Local and National News Map

Compiled by Dennis McMillan

Mountain View, CA – Mozilla’s Anti-Gay CEO Hastily Resigns Amid Controversy – 4.11

Just weeks after the announcement was made, newly named Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned from his post amid impassioned outcries from the LGBTQ community and its allies. The controversy began when news spread that Eich had contributed money in 2008 to the California initiative, Proposition 8, attempting to ban same-sex marriage.

Eich’s views on gay marriage motivated two Mozilla developers to boycott the company until something was done. Although Mozilla tried to brush the issue under the rug with a public statement emphasizing the company’s support of marriage equality, others were not so convinced.

The online dating website OKCupid took a bold stand on the issue, urging users not to access their website through Mozilla software.

“OkCupid is for creating love,” the message to Mozilla Firefox users said. “Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.”

To compete for millennial dollars, companies need to be sharply attuned to the values and culture of this generation. It is global, inclusive and especially when it comes to marriage – deeply attracted to equality. This is particularly true in the tech space, which is famously progressive and has been directly shaped by millennials more than any other industry. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other tech giants have publicly embraced marriage equality. Tech is not alone here. Major consumer brands like Starbucks, as well as financial services organizations such as Citi and Goldman Sachs, have all signed on as supporters of marriage equality.

The moral of Eich’s story is not about the “gay mafia” suppressing freedom of speech or opinion, as political commentator and same-sex marriage supporter Bill Maher surprisingly said. Mozilla is a corporation that is built, supported and used by a global community with an incredible array of diversity. These are the people who made the most noise about Eich’s appointment, and ultimately, these are the people who brought about his resignation. There is no room for exclusion in a community like that.

Perhaps other big corporations will get the hint that equality makes for good business.

Source: huffingtonpost.com 

New York, NY – Band fun. Named UN Free & Equal Campaign Equality Champion – 4.8

United Nations Free & Equal – the UN human rights office’s public information campaign for LGBTQ equality – has announced that Grammy Award winning band fun. is joining the campaign as equality champion.

The members of the band are the latest artists to pledge their support for Free & Equal by helping to spread campaign messages and materials via social media. They join pop star Ricky Martin, South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, U.S. hip hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury.

fun., comprised of Nate Ruess, Jack Antonoff, and Andrew Dost, earned two Grammy wins for their 2012 album Some Nights, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for the 5x-RIAA platinum “We Are Young.” Bolstered by the massive global success of “We Are Young,” as well as the 4x platinum title track, “Some Nights,” and 2x platinum song “Carry On,” Some Nights debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified platinum. The band, known for its captivating live shows, continues to perform to sold-out crowds around the world.

In 2012, fun. partnered with designer Rachel Antonoff to create The Ally Coalition.  The Ally Coalition raises awareness about LGBTQ equality and provides resources for people to take action.

“We as musicians stand with the LGBT community in any way we possibly can,” said fun. member Jack Antonoff. “Together, we have the ability to make the world a freer and more equal place.”

Commenting on the announcement, Charles Radcliffe of the UN human rights office said: “fun. is made up of three incredibly talented musicians who are also great advocates for equality and human rights. Their work with the Ally Coalition is making an important difference in the fight against homophobia and transphobia, and we’re thrilled to partner with them and have their support for the UN’s Free & Equal campaign.”

Free & Equal aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and encourage greater respect for the rights of LGBTQ people everywhere. The campaign was launched by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 27,  2013.

We can now definitively say it’s fun. to have equal rights!

Source: unfe.org 

Auburn, AL – Apple CEO Calls on Congress to Pass ENDA – 4.11

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently took to Twitter to voice his position on a potential new law currently being considering by the United States Congress. “The House should mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act by passing ENDA,” Cook tweeted while mentioning members of Congress in leadership positions from both political parties. Cook also tweeted the quote, “We shall overcome” and said, “Much done, but much left to do.”

