Monday, September 26, 2005

Equality Index

The HRC has released its nnual Corporate Equality Index - showing, according to the HRC, what companies are the most gay-friendly. Like most things with the HRC, I don't agree completely with how they arrive at the scores. For example, giving domestic-partner benefits is counted as equally as offering diversity training including sexual orientation as gay positive marketing. While training is important, benefits should count much more. That costs the company significantly more money and sends an even greater message (action versus words) in my mind. Training should be a bit heavier than marketing; marketing is simply trying to reel in a customer demographic. Training sends a true message of inclusivity.

But a record number of companies (101), scored a perfect 100 rating. That's an impressive number and nearly double last year's count of 56.

North Carolina, my state, did pretty well, with two companies (out of 9 companies in the state that were rated) scoring 100. Those companies are Replacements Limited, a store that specializes in helping you finish collecting out of print china and antiques and Mitchell God + Bob Williams, a furniture company (with a three-page ad in the October 11 Advocate).

Replacements Limited is gay-owned and operated. Plus all employees are allowed to bring their pet dogs to work - how cool is that? They are gay owned and operated and have been strong supporters of NC Equality and other positive non-gay programs. Give them some business if you can.

Of the other seven, three scored an 86, two a 71, and a 43 and a depressing 14, the lowest score on the scale. Oh well, can't win them all. But that's a pretty impressive showing and a good sign.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the South didn't fare so well over all with only a handful (around 13 or so if you count Texas, not a true Southern state, but more conservative) in the 100 scoring range. The South has always been slow to catch on, it's sad to say, but I believe that it will eventually turn the corner. Southerns are slow to change their minds, but generally care about doing the right thing.

Go patronize some businesses that treat their employees right and take your money elsewhere with companies who don't.

Land of our Forefathers

"This is a Christian country and Christian teaching is very clear on these matters. I am extremely concerned that young peoople today are being bombarded with literature which suggests that a homosexual relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship, which it is not."

So to whom, according to the September 16, 2005 edition of Southern Voice, does this little gem belong? Rick Santorum? Pat Robertson? James Dobson?

Guess, again, it's Gerald Howarth. Who?

Mr. Howarth is the Conservative Party spokesperson in Britian. He spoke these words in response to the British government planning to allow military same-sex couples to live in barracks as married couples do.

So, not all of the right-wing bigots are in our country and it certainly echoes our Puritan roots. I guess his ancestors didn't make it out. I'm not sure whether to feel a little bit of relief that it's not all just us or time to sigh a heavier sigh.

This from our more accepting neighbor across the pond while here in Red State Land, Jerry Falwell has decided that gays should have some basic civil protections! It's Wacky Wednesday to be sure.

Sticking on the religious note, the latest Advocate has an article on Al Sharpton's campaigning against homophobia in the black community. Damn it but I found myself agreeing with Sharpton a few times in the past few years and now he does this! Sharpton used to fit firmly in the looney bin as far as I was concerned, so I'm startled to find myself cheering him on.

Somebody needs to address that problem and the only people who can do it are black leaders. As almost any gay black man can tell you, and many news articles, the black community is VERY anti-gay. Much of it ties into the firm place that religion has in that community, but there are issues of machismo that probably stem from having to prove one's worth as a black man during post-slavery and pre-civil rights years. So, thanks, whitey. And thanks to our forefathers for bringing slavery over her instead of seeing it for the evil it was.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Did you miss it? Yesterday (Sept 19) was National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Being a gay pirate is a lot of fun - you can say "booty" a lot and not get into any trouble. "Walking the plank" can take on new meanings.

Remember, it's ARRRRR, not ARRRGGGHHH. You're not in pain.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Rise Up, Californians

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. If you live in California, do everything you can to shut down the governor's phone, email, fax machine, and offices. Demand he sign the marriage equality bill or request a recall. Have thousands of people storming his office, filling up lobbies and offices. Please, for all of our sakes, do something.

Rex Wockner has been following this news at his blog and the kinds of "demonstrations" and "protests" held (and I'm a firm believer that picketing and public protests don't do much) have been weak. Don't pick up a sign; pick up a phone. Pick up your feet and march yourself and a ton of your friends and family and coworkers into his office.

