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Schwarzenegger Appeases His Discrimination-Loving Base September 6, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in education, legislation, lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws.
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In an attempt to appeal to right-wing ideologues whose ultimate goal is to impose their religious views on an entire nation, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have banned discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

Schwarzenegger had been under intense pressure from anti-gay groups to veto the measure. Because these forces of distortion have repeatedly exaggerated and lied about the intent of the bill, it is important to see the exact text (not in its entirety):

Existing law prohibits instruction or school sponsored activities that reflect adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry. Existing law prohibits the State Board of Education and the governing board of any school district from adopting textbooks or other instructional materials that contain any matter that reflects adversely upon persons because of their race, sex, color, creed, handicap, national origin, or ancestry.

This bill would revise the list of characteristics included in these provisions to include race or ethnicity, gender, disability, nationality, sexual orientation, and religion, defined as specified.

With this veto, Schwarzennger has denied gay and lesbian students the right to attend public schools with textbooks free of anti-gay bias or prejudice. Freedom of speech allows bigoted parents to instill anti-gay hatred into their children every minute they are outside of school, but there is no reason public school teachers should be afforded this right. People of color, women, people with disabilities and other minority groups are allowed a bias-free education in California, but Schwarzenegger denied gay and lesbian students this same right.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill because California already prohibits discrimination in the schools… but he knows better. Discrimination comes in many forms, and the vetoed bill was intended to specifically address discrimination in school curriculum. The law already exists for other groups because lawmakers know it is an otherwise gray area… hence the need for clear legislation.

Today, Schwarzenegger refused to stand up for gay and lesbian students because of adult anti-gay activists who believe these children are “immoral” and “perverted”. A happy day for California anti-gay activists… now it is time for them to focus their attention on grander issues, such as overturning legislation that bans discrimination in housing and employment.

Potential victory speech: “Today, fellow Californians, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has given us the opportunity to continue discriminating against gay and lesbian students, and we thank him for that…”

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Schwarzenegger Called “Evil” for Signing Bill Banning State-Funded Bigotry August 29, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in education, legislation, lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws, politics.
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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is being assailed by anti-gay groups for signing into law a bill that bans state-funded discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The bill, which is purposely distorted by “pro-family” organizations, simply adds sexual orientation to a list of other minority groups that cannot be discriminated against or condemned in state-funded schools or extracurricular activities. It does not promote gay and lesbian people, as the right likes to claim, but ensures that public school teachers cannot tell their classrooms that gay and lesbian people are immoral and will end up in hell. It seems almost common sense, but Schwarzenegger is taking some heat from anti-gay activists.

Here is what Randy Thomasson of Campaign for Children and Families has to say:

People of conscience are appalled that Arnold Schwarzenegger has trampled religious freedom to satisfy hyperactive sexual activists… Arnold Schwarzenegger has two faces. He speaks at churches and says he believes in religious freedom and family values, yet he’s stabbing pro-family Californians in the back. People of faith are suffering under Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s not the lesser of two evils, he’s doing evil.

Since when has opposing discrimination been considered “evil”? Since when has Christianity been about making insecure school-aged children listen to anti-gay bullshit? These groups use grandiose terms like “religious freedom” and “family values”, but it is only a disguise for what they are truly saying: We believe the public school system should condemn gay and lesbian students and the lives they lead. We want them to be frightened and humiliated in a public school setting until they are forced back into the closet and emotionally damaged. You are either Christian, gay or neither… there is no overlap.

It is absurd for an organization like Campaign for [Straight] Children and [Heterosexual] Families to claim they are standing up for all children. Banning state-funded humiliation in the classroom should be a universal goal for any group that truly cares about our youth, but apparently gay and lesbian youth aren’t deemed valuable enough for anti-gay groups. They are more concerned with fulfilling an anti-equal rights political agenda than providing a safe environment for children to learn.

For those who have read what anti-gay groups are saying about the California education bill, I encourage you to read the legislation itself. Ignore what the anti-gay right is saying… even ignore what I am saying… read it for yourself and you will understand to what degree anti-gay groups have distorted the real impact of this bill. Here is the heart of the bill:

No person in the State of California shall, on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, or disability, be unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any financial assistance from the state.

Banning tax dollars from funding discrimination… apparently anti-gay groups find it to be “evil”.

Winning Gay Rights With the Help of Wal-Mart August 26, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in companies & corporations, lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws.
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The white and conservative face of Wal-Mart is attempting to give itself a make-over, reaching out to diverse groups through both corporate donations and company policies. It’s most recent outreach to the gay and lesbian community is creating a bit of a stir among social conservatives, but Wal-Mart is only one of many global companies that have realized the importance of standing up for equality.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation and 253 of the 500 companies also offer domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples. These numbers are particularly impressive considering only 34 percent of states have non-discrimination protections for gay and lesbian people, and even fewer offer any kind of protections for same-sex couples.