The law to which Cook referred, known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, would prohibit companies with 15 or more employees from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender. The Apple CEO has previously expressed this position in a Wall Street Journal opinion editorial published last November. The bill has since been passed by the Senate, but has struggled to make it through the House of Representatives.

During his tenure at Apple and especially as CEO, the Alabama native has taken opportunity to express his interest in the movement of equality. Cook cited both Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy as inspirational figures in a speech last December at Auburn University’s Lifetime Achievement event.

In his WSJ op-ed, Cook noted Apple’s policy as it relates to the proposed law: “Apple’s antidiscrimination policy goes beyond the legal protections U.S. workers currently enjoy under federal law, most notably because we prohibit discrimination against Apple’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees. A bill now before the U.S. Senate would update those employment laws, at long last, to protect workers against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, who leads the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, has previously stated his opposition to the bill becoming law: “I am opposed to discrimination of any kind – in the workplace and any place else. But I think this legislation – that I have dealt with as chairman of the Education Workforce Committee long before I was back in the leadership – is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits. People are already protected in the workplace. I am opposed to continuing this.” Gee. Big surprise!

I must say that Tim Cook is truly a good apple!

Source: 9to5mac.com 

East Hanover, NJ – One Million Moms Hate Nabisco’s Gay Love – 4.3

A right-wing conservative group is crying foul following the debut of Nabisco’s “Wholesome” graham cracker commercial for both Honey Maid and Teddy Grahams, which features a pair of gay fathers with their children.

One Million Moms, which is best known for its failed boycott of JC Penney after the retail chain hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson in 2012, claims they are “highly offended” by Nabisco’s “disrespect of millions of American families by supporting the homosexual agenda,” Right Wing Watch first reported.

“Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves for their latest Honey Maid and Teddy Graham cracker commercial where they attempt to normalize sin,” members of One Million Moms wrote on the group’s website. “Right away it shows two men with a baby, followed by other families, and ends with different families pictured including the one with two dads.”

They added, “This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement wholesome.”

The ad does blatantly state, “Everyday wholesome snacks for every wholesome family. This is wholesome.”

Earlier this month, conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd also decried the new ad, telling her Facebook followers that she was “so done” with the brand, and “even more done with the constant onslaught from the Gay Propaganda Machine.”

Honey Maid then thanked everyone for their hate mail and did something really cool with it in a new video, making a printout of each hateful comment and rolling it into a tube, then grouping the tubes at one end of a vast, industrial-looking space to create an assemblage that spells out “Love.” See love speak to hate, which is evidently no longer good business, and check out #ThisIsWholesome, and go have you some Teddy Grahams!

Previously, One Million Moms blasted the Disney Channel for including a lesbian couple on its popular Good Luck Charlie program. In 2012, the group threatened Toys ‘R’ Us with a boycott because the toy chain carried the controversial Archie comics issue featuring the wedding of Kevin Keller, an openly gay character.

Will One Million Moms EVER give up their quest against “the Gay Propaganda Machine” of love?

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Washington, D.C. – Harvey Milk Stamp ‘Coming Out’ in May – 3.19

The official release of the United States Postal Service’s first-ever Harvey Milk stamp will happen on May 22, with a dedication ceremony taking place at the White House on that day.

“It will be May, not June,” said Susan McGowan, director of USPS Office of Stamps and Corporate Licensing. “And we hope people will turn out to experience a very special release ceremony.” The stamp’s coming out party promises to be a big affair for the postal service – one that’s been nearly a decade in the making. “Let’s just say it’s going to be a great celebration,” McGowan said.

Today, Harvey Milk may seem like a shoe-in as a candidate to be honored with the issuance of a U.S. postage stamp bearing his likeness. But according to organizers of the National Harvey Milk Stamp Campaign, there was fervent opposition from some of the country’s most fundamentalist religious groups, as well as from some members of the Citizens Stamp Approval Committee (CSAC), which votes to approve about 25 stamp requests out of about 1,000 requests each year.

