Madonna, Judas Priest front man Rob Halford, and most recently, Sir Elton John will promote acceptance and tolerance of gender and sexual diversity in Russia. Both Madonna and John directly criticized the Kremlin’s antigay politics, while Halford positioned his band as “the rainbow flag of metal” in an interview after the group’s performance in St. Petersburg.

For his part, Elton John is a proud two-time “offender” under the ban. “Is Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music ‘sexually perverting?’” the British-born pop star asked the crowd at a recent concert in St. Petersburg. Similarly, John dedicated a 2013 concert in Moscow to slain gay Russian youth Vladislav Tornovoi, who was just 23 when he was raped and murdered after coming out as gay.

“You took me to your hearts all these years ago, and you’ve always welcomed me with warmth and open arms any time I’ve visited,” John said from the Moscow stage. “You have always embraced me and you have never judged me. So I am deeply saddened and shocked over the current legislation that is now in place against the LGBT community here in Russia. In my opinion, it is inhumane and it is isolating. People have demanded that because of this legislation, I must not come here to Russia. But many, many more people asked me to come, and I listened to them. I love coming here.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/11/21/it-gets-worse-russias-kremlin-targets-lgbt-youth-support

Citi Earns Perfect Score on LGBT Workplace Equality Scorecard

Friday, November 21st, 2014

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

For the eleventh year in a row, Citi received a perfect score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The national survey benchmarks corporate policies and practices for LGBT workplace equality.

“We are proud that our culture is one that promotes equality and inclusion, recognizing the true value that diversity can bring to our business, as well as the clients and communities we serve,” said Citi CEO Michael Corbat. “Citi’s perfect score on the CEI shows our comprehensive and continued commitment to supporting a workforce that values and empowers diversity.”

The 2015 CEI evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. Citi, one of 972 businesses scored, satisfied all of the CEI’s criteria results with a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/citi-earns-perfect-score-lgbt-170000187.html

Human Rights Campaign Names Time Warner Cable ‘A Best Place to Work’ for LGBT Employees for Third Consecutive Year

Friday, November 21st, 2014

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) today announced it received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

“Time Warner Cable is proud to be recognized as one of the nation’s ‘Best Places to Work’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people for the third year in a row,” said Jerrell Moore, TWC’s Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion. “This major accomplishment is a testament to and reflection of our ongoing dedication and commitment to diversity and inclusion at Time Warner Cable.”

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world. Time Warner Cable not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making its commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

The 2015 CEI rated 971 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

TWC has received numerous awards for diversity and inclusion and was named a Top Company for People of Color by the National Association of Multiethnicity in Cable (NAMIC). TWC is consistently ranked as one of the leading companies for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) and was honored as the Diversity Champion by the Walter Kaitz Foundation, an organization that prides itself on being cable’s diversity advocate. In addition, TWC actively supports more than 11 Employee Networks that provide professional development and leverage the diversity of people and experiences. Employee Networks available to TWC employees include OUT@twc, Black Business Employee Network, !Hola TWC!, VetNet, TWC Able and Asian Pacific Islander Collective.

For more information about TWC’s diversity and inclusion efforts, visit http://jobs.timewarnercable.com/content/diversity/. For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About Time Warner Cable

Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) is among the largest providers of video, high-speed data and voice services in the United States, connecting 15 million customers to entertainment, information and each other. Time Warner Cable Business Class offers data, video and voice services to businesses of all sizes, cell tower backhaul services to wireless carriers and enterprise-class, cloud-enabled hosting, managed applications and services. Time Warner Cable Media, the advertising arm of Time Warner Cable, offers national, regional and local companies innovative advertising solutions. More information about the services of Time Warner Cable is available at twc.com, twcbc.com and twcmedia.com.

Contact:

Media:
Time Warner Cable
Shelley Loo, 212-364-8293
Shelley.Loo@twcable.com

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/human-rights-campaign-names-time-170000906.html

MetLife Receives Perfect Score on 2015 Corporate Equality Index For 12th Consecutive Year

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

MetLife was named a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” scoring a perfect 100 percent on Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) for the 12th consecutive year. This national benchmarking tool gauges companies on their corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. MetLife joins the ranks of 364 major U.S. businesses which also earned top marks this year.

“MetLife is honored to be named once again as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” said MetLife Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel of Litigation, Kaiper Wilson, who is also a prominent member of MetLife’s diverse business resource network, GLAM (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Associates and Allies at MetLife).

“On a personal level, I am proud to work for a company that recognizes that we are all unique and creates the policies and culture we need to support a diverse, global workforce,” said Wilson.

The 2015 CEI rated 972 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. MetLife’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

MetLife is committed to creating an inclusive work environment that supports the diverse backgrounds and skills of our employees. Our diverse business resource network, GLAM, was founded in 2004 to raise awareness of LGBT issues at MetLife, to provide a forum for MetLife’s LGBT employees and to promote MetLife to the LGBT community.

Earlier this year, GLAM launched its “Bring Your Whole Self to Work” video which features employees sharing their stories about coming out at work, as well as a number of messages of support and encouragement from straight allies and leaders across the company.

MetLife offers employees and their domestic same- and opposite-sex partners a variety of health and other benefits. In addition to supporting employees, MetLife has developed an LGBT Financial Planning site dedicated to providing information and tools to the LGBT community.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

About MetLife

MetLife, Inc. (MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates (“MetLife”), is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world. Founded in 1868, MetLife is a global provider of life insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management. Serving approximately 100 million customers, MetLife has operations in nearly 50 countries and holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com

Contact:

MetLife, Inc.
Yvette Marmur, 212-578-5020
ymarmur@metlife.com

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/metlife-receives-perfect-score-2015-150500254.html

A Rare Peek Inside America’s Only Gay Prison Wing

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

When we hear about the treatment of LGBT inmates, it’s too often devastating stories of gruesome violence and sexual assault. But fashion shows and family nights in the gay wing of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Men’s Central Jail reveal a markedly different life for inmates who are segregated by sexuality.

The video that accompanies an in-depth feature from L.A. Weekly gives us a rare peek into the gay wing, called K6G. There we meet Yah Yah, a transgender inmate, strutting her stuff in a makeshift white mini dress accompanied by music courtesy of a plastic spoon and soda bottle.

While inmates are still quick to point out the conditions are far from luxurious, K6G is an upgrade from the racial tensions and gang violence that are prevalent in other parts of lockup. Instead, there are sing-alongs and homespun booty shorts that are tie-dyed with Skittles.

Approximately 400 out of the 3,900 to 4,700 inmates are kept in K6G. This sexuality-segregated area was created after a 1985 lawsuit from American Civil Liberties Union against the L.A. county jail system that revealed the unjust violence toward LGBT prisoners. 

Gay and transgender prisoners are disproportionately exposed to violence and assault—and not just from other inmates. Correctional officers mistreat them too. As many as 44 percent of gender nonconforming prisoners experience sexual harassment compared with 27 percent of cis-gender inmates, according to a recent study.

No other wing quite like K6G exists in the U.S. New York’s Rikers Island closed a similar section in 2005. Other big cities have segregated sections or individual isolation but nothing as expansive as the familial community in K6G, according to L.A. Weekly.

“For some people, this is their home because a lot of their families have disowned them and shunned them, so we’re their family,” Yah Yah told the alternative weekly.

Inmates in K6G receive an escort when they travel outside of their three dorms. Only 6 percent of those in the gay wing are incarcerated for violent offenses like murder or assault. The majority serves time for drug or theft charges.

This extra protection might be part of the reason straight members want to live in the relatively safe haven—some have been caught lying to be housed there, but they have to pass a series of questions to prove they’re LGBT.

“Do you attend any gay bars or clubs,” Deputy Sheriff Javier Machado asks inmates looking to gain entry into K6G. Those that can pinpoint a club even get a follow-up question: “What’s the cover charge?”

Related stories on TakePart:

In Jail With Adults, but He’s Only a Fifth Grader

Video Shows What It’s Really Like for Teens in Solitary Confinement

A New Law Could Bring Harsher Punishments for Violence Against LGBT People

This Billboard Could Help Free a Grandfather Serving Life in Prison for Marijuana

Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/rare-peek-inside-america-only-gay-prison-wing-195034963.html

King & Spalding Ranked Among 'Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality'

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – November 19, 2014) – King Spalding earned a top score of 100 percent in the Corporate Equality Index 2015, a report card on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality in corporate America. King Spalding scored a maximum rating in all nine categories, earning the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” This annual survey of the nation’s largest publicly traded businesses, privately owned companies and top revenue-grossing law firms has been conducted since 2002 by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

“We are proud to have received this recognition from the Human Rights Campaign,” said Samuel M. Matchett, partner and chair of the diversity committee of King Spalding. “We dedicate substantial human and financial resources toward creating and nurturing a diverse, collaborative and inclusive environment both within our firm and in the legal community. As a global firm, we understand that a multitude of perspectives enrich our workplace, allowing us to provide more flexible and creative solutions and services to our clients.”

The Corporate Equality Index this year rated 781 of the largest businesses in the United States, including 306 Fortune 500 companies and 149 Am Law 200 law firms. The index measures the extent to which employers protect their LGBT employees, rating employers on a scale from 0 to 100 percent. Ratings are based on nine factors such as equal employment opportunity policy, employment benefits, organizational LGBT competency, public commitment and responsible citizenship.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

About King Spalding
Celebrating more than 125 years of service, King Spalding is an international law firm that represents a broad array of clients, including half of the Fortune Global 100, with 800 lawyers in 17 offices in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The firm has handled matters in over 160 countries on six continents and is consistently recognized for the results it obtains, uncompromising commitment to quality and dedication to understanding the business and culture of its clients. More information is available at www.kslaw.com.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/king-spalding-ranked-among-best-151335658.html

Cigna Among HRC’s “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality”

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

BLOOMFIELD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Cigna (CI), a global health service leader, has once again scored a perfect 100 percent on the HRC’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI) and has been recognized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.”

Cigna is among 366 companies to achieve a perfect score on this national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality.

“Cigna is honored to be among the 366 companies achieving a perfect score on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index. We are pleased to see continued growth in the list of companies that provide an inclusive environment for their LGBT employees and customers,” said Rosanna Durruthy, Cigna’s chief diversity officer.

When Cigna says “Together All the Way,” the company promises to support its customers, employees and communities. To fulfill that promise, Cigna has programs in place to identify and meet the unique health and wellness needs of the LGBT community. Its Health Disparities Council works to eliminate health disparities that affect so many population groups, including those within the LGBT community. Cigna’s Colleague Resource Groups—employee networks representing key demographics— offer personal insight into the needs of the many populations the company serves.

In addition Cigna and the Cigna Foundation support LBGT non-profit charities including the Hetrick Martin Institute, Mazzoni Center, the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective/One Big Event, and others.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. The HRC’s Corporate Equality Index analyzes and ranks large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees.

The 2015 CEI rated 971 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. Cigna’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 85 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available: http://www.businesswire.com/multimedia/home/20141119006066/en/

MULTIMEDIA AVAILABLE:http://www.businesswire.com/cgi-bin/mmg.cgi?eid=50987550lang=en

Contact:

Cigna
Judy Hartling, 860-226-6272
Judy.Hartling@cigna.com

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/cigna-among-hrc-best-places-153800045.html

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Names Monsanto Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Monsanto has been named by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” The distinction comes with the St. Louis-based company earning a perfect score of 100 percent on the HRC’s annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI is a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Monsanto is one of only 366 major businesses across all U.S. industries to earn the top score.

“We are proud to again be recognized as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality,” said Steve Mizell, Monsanto executive vice president of human resources. “As a company focused on collaborating to find sustainable agricultural solutions, our success depends on attracting and developing talented employees with diverse backgrounds. We believe that an inclusive workplace where everyone is treated equally allows people to truly bring their best and most innovative ideas to the organization.”

The 2015 CEI rated 971 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs and public engagement with the LGBT community. Monsanto’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.”

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world. Monsanto not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

Third party organizations continue to recognize Monsanto as an employer of choice. In 2014, Monsanto was named eighth among the World’s Best Multinational Workplaces by Great Place To Work Institute. The company also received awards recognizing its employees’ innovation, leadership, and workplace satisfaction by Forbes (World’s Most Innovative Companies), Science Magazine (Science Careers Top Employers), CR Magazine (100 Best Corporate Citizens), Computerworld (100 Best Places to Work in IT), DiversityInc. (Top 50 Companies for Diversity), MIT Technology Review (50 Smartest Companies) and Chief Executive (40 Best Companies for Leaders). For more information on these recognitions and others, see Monsanto’s list of workplace recognitions.

To learn more about Monsanto Company and our people, visit discover.monsanto.com. For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto is committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops – such as corn, soybeans and cotton – that help farmers have better harvests while using water and other important resources more efficiently. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. To learn more about Monsanto, our commitments and our more than 20,000 dedicated employees, please visit: discover.monsanto.com and monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at twitter.com/MonsantoCo, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows® at monsantoblog.com or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

About Human Rights Campaign:

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/human-rights-campaign-hrc-names-183000484.html

Towers Watson Earns Top Marks for LGBT Workplace Equality

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Global professional services company Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) today announced it received a perfect score of 100% for the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, America’s largest civil rights organization, administered the index. Towers Watson joins the ranks of 366 major U.S. businesses that also earned top marks this year.

“Towers Watson is honored to be recognized for our commitment to LGBT equality and fairness in the workplace,” said John Haley, CEO of Towers Watson. “We take great pride in developing a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive, empowering environment for all of our associates. It’s an integral part of our core values. This recognition substantiates our culture of respect for our talented and diverse workforce of 15,000 associates worldwide.”

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job,” said Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights Campaign. “We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world. Towers Watson not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

The rating criteria for the Corporate Equality Index reflect evolving best practices for improving the work experiences of LGBT employees. The 2015 Corporate Equality Index rated 971 businesses in the report, on policies including nondiscrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs and public engagement with the LGBT community. Towers Watson’s efforts in satisfying all of the criteria resulted in a 100% ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

“We are extremely proud to have received this recognition in our first year of submitting to the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index,” said Carl Hess, managing director of the Americas and executive sponsor for Out@TW, Towers Watson’s resource community for LGBT associates and allies. “Our ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity enables us to create more innovative ideas and solutions for our clients, as well as provide an inspiring environment for our associates. We are honored to be designated as a best place to work for LGBT equality.”

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About The Human Rights Campaign Foundation

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, the HRC Foundation strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

About Towers Watson

Towers Watson (NYSE, NASDAQ: TW) is a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through effective people, risk and financial management. With 15,000 associates around the world, the company offers consulting, technology and solutions in the areas of benefits, talent management, rewards, and risk and capital management. Learn more at towerswatson.com.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/towers-watson-earns-top-marks-140500842.html

Campbell Soup Company Earns Distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality”

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

CAMDEN, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

For the sixth consecutive year, Campbell Soup Company (CPB) has earned a perfect score of 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index, as measured by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization in the U.S.