You're not just doing this for California gays, but all American gays. This is an important step for all of us. Failure to act, failure to confront Arnold head-on, failure to call for his metaphorical head on a pike is a concession to the idea that we are limp-wristed pansies and don't deserve to be treated like decent Americans.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Terminating Equal Rights

Should I now introduce Mr. Egg to Mr. Face? Not long after my last post, where I trumpted the value and virtue of gay equality through legislative processes rather than judicial ones, the Governator strikes down via veto the California legislature's marriage equality bill. It's a matter for the courts or the people, he insists. (This, of course, runs contrary to what Dubya has been telling us, which is that it's a matter for the legislature. Make up your minds Republicans.)And, oh, hey, Arnold, legislators are the voice and will of the people - they are the people's duly elected officials designated to speak for them.

Despite what Arnold says, he's no friend to gays. He clearly doesn't respect our rights or equality as fellow Americans (many, if not most of us, naturally born Americans, Mr. Naturalized). He should be bold enough to just admit it instead of pretending otherwise.

I still don't think I'm wrong in my earlier assertion, however. This is slow and tedious work. Part of the backlash we experienced was because of the amount of progress we made in a very slow time (as well as how that progress was made). Arnold shouldn't have rejected the bill; I suppose not enough legislators voted for it to override his veto? Or do things work that differently in California? In any case, the trick will be to keep pushing it through. Yes, I want equality and I want it now, but that timeline has a cost that may be too heavy. Even if we get "it" now, if it's rushed through without adequate support, we could lose it later or lose out in other arenas. And just because a law is passed, doesn't mean it's always enforced. That's why we need proper support and the time to create support.

I certainly don't believe that minority rights should be put before a vote of the people. Why would the majority grant you access into their club? Why should they let you into their swimming pool? This is what legislative and, yes, court action is for.

I don't mean to say that courts have no place in this process. They certainly do and they've certainly made a difference, but we can't have all of our decisions finalized this way. In California's case, since the governor is leaving it to the courts, that may be a proper venue for the courts to decide. I still don't think that's the best place for it to happen, but California may have just proven there's enough home support so that backlash is minimized (at least in-state). Still, a court decision would be just the rallying cry, much like Massachusetts's case was, for the far right nationally.

One solution, not so out there, is to remove Arnold and elect a governor who will do the right thing and sign the bill. That would certainly speak volumes about how the people of California feel about gay equality.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

And Chief Justice for All

Is John Roberts a good choice for the Supreme Court, particularly Chief Justice? Will he support gay civil equality? How will he choose to interpret the Constitution? It's hard to know right now. Unfortunately, that hasn't prevented some organizations from coming out and opposing his nomination already.

HRC, NGLTF and PFLAG have already taken the unwise step or rejecting Roberts's nomination. Lambda Legal has instead sent a list of questions to senators that they feel need asking prior to making a decision. These questions are broad-reaching and go beyond simply how Roberts would vote for gay civic equality. They ask important questions relevant to all Americans, but particularly important are questions regarding Robert's view of the right to privacy and how he interprets the Constitution.

Until we hear how he answers these questions, it's very difficult to know if he's a good choice. He may very well be a bad choice; or he may end up being more moderate than we expect. There is some hint of promise in his prior legal work. Many of the criticisms those three organizations level against Roberts object to how he views the power of the courts. Although I agree with some of the criticisms against him, I also believe that for too long we have relied on the courts to rectify civil injustice.

I believe that some of the backlash we have experienced is because we have failed to convince our representatives, our senators, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and families of the need to pass legislation supportive to our civil rights. Instead, we've fallen back on the courts without bothering to win public approval; it's proven to be a costly mistake in the past couple of years as anti-gay legislation HAS passed. It's a clear signal that we need to worry less about how justices view the role of courts and more about how we rally legislators and the public to our side.

I also have to think that Roberts isn't the most conservative person that could have been nominated. Do we really think that Bush is going to nominate a true moderate? He hasn't made any other type of concession to non-Republicans or non-conservatives. What makes us think defeating Roberts will make Bush pull a better choice out of his hat. I think we need to strongly consider if Roberts may be the best choice we can expect.

I certainly hope these organizations aren't reacting simply because it's Bush's first choice. I also hope they aren't acting out a sense of doing what they hope will be popular, rather than prudent. PFLAG I give some latitude in this area, and some less to NGLTF, but I extend almost no credit to the HRC, which seems to jump on every bandwagon they think will make them look like they're actually doing something.

Roberts could prove to be a disasterous choice for not just gay Americans, but all of our country. But we need more information first. "Bush" usually does equal "bad" but this is a choice we must seriously and thoroughly consider before pronouncing judgment.