There are several reasons for American companies’ progressive policies towards gay and lesbian issues:

  • Smart business decision: According to some estimates, gay and lesbian consumers spend about $514 billion a year. Studies have shown that gay and lesbian people react more favorably to products that are advertised or marketed specifically to gays and lesbians, and that gay and lesbian people are more likely to support companies or businesses that support gay and lesbian rights.
  • Obtain the best and the brightest: When presented with a choice, gay and lesbian people are much more likely to work for companies that protect them with non-discrimination policies and domestic partner benefits. Just recently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison lost one of its most “promising” researchers (who brought in $3.4 million in grants) because the university does not offer domestic partner benefits.
  • Looking to the future: Many companies are beginning to realize that the gay and lesbian movement truly is a civil rights movement and that future generations will judge companies based on their support. Ford Motor Company has been haunted by its anti-Semitic and prejudice-filled past, and like other gay and lesbian supportive companies, it is making sure it does not make the same mistake again.

Although American companies are encouraging progressive social policies, there is no evidence that it influences public opinion on gay and lesbian issues. Where it has the potential to make an impact, however, is with conservative business owners who increasingly realize the importance of respecting gay and lesbian consumers. Business owners and chambers of commerce from Arizona to South Carolina have opposed anti-marriage equality amendments because of its potential impact on the economy.

Unfortunately, companies like Wal-Mart have been accused of broadening its appeal to more progressive consumers by embracing social issues, while ignoring other important problems that would cost the company more money. Nelson Lichtenstein of the University of California – Santa Barbara:

It’s easier to open their arms to the enormously divergent aspects of American cultural lifestyle. It’s cheaper and easier than trying to satisfy their critics who are looking at their wage and health-benefit policies.

This is a tremendous draw-back to some companies’ support of gay and lesbian issues, so it is important to consider a wide-range of issues before supporting large businesses.

When emotional pleas don’t work, the almighty dollar can sometimes change the opinions of companies and business owners. They may not be standing up for equality for the right reasons, but when you are fighting for equal rights, you take what you can get.

Fighting for the Right to Discriminate… Literally. July 11, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws.
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In past postings, I have questioned whether the LGBT movement is overly focused on obtaining equal marriage rights when our brothers and sisters in more moderate parts of the country can still be discriminated against in employment, public accommodations and housing. Recent events in Orange County, Florida and South Bend, Indiana may further the notion that although marriage equality is important and should be fought for, we cannot forget to continue to press for non-discrimination laws and other protections.

Orange County, Florida

The Orange County Commission is considering whether to add sexual orientation to its housing non-discrimination law, and anti-gay conservatives are putting up quite a fight:

There is no significant history or problem or issue with discrimination based upon sexuality in Orange County. To the contrary, this community is very tolerant and even accepting of gay and lesbian neighbors.

-John Stemberger, president of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council

Yes… so tolerant that the Florida Family Policy Council hopes to block a law that would ban discrimination based on housing. In other words, the Council is fighting to allow housing owners and landlords evict LGBT people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

With lots of money from the big guy, Focus on the Family, LGBT groups in the county are far outnumbered in terms of resources. That’s James Dobson and his family values at work… ensuring LGBT people and their children can be kicked out of their homes at a moment’s notice.

South Bend, Indiana

And in a long-fought battle in South Bend, the city’s Common Council defeated an amendment that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination code. Because of the city’s failure to protect its citizens, bigots in South Bend can continue to kick an LGBT person out of housing, jobs and public accommodations.

One council member who voted to allow discrimination against LGBT people said he did not want to “create a protected class”. Although his argument should not be taken seriously, I propose a daring solution that is not meant to be misconstrued as supporting the heterosexual lifestyle: We can make the non-discrimination law cover gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual people. Then nobody in South Bend can be evicted because of who they are. I don’t want anyone to get the impression I support the heterosexual lifestyle… I just don’t feel like discrimination is good no matter who it is targeting.

Another council member said this:

I don’t believe anyone is saying we support discrimination but there are a number of issues we still need to address.

Personally, I don’t care if that isn’t what you are saying, it is what you are doing. Should people be able to discriminate against gay people because they are gay? What else is there to consider? You support discrimination based on housing and employment, or you ban discrimination based on housing and employment. This proposed amendment was a simple paragraph or two… not exactly the 342 page USA “Patriot” Act. His “issues to be addressed” are not only bullshit, but I have severe doubts as to whether he will ever try to “address” them.

Discrimination and Marriage

LGBT people in Indiana, Florida and many other parts of the country are still not given the basic right to live their lives openly without fear of direct retribution. Many of us have these protections in our more progressive states, counties or cities and are ready to move on to marriage. This is a good thing… let’s just not forget to put some of our resources towards our friends in the red areas of the country.