“We are honored to again be among the top companies recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation,” said Kim Ryan, Campbell’s Vice President, Global Diversity Inclusion. “This recognition demonstrates our commitment and ongoing efforts to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive global workforce. We believe that creating a supportive workplace where employees can truly be themselves enables us to be a stronger, high-performing organization and reflects the consumer base we want to serve today and tomorrow.”

Now in its 13th year, the index is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual report card of corporate America’s treatment of LGBT employees, consumers and investors. Businesses are rated on a scale of 0 to 100, based on the existence of corporate policies that support LGBT people through anti-discrimination protection, domestic partner benefits, diversity training, affinity groups, and LGBT-specific engagement efforts.

Campbell earned a perfect score and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” Campbell’s score also earned the company a spot on the HRC’s Buying for Equality 2015 list, a guide to businesses, products and services that support LGBT equality.

About Campbell Soup Company

Campbell (CPB) makes real food that matters for life’s moments, from high-quality soups and simple meals to snacks and healthy beverages. For generations, people have trusted Campbell to provide authentic, flavorful and readily available foods and beverages that connect them to each other, to warm memories and to what’s important today. Led by its iconic Campbell’s brand, the company’s portfolio includes Pepperidge Farm, Goldfish, Bolthouse Farms, V8, Swanson, Prego, Pace, Plum Organics, Arnott’s, Tim Tam, Royal Dansk and Kjeldsens. Founded in 1869, Campbell has a heritage of giving back and acting as a good steward of the planet’s natural resources. The company is a member of the Standard Poor’s 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. For more information, visit www.campbellsoupcompany.com or follow company news on Twitter via @CampbellSoupCo.

About Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Contact:

Campbell Soup Company
Thomas Hushen (Media)
856-342-5227
thomas_hushen@campbellsoup.com

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/campbell-soup-company-earns-distinction-133000314.html

Campbell Soup Company Earns Distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality”

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

CAMDEN, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

For the sixth consecutive year, Campbell Soup Company (CPB) has earned a perfect score of 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index, as measured by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization in the U.S.

“We are honored to again be among the top companies recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation,” said Kim Ryan, Campbell’s Vice President, Global Diversity Inclusion. “This recognition demonstrates our commitment and ongoing efforts to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive global workforce. We believe that creating a supportive workplace where employees can truly be themselves enables us to be a stronger, high-performing organization and reflects the consumer base we want to serve today and tomorrow.”

Now in its 13th year, the index is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual report card of corporate America’s treatment of LGBT employees, consumers and investors. Businesses are rated on a scale of 0 to 100, based on the existence of corporate policies that support LGBT people through anti-discrimination protection, domestic partner benefits, diversity training, affinity groups, and LGBT-specific engagement efforts.

Campbell earned a perfect score and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” Campbell’s score also earned the company a spot on the HRC’s Buying for Equality 2015 list, a guide to businesses, products and services that support LGBT equality.

About Campbell Soup Company

Campbell (CPB) makes real food that matters for life’s moments, from high-quality soups and simple meals to snacks and healthy beverages. For generations, people have trusted Campbell to provide authentic, flavorful and readily available foods and beverages that connect them to each other, to warm memories and to what’s important today. Led by its iconic Campbell’s brand, the company’s portfolio includes Pepperidge Farm, Goldfish, Bolthouse Farms, V8, Swanson, Prego, Pace, Plum Organics, Arnott’s, Tim Tam, Royal Dansk and Kjeldsens. Founded in 1869, Campbell has a heritage of giving back and acting as a good steward of the planet’s natural resources. The company is a member of the Standard Poor’s 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. For more information, visit www.campbellsoupcompany.com or follow company news on Twitter via @CampbellSoupCo.

About Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Contact:

Campbell Soup Company
Thomas Hushen (Media)
856-342-5227
thomas_hushen@campbellsoup.com

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/campbell-soup-company-earns-distinction-133000314.html

Raytheon named "Best Place to Work" for LGBT equality for tenth straight year

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

WALTHAM, Mass., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named Raytheon as a 2015 “Best Place to Work” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The company earned a perfect 100 percent rating for the tenth year in a row.

HRC, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group, surveyed 971 businesses for its annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which reports on policies and practices related to LGBT equality in the workplace. 

Among the practices considered for the survey were non-discrimination workplace policies, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community.

“This perfect 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the tenth year in a row reflects how strongly Raytheon values the diversity of its workforce,” said Hayward Bell, chief diversity officer for Raytheon. ”We don’t just encourage the development of a diverse workforce. We insist on it as a key competitive advantage worldwide.”

Raytheon, one of 366 organizations to earn a perfect score on the index, has long been a pioneer in diversity among aerospace and defense companies. In January 2002, it became one of the first in its industry to adopt a benefits policy for domestic partners. In 2005, it became the first defense company to receive a perfect score on the Corporate Equality index. 

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world. Raytheon not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

Raytheon has received a number of honors recognizing its commitment to diversity. In 2014, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council listed Raytheon as one of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises, and Equal Opportunity magazine named the company as a Top 50 Employer.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit http://www.hrc.org/cei.

About the Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

About Raytheon

Raytheon Company, with 2013 sales of $24 billion and 63,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 92 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cyber security and a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter @Raytheon

Media Contact
Mike Doble
+1.703.284.4345
corporatepr@raytheon.com

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/raytheon-named-best-place-lgbt-130000201.html

Campbell Soup Company Earns Distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality”

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

CAMDEN, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

For the sixth consecutive year, Campbell Soup Company (CPB) has earned a perfect score of 100 percent on the Corporate Equality Index, as measured by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization in the U.S.

“We are honored to again be among the top companies recognized by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation,” said Kim Ryan, Campbell’s Vice President, Global Diversity Inclusion. “This recognition demonstrates our commitment and ongoing efforts to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive global workforce. We believe that creating a supportive workplace where employees can truly be themselves enables us to be a stronger, high-performing organization and reflects the consumer base we want to serve today and tomorrow.”

Now in its 13th year, the index is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s annual report card of corporate America’s treatment of LGBT employees, consumers and investors. Businesses are rated on a scale of 0 to 100, based on the existence of corporate policies that support LGBT people through anti-discrimination protection, domestic partner benefits, diversity training, affinity groups, and LGBT-specific engagement efforts.

Campbell earned a perfect score and the distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” Campbell’s score also earned the company a spot on the HRC’s Buying for Equality 2015 list, a guide to businesses, products and services that support LGBT equality.

About Campbell Soup Company

Campbell (CPB) makes real food that matters for life’s moments, from high-quality soups and simple meals to snacks and healthy beverages. For generations, people have trusted Campbell to provide authentic, flavorful and readily available foods and beverages that connect them to each other, to warm memories and to what’s important today. Led by its iconic Campbell’s brand, the company’s portfolio includes Pepperidge Farm, Goldfish, Bolthouse Farms, V8, Swanson, Prego, Pace, Plum Organics, Arnott’s, Tim Tam, Royal Dansk and Kjeldsens. Founded in 1869, Campbell has a heritage of giving back and acting as a good steward of the planet’s natural resources. The company is a member of the Standard Poor’s 500 and the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes. For more information, visit www.campbellsoupcompany.com or follow company news on Twitter via @CampbellSoupCo.

About Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Contact:

Campbell Soup Company
Thomas Hushen (Media)
856-342-5227
thomas_hushen@campbellsoup.com

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/campbell-soup-company-earns-distinction-133000314.html

Raytheon named "Best Place to Work" for LGBT equality for tenth straight year

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

WALTHAM, Mass., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named Raytheon as a 2015 “Best Place to Work” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The company earned a perfect 100 percent rating for the tenth year in a row.

HRC, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group, surveyed 971 businesses for its annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which reports on policies and practices related to LGBT equality in the workplace. 

Among the practices considered for the survey were non-discrimination workplace policies, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community.

“This perfect 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the tenth year in a row reflects how strongly Raytheon values the diversity of its workforce,” said Hayward Bell, chief diversity officer for Raytheon. ”We don’t just encourage the development of a diverse workforce. We insist on it as a key competitive advantage worldwide.”

Raytheon, one of 366 organizations to earn a perfect score on the index, has long been a pioneer in diversity among aerospace and defense companies. In January 2002, it became one of the first in its industry to adopt a benefits policy for domestic partners. In 2005, it became the first defense company to receive a perfect score on the Corporate Equality index. 

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world. Raytheon not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

Raytheon has received a number of honors recognizing its commitment to diversity. In 2014, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council listed Raytheon as one of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises, and Equal Opportunity magazine named the company as a Top 50 Employer.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit http://www.hrc.org/cei.

About the Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

About Raytheon

Raytheon Company, with 2013 sales of $24 billion and 63,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 92 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cyber security and a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter @Raytheon

Media Contact
Mike Doble
+1.703.284.4345
corporatepr@raytheon.com

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/raytheon-named-best-place-lgbt-130000201.html

Raytheon named "Best Place to Work" for LGBT equality for tenth straight year

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

WALTHAM, Mass., Nov. 19, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has named Raytheon as a 2015 “Best Place to Work” for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. The company earned a perfect 100 percent rating for the tenth year in a row.

HRC, a Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group, surveyed 971 businesses for its annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which reports on policies and practices related to LGBT equality in the workplace. 

Among the practices considered for the survey were non-discrimination workplace policies, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community.

“This perfect 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign for the tenth year in a row reflects how strongly Raytheon values the diversity of its workforce,” said Hayward Bell, chief diversity officer for Raytheon. ”We don’t just encourage the development of a diverse workforce. We insist on it as a key competitive advantage worldwide.”

Raytheon, one of 366 organizations to earn a perfect score on the index, has long been a pioneer in diversity among aerospace and defense companies. In January 2002, it became one of the first in its industry to adopt a benefits policy for domestic partners. In 2005, it became the first defense company to receive a perfect score on the Corporate Equality index. 

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world. Raytheon not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

Raytheon has received a number of honors recognizing its commitment to diversity. In 2014, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council listed Raytheon as one of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises, and Equal Opportunity magazine named the company as a Top 50 Employer.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit http://www.hrc.org/cei.

About the Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

About Raytheon

Raytheon Company, with 2013 sales of $24 billion and 63,000 employees worldwide, is a technology and innovation leader specializing in defense, security and civil markets throughout the world. With a history of innovation spanning 92 years, Raytheon provides state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities in the areas of sensing; effects; and command, control, communications and intelligence systems, as well as cyber security and a broad range of mission support services. Raytheon is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. For more about Raytheon, visit us at www.raytheon.com and follow us on Twitter @Raytheon

Media Contact
Mike Doble
+1.703.284.4345
corporatepr@raytheon.com

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/raytheon-named-best-place-lgbt-130000201.html

First Data Earns the Designation “Best Place to Work” for LGBT Equality

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

First Data, the global leader in payments technology and solutions, announced today that it received a perfect score on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI is a national benchmarking survey on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

“We are proud to be designated as a best place to work for LGBT equality by achieving a perfect score on the 2015 CEI, a significant increase from our score last year. Even more so, we are thrilled to have made so much progress to ensure our LGBT community is supported not only in words but by our actions,” said Cindy Armine-Klein, Chief Control Officer at First Data. “At First Data, we believe everyone should embrace bringing ‘their whole selves’ to work. We know that our success lies in building a richly diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job. We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “First Data not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

First Data’s actions resulting in its increased score included extending benefits coverage to domestic partners’ children, adding supplemental life insurance for domestic partners and providing unique medical coverage for transgendered individuals. The company also introduced support for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), an organization focused on assuring that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

First Data, which has created an LGBT affinity group to champion these issues, also enhanced its anti-discrimination language to expand beyond standard references to sexual orientation, including gender identity as well. Other actions provide the opportunity for employees to self-identify as LGBT, supported by an internal website offering members of the community additional internal and external resources.

Many of First Data’s initiatives in this area were evident in June, during which the company supported Heartland Pride in Omaha, Nebraska, where First Data is the largest private employer. In addition, the company showed its support for LGBT History Month in October through a series of initiatives, including a panel discussion on diversity with First Data executives and a communications campaign in all company facilities.

The 2015 CEI rated 972 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. First Data’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About First Data

First Data is a global technology leader in the financial services industry. With 24,000 employee-owners and operations in 35 countries, the company provides secure and innovative payment technology and services to more than six million merchants and financial institutions around the world, from small businesses to the world’s largest corporations. Today, businesses in nearly 70 countries trust First Data to secure and process more than 2,000 financial transactions per second, totaling $1.8 trillion a year. First Data’s unparalleled infrastructure and partnerships go “beyond the transaction” with next-generation point-of-sale technology fueled by powerful analytics to detect fraud, gain insights into consumer spending, and strengthen customer loyalty. All day, every day, First Data helps its clients thrive in the evolving world of commerce.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/first-data-earns-designation-best-130000991.html

First Data Earns the Designation “Best Place to Work” for LGBT Equality

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

First Data, the global leader in payments technology and solutions, announced today that it received a perfect score on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI is a national benchmarking survey on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

“We are proud to be designated as a best place to work for LGBT equality by achieving a perfect score on the 2015 CEI, a significant increase from our score last year. Even more so, we are thrilled to have made so much progress to ensure our LGBT community is supported not only in words but by our actions,” said Cindy Armine-Klein, Chief Control Officer at First Data. “At First Data, we believe everyone should embrace bringing ‘their whole selves’ to work. We know that our success lies in building a richly diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job. We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “First Data not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

First Data’s actions resulting in its increased score included extending benefits coverage to domestic partners’ children, adding supplemental life insurance for domestic partners and providing unique medical coverage for transgendered individuals. The company also introduced support for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), an organization focused on assuring that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

First Data, which has created an LGBT affinity group to champion these issues, also enhanced its anti-discrimination language to expand beyond standard references to sexual orientation, including gender identity as well. Other actions provide the opportunity for employees to self-identify as LGBT, supported by an internal website offering members of the community additional internal and external resources.

Many of First Data’s initiatives in this area were evident in June, during which the company supported Heartland Pride in Omaha, Nebraska, where First Data is the largest private employer. In addition, the company showed its support for LGBT History Month in October through a series of initiatives, including a panel discussion on diversity with First Data executives and a communications campaign in all company facilities.