“I know for a fact that some of the stamp committee members were absolutely opposed to the idea of a Harvey Milk stamp or a stamp honoring any homosexual leader,” said San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, head of the International Imperial Court System, which led the national campaign to win approval for the stamp. “That was early on, of course. I think as the process moved on and they saw how much support we had not only from Democrats, but from top Republicans, support grew.”

Although she couldn’t say whether the Citizens Stamp Approval Committee’s vote for the Harvey Milk stamp was divided or unanimous, USPS’s McGowan was adamant that there is no story of impassioned opposition to the stamp on the committee.

“I think you’re trying to find controversy where there wasn’t any,” she said. “It’s quite possible the vote was unanimous; we don’t keep those details because all that is needed is a simple majority for approval.”

What matters, says McGowan, is that the committee did approve the Harvey Milk stamp, and that it will be released on May 22.

And that Republicans actually voted FOR something!

Source: washingtonblade.com  
Local News Briefs

2014 Pride Grand Marshals Announced

SF Pride recently announced the 2014 Pride Grand Marshals. They are as follows:

Celebrity Grand Marshals
Ross Mathews
Janet Mock

Community Grand Marshals
Jewlyes Gutierrez
Tommi Avicolli Mecca
Miss Major Griffin-Gracy
Melanie Nathan

Organizational Community Grand Marshal
Trans March

Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal
Judy Grahn

Honorary Grand Marshal
Chelsea Manning

The Grand Marshals, according to SF Pride’s website, “are the public emissaries of Pride. They represent a mix of individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community. With the help of community input, Pride selects these groups and individuals as Grand Marshals in order to honor the work they have put into furthering the causes of LGBT people.”

In a press release, SF Pride mentioned that it would like to thank all the nominees that participated in the 2014 SF Pride Grand Marshal race, and acknowledge everyone for their stellar contributions to the LGBTQ and ally communities.

The 2014 Pride Parade and Celebration will take place on June 28th and 29th with the theme, “Color Our World With Pride.”  

Bill Closing Ellis Act Loophole for San Francisco Clears First Committee

Legislation that would help mitigate the negative impacts of a recent surge in Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco has passed the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. Senate Bill 1439, authored by Senator Mark Leno, closes a loophole in the Ellis Act that allows speculators to buy rent-controlled buildings in San Francisco and immediately begin the process of evicting long-term renters. This committee is not always friendly to tenants’ rights legislation, so we are off to a good start on the road to reform Ellis.

Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco have tripled in the last year, and hundreds of properties were taken off the rental market.

“California’s Ellis Act was specifically designed to allow legitimate landlords a way out of the rental business, but in San Francisco this state law is being abused by speculators who never intend to be landlords,” said Senator Leno. “As a result, longtime tenants, many of them seniors, disabled people and low-income families, are being uprooted from their homes and communities. The five-year holding period in my bill would prevent these devastating evictions from forever changing the face of our diverse city.”

SB 1429 authorizes San Francisco to prohibit new property owners from invoking the Ellis Act to evict tenants for five years after the acquisition of a property; ensures that landlords can only activate their Ellis Act rights once; and creates penalties for violations of these new provisions. The bill is co-sponsored by Mayor Edwin Lee and Tenants Together. It’s also supported by numerous local businesses, labor groups, elected officials and statewide tenant advocates.

“Senator Leno’s bill gives us the critical tools we need to stop unchecked real estate speculators from taking advantage of longtime San Francisco renters,” said Mayor Lee. “Together, we have built a large coalition of tenants, labor and business leaders to fight this battle in Sacramento to keep working families and longtime San Franciscans in their homes.”

A new report from Tenants Together, California’s statewide organization for renters’ rights, reveals that most Ellis Act evictions in San Francisco have been initiated by investors, not landlords.

Story by Dennis McMillan