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Friday, September 10, 2010

The Politics of Disappointment

Last week, you all recall there was a "moneybomb" for Jack Conway. Hey, I get calls for money from democrats three or four times a day. I usually write them back asking some questions. They are generally not answered.

I asked, in the moneybomb diary, why there was nothing at the Conway website describing the candidate's stance on GLBT issues. I was told by someone who was apparently a supporter...and someone who thought he was much smarter than I...that it was Kentucky, as if that meant those issues didn't matter there.

Excuse me? I thought Kentucky was one of the United States of America...and that as Americans, and especially as Democrats, we were generally opposed to second-class citizenship.

Then again, when I transitioned in Arkansas, I was told the same thing. "This is Arkansas" was used to excuse all the ill-treatment you can imagine...and some you probably never could. When is the last time anyone filled your mailbox with dog shit? How many churches have called for you to be fired from your job and/or run out of town?

Whatever. It pains me...causes me great disappointment...that people who, being Democrats we are told are on our side, can't even bring themselves to mentioned us among the issues of the day. It's as if people think we don't exist in Kentucky...and quite a few other states. I'm here to tell you you that gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transfolk exist in all of our states, perhaps even in all of the counties in this great land of ours.

Somehow it has been politic to make us vanish when election time comes. We are not even allowed, in most cases, to know where a candidate stands on the issue of our equality. And no, I don't necessarily mean marriage equality, though that might be a good place to eventually get to. I'm talking about non-discrimination in employment

A study in the San Francisco Bay Area conducted in 2006 of 194 transgender individuals found a 35% unemployment rate, with 59% earning less than $15,300 annually.

Nationwide, the rates of employment discrimination against transgender people are consistently high. A Williams Institute review of six studies conducted in cities and regions on both coasts and the Midwest, showed the following ranges for experiences of discrimination based on gender identity:

13%-56% of transgender people had been fired
13%-47% had been denied employment
22%-31% had been harassed, either verbally or physically, in the workplace

and housing

A large number, possibly a majority, of transwomen are likely to have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

and public accommodations (safe usage of a public restroom is the lunch counter issue for transpeople).

because of bias against their gender identity or expression:

40.7% of students felt unsafe in their own school
45.5% had been verbally harassed
26.1% had been physically harassed
11.8% had been assaulted

The statistics are courtesy of Richard M. Juang.

April 2: In the five months since the Salt Lake City Council approved the protections (for GLBT people in housing and employment), similar ordinances have popped up on agendas in Park City, Taylorsville, Holladay, West Valley City, Salt Lake County and Summit County.

May 19: In one motion, the Logan City Council on Tuesday night mandated that employers and landlords cannot discriminate against gays, lesbians or transgendered people in the city limits.

My name is John Wells Bennett, and I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. My grandfather Wallace F. Bennett and my uncle Robert F. Bennett are both U.S. senators from Utah, past and present. My great-grandfather was Mormon Church President Heber J. Grant, and my great-great-grandfathers Jedediah Morgan Grant and Daniel H. Wells were the first and third mayors of Salt Lake City, respectively.

The purpose of divulging this family pedigree is to underscore that it doesn’t matter what your family name is or whom you’re related to, you can still be fired from your job simply for being gay, as I was in 1986 while working for the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development.
The LDS Church has taken a courageous stand in support of an employment ordinance in Salt Lake City that closely mirrors the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act or “ENDA,” which has been introduced in Congress. The church should consider making a similar endorsement of ENDA in light of the controversy surrounding the movie “8, The Mormon Proposition.”

--John Wells Bennett

If the Mormons can get on board the ENDA train, how come your candidate can't?

Why not call him or her today?

Time is running out to pass ENDA before the midterm elections. Please contact your representative and senators today. And if you can, please make a contribution to the Task Force to help fuel our fight today, tomorrow, and every day, until we achieve full equality for the LGBT community.

And please don't give me that tired old sentiment that the time is not right for equality. There is never a good time for non-equality.

We're people, too. Here, have a look, courtesy of NGLTF and Sage (Senior Action in a Gay Environment).

More Sage here.