The 2015 CEI rated 972 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. First Data’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About First Data

First Data is a global technology leader in the financial services industry. With 24,000 employee-owners and operations in 35 countries, the company provides secure and innovative payment technology and services to more than six million merchants and financial institutions around the world, from small businesses to the world’s largest corporations. Today, businesses in nearly 70 countries trust First Data to secure and process more than 2,000 financial transactions per second, totaling $1.8 trillion a year. First Data’s unparalleled infrastructure and partnerships go “beyond the transaction” with next-generation point-of-sale technology fueled by powerful analytics to detect fraud, gain insights into consumer spending, and strengthen customer loyalty. All day, every day, First Data helps its clients thrive in the evolving world of commerce.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/first-data-earns-designation-best-130000991.html

First Data Earns the Designation “Best Place to Work” for LGBT Equality

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

First Data, the global leader in payments technology and solutions, announced today that it received a perfect score on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI). The CEI is a national benchmarking survey on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

“We are proud to be designated as a best place to work for LGBT equality by achieving a perfect score on the 2015 CEI, a significant increase from our score last year. Even more so, we are thrilled to have made so much progress to ensure our LGBT community is supported not only in words but by our actions,” said Cindy Armine-Klein, Chief Control Officer at First Data. “At First Data, we believe everyone should embrace bringing ‘their whole selves’ to work. We know that our success lies in building a richly diverse and inclusive workforce.”

“In order to achieve a perfect score, a company has to show a deep and serious commitment to treating their LGBT employees fairly and equally on the job. We also look at whether a company is speaking out in the public square to advocate for LGBT equality here in this country and around the world,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “First Data not only meets these standards, it goes above and beyond the call of duty, making commitment to equality a fundamental aspect of its corporate values.”

First Data’s actions resulting in its increased score included extending benefits coverage to domestic partners’ children, adding supplemental life insurance for domestic partners and providing unique medical coverage for transgendered individuals. The company also introduced support for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), an organization focused on assuring that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

First Data, which has created an LGBT affinity group to champion these issues, also enhanced its anti-discrimination language to expand beyond standard references to sexual orientation, including gender identity as well. Other actions provide the opportunity for employees to self-identify as LGBT, supported by an internal website offering members of the community additional internal and external resources.

Many of First Data’s initiatives in this area were evident in June, during which the company supported Heartland Pride in Omaha, Nebraska, where First Data is the largest private employer. In addition, the company showed its support for LGBT History Month in October through a series of initiatives, including a panel discussion on diversity with First Data executives and a communications campaign in all company facilities.

The 2015 CEI rated 972 businesses in the report, which evaluates LGBT-related policies and practices including non-discrimination workplace protections, domestic partner benefits, transgender-inclusive health care benefits, competency programs, and public engagement with the LGBT community. First Data’s efforts in satisfying all of the CEI’s criteria results in a 100 percent ranking and the designation as a Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality.

For more information on the 2015 Corporate Equality Index, or to download a free copy of the report, visit www.hrc.org/cei.

About First Data

First Data is a global technology leader in the financial services industry. With 24,000 employee-owners and operations in 35 countries, the company provides secure and innovative payment technology and services to more than six million merchants and financial institutions around the world, from small businesses to the world’s largest corporations. Today, businesses in nearly 70 countries trust First Data to secure and process more than 2,000 financial transactions per second, totaling $1.8 trillion a year. First Data’s unparalleled infrastructure and partnerships go “beyond the transaction” with next-generation point-of-sale technology fueled by powerful analytics to detect fraud, gain insights into consumer spending, and strengthen customer loyalty. All day, every day, First Data helps its clients thrive in the evolving world of commerce.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Article source: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/first-data-earns-designation-best-130000991.html

Human Rights Campaign names Thompson a 'Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality'

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014


By Julie Sherwood


Posted Nov. 17, 2014 @ 4:30 pm


Article source: http://www.irondequoitpost.com/article/20141117/NEWS/141119731/1994/NEWS?rssfeed=true

Will Pope Address LGBT Concerns at World Meeting of Families?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

When Pope Francis comes to Philadelphia in 2015, he’ll encounter a coalition of “pilgrims” representing different kinds of Catholic families “that we believe need to be included in the church’s ministry,” says Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the LGBT Catholic group DignityUSA.

During a Vatican colloquium on families, the pontiff announced his plans to travel to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September of next year. The World Meeting of Families is held every three years, according to the event website, and during the conference “families can participate in discussion groups on the Christian family’s role in the church and society, led by many distinguished speakers.”

“It will be really interesting to see what happens when the pope comes to Philadelphia. I really hope he will take the time to meet with some of our families,” Duddy-Burke says. “The reality is it’s an uphill battle.”

Duddy-Burke, herself a married lesbian and mother of two adopted children, said that Catholic families come in a variety of shapes and forms — and that everyone seems to know that except for the church hierarchy. LGBT people have been excluded in many ways, she says, and “all of this is deeply damaging for people, and they’re all challenges families deal with.”

“Our hope is to be present, to engage in conversations with lots of people at the event — to give other people who have questions … a place where they can feel safe to voice those and to sort of make these people think about the pastoral harm that’s done by this sort of narrow definition of family,” says Duddy-Burke, who notes that the slated speakers for the World Meeting of Families “really represent traditionalists.”

The event website also reflects traditional doctrine. Posted on the site is a “preparatory catechism — a collection of what Catholics believe about human purpose, marriage, and the family.”

Among the statements from the catechism:

• “Marriage is a uniquely intimate form of friendship that calls a man and a woman to love each other in the manner of God’s covenant.”

• “Marriage is meant to be fertile and welcome new life.”

• “Many people, especially today, face painful situations resulting from poverty, disability, illness and addictions, unemployment, and the loneliness of advanced age. But divorce and same-sex attraction impact the life of the family in different but powerful ways. Christian families and networks of families should be sources of mercy, safety, friendship and support for those struggling with these issues.”

The pope’s announcement that he will attend the World Meeting of Families came during a colloquium on families, gender, and sexuality. Being held at the Vatican, that event includes U.S. evangelical leaders Rick Warren and Russell Moore.

At that event, Francis asserted that “children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity,” the Los Angeles Times reports.  (Kids’ “right” to opposite-sex parents was also recently asserted by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, who called same-sex marriage a “sort of Trojan horse.”) 

Pope Francis has famously shifted the church’s tone regarding LGBT people — but tone is different than doctrine, as Duddy-Burke notes.

“Pope Francis is such an interesting conundrum for Catholics and for others,” she says. “The reality is that there has been absolutely no change in policy under the pope.” However, she says, the pope does seem to have an “openness” to talking about the value of same-sex relationships.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/11/18/will-pope-address-lgbt-concerns-world-meeting-families

Chrysler Group Earns Another Perfect Score for LGBT Workplace Policies and Benefits

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Nov. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ –

  • Company is one of a select group leading employers to achieve a perfect score in the 2015 Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Annual Corporate Equality Index
  • Index rates major employers based on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workplace policies and benefits, defining the best-in-class practices for LGBT workplace inclusion
  • Chrysler Group has achieved a 100 percent rating nine times since the index was established in 2002

According to a report released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Chrysler Group LLC was one of a select group of leading employers to achieve a perfect score of 100 percent on HRC’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

The annual CEI report rates employers on their LGBT workplace policies and benefits. A perfect score indicates a company provides full parity for domestic partner benefits, not only in basic medical coverage, but in dependent care, retirement and other benefits that affect the financial and medical well-being of families. Chrysler Group’s 100 percent rating also signifies coverage for transgender individuals for medically necessary care — a community the HRC notes has historically been overlooked. 

The HRC, the largest civil rights organization in the U.S., rated nearly 1,000 employers for the 2015 report, including the entire Fortune 500. The top rated businesses span nearly every industry and major geography of the U.S.

The company has achieved this benchmark nine times since it was established in 2002 and, until recent years, Chrysler Group was the only automaker to consistently achieve a perfect CEI rating.

“Chrysler Group is very proud of our longstanding support of our LGBT employees, customers and communities,” said Georgette Borrego Dulworth, Director, Talent Acquisition Diversity, Chrysler Group LLC. “Our consistent record of providing an inclusive work culture and benefit parity for our LGBT employees represents our core belief in the talents and potential of our people.  These are not things you do because you have to, but because they are the right things to do.”

“Chrysler Group’s consistent record of creating and sustaining a supportive work culture continues to be a source of pride for all employees, especially the Company’s LGBT employee community,” said Gregory Hawkins, an engineer at the Company who serves as president of GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance at Chrysler Group.

GALA is one of six Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at the Company, which enable employees to celebrate multicultural differences and bring value to the larger community through volunteer and charitable activities. The group’s objectives include promoting a positive awareness of LGBT people and issues within Chrysler Group and to ensure that the Company’s products and services are desired by and tailored to diverse people.

According to the report: “Corporate America has long recognized the imperative of LGBT inclusion by implementing their own LGBT-friendly policies ahead of lawmakers. We are at the front of a new era in which major businesses are not only meeting ever-higher new bars for workplace fairness, they are exceeding them by becoming social and public policy change agents in the process. They recognize equality is not just the right thing to do, it is sound business practice.”Chrysler Group is proud to be a longtime supporter of LGBT employees, communities and issues. Chrysler Group was a leader among U.S. employers in providing domestic partner benefits to its employees in 2000. Chrysler Group also is a member of the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition.

The 2015 Corporate Equality Index report is available at www.hrc.org/cei.

About Chrysler Group LLC
Chrysler Group LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA), designs, engineers, manufactures, distributes and sells vehicles under the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram and FIAT brands, and the SRT performance vehicle designation. The Company also distributes the Alfa Romeo 4C model and Mopar products. With the resources, technology and worldwide distribution network required to compete on a global scale, FCA builds on Chrysler Group’s culture of innovation, first established by Walter P. Chrysler in 1925, and Fiat’s complementary technology that dates back to its founding in 1899.  

FCA, the seventh-largest automaker in the world based on total vehicle sales in 2013, is an international automotive group engaged in designing, engineering, manufacturing, distributing and selling vehicles and components and production systems. FCA is listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FCAU” and on the Mercato Telematico Azionario under the symbol “FCA.”

Follow Chrysler Group news and video on:
FCA Content On Demand (COD): www.chryslerondemand.com
Company blog: http://blog.chryslergroupllc.com
Company website: www.chryslergroupllc.com
ChryslerGroup360: www.chryslergroup360.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ChryslerGroup
Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/chryslergroup/
Media website: www.media.chrysler.com
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/chryslergroup/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/fcacorporate
Streetfire: www.streetfire.net/uploaded/chryslervideo.htm
Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrysler
YouTube: www.youtube.com/pentastarvideo

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/chrysler-group-earns-another-perfect-160000643.html

New Haven commended for LGBT inclusion

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

For the second year in a row, New Haven has earned a perfect score on the 2014 Municipal Equality Index, a metric for LGBT inclusion.

Administered by The Human Rights Campaign — a civil rights organization that promotes LGBT equality — the MEI evaluates 353 US cities according to 47 criteria across six categories. New Haven was one of the 38 cities awarded with a perfect score of 100, standing out in comparison to Connecticut’s average score of 74 and the national average of 59.

“This is the second year that New Haven has received this rating from the HRC, which I believe is a testament to New Haven’s combined continued efforts, whether individual, government, Yale University or business, to be inclusive,” said Joshua O’Connell, the co-president of the New Haven Pride Center.

In September, New Haven hosted a gay pride festival, holding the opening ceremony at City Hall for the first time in the event’s history. O’Connell attributed Mayor Toni Harp’s involvement in the city’s revived festival, which came back after a two-year hiatus, as a new development that symbolizes the city’s commitment to its community. He added that the development helped New Haven maintain its score.

While the three Yale LGBT community members interviewed found the score exciting, they also expressed doubts that Yale is as inclusive as New Haven as a whole.

Parmesh Shahani, a Yale World Fellow and author of the book “Gay Bombay: Globalization, Love and (Be)Longing in Contemporary India,” said he viewed New Haven’s score as an opportunity for Yale to improve its own LGBT inclusion efforts.

“My experience on Yale’s campus has been that it is not actively anti-LGBT, but neither is it proactively welcoming of LGBT students, faculty and staff,” said Shahani, who has been at Yale since this August. He attributed his to what he has found to be a small number of people on campus who are openly gay and a lack of on-campus activities that would promote inclusion.

Shahani explained that while he was a graduate student at MIT from 2003–06, the University organized an annual retreat for all LGBT student groups and allies. The retreat featured information sessions and workshops, making him feel that he was welcome at the University, he said.

“I really feel that Yale can up its game. It needs to explicitly commit its intent to the LGBT community by allocating more money,” he said.

Alexander Borsa ’16, the president of the Co-Op, Yale’s undergraduate LGBTQ umbrella organization, said that Yale is a liberal institution that welcomes the LGBT community, but he agreed with Shahani in that there is still room for improvement. He referenced mixed-gender housing for underclassmen and LGBT competency training for Yale Health workers as issues the administration still needs to address. He said that many students have had “damaging” encounters with Yale’s mental health workers because the workers had not received adequate training.

He went on to explain that while he is excited to learn of New Haven’s perfect score, he worries that the implications of that score can be misinterpreted.

“A score like that implies that everything is right and everything is done or perfect,” he said.

What was not explicitly noted in the MEI was the presence of bonus points. Though cities are scored out of 100 points, some 120 points are available to cities, with 20 points allotted in bonus categories for cities to make up in deficits. Despite its perfect score, New Haven failed to earn a single point in two categories: transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits and city contractor equal benefits ordinance.

New Haven earned bonus points in optional categories such as providing services to people living with HIV/AIDS and having openly LGBT elected and appointed municipal leaders.

Recognizing this inconsistency, O’Connell said that there certainly is more New Haven can do, but added that it is definitely taking on a leadership role.

The New Haven Pride Center celebrated its 18th anniversary yesterday on Nov. 17.

Article source: http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2014/11/18/new-haven-commended-for-lgbt-inclusion/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-haven-commended-for-lgbt-inclusion

The State of LGBT Equality in Africa

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Months after Uganda’s Constitutional Court overturned its Anti-Homosexuality Act, which prescribed life in prison for many instances of gay sex, nearly identical legislation returned — this time in the Gambia

In October, Chad took up a sweeping bill that calls for 20-year prison sentences for those percieved to be LGBT. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to institutionalized hatred for lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender people in Africa.

Human rights groups are demanding that Chadian president Idriss Déby scrap plans to enact a draconian antigay law that would jail people for up to 20 years because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

“If this homophobic bill becomes law, President Déby will be blatantly disregarding the country’s international and regional human rights obligations,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary-general, in a statement last month. “He will deny people their right to privacy, will institutionalize discrimination and enable the stigmatization, harassment and policing of people who are, or are perceived to be, gay — regardless of their sexual behavior.”

Amnesty reports the Chadian penal code, approved in September by the country’s executive cabinet, proposes the criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct, suggesting 15- to 20-year jail sentences and fines up to $1,000 for those found “guilty.” Amnesty warns that the bill is so broadly written that it could see citizens jailed for unsubstantiated rumors, or for simply failing to adhere to societal gender norms. The bill now sits before Chad’s parliament, which may well approve the legislation.

Learning (or not) From Uganda

Apparently, the Chadian government didn’t get the memo about the international and financial impact Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act had on that nation during the six months it was in force, before being overturned on a technicality in August by the Constitutional Court in the capital city of Kampala.

After Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed the act into law in February, the east African nation became the target of international criticism and saw nearly $200 million in aid donations from Europe and North America vanish. Gone in a matter of weeks were substantial portions of government aid contributions from Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Holland, and by March, the U.S., which also canceled a scheduled military exercise between U.S. and Ugandan armed forces. By summer’s end, the White House announced that it would deny visas to certain Ugandan officials, that it was scuttling plans for an HIV and AIDS research program at a Ugandan university, and that the country would no longer be the location for a planned $3 million health institute in east Africa. 

The Constitutional Court, which threw out the law on grounds that it was not passed by a proper quorum in the Ugandan Parliament, is seen by some as fairly independent from the country’s dictatorial president, who has ruled Uganda since 1986. Other observers speculated that Museveni himself arranged for the court ruling striking down the law. 

More Machiavellian analysts believe Museveni withered under the pressure of losing much of the foreign money that helps prop up his government. Those analysts further warn that the suspension of Uganda’s antigay law — by the purported whims of a dictator or on a procedural technicality by the Constitutional Court — at best provides only temporary, partial relief to LGBT people in Uganda.

Human rights activists familiar with the situation for LGBT Ugandans say Museveni could just as easily help shepherd in and sign a new, perhaps even harsher, antigay law. Activists worry that the dictator may indeed take that route to whip up popular support for his next presidential bid in 2016, as an overwhelming majority of Ugandans supported the draconian law.

Although U.S. measures against Uganda’s antigay law may not always have been tailor-made to fit suggestions from international LGBT and human rights groups, the Obama administration was far from unresponsive during the the act’s time in force. To the contrary, in the final analysis, U.S. pressure may have been optimal in terms of achieving the desired effect of encouraging Uganda to ditch the law.

Now, however, with a foreign policy portfolio bulging at the seams and antigay legislation on the African continent looking more like a potential back-burner issue, those same human rights groups aren’t taking any chances. Groups such as Amnesty International and Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights First are urging the president and the State Department to use the Uganda experience to similar effect in Chad.

“Following the U.S.-Africa Summit in August, where President Obama met with African heads of State to discuss strengthening economic and democratic ties between the United States and Africa, it is time that the United States make clear that the future of these bilateral relationships will be damaged by the enactment of antigay legislation,” says HRF’s advocacy counsel for LGBT rights, Shawn Gaylord. ”We hope that the State Department will respond deliberately, as it did when Uganda passed its antigay law, with a plan to respond to the passage of these bills.”

A Hostile Homeland

While Uganda and Chad have recently found themselves in the limelight of the international community’s efforts to stamp out homophobia, a partial look around the continent reveals that Africa is an especially tough place to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender-nonconforming, or queer.

Three African nations expressly call for capital punishment for those convicted of same-sex sexual contact, often labeled a “crime against nature,” “sodomy,” or, in a nod to the colonial origins of such harsh antigay laws, “buggery.” Those nations are Mauritania, Sudan, and Nigeria. 

In Nigeria and Sudan, those who are convicted of being gay but spared death are subjected to public lashings. And while Sudan is the only African nation that prescribes a specific number of lashes for the “crime” of being LGBT, Nigeria has the dubious distinction of being the only African country to expressly ban the “promotion” of homosexuality. 

A staggering 32 countries in Africa criminalize same-sex sexual contact with jail time: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Nations that sentence convicted LGBT people to hard labor include Angola, Mauritius, Morocco, and Mozambique. 

In Cameroon the penal code effectively makes homosexuality illegal, and in 2013 the country arrested more LGBT people than any other nation in the world. The deeply traditional and often superstitious culture extends to public officials, including a police officer who, after arresting seven reportedly “effeminate homosexuals,” told the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS that gays and lesbians are “people who are controlled by an evil spirit.” A Cameroonian attorney who represents LGBT clients recently revealed that judges in the central African nation rely heavily on stereotypes when determining if a suspect is gay. In fact, a suspect who has allegedly drunk Bailey’s liqueur can see that information admitted as evidence of their homosexuality. 

Even in countries where being gay is not expressly forbidden, LGBT people often face an existence filled with state-sanctioned harassment and assault.

Despite the fact that it was seen as a safer haven from Uganda for LGBT people during the reign of fear that followed the enforcement of the now-defunct Anti-Homosexuality Act, homophobia and transphobia are on the rise in neighboring Kenya. Earlier this year, 60 people were arrested at a nightclub in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, for “alleged homosexuality.”

 

Being gay is not illegal in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, LGBT people are routinely persecuted by society and even members of their own family, often finding themselves prosecuted under indecency laws. Earlier this year, a British citizen went through a harrowing ordeal involving her Cameroonian family, who confiscated her passport as they tried to “cure” her of being a lesbian, reported U.K. newspaper The Independent. As the British citizen attempted to leave the British Embassy in Kinshasa after attempting to obtain an emergency passport, police arrested the Briton, who grew up in England after emigrating from Cameroon as a toddler.

Because of its close proximity to Europe and its image as a relatively tolerant Muslim society, Morocco has long been a popular tourist destination with Westerners of all stripes — including gay travelers. However, Morocco is now feeling the economic pinch of a steep drop in the tourism trade brought on by media exposure of an ISIS beheading in next-door Algeria as well as the arrest of 70-year-old British citizen, Ray Cole. Cole was held for 19 days in a Moroccan prison he likened to a concentration camp for an alleged gay encounter. 

Even in Equatorial Guinea, where gay sex is technically not illegal, four youths were recently forced by police to explain themselves for allegedly having gay sex. The police interviews were broadcast on national television.

One bright spot on the continent is South Africa, the only country with specific protections against discrimination aimed at LGBT citizens. South Africa is also the only nation in Africa with marriage equality. Earlier this year, South Africa welcomed its first openly gay member of Parliament, Zakhele Mbhele.

But even in South Africa, there are those who can’t hide their homophobia. In fact, President Jacob Zuma once said that allowing gay people to marry or adopt children would be “a disgrace” to South Africa and to God.

And while a recent win for LGBT activists in Botswana — who earned the right to formally register their advocacy group with the state after petitioning the country’s Supreme Court — was a major victory, it comes in a nation that still criminalizes being LGBT with seven-year jail sentences. 

How to Help

There are currently two bills before the U.S. Congress that aim to prioritize the protection of LGBT people worldwide as a key facet of U.S. foreign policy initiatives, explains HRF’s Gaylord.

“The International Human Rights Defense Act would establish a Special Envoy on LGBT rights in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the State Department, ensuring global LGBT rights remain a key foreign policy priority,” Gaylord tells The Advocate. “The Global Respect Act would ban foreigners who have committed or incited basic human rights violations against LGBT individuals from entering the United States.”

Human Rights First recommends three ways for Americans who care about LGBT equality to pressure the government to act against homophobia in Africa:

“American LGBT people and allies can call their congressmen, congresswomen, and senators and ask them to support these two important pieces of legislation,” Gaylord says. “There is also a petition online sponsored by the American Jewish World Service that asks President Obama to appoint a Special Envoy on Global LGBT Rights.”

Finally, says Gaylord, “local human rights groups and LGBT community groups in Africa are always in need of additional support from the international community. People can reach out to them directly to find out the best ways to become involved.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/11/17/state-lgbt-equality-africa

LGBT film fest to focus on sexuality in South Asia

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Kolkata, Nov 16 (IANS) The eighth edition of “Dialogues: Calcutta International Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Film and Video Festival” that begins here Nov 19 will shed light on sexual rights across borders, as activists and artistes from the South Asian region focus on the emerging dialogue on sexualities.

Centred on the theme of “Democracy and Sexuality: Troubled Frontiers”, the fest this year will showcase a bouquet of 39 films from 22 countries and conclude Nov 23.

Films from Canada, France, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the US as well as India will be screened, said a statement from the Sappho for Equality, an organisation working for the rights of marginalised women.

The other countries represented at the five-day festival are Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Lebanon, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, South Korea, Sweden and Taiwan.

There will be specially curated packages from the Dresden Film Festival and Berlin Film Festival.

This is India’s oldest and continuously running LGBT Film and Video Festival, said the release.

Discussions have been scheduled on exploring possibilities and the challenges that surround queer arts programming and also queer filmmaking, funding, distribution, censorship and dangers within each countries among other issues.

Partcipants from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will enlighten the audience on various related issues.

The event has been organised by Sappho for Equality, Pratyay Gender Trust in collaboration with The Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata (screening venue).

Article source: http://in.news.yahoo.com/lgbt-film-fest-focus-sexuality-south-asia-102618729.html

Anti-LGBT Extremists Raid Moscow Club Hours Before Mykki Blanco Concert

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

Photo by Timothy Saccenti

Anti-LGBT activists in Moscow have allegedly raided Solyanka, the club where Mykki Blanco was set to perform today, Dazed reports.

According to the report, uniformed agents occupied the club hours ahead of this evening’s show, and no one was harmed. Mykki Blanco was not at the club at the time. According to Dazed:

“They burst into the venue and ordered everyone, to stay in their places — no smoking, no phone calls, no bathroom trips,” a Solyanka employee told the Village.

The anonymous source said that four cars arrived around 1pm. The men gave an impression of being Federal Drug Control Service agents, but were not immediately identifiable from their uniforms. The men shut off the electricity, acted rudely and abusively towards the confused employees. Then, without giving any explanation or reason, they suddenly announced that everyone needed to vacate the building within five minutes.

Rain TV later reported that the club was being guarded and the yard was blocked off by cars from a private security group called Spec Group. A local told Afisha that he asked a guard at the door when the club will be reopening, to which he replied, “Never.”

According to reports, an extremist anti-LGBT group called God’s Will– whose leader Dmitry Enteo openly condemns LGBT people as “agents of Satan” who must be forced into “rehab”– were aggressive protesting the show hours before the raid. In response to the club’s shutdown, Enteo posted a horrifying reaction tweet that said: “The perverts of Solyanka thought they can get away with everything? It’s important for everyone to understand that without respecting Eastern Orthodox faith and the family, you cannot work in Russia.”

Though they’ve never been charged by Russian law enforcement, God’s Will members have assaulted Russian LGBT activists and have been connected to harassment of Pussy Riot supporters.

Mykki Blanco acknowledged the situation with the following tweets:

His show was then moved to a new venue called LOL, which he announced on Twitter:

Solyanka employees have declined to issue a statement beyond posting a comment on their Facebook page which said that the club was “experiencing what some would call technical difficulties”. The club wrote:

“We are very grateful for your support but urgently ask you to abstain from any sort of direct street actions in relation with this situation – this might only worsen it. Everything will be OK.”

According to Afisha, two Eastern Orthodox protestors showed up to the club to demonstrate at this evening’s press conference. In the course of their protest, they claimed that Mykki Blanco “mocks God” and that Solyanka “is a seedbed of sin”.

According to News.ru, the Federal Agency for State Property Management stated that the club was seized because of financial debts to the city that have been owed since 2013. Officials have yet to issue any statements about why they chose today to hire a private security force to seize the club.

Article source: http://pitchfork.com/news/57465-anti-lgbt-extremists-raid-moscow-club-hours-before-mykki-blanco-concert/

Wisconsin LGBT students report hostile school environment in national survey

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Despite progress in gay rights, more than nine in 10 LBGT students in Wisconsin reported hearing “gay” used in a derogatory way in 2013, says a newly released climate survey by the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network.

More troubling, nearly four in 10 LGBT students have been physically harassed and one in 10 were physically assaulted.

Wisconsin was one of 29 states where middle and high school students were surveyed for the GLSEN report on school climate. You can see a snapshot of state climate for LGBT students here.

“The large number of students who reported hearing anti-LGBT language and who continue to experience verbal and physical harassment in schools in these states is unacceptable,” Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s executive director, said in a news release. “GLSEN calls on everyone in these states and across the country to join us in ensuring students and educators are given the resources and supports to create safe and affirming school environments. All members of the school community need to feel empowered to intervene when others are undermining these efforts.”

Not only LGBT students suffer when harassment occurs, Byard said. The atmosphere it creates makes it harder for all students to learn, she said.

Homophobic language remains even in areas like Dane County where advocates have worked for years to make schools safe for LGBT students, said Tim Michael, an outreach manager for Madison-based Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools.

“‘That’s so gay’ is still entrenched in the language – particularly in middle school,” Michael said. “Even though LGBT students might feel safer, or more included in Madison, the culture of the language is still really homophobic at times.”

GSAFE grew out of a Madison-area GLSEN chapter and today is a separate nonprofit organization offering services in south central Wisconsin and across the state. The group encourages students to participate in the annual GLSEN survey, Michael said.

Different groups of LGBT youth typically experience physical harassment and assault at different rates, he said.

“LGBT students of color, particularly in Madison schools, are not only battling homophobia but also battling systemic racism in our schools,” Michael said. “And transgender youths are more likely than others identifying as LGBT to experience physical harassment.”

And while there is much work still to be done, Michael said he is gratified by the broad base of concern for the welfare of LGBT students in Wisconsin.

“I continue to be surprised by the support that we find in rural or what might be considered conservative parts of state. Lots of educators and administrators are doing really good things and trying to make schools safe for LGBT students.”

But it is not just in schools, but in society in general that homophobic culture persists, he said.

“We know LGBT adults still experience discrimination and harassment on a day to day basis,” Michael said. “Just because same-sex marriage has come to Wisconsin doesn’t mean everything is great for LGBT folks.”

That can be how people see it, now that same sex couples can marry in 34 states, he mused.

“But in 29 states there still are not explicit laws saying you can’t fire or refuse housing to someone because they are gay,” he said.

This post has been changed to include the correct number of states without laws protecting LGBT people in housing and employment.

Article source: http://host.madison.com/news/local/writers/pat_schneider/wisconsin-lgbt-students-report-hostile-school-environment-in-national-survey/article_31831c9a-6b7f-11e4-b2f0-ab0f0ea5c21e.html

L.A. Panel Features Prominent Pro-LGBT Religious Figures

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Four prominent pro-LGBT religious figures were lauded as pioneers and garnered two standing ovations at a panel discussion called “Is Religion Getting Us to LGBTQ Equality?” Thursday in Los Angeles.

Hosted by the Lavender Effect, a nonprofit that aims to create an interactive LGBT museum, the panel featured Rabbi Denise Eger, founder and rabbi of Congregtion Kol Ami, an LGBT-affirming Reform synagogue in West Hollywood; Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church; Rev. Mel White, founder of Soulforce, a nonprofit that fights religious oppression of LGBT people; and Ani Zonneveld, founder of Muslims for Progressive Values. Moderated by author Lee Wind, the panel was held at Founders Metropolitan Community Church — the flagship congregation of the denomination founded by Perry. 