September, 1995: The Task Force coordinated a meeting at the Department of Justice (DOJ) between LGBT rights organizations and then-Attorney General Janet Reno. The discussion focused on hate crimes, anti-equality ballot measures and legislative attacks on the community. The Task Force requested DOJ seek ways to use the department and the Office of Attorney General to advance fair and equal treatment of all people.

That was 1995. Where are we now?

And both Republicans (only 21% mentioned a GLBT issue at their websites) and Democrats (7% mentioned some GLBT issue) avoided the issue of gay rights, where public opinion is shifting [and the courts are ruling in our favor - ed]. Even if gay marriage were too controversial to be a part of the Democratic agenda in most swing districts, the Democrats might theoretically gain ground by highlighting their support for allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military, where large majorities of the public back their position. But perhaps hamstrung by Mr. Obama, who has taken a series of half-steps on the issue, few of these Democrats have chosen to do so.

--Nate Silver

If people in their states don't bother to ask where they stand, I'm not surprised candidates avoid the issues. So why should should GLBT people vote for these candidates?

ENDA, UAFA, DOMA, adoption by GLBT people, DADT, and yes, also marriage equality are vital issues in our community. If candidates can't even pick a side in public, they have no business asking for our money, our time, our effort or even our votes.

Meanwhile, in the Castro, we had this, from getEqual:

Hey Pelosi, can't you see, we want ENDA with a 'T


  1. If I seem a little out of sorts ...maybe the following letter has something to do with it:

    Behalf Of Charlie Meadows

    Sent: Tuesday, September 07, 2010 10:06
    To: Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee

    Subject: OCPAC e-mail

    Members and friends of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action
    Committee (OCPAC)

    A week ago Saturday, State Representative Sally Kern's opponent Brittany Novotny attended a fundraiser on her behalf in the home of Hollywood actor and voice over artist Ben Patrick Johnson. In a group picture I saw, presumably at Johnson’s home in West Hollywood, Brittany was actually smiling right in the middle of what I guess was about 50 likeminded people.

    Brittany used to be a "he", had a sex change operation to make him into a “her” but turned out to become a confused "it." Some have suggested that having a sex change operation is a person’s greatest act of rebellion and hatred toward God for His making them what they were.
    It is truly sad to see people reject God’s love for them by being willing to mutilate themselves. If they would submit their life to God, they could find the true the joy in life that will forever elude them while on their path of rebellion. The hatred and rage toward Sally continues unabated in the homosexual community because Sally dared to declare their political agenda for what it truly is, more dangerous to the future of America than the threat of terrorism.

    Brittany has suggested Sally doesn’t represent the values of her constituents. Sally, on the other hand, from the time she first ran for office, told her constituents that she was a Christian and would stand for traditional morality and family values. Aside from the moral issues, Sally is one of the most conservative and well informed lawmakers in the state on a broad range of issues. In November, we will see which set of values the voters in HD 84 care most about. Remember, all elections are first about the quality and character of the voters.

    I look forward to seeing everyone this Wednesday.

    --Charlie Meadows

    Hey, Charlie. I am neither an "it" nor confused. Neither is Brittany Novotny. We know who we are. It is people like you, who think that we are forever to be what we were labeled when we were born, who are confused.

  2. I was asked to participate in the fundraising efforts for Charlie on DK. I was polite in reccing the diary and tip jar but wouldn't contribute. If a candidate, any candidate, publicly states our relationships deserve unequal status, I will not support them. period. The tide has turned, no matter where you live in the US, we will be treated as fully human and we will be given equal rights on all matters. You ARE a bigot if you suggest otherwise!

  3. Thank you for your post, Robyn. While I will vote for the Democrats in my state simply because I believe I am still better served by a Democratic majority than a Republican one (anyone is better that Trent Franks), I will not contribute funds to nor campaign for a candidate who cannot simply state their support for our community. I suggest writing to the folks who represent us directly (or would like to) and ask them when they will simply voice their support of our community. Get them on the record so that if and when they get elected, we can hold them accountable. I know I'm not going to get even a moment of lip service from Trent Franks. I would hope for better results from John Thrasher. But hope is all I would have, because I have no expectation.