“It’s been an incredible journey,” said Perry, recalling the first meeting of MCC, when a dozen people (including one straight couple) gathered in his living room in 1968. MCC was founded as a Christian denomination and a special outreach to LGBT people. Perry noted that, in the wake of California’s FAIR Education Act (which requires the state’s schools to teach the historical contributions of LGBT people), he is being interviewed for the state’s textbooks. He’s also done a video interview for the Lavender Effect’s Oral History Project.

The panelists fielded questions from Wind and then from the audience about advocating for LGBT equality both from within religious movements and from the outside.

Mel White noted that most Christian denominations, except for some of the most conservative entities, have LGBT advocacy groups. While some LGBT people work for equality from within, he said, others have given up on religion and work for change in other ways.

“I think it calls for all of these,” said White, who praised Pope Francis as “wonderful” but called the Catholic Church’s characterization of LGBT people as intrinsically disordered as a “doctrinal wall that Francis is walking around … who knows, he may bring it down.”

Despite that hopeful note, White styled himself as a pessimist, contrasting himself with Perry’s self-proclaimed optimism — at least when it comes to debating the biblical “clobber passages” often used to justify anti-LGBT sentiment. He said that people are changed by knowing someone who is LGBT, not swayed by discussions about the Bible. He’s wary of debating verses, he said, and will demur from a debate saying, “You’re confusing me with someone who cares what you think about Leviticus.”

“Forget the biblical stuff and be an LGBT person who is proud,” he advised. “Let them know who you really are.”

Perry, in contrast, said he’s still happy to enter the fray.

“I love to quote Scripture,” he said. “I go toe-to-toe with them still to this day.”

Eger criticized the way that religious texts are often interpreted in “a very literal fashion.”

“Bring your critical, insightful mind to whatever text you’re reading,” Eger said. “Do not check your mind at the door.”

Panelists also talked about U.S. evangelists spending big bucks to influence the religious climate overseas and the importance of fighting oppression beyond LGBT rights.

“We as a movement must be working with people of color; we must be working on poverty issues; we must be working against war,” Eger said.

Both Eger and Zonneveld talked about the importance of being one’s authentic self.

“Hiding your identity is really not the way to live your life,” Zonneveld said. Zonneveld, who is straight, said that as a musician she was at one time a closeted Muslim. In 2012 she shared her story in an It Gets Better video:

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/11/14/la-panel-features-prominent-pro-lgbt-religious-figures

LGBT-Affirming Christians Gather in D.C.

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

On the heels of Catholic and Southern Baptist events where LGBT people were an issue of debate, LGBT and allied Christians gathered this past weekend for a conference that was unabashedly affirming.

The Reformation Project’s conference in Washington, D.C., was billed as a training to help Christians advocate for LGBT people in their faith communities. Discussions about the conference on Twitter used the hashtag #TRPinDC.

Featured as keynote speakers were David Gushee, an evangelical Christian minister and ethics professor who recently wrote a book advocating for LGBT acceptance, and Allyson Robinson, an ordained Baptist minister and a transgender woman who previously headed OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Transcripts of both keynote speeches have been posted online. Excerpts from both speeches follow.

Gushee:

“The un-Christlike teaching of contempt for LGBT people is, in my view, in the process of being discredited, of breaking down, even as we speak. Every year elements of it lose ground. …

“We must celebrate the progress being made in repudiating the teaching of contempt against that 1/20th of the human family who are LGBT. And we must finish the job as soon as we can. …

“Teaching and behavior that harms our own sexual minorities has not disappeared, not by a long shot. LGBT people are still not treated as equals, as kin, in the family of faith. They are often rejected by their families, churches, schools, and friends. Their gifts continue to be blocked. In just two weeks since my own announcement of standing in solidarity with LGBT Christians, I have heard from literally scores of young people, parents, and others with their harrowing tales of rejection and harm. Brothers and sisters, this must not continue. …

“Ultimately, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians must be accepted and welcomed in the Church on the same basis as any other sinner saved by grace. Their — your — participation in Christian community must be governed by the same principles that apply to any other believer.”

Gushee’s remarks also drew parallels between anti-LGBT teachings and historic anti-Semitism and drew attention to the plight of homeless LGBT youth.

Robinson:

“I’m honored to join you tonight and especially honored to share this moment with you. I’m speaking this moment when we gather together around the sacred words, yes, but even more so this cultural moment — this historic moment when everything is changing fast and when that which seemed impossible just a few short years ago looks, well, inevitable.

“I called it, and I might have been the first — if so, I want to make sure I get credit for that — in an article I wrote recently for The Narthex:Tthe culture war is, finally, at long last, coming to a close. Now, wars have a certain momentum, and the culture war is no different. There will be a few, final battles and, sadly, more casualties to go with them. But the outcome is no longer in question.

“Marriage equality for same-sex couples nationwide is inevitable. Courts and commissions regularly find in favor of transgender plaintiffs in cases of workplace discrimination. More companies, more hospitals, more universities, and yes, more churches are making it clear: LGBT inclusion and equal opportunity are among their core values. Even in the most entrenched sectors of our society resistance is giving way to resignation. Our time in the wilderness is almost over.”

Religion Ethics NewsWeekly published on YouTube excerpts from an interview with Reformation Project founder and president Matthew Vine:

According to Vine, the Reformation Project will hold conferences in Atlanta and Kansas City in 2015. 

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/politics/religion/2014/11/14/lgbt-affirming-christians-gather-dc

Houston ranks 5th in LGBT friendliness in Texas

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Houston made national headlines when it became the largest city in the country to elect an openly gay mayor, Annise Parker. According to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign, Houston makes for the fifth most LGBT-friendly city in Texas.

The 2014 Municipal Equality Index Scorecard for the city contained categories such as non-discrimination laws, municipal services and relationship with the LGBT community. Despite being the largest city in Texas, other major metro areas like San Antonio and Dallas ranked ahead of Houston.

The city got bonus points for electing an openly gay mayor, testing limits of restrictive state law, and providing services/support to LGBT youth, homeless and elderly.

Houston also got a perfect score in the categories for law enforcement and relationship with the LGBT community for initiatives like having a LGBT police liaison or task force and city leadership taking a public position on LGBT equality.

The city fell flat in the category of relationship recognition where there is a lack of domestic partner registry and marriage, civil union or domestic partnership laws in Texas.

Click through the slideshow to see how other Texas cities ranked in LGBT-friendliness.

Article source: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Report-San-Antonio-ranks-4th-in-LGBT-5890604.php

Botswana court rebuffs state ban on LGBT group. A turning point for Africa?

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

A Botswana judge overturned a ban on a gay rights lobbying group Friday, a rare victory for gay rights activists in the southern African country. 

On a continent where gays and lesbians remain severely marginalized, the court’s decision could have widespread implications for Africa‘s emerging gay rights movement. Progress remains slow, but the movement appears to be gaining momentum in small pockets across the continent. 

Human Rights Watch called the ruling in Botswana a “groundbreaking decision” in a statement released Friday.

Recommended: Think you know Africa? Take our geography quiz.

“The court’s ruling is a significant victory for the LGBT community, not only in Botswana but elsewhere in Africa where LGBT groups have faced similar obstacles to registration,” said Monica Tabengwa, a LGBT researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Botswana High Court decision is a milestone in the fight for LGBT people’s right to equality under the law.”

A group of activists launched the case when it challenged the Home Affairs Ministry’s 2012 decision to reject an application to register the country’s first gay and lesbian lobbying group – the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexual of Botswana (LEGABIBO).

Judge Terrence Rannowane said in his verdict that “refusal to register LEGABIBO was not reasonably justifiable under the constitution,” Agence France-Presse reports.

Botswana is considered one of Africa’s most democratic countries. And although homosexuality, outlawed under the 1965 penal code, is punishable by a maximum prison term of seven years, the judge wrote that:

[T]he applications by LEGABIBO is [sic] not for the registration of their society for the purposes of having same sex relationships, but rather for agitating for legislative reforms so that same sex relationships would be decriminalized. In a democratic society, asking for a particular law to be changed is not a crime, neither is it incompatible with peace welfare and good order.

Thus, wrote the judge, the government’s refusal to register the group had “violated the applicants’ rights to free of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly” under the country’s constitution.

LEGABIBO coordinator Caine Youngman told the BBC that the ruling “sent a message to the government, the entire region, and Africa.”

“We are overjoyed at the outcome of the case,” Mr. Youngman said. “Lesbians, gays and bisexuals have long strived to be able to form an organization which can support them and be their voice on matters that affect them.”

Reuters reports the ruling put pressure on the antigay agenda approved by President Ian Khama’s government. One of the government’s most controversial policies is its refusal to distribute condoms in prison, citing the risks of increased same-sex conduct. Botswana has one of the highest HIV rates in the world.

Same-sex conduct is outlawed in 38 African nations, according to Human Rights Watch. But recently activists have succeeded in turning back anti-LGBT policies in other countries on the continent.

The latest progress comes from Kenya, where in July the country’s High Court ordered the National NGO Council to register the Transgender Education and Advocacy organization. Last month, the court allowed transgender activist Audrey Mbugua to change her name on her academic certificates, Reuters reported.

In Uganda, the Constitutional Court annulled the Anti-Homosexuality Act in August. But a new antigay bill is expected to be introduced to the country’s parliament in the next two months. 

Activists are calling the new bill more draconian than the law that was repealed in August. It avoids reference to homosexuality and focuses on the existing penal code prohibiting “unnatural acts,” which are punishable by a life sentence, the BBC reports.

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Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/botswana-court-rebuffs-state-ban-lgbt-group-turning-200355960.html

Looking Out: LGBT improvements seen in Maryland laws, global perceptions

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

In cities and municipalities in Maryland and across the U.S., the legal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens are improving. Across the globe, perceptions of gay and lesbian people are getting better, too.

Both improvements, outlined in two separate studies released this week, are indicative of a larger shift toward equality and acceptance, the studies’ authors found — even if data is limited in some areas and LGBT people, including children, are still discriminated against in local schools and many other corners of the world.

Maryland high schools unsafe for LGBT students, study says

The two studies were the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Municipal Equality Index, which assessed laws in 353 cities across the U.S., and the Williams Institute’s report titled “Public Attitudes toward Homosexuality and Gay Rights across Time and Countries,” based on surveys released in more than 50 countries since 1981.

“This study shows a clear trend toward increasing acceptance across the globe,” Andrew Park, director of international programs at the Williams Institute, said in a statement about the global study.

“From Mississippi to Idaho, mid-size cities and small towns have become the single greatest engine of progress for LGBT equality — changing countless lives for the better,” said HRC President Chad Griffin in a statement about the municipal report.

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“In just three years, the number of municipalities earning top marks for their treatment of LGBT citizens has more than tripled. Simply put, in this country there is an ongoing race to the top to treat all people, including LGBT people, fairly under the law, and it’s time our state and federal laws caught up.”

In Maryland, six cities — Annapolis, Baltimore, College Park, Frederick, Gaithersburg and Rockville — were judged in the HRC report.

The state’s average score out of 100 possible points increased from 68 in 2013 to 75 this year, well above the national state average of 59.

Baltimore repeated its top performance in the state last year, falling among an elite group of 38 cities nationwide to achieve a perfect score. Last year, Baltimore had a little less company on the top tier, as one of 25 cities with a perfect score.

Baltimore receives high marks in LGBT equality study

Baltimore receives high marks in LGBT equality study Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun Maryland cities collectively score above national average in HRC rankings Maryland cities collectively score above national average in HRC rankings ( Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun ) –>

Every other city counted in Maryland in both years improved, though added bonus criteria this year helped. Annapolis went from 70 points to 73; College Park from 62 points to 86; Frederick from 52 points to 61; and Rockville from 58 points to 63. Gaithersburg, appearing for the first time, scored a 64.

The scoring accounts for everything from non-discrimination laws to relationship recognitions and local political leaders’ relationships with the LGBT community.

Local LGBT advocates cheered the improvements, but noted room for continued growth.

“We’re proud of the progress Maryland localities have made in advancing LGBT equality and contributing to the momentum to pass state-wide policies,” said Keith Thirion of Equality Maryland in a statement. “Local action on issues such as transgender health care and services to help the most vulnerable LGBT Marylanders like our communities of color and youth remain critical in ensuring that everyone is free to live their full lives without fear of discrimination.”

Globally, perceptions of gay and lesbian people are improving as well, in part because of more acceptance among young people, according to the Williams Institute, which released its study in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago.

Their study showed residents in 90 percent of all surveyed countries had become more accepting of homosexuality over the past 20 years.

In 98 percent of the countries, the study found, people under 30 were more likely “to say same-gender sex is not wrong at all” than people 65 and older, by about 23 percentage points.

Women were more than one and a half times more likely than men to be accepting of lesbian and gay people.

Still, levels of acceptance ranged widely. In Latin America, acceptance of homosexuality ranged from a high of 34 percent in Uruguay to a low of 2 percent in Ecuador. In Africa, acceptance ranged from a high of 38 percent in South Africa to a low of 2 percent in Ghana.

European and other western countries generally had higher levels of acceptance, the study found.

“Countries in Northwestern Europe are the most accepting, followed by the following clusters of countries: Australia/Canada/New Zealand/United States, Southern European countries, Latin American countries, former Soviet Union/Eastern Central Europe, Asian countries, African countries, and majority Muslim countries,” the study found.

Overall, the surveys the study examined “show a consistent shift toward greater acceptance of homosexuality and gay rights, but the magnitude of the shifts and how widespread they are varies considerably,” the report found.

Elsewhere in LGBT-related news:

- A key U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel has begun considering whether to lift a long-standing ban against accepting blood donations from gay men.

- Members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture questioned U.S. State Department officials this week on why 48 U.S. states still allow medical treatment aimed at turning gay youth straight. This is an issue familiar in Maryland, where some local legislators have been seeking ways to ban such therapies against the protests of at least one local practitioner.

- U.S. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, provided some criticism of how the nation’s top court has handled the same-sex marriage issue.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun

Article source: http://baltimore.feedsportal.com/c/34255/f/623014/s/407e1cf0/sc/2/l/0L0Sbaltimoresun0N0Cnews0Cnation0Eworld0Cbs0Egm0Elooking0Eout0Elgbt0Eimprovements0Eseen0Ein0Emaryland0Elaws0Eglobal0Eperceptions0E20A1411140Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Celebs Share Personal Stories of TV's Influence on LGBT Equality

Friday, November 14th, 2014

The Paley Center for Media hosted its annual Los Angeles gala Wednesday and celebrated the critical role television has played in the issue of LGBT equality over the past six decades. The event also marked the launch of an expanded LGBT media collection, chronicling the history of LGBT images in the medium.

“This year we wanted to do something a little different with the gala and really go back to our mission of highlighting media’s impact and relevance within our society,” said Paley Center CEO and president Maureen J. Reidy. “Over the past 60 years, television has really been at the forefront to change preconceived notions and foster acceptance, understanding and has helped educate people about the challenges that LGBT people face.”

Several LGBT celebrities and allies attended the event to help celebrate television’s influence on LGBT equality, the trailblazing work of the creative talents across the media landscape that have made a significant impact on our culture and society.

The Advocate was there and asked those in attendance to speak about the different ways LGBT images on TV affected their lives.

From Ellen DeGeneres’s mother, Betty DeGeneres, and Portia de Rossi, to sports stars like out NBA player Jason Collins and LGBT ally Chris Kluwe, to Alyssa Edwards of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Michael J. Willett of MTV’s Faking it, many of those who walked the red carpet eagerly chimed in.

Here’s what they had to say: Betty DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi

Portia de Rossi
On her first LGBT role model:
“The only woman that I knew who was an out lesbian and a celebrity was [tennis legend] Martina Navratilova. She was literally the only woman that I could look up to say, ‘She’s gay and she’s open about it.’ There were very few role models when I was growing up. My teen years would’ve been a lot easier if I was a teenager now instead of the early eighties. I’m so impressed to see how far we’ve come.”

On being a part of the legacy of LGBT trailblazers in media:
“It’s pretty fantastic. There are moments that stand out in your mind — such as Ellen coming out, which is probably the most impactful ones — but until you have a night like this you don’t really see the full scope of how far we’ve come and it feels good to be a part of it.”

Betty DeGeneres
On celebrating six decades of LGBT visibility in entertainment:

“To have a night like this to celebrate and make note of all of the progress that’s been made is a wonderful thing. I’m glad to see how different it is for [LGBT] kids today. ” 

Jill Soloway (left) and Amy Landecker

Jill Soloway (Creator of Transparent)
On the success of Transparent
:
It’s been an incredible experience to go from just trying to get the word out about the show, to having people tell us they’re not only watching it and consuming it, but that they know what we’re saying and want to hear what we’re talking about. It was a little overwhelming at first, but it’s so cool. The world is definitely changing for trans people.” 

Amy Landecker (Sarah Pfefferman on Transparent)
On the importance of LGBT people on reality shows:

“Pedro Zamora, from MTV’s Real World, was one of my first experiences where I had to deal with the loss and the sorrow of a person I was invested in emotionally. Seeing him on TV, talking about the illness he was suffering, was a really important moment for me in terms of understanding what was going on at the time, because people weren’t really talking about it that much. He was really a pioneer.”

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/television/2014/11/14/celebs-share-personal-stories-tvs-influence-lgbt-equality

Study: State schools lack LGBT sensitivity

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Indiana LGBT youth do not often find themselves in schools free from homophobic remarks and actions, according to a study released Thursday by the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network.

The release of the study came one day after Fort Wayne was identified by the Human Rights Campaign in a different study as being below the national average for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

According to the 2013 National School Climate Survey, which focused on middle and high school students in 29 states, Indiana schools were not friendly places for LGBT students.

Almost all students heard the word “gay” in a negative context, with nine out of 10 hearing other “homophobic” remarks regularly or frequently, according to the study.

And more than 30 percent of Hoosier LGBT students heard staff members make negative comments about someone’s gender expression, according to the study.

GLSEN first conducted its study in 1999, noting that little was known about LGBT students within American schools.

Every two years since then, the organization has conducted its national survey, looking at some of the challenges faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students, as well as ways schools can improve their climates.

The study includes four major findings: schools nationwide are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students; a hostile school climate affects students’ academic success and mental health; students with LGBT-related resources and supports report better school experiences and academic success; and school climate for LGBT students has improved somewhat over the years but remains quite hostile for many, according to a news release from the organization.

Public schools remain the most hostile, followed closely by religious private schools, with private non-religious schools being the most open, according to the report.

“The large number of students who reported hearing anti-LGBT language and who continue to experience verbal and physical harassment in Indiana’s schools is unacceptable,” said Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN’s executive director, in a written statement.

“GLSEN calls on everyone in Indiana to join us in ensuring students and educators are given the resources and supports to create safe and affirming school environments. All members of the school community need to feel empowered to intervene when others are undermining these efforts,” Byard continued in the statement.

Most LGBT students in Indiana experienced verbal harassment, based on their sexual orientation or the way they expressed their gender. Four out of 10 students reported some kind of physical harassment, such as a shove, based on their sexual orientation, according to the report.

Only 4 percent of Indiana’s LGBT students attended a school with a comprehensive anti-bullying or harassment policy that included specific protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the report.

Fort Wayne Community Schools spokeswoman Krista Stockman said the district is always concerned about student safety and maintaining a respectful environment for all students.

“If kids don’t feel safe, they won’t learn,” she said. “At school, you need to respect that other person as an individual. You may have your beliefs, and we are not saying there is anything wrong with your beliefs, but in school you need to respect everyone around you regardless of their sexual orientation, their race, their gender, whatever.”

Most of those who identified as having experienced incidences of verbal or physical harassment did not report it to school authorities, according to the report.

Stockman said FWCS would like to make sure its students know that the district has resources to help those who are dealing with such issues.

If someone is picking on the student or being physical or calling them names, the schools want to hear about it, she said.

“The longer that goes on, the worse it is going to get,” Stockman said.

“That person is just not going to stop.”

rgreen@jg.net

Article source: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20141113/LOCAL04/311139885/-1/local11

North Carolina Ranks Below the National Average for LGBT Equality

Friday, November 14th, 2014

GREENSBORO — The Human Rights Campaign released its annual report assessing LGBT equality in 353 cities across the nation.

HRC gave North Carolina 50 out of 100 points, with a national average of 59 points.

Equality North Carolina’s Executive Director Chris Sgro said this has never been about special rights; it’s been about equal rights.

“So we just want the same level playing field that everybody else has,” said Sgro.

Sgro said although same-sex marriage is now legal in North Carolina, the state still has a long way to go.

“There are a lot of measures across the state where the Tar Heel state unfortunately lags behind the rest of the country, and also where municipalities across North Carolina don’t have LGBT protections where they should and can have those.”

North Carolina’s rating of 50 out of 100 points is based on more than 40 criteria and six separate categories:

1. Non-discrimination laws

2. Relationship recognition

3. Municipality’s employment policies, including transgender-inclusive insurance coverage, contracting non-discrimination requirements and other polices relating to equal treatment of LGBT city employees

4. Inclusiveness of city services

5. Law enforcement

6. Municipal leadership on matters of equality

“Employment non-discrimination has certainly stood out, probably the most prominently over time, and really is the place that presents a huge problem. If you can’t come out in the workplace it’s very, very difficult to live your life as who you are, and that’s really a basic right that people deserve,” said Sgro.

Steven Edwards moved to North Carolina from Maryland and said he can see differences across the two LGBT communities.

“I’ve seen couples holding hands before in different parts of the city, things like that, outward signs of their sexuality, and that’s something I haven’t really seen here in North Carolina unless we’re in specifically LGBT-friendly places like a pride parade or something that specifically denotes that they’re a safe space,” said Edwards.

Sgro and Edwards agree legislation on discrimination is one of the top things the state needs to work on.

“We don’t have national legislation that protects people from being fired from their jobs, kicked out of apartments and things like that, and that’s something that we could really use in North Carolina,” said Edwards.

Equality North Carolina is working with cities across the state to provide equal rights.

The goal is to have five more cities with fully inclusive LGBT protections by this time next year.

Article source: http://charlotte.twcnews.com/content/news/713911/north-carolina-ranks-below-the-national-average-for-lgbt-equality/

Maryland high schools unsafe for LGBT students, study says

Friday, November 14th, 2014

High school students in Maryland who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender constantly hear derogatory remarks and are often verbally, physically and sexually harassed and assaulted by their classmates.

Fewer than half report the abuse.

Those were the key findings of a survey of LGBT secondary students in the state conducted in 2013 and released Thursday by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN.

Youth advocates find LGBT kids vulnerable, underserved in Maryland

The “state snapshot” is part of the organization’s annual, nationwide assessment of how LGBT students are faring in school environments, which was also released this week.

Beyond peer harassment, the Maryland study found many LGBT students in Maryland lacked supportive faculty, did not have access to educational materials on LGBT “people, history, and events,” and did not have LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policies protecting them — all things that improve school climates for such students when in place.

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The results mirror those found in schools across the country in the national report. They are also similar to the findings in a separate report released by local LGBT youth advocates in Baltimore this summer, which found LGBT kids are marginalized and bullied in schools, in foster care and in the juvenile justice system in the state.

The result of such discrimination, GLSEN’s national report found, is that LGBT students at times miss school out of fear for their safety, and generally suffer academically.

“Schools nationwide are hostile environments for a distressing number of LGBT students, the overwhelming majority of whom routinely hear anti-LGBT language and experience victimization and discrimination at school,” the national report concluded. “As a result, many LGBT students avoid school activities or miss school entirely.”

In Maryland, where LGBT students often face disparate situations depending on where they live, the numbers were stark.

Nearly 90 percent of surveyed students had heard “gay” used in a negative way, and more than 80 percent had heard words like “fag” and “dyke.” About 80 percent had heard negative remarks from other students about their or someone else’s gender expression.

Nearly 20 percent of students “regularly heard school staff make negative remarks about someone’s gender expression,” and 12 percent heard staff make homophobic remarks, the study found.

Based on sexual orientation, nearly 70 percent had experienced verbal harassment, 20 percent had experienced physical harassment and 10 percent had been physically assaulted. Based on gender expression, nearly 50 percent had experienced verbal harassment, 12 percent had experienced physical harassment and 5 percent had been physically assaulted.

About 56 percent of students said they had been sexually assaulted. More than 80 percent said they had felt deliberately excluded or “left out” of activities by peers, and nearly 70 percent said they had mean rumors or lies told about them.

Nearly 35 percent reported having property deliberately damaged or stolen.

Of all the students who had been harassed or assaulted in school, fewer than half reported the incidents to school officials or family members. And, among the students who did report the abuse, only 35 percent said doing so “resulted in effective intervention by staff.”

Only 14 percent of Maryland students attended a school with a “comprehensive” anti-bullying policy that included protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the study found. Less than 30 percent received positive LGBT-related lessons, and only 55 percent could access information on LGBT topics on school computers.

While nearly all students could identify at least one supportive staff member, fewer than 75 percent could identify six or more supportive staff members.

In light of the findings, GLSEN called on Maryland school officials to implement comprehensive anti-bullying policies that explicitly protect students based on their sexual orientation and gender expression, support Gay-Straight Alliances in all schools, provide professional development for staff on LGBT student issues, and increase student access to extracurricular activities that are LGBT inclusive.

“These actions can move us toward a future in which all students in Maryland will have the opportunity to learn and succeed in school, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” the study said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun

Article source: http://baltimore.feedsportal.com/c/34255/f/623016/s/40737cb7/sc/7/l/0L0Sbaltimoresun0N0Cnews0Cmaryland0Cbs0Egm0Ehigh0Eschools0Eunsafe0Efor0Elgbt0Estudents0Ein0Emaryland0Estudy0Efinds0E20A1411130Estory0Bhtml0Dtrack0Frss/story01.htm

Paley Center gala celebrates LGBT progress in media

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Long before “Orange is the New Black,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and even the groundbreaking “Will and Grace,” lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people appeared on television in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. 

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The Paley Center for Media hosted a gala Wednesday to celebrate the medium’s longtime positive contributions to the LGBT community. The fundraising event, held at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, highlighted the center’s expanded collection of 600-plus hours of programming featuring LGBT characters and themes. 

Executive producer Norman Lear, who played a significant role introducing gay-related themes on television in the early ’70s, was recognized. Lear was behind the influential sitcoms ”All in the Family,” “Maude” and “The Jeffersons.”

“He paved the way to dispel negative stereotypes, foster understanding and acceptance [and] challenge social norms,” said Maureen Reidy, president of the Paley Center.

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As a kid growing up in Kansas, Eric Stonestreet, who plays a gay spouse and father on ABC’s hit “Modern Family,” recalled how important watching Lear’s programs were to him as a child. Stonestreet said Hollywood’s role in fostering acceptance and equality for gay, bisexual and transgender people cannot be understated. 

AARP caregiving expert to discuss LGBT aging, Alzheimer's issues Friday

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

AARP’s Amy Goyer has been writing and speaking about caregiving and juggling work-family issues for 15 years.

This Friday in Fort Lauderdale, the home and family expert will give her first presentation ever on aging and caregiving issues for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

The presentation, set for 2 p.m. at Broward Health Imperial Point, underscores a growing interest in the special challenges that LGBT couples may face as they grow older together, Goyer said.

A new beginning: Navigating the challenges of moving on

“We want the LGBT community to come and share their stories with us. AARP is interested in supporting all caregivers. I want to hear what joys they are experiencing, what challenges they are facing,” said Goyer, in a telephone interview last week from Phoenix, where she and her elder father live.

Earlier that day, Goyer will be the keynote speaker at the Broward Alzheimer’s Coordinating Council’s annual conference, which starts at 9 a.m. at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach. The conference, aimed at caregivers and elder-care professionals, includes presentations on legal and financial issues, as well as on new medical research.

Originally, Goyer was booked Friday solely for the Alzheimer’s conference. However, Chris MacLellan, then senior services coordinator at SunServe, a gay and lesbian social service agency in Wilton Manors, approached AARP about doing a separate session focused on gay and lesbian caregiving while Goyer was in town.

“Amy and I had become Twitter friends, since we both blog about caregiving, and I thought it was a good opportunity for us to benefit from her expertise,” said MacLellan, whose story chronicling the final months of caring for his partner, Bernard Richard Schiffer, was published in the Sun Sentinel in April. MacLellan left SunServe in September, moving to be with family in New Orleans.

Goyer, who started her 30-year career in aging as a music therapist, said her LGBT presentation will focus both on issues that are similar and different for gay and heterosexual caregivers.

“But we need to share the high points, too,” Goyer said. “We are not going to change the societal view on caregiving if we only talk about how horrible it is.”

Although she has a home base in Washington, D.C., Goyer began spending most of her time in Phoenix about five years ago as her parents’ health declined. Her mother died last year at 87. Her father has Alzheimer’s disease.

Goyer regularly writes and video-blogs at aarp.org/home-family/caregiving, with tips centered around life with her dad and his service dog, Mr. Jackson. She also has a free e-book, “Juggling Work and Caregiving,” which is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and other sites.

Alzheimers treatment studies seek healthier, younger subjects

Alzheimer’s treatment studies seek healthier, younger subjects Diane C. Lade The latest Alzheimer’s clinical trial in South Florida illustrates a trend: More and more, researchers are seeking younger, healthier patients people in the disease’s early stages or who don’t even have the neurological disorder but may be at risk for it. The latest Alzheimer’s clinical trial in South Florida illustrates a trend: More and more, researchers are seeking younger, healthier patients people in the disease’s early stages or who don’t even have the neurological disorder but may be at risk for it. ( Diane C. Lade ) –>

“I want caregivers to realize they are valued, what they are doing is important,” Goyer said. “I can tell my father is totally grateful for what I do even if two hours earlier, he was yelling at me for making him take his shoes off before getting into bed.”

dlade@sunsentinel.com or 954-356-4295

If you go

What: Broward Alzheimer’s Coordinating Council’s annual conference

When: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Broward Health North, 201 E. Sample Road, Deerfield Beach

Cost: $20 for seniors and caregivers, $40 for professionals

Info: Reservations required; 954-745-9567; adrcbroward.org

What: LGBT caregiving panel and discussion with AARP national expert Amy Goyer

When: 2 p.m. Friday

Where: Broward Health Imperial Point, 6401 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale

Cost: Free

Info: Registration not required; 954-776-8500

Copyright © 2014, Sun Sentinel

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-aarp-lgbt-caregiver-workshop-20141112-story.html?track=rss

Texas lawmaker proposes 'license to discriminate' against LGBT

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 12 (UPI) – A conservative Texas lawmaker is trying for the second time to pass a state constitutional amendment that would allow businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers on the basis of religious belief.

State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, introduced a resolution that would ostensibly bolster religious freedom in the state, a measure nearly identical to one she introduced two years ago.

Under Senate Joint Resolution 10,

These measures are known as “license to discriminate” laws because they respond to a series of conflicts where small business owners in several states have refused service to LGBT customers on ostensibly religious grounds. Another motivation for the laws is religion as a justification to fire or avoid hiring LGBT employees.

The Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by the legislature in 1999, prevents a government agency from “substantially burdening a person’s free exercise of religion” unless the government “has a compelling interest to do so.”

The RFRA also includes an exception for enforcement of civil rights, which Joint Resolution 10 does not.

Campbell said her proposed amendment would put religious freedom in “a more formidable position” than the RFRA by elevating it to the state constitution.

While debating Campbell’s first resolution last April, objecting lawmakers floated concerns that the measure would have unintended consequences, from obliterating restrictions that keep Westboro Baptist Church protesters 500 feet away from military funerals to abortions becoming classified as a religious right that would have to be taxpayer-funded.

To pass, the amendment would need to win approval of two-thirds of the legislature and be approved by voters in a November election.

Similar proposals have failed in Kansas, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona and Oregon, but have been put into law in Mississippi and Kentucky.

It is legal to fire an LGBT person on the basis of sexual orientation in 29 states, and a transgendered person in 32 states. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban workplace discrimination for gay and transgender employees, passed the U.S. Senate last year, but was not put to a vote in the House.

Article source: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2014/11/12/Texas-lawmaker-proposes-license-to-discriminate-against-LGBT/2391415823920/

City subpar on LGBT scale

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Fort Wayne is just below the national average when it comes to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, the Human Rights Campaign reported Wednesday.

The Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index is a na­tion­wide rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law and policy. This year’s Municipal Equality Index rated 353 cities nationwide, an increase of 60 cities from last year’s study. Of a possible 100 points, the average score for the five Indiana cities rated this year was 65, higher than the national average of 59.

Fort Wayne’s overall score was 52 out of 100.

“(Fort Wayne) is on the right track but still has a ways to go, and it can do better,” said Cathryn Oakley, author of the report.

The city earned points for anti-â discrimination policies for municipal employees and for laws prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination in public spaces including shopping centers, restaurants and theaters.

The city also earned points related to the state’s acceptance of same-sex marriage and for domestic partner health benefits, legal dependent benefits and family leave allowances that accompanied marriage equality in Indiana.

Nikki Fultz, director of Fort Wayne Pride, said there have been positive changes in Fort Wayne related to LGBT issues.

“In general, I think more and more people in the community are embracing LGBT co-workers and neighbors and are making them feel like they’re included in Fort Wayne,” she said. “I think there’s been an increase in acceptance. Obviously, we’re not where we would like to be, but we’ve gained some momentum.”

Fultz also said there are “a dozen or so” places of worship that are “open and affirming” toward the LGBT community, creating “a pretty strong beginning of a faith network” for members of the community who want to worship.

But there were also areas where the city didn’t do so well – especially the lack of LGBT liaisons to the Fort Wayne Police Department and the mayor’s office. Expanding the city’s anti-discrimination laws and health care benefits to include trans­gender people is also something the city could start to improve, Oakley said.

“I think one of the most important things the Municipal Equality Index does is provide a road map for cities that want to improve,” she said. “I would say for cities that want to improve, circle all the places you have zeroes and fix them.”

Despite some protection for city employees, Fultz said there are still no protections for LGBT employees in the private sector, where she said workers can be fired for their sexual orientation – something that’s legal in Indiana.

Fultz said that just about every month, someone contacts her about being fired for being gay.

“Fort Wayne should follow in the steps of other communities and pass a nondiscrimination law that allows people to be who they are and maintain employment,” she said. “Many large cities already have something like that.”

Oakley said she realizes that it’s often not easy to implement changes. However, she said adding liaisons to the police department and in the mayor’s office is important. A liaison in the police department is a “nationwide best practice,” she said.

Overall, Oakley said that in the Human Rights Campaign’s eyes, “Fort Wayne is putting out the right message but isn’t doing a lot about it.

“There isn’t a lot of follow-up on municipal pro­tec­tions for LGBT people,” she said.

John Perlich, a spokesman for the mayor’s office, said he has not yet had a chance to review the entire report, but he said in a statement that the city strives “to provide opportunities for every resident in our community.”

“One of the reasons we’re experiencing unprecedented momentum is because of our commitment to being an inclusive city that meets the needs of all residents and businesses,” the statement said.

The Municipal Equality Index isn’t the only LGBT-â related report scheduled to be released this week. The Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network plans to reveal a survey today about the middle and high school experiences of LGBT students across the country, in­cluding in Indiana.

The complete list of cities analyzed by the Human Rights Campaign can be found at www.hrc.org/mei.

dgong@jg.net

Article source: http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20141113/LOCAL/311139921/-1/LOCAL11

Love Thy ‘Gay-bor’: Religious Pro-LGBT Ads Target Baptists in the Deep South

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Mary Jane Kennedy is a self-described “Bible-believing, born-again Christian.” The Mississippi mother of three sons has taught Sunday school and Bible study at her Baptist church.

When her middle son was about to graduate from college, he came out to Kennedy as gay.

“Nothing in my life had ever prepared me for that,” said Kennedy. “I said, ‘What’s going to happen? This is going to tear our family apart.’ ”

She was most concerned about how her husband would take the news.

“It’s hard to talk to somebody and tell them something you know is going to break their heart,” she said.

But they both took it in stride, and Kennedy is now sharing her story in a video that’s part of a four-week media blitz—using TV and online advertisements, phone banks, door-to-door visits, and public education efforts—launched by the Human Rights Campaign in Mississippi this week. Dubbed All God’s Children, the campaign to promote LGBT acceptance and marriage equality doesn’t shy away from religion when it comes to changing minds in the heart of the Bible Belt. 

The civil rights group has enlisted “everyday” Mississippians, from an openly gay Iraq war veteran to a transgender woman, to share their stories in this series of ads. Kennedy’s testimony is the first to air, and her story is one many will be able to relate to, said Brad Clark, director of HRC’s Project One America, which focuses on improving LGBT equality in Southern states.

“Seeing the love that she has and the faith that she has, really resonates with so many people,” Clark said.

The ads will air on major networks during peak hours, such as in commercial breaks during the nightly news, said Clark. The $310,000 campaign is the first of its kind in the South; its focus is on one specific demographic: the faithful.

That is why Mississippi is ground zero for this fight. For starters, it’s the most religious state in America, according to a 2013 Gallup poll of more than 174,000 people all over the country. In Mississippi, 61 percent of the population was deemed “very religious.” This means more than half the population surveyed said that religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week.

An estimated 55 percent of the state’s population is Baptist, the Human Rights Campaign reports, one of the most conservative denominations of Christianity. So the group has focused its message accordingly, saying humans need to treat one another with respect and leave the judgment to God. 

“Many of us grew up with the golden rule,” said Clark. “And regardless of how we believe on various political issues, that is a common value we all hold dear.”

But the majority of Southern Baptists may not feel the same way. Although Mary Jane Kennedy has “every right to voice her opinion,” she is at odds with most of the other churches in the Mississippi Baptist Convention, William H. Perkins Jr., spokesman for the board, wrote in an email to Take Part.

Perkins cited portions of the church’s official statement of faith to prove his point. He wrote that Christians are told to oppose “all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography” in the Baptist creed, which also specifies heterosexual marriage as the only acceptable variety.

“It is difficult to misinterpret those passages to represent that most Mississippi Baptists would be anything but fully opposed to the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts in this state,” Perkins wrote. “$300,000 is a lot of money to spend on a program that is doomed to fail.”

That sum is just the start for Project One America, whose overarching $8.5 million initiative, of which All God’s Children is one part, aims to extend into Arkansas and Alabama. These Southern states are highly conservative and religious, and they are being targeted because they have no state nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people in employment, housing, or public accommodations.

All God’s Children arrives at the perfect time in Mississippi. A lawsuit pushing for repeal of the state’s gay marriage ban has landed before a federal judge, and the two sides will present their arguments in court on Wednesday. 

Related stories on TakePart:

Tired of the Bad Rap, 8 Mississippi Cities Are Fighting the State’s Anti-LGBT Law

Hey Y’all—the Fight for LGBT Rights Is Coming to the Deep South

Wild for This Western State: Record-Breaking Number of LGBT Candidates in Texas

One for the History Books: Feds Pledge to Honor LGBT Monuments

10 Gay-Friendly U.S. Companies: Shop and Work the LGBT Way

Original article from TakePart

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/love-thy-gay-bor-religious-pro-lgbt-ads-214735776.html

Nationwide LGBT equality study rates Bakersfield

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

WASHINGTON, – A new report assessing LGBT equality in various cities has concluded and rates 55 cities in California, including Bakersfield. The 3rd annual report surveyed 353 cities across the nation and rated each city with the top score being 100.

Article source: http://www.kerngoldenempire.com/story/d/story/nationwide-lgbt-equality-study-rates-bakersfield/11354/92waLbffcUC7gbEq5Y6vwQ

LGBT group SAGE moves into larger Harlem offi

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

From 1939 Times Square to the Towers in the 90′s, the Daily News has the legendary photos of NYC.

Article source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/1.2008963

AmBank colluding with US firm to push LGBT rights among Muslims, Malay group claims

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — A Malay group today accused AmBank Holdings Bhd (AMMB) of conspiring with a US-based insurance firm to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights and culture among Muslims here.

Jaringan Melayu Malaysia (JMM) president Azwanddin Hamzah claimed he received “secret intelligence” reports and “extensive research” on the matter shortly after AMMB chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim had announced a partnership with Metlife International Holdings Incorporated (Metlife) in December last year, which he said involved AmBank insurance subsidiaries AmLife and AmFamily Takaful Berhad.

“MetLife is an insurance company which has brazenly promoted and supported the LGBT lifestyle and which is stated in AmLife’s news bulletin published in April 2014.

“On the last page of the news bulletin, it is stated that MetLife has received the award for ‘best places to work for LGBT 2013’ through a 2013 human rights campaign,” he told reporters at a news conference here.

Azwanddin produced photocopies of the said news bulletin, claiming this showed “an evil agenda” to provoke and covertly introduce cultures and teachings which went against Islam.

Aside from the award won by MetLife, however, JMM did not produce any further evidence to show how AmBank or its subsidiaries were promoting the LGBT agenda here or to Muslims in particular.

This did not stop him, however, from demanding that authorities punish the bank.

“This is crazy… they are tricking the Muslims by promoting this lifestyle. This goes against the Takaful concept which is based on Islam.

“We are calling for a nationwide boycott, and we are urging Bank Negara to consider revoking (Ambank’s) Islamic Takaful licence,” he added.

By allowing this to carry on, Ambank would be promoting perverse teachings and “free sex”,” the JMM chief alleged further.

“Before this becomes a cancer, we have to put a stop to it. Our culture, our laws and sensitivities have to be respected,” Azwanddin said.

He added JMM would be distributing one million flyers on the matter to raise public awareness and to kickstart the boycott.

“It may not be important to some people, but it is important to us as Muslims,” he said.

Muslim-majority Malaysia vehemently objects to the perceived rise in LGBT activities, which it deems to be an assault against Islam together with growing calls for greater civil liberties.

The issue is muddied by the intermingling of politics and religion in a country where the latter has become a major platform from which to appeal for support.

Article source: http://sg.news.yahoo.com/ambank-colluding-us-firm-push-lgbt-rights-among-082900888.html

Op-ed: You May Not Realize It, But Your Right to Vote Is Being Suppressed

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Last Tuesday, I cast my first vote as an Illinoisan, despite having moved to Chicago more than three years ago. I hadn’t had the opportunity to change my registration from Kentucky and was resigned to sitting this election out. However, the night before, I discovered that Illinois would allow me to register and vote on Election Day, as it is one of only 11 states that allow Election Day registration. It took me two and a half hours from the precinct doors to the voting booth, but casting that ballot made it well worth the wait.

My vote counted this year, but the same cannot be said for countless fellow Americans. They lost that right due to complicated, restrictive voter identification laws passed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down key components of the Voting Rights Act. This effectively removed any federal oversight of state laws that have historically disenfranchised minority voters, including LGBT voters.

In response to this decision, Illinois proposed an amendment to our state constitution, banning discrimination in registration and voting based on, income, language, and sexual orientation, and other criteria (though, unfortunately, not gender identity). The amendment had broad bipartisan support in the state legislature, where nary a senator voted against it, and at the ballot box, where it passed by 72 percent. This, on the same night we elected our first Republican governor in 12 years.

We showed the nation that the right to vote is not a partisan issue. But many other states, including North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and most notably, Texas, have continued to enact restrictive voting laws, purportedly to deal with the virtually non-existent issue of voter fraud. In reality, these laws have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Americans.

While many have considered how laws have negatively affected various demographics, like African-Americans, Latinos, and millennials, voter disenfranchisement is an LGBT issue, as well. Not only do LGBT people belong to each of these demographics, but we can face unique challenges simply trying to register to vote.

In 2012, an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania challenged a voter identification law that effectively disenfranchised thousands of transgender voters because they lacked identification accurately reflecting their gender. That year, the Williams Institute estimated as many as 25,000 trans* voters could be turned away at the ballot box because of voter identification laws.

This year, two separate cases out of Texas show that the fight is only just beginning. That state, which does not recognize same-sex marriages, and has some of the strictest voter identification laws in the nation, requires valid Texas identification in order to register. The Dallas Morning News reported on two lesbian couples who married out of state and had troubles registering to vote as one partner in each couple took the other’s last name. Because the state wouldn’t recognize their marriage certificates, the women had to pursue a lengthy and costly legal process to obtain accurate identification. Without this arduous hurdle, they would not have been allowed to vote.

Those couples were successful after a long battle, but for the millions of LGBT Americans living in poverty, such costly court proceedings are out of the question. A startlingly high proportion of LGBT people live below the poverty line, and they simply have no financial recourse to address what, aside from being blatant discrimination, becomes a burdensome (and unconstitutional) poll tax. Without the required forms of identification, or the money needed to obtain them, these Americans are effectively disenfranchised, unable to exercise the most basic of civil rights simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

All of this comes in a year when our votes have mattered more than ever. Across the country, from Florida to Alaska, anti-equality politicians were elected at the state and federal level, making pivotal legislation like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act seem increasingly unlikely of being enacted anytime soon. At the same time, this election increases the likelihood of more states passing legislation like Mississippi’s anti-LGBT law allowing businesses and individuals to legally discriminate against us based on so-called religious freedom.

The stakes are high, and the ballot is the most important weapon we have in the fight for equality. Without full LGBT enfranchisement, we cannot possibly hope to counteract the rash of legislation in state houses around the country that explicitly aims to turn back the gains we’ve made. Without the vote, we cannot hope to elect lawmakers who will not only vote on federal protections for our community, but confirm the federal judges responsible for making sure they’re enforced. Without the ability to freely vote, we cannot hope to continue our long march towards justice.

The right to vote is the most fundamental American right. For more than two centuries, we have fought — at Bunker Hill, at Bull Run, at Seneca Falls, at Selma — to ensure that every American could cast her or his ballot. This current spate of legislation, left unchecked thanks to a now-toothless Voting Rights Act, is the greatest threat to American suffrage since the civil rights movement. It is detrimentally effecting Americans of all stripes, and it is the responsibility of all Americans, including LGBT Americans, to continue the struggle of our forebears.

As our fight for marriage equality continues to wind its way through the federal courts, we cannot lose sight of our stake in the oldest fight in this country: the right to stand up and be counted. As we campaign for fairness ordinances and ENDA, we must also campaign for the right of every American to have a say in our collective destiny. We cannot sit idly by, claiming civil rights victories, as our most basic right is being quietly stripped away.

Our votes matter. It’s time to fight like they do. 

SKYLAR BAKER-JORDAN is a writer and mortgage consultant, and he runs http://the-curious-american.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SkylarJordan.

Article source: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/11/12/op-ed-you-may-not-realize-it-your-right-vote-being-suppressed

Community Business Launches Asia's First LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

HONG KONG, Nov. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Community Business, a not-for-profit organisation focusing on corporate responsibility and a thought leader on Diversity Inclusion, today announces the launch of its Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index, the first and only benchmark in Asia on corporate policies and practices for creating inclusive workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees. Companies operating in Hong Kong are invited to make submission until end of February 2015 and the assessment covers the period from 1 December 2013 to 1 December 2014.

Designed to drive the adoption and promotion of best practice, the Index is based on recommendations made by Community Business in its Creating Inclusive Workplaces for LGBT Employees in Hong Kong – A Resource Guide for Employers, and is structured around the following categories which are drawn on international best practice with validation from a Hong Kong perspective:

  1. Equal Opportunity Policies
  2. Diversity Training
  3. Diversity Structure
  4. Benefits
  5. Corporate Culture
  6. Market Positioning
  7. Monitoring
  8. Community and Advocacy

In addition to recognising and acknowledging those companies that are leading the way, the Index, for the first time, provides companies with a credible and robust tool by which to assess and communicate their progress on LGBT workplace inclusion in Hong Kong.

According to Community Business’ research in the Hong Kong LGBT Climate Study 2011-12, non-inclusive workplaces are impacting LGBT employees’ well-being, productivity and engagement. 85% of the respondents said there was a need for greater inclusiveness in the workplace on the subject of sexual orientation and gender identity in Hong Kong. The research also found that 71% of LGBT employees were not open in their workplace, while only 28% of LGBT employees were fully open with their parents about their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“With the call for changes in legislation and a more visible LGBT community, not just in Hong Kong but across Asia, attitudes are changing. Our research has highlighted the compelling business case for LGBT inclusion and in general a workplace environment that embraces diversity. Companies can no longer ignore the issue of LGBT inclusion in their workplaces, and they have a critical role to play in achieving greater acceptance and equality for LGBT individuals,” said Mrs Fern Ngai, CEO of Community Business. “It’s time for change and the growing number of LGBT related events and initiatives in Hong Kong indicates that this city can be the leader in Asia for LGBT inclusion.”

In recent years, the LGBT rights movement has been gaining ground in Hong Kong. Just last Saturday, thousands marched through Hong Kong for the city’s annual gay pride parade.  In June this year, over ten thousand people attended Hong Kong’s first Pink Dot festival at Tamar Park. The Code of Practice Against Discrimination in Employment on the Ground of Sexual Orientation was issued by the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau of the Hong Kong SAR Government to facilitate self-regulation on the part of employers and employees in eliminating discriminatory practices in employment. As of October 2014, 90 organisations in Hong Kong have pledged to adopt the Code. Formed earlier this year, the Hong Kong Gay and Lesbian Attorneys Network (HKGALA), brings together the LGBT and allies community to create a more inclusive environment within the legal profession and explore ways to impact the wider society. These are just some of the initiatives this year amongst a long list of LGBT related events in Hong Kong.

In addition to making submissions for the Index, companies are also invited to make nominations for three awards recognising LGBT Network of the Year, LGBT Inclusion Champion of the Year, and LGBT Executive Sponsor of the Year.

The results of the Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index, including award winners and Top 10 ranking companies, will be announced in May 2015. The Index is intended to be run every two years,  giving companies time to address existing challenges and take steps to drive real progress in their organisations in Hong Kong.

For details about the Hong Kong LGBT Workplace Inclusion Index and the submission process, please visit: www.communitybusiness.org/hklgbtindex/.

NOTES TO EDITOR:

Media Contact:
Joy TSANG
Communications Manager, Community Business
+852-2201-1818; +852-9486-4364; joy.tsang@communitybusiness.org

About Community Business
Community Business is a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is to lead, inspire and support businesses to improve their positive impact on people and communities.  As a thought leader in corporate responsibility in Asia, Community Business conducts research, facilitates events and networks, leads campaigns and provides consultancy and training.  Its major areas of focus include: Corporate Responsibility Strategy, Diversity Inclusion, Work-Life Balance and Community Investment.  Founded in 2003 and based in Hong Kong, Community Business works with leading organisations across the Asia region. For more information, http://www.communitybusiness.org.

©2014 Community Business Limited.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction and dissemination of this document (in whole or in part) is not allowed without prior written permission of Community Business Limited and due acknowledgment of authorship. If use of this document (in whole or in part) will generate income for the licensee, prior written permission to that effect must be obtained from Community Business Limited.  To obtain permission, write to ip@communitybusiness.org.

Article source: http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/community-business-launches-asias-first-071500577.html

LGBT Floridians hope for progress despite election losses

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

The 2014 election wasn’t a good one for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

LGBT organizations supported Democrats Charlie Crist for governor and George Sheldon for attorney general, but both lost. So did state Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando, one of the first two openly gay members of the Legislature, elected in 2012.

But despite those losses, some supporters are hoping for movement on a bill, the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, that would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. It was Saunders’ bill, but now it will be sponsored by a Republican lawmaker, Rep. Holly Raschein of Key Largo.

“It’s my hope that my colleagues will see it as a bipartisan issue,” Raschien told The News Service of Florida this week. “I never look at equality as a partisan issue, personally. Being a Republican is about freedom and liberty. This is quite a conservative principle, if you ask me.”

But John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council, which helped lead efforts to pass a 2008 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, called the bill “dead on arrival.”

“There’s no way, in this climate, they’re going to get any oxygen at all now,” he said.

The Florida House is even more Republican after this year’s elections, which gave the GOP a veto-proof majority in the chamber. Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, who support “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman, were both re-elected.

But LGBT organizers said even so, this election wasn’t as searing as 2008, when Floridians passed the “Florida Marriage Protection Act” — the ban on same-sex marriage spearheaded by Stemberger.

“I cried, pretty much for three days straight,” said activist Susan Gage. “It was enormously painful to have your life, your relationship put onto the ballot and have people cast a vote on whether you get to stay in or off the island.”

Andy Janecek, president of the Capital City Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies Democratic Caucus, said groups like his had redoubled their efforts after the amendment passed.

“Our community really rallied after that point,” he said. “We elected openly LGBT representatives to state government. We elected local county commissioners, city commissioners. We really worked to advance folks who were going to advance equality and not keep it on the backburner.”

And in 2012, Saunders and Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, were the first openly gay Floridians elected to the Florida Legislature.

“It was, ‘At long last somebody who really represents me is going to be in the chamber,’” Gage said. “‘And it’s going to be an awful lot more difficult for these people to say the ugly things that I used to hear them say about gay people — on the floor.’”

Saunders said Monday that Tallahassee traditionally had been “a hostile environment” for LGBT people, but it is less so now. He pointed to the fact that with a Republican governor and GOP majorities in both chambers, his workplace anti-discrimination bill drew 11 Republican co-sponsors.

“And while I do think the path to marriage equality in the state and comprehensive non-discrimination protections would be quicker in a Tallahassee that has more Democratic energy, I think we also have to point out that some of the largest contributors to Gov. Scott’s campaign were the same people who are now leading this coalition calling for comprehensive non-discrimination protections in the LGBT community,” Saunders said.

Last week, the Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce Coalition, which supports the anti-discrimination legislation, announced the hiring of a bipartisan team of professionals to oversee the initiative for the 2015 legislative session. They include Ashley Walker of Mercury Florida, Towson Fraser of Southern Strategy Group, Ann Herberger of The Woods Herberger Group and Christina Johnson of On 3 Public Relations.

So far this year, 19 major Florida employers, including CSX Corp., Darden Restaurants Inc., Florida Blue, Haskell, Home Shopping Network, Marriott, Tech Data Corp., Walt Disney World Resort, Wells Fargo and Winn Dixie have joined the coalition.

“I don’t think it’s a social issue,” Raschien said. “We’re the jobs party. This is about people’s jobs. We want to recruit the best and the brightest to Florida, and I think this sends a strong message to that community.”

Stemberger called the workplace discrimination bill “particularly odious.” He raised the possibility that the legislation could force some business owners to violate their religious beliefs.

“When a bed-and-breakfast owner, when a baker, when a photographer or videographer refuses to photograph a wedding — I mean, where’s the greater injustice? To ask the gay-identified person to go in the phone book and find one of 1,500 other vendors? Or to ask one person to violate their conscience and to do something that they believe to be immoral, improper or violates their faith?”

Gage and Janacek say they aren’t going away.

“I think it’s going to be easier for (lawmakers) to contemplate and wrap their heads around actually hearing bills and bringing them to a vote,´ Gage said. “Whether or not they pass in this legislature is another question, but … it’s baby steps. You have to keep moving forward.”

Copyright © 2014, Sun Sentinel

Article source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-nsf-lgbt-election-20141111-story.html?track=rss

LGBT activists expected to fight Utah Capitol protest charges

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

The group was arrested at the Utah State Capitol in February after a day-long sit-in to protest a decision by state lawmakers not to consider legislation that would have made it illegal to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in matters of employment and housing.

Legislators said they didn’t want to consider the bill while the state was also fighting a federal court ruling that legalized gay marriage in the state.

Similar bills had been proposed in each of the past five years and either failed to get enough committee votes to advance or pulled before getting a hearing.

The protesters include Matthew Anderson Conway, 26; Kevin Scott Garner, 31; Steven Randall Germann, 22; Jacob Joseph Hanson, 27; Angela Jo Isaacs, 34; Matthew James Landis, 44; Orlando Luna, 20; Gail Ellen Murdock, 61; Justin James Trent, 24; Michelle Turpin, 51; Gail Mildred Turpin, 69; Troy Williams, 44; and Donna Gonzalez Weinholtz, 59.

— Tribune reporter Jessica MIller contributed to this story.

jdobner@sltrib.com

 

 

Article source: http://www.sltrib.com/news/1797711-155/capitol-charges-expected-state-activists-fight

Chase Brexton names director for new LGBT health center in Mount Vernon

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Chase Brexton Health Care has selected a former Catholic Charities administrator to lead its new LGBT Health Resources Center, set to open in the primary care provider’s Mount Vernon headquarters this spring.

Nate Sweeney, 36, will serve as executive director of the new center in its mission to connect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with medical and behavioral health services “with culturally competent providers, support and programming for seniors, transgender counseling and more,” Brexton said Monday.

lRelated Chase Brexton moves to new headquarters as it expands its reach
HealthChase Brexton moves to new headquarters as it expands its reachSee all related

“Nate brings tremendous experience and accomplishments as a medical caregiver, administrator and innovator,” said Brexton CEO Richard Larison in a statement. “His expertise serving elders, his work on a national HIV behavioral surveillance study in Baltimore and his commitment to the LGBT community make him ideal to direct the resource center.”

Chase Brexton was started in Baltimore as a gay health clinic by a small group of volunteers in 1978, and labored through the early HIV epidemic in the United States in the 1980s to provide care for patients rejected by other parts of the community.

It now has seven clinics throughout the region and provides primary care for adults and children, OB/GYN services, dental care, behavioral health case management and other services. Serving the LGBT community has remained a major part of its mission as well.

In addition to leading the new center, Sweeney will steer the implementation of of a new partnership between Brexton and Services Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Elders (SAGE) — Caring and Preparing program in Maryland.

That partnership was made possible through a three-year, $750,000 grant to SAGE from the Owings Mills-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Brexton said. The grant period began last month.

Sweeney holds a master’s degree in Management of Aging Services from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s Erickson School, has conducted HIV research, training and trials at Johns Hopkins University and served as a caregiver for formerly homeless, HIV positive patients at the Don Miller House.

He has also worked in 24-hour skilled nursing and rehabilitation care at The Green House Residences at Stadium Place, and most recently served as the assistant administrator at The Neighborhoods at St. Elizabeth for the Catholic Charities of Baltimore.

“I am thrilled to maintain and expand Chase Brexton’s commitment to the LGBT community,” Sweeney said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the accomplished staff and members of the community to provide new services and connections to existing resources for LGBT Marylanders of all ages.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun

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