Compiled by Dennis McMillan
Denver, CO – LGBTQ Latinos Face a Broken Bargain in American Workforce – 11.14
According to a new report, A Broken Bargain for LGBT Workers of Color, queer Latinos are among the most disadvantaged workers in America. This groundbreaking report by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) and a broad spectrum of civil rights organizations finds that LGBTQ Latinos face extraordinarily high rates of unemployment and poverty due to discrimination coupled with a lack of workplace protections, unequal job benefits and taxation, and unsafe, under-resourced U.S. schools.
Contrary to some stereotypes about gays and lesbians, LGBTQ workers are more racially diverse than the general population and are also more likely to be raising children. In a 2012 Gallup poll, one in three LGBTQ respondents (33 percent) identified themselves as people of color, compared to 27 percent of non-LGBTQ respondents. In addition, data from the 2010 Census show that LGBTQ people of color are more likely to be raising children than white LGBTQ people; fully one-third of Latinos in same-sex couples are raising children.
Unfortunately, these Latino families face significant hurdles to finding good jobs that provide fair wages and benefits. They are at high risk of becoming homeless, of being unemployed, at significant risk of poverty, are less likely to have health insurance, and are less likely to be out at work.
The Broken Bargain report details a series of policy recommendations, and thankfully, the Senate took a first step by passing the long overdue ENDA. The bill had an impressive bipartisan vote of 64-32, and if it were allowed to pass the House, it would create federal LGBTQ workplace protections parallel to the protections against anti-Latino discrimination that have existed for nearly 50 years.
While we wait on Congress to act, President Obama has the legal authority to sign an executive order requiring the companies that profit from federal contracts to adopt LGBTQ workplace protections. Similar executive orders already protect Latino workers from discrimination. LGBTQ contractors deserve the same protections.
NYC, NY – Freedom to Marry Lights Up Times Square with Message of Love – 12.1
Celebrating a year of big wins and marking the need to finish the job, Freedom to Marry installed a new video billboard titled “Love for Everyone” featuring three diverse same-sex families and a message of love and commitment. The billboard will display in Times Square throughout the holiday season up until January 4, 2014. More than 1.5 million people pass through Times Square daily.
“With the rapidly expanding importance of digital technology and new media, Freedom to Marry is using every opportunity to communicate our message of fairness for all committed couples and their families,” said Michael Crawford, Freedom to Marry’s digital director. “We’re excited to reach millions of Americans through a unique platform, at a time of year when all of us have love and family on our minds. There’s no better place to draw attention to the freedom to marry – and get more people on the right side of history – than among the visitors from all over the world in the heart of Times Square, in the heart of a freedom to marry state.”
The ten-second multimedia ad, which appears once every hour in a rotation, appears on the corner of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, and can be viewed on YouTube.com.
The stories highlight the different levels of uncertainty faced by same-sex couples across the country that want to marry. Gail and Audrey receive all the protections of marriage in both states they call home. Daniel and Yohandel are legally married, but their marriage is not recognized in the state where they are building their family. Natalie and Leah are unable to marry in either the old or new state they call home.
Under the three respective clips are the subheadings “Marriage is Love,” “Marriage is Commitment,” and “Marriage is Family.” The final slide ends with a simple phrase: “Love for Everyone: Join the Campaign!”
May the tourists who visit become enlightened by these lights!
Sacramento, CA – Signatures Submitted to Repeal School Success and Opportunity Act – 11.27
Homophobic opponents have submitted signatures in an attempt to overturn the School Success and Opportunity Act at the ballot box. The same people who spearheaded Proposition 8 – Frank Schubert and the National Organization of Marriage – are now going after the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community, our youth.
The purpose of the School Success and Opportunity Act (AB 1266) is to explicitly spell out the requirements of existing federal and state law in California statute so school administrators, teachers, parents and students understand their obligations and rights. Those requirements are that all students in California must be allowed to participate fully in school so they can thrive academically and socially.
These fringe anti-LGBTQ groups have used every dirty trick in the book to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures. By distorting the truth about non-discrimination protections, they were able to scare voters into signing their petitions.
The Secretary of State confirmed that opponents of AB 1266 submitted 614,311 signatures in their effort to overturn the law. Election officials will now verify the submitted signatures to determine if the proponents submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify the referendum. That process could take up to several months.
Because often times many signatures are invalidated for various reasons, it is unknown whether the referendum will qualify. It is not surprising that the opposition was not able to acquire a comfortable margin to repeal a law that simply makes sure all students know they can have a fair chance to succeed at school. Hopefully fair-minded Californians will see through any attempts to cause confusion about this.
“For many transgender students, having policies in place that ensure all students are able to fully participate in school has been crucial to their success,” says Transgender Law Center Director Masen Davis.
We must stand with our youth to ensure every young person is allowed the chance to thrive.
Richmond, VA – Senator Ebbin Introduces Legislation to Repeal Measure Banning Gay Marriage – 11.26
Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin, the first openly gay member of the Virginia General Assembly, introduced legislation to repeal the state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The measure is a long shot, however, as the state approved the amendment in 2006 with a 57 percent majority. In order to pass the legislation, it would have to pass the General Assembly twice, with an intervening election, then would appear on the ballot in the succeeding general election.
Even gaining first passage in the General Assembly could be the longest of long shots, particularly in the House of Delegates. A companion bill to Ebbin’s has been introduced by Del. Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond).
In the 2013 session, a similar measure by Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax) failed to make it out of a House subcommittee. There was no companion bill in the state Senate.
When the marriage amendment was approved by the General Assembly in 2006, it passed on votes of 73-22 in the House of Delegates and 29-11 in the state Senate, winning support from a bipartisan mix of legislators. The six members of the Arlington legislative delegation at the time all voted against it.
While the measure passed statewide in 2006 with 57.1 percent of the vote, a majority of voters in local jurisdictions opposed it. The vote against was 73.8 percent in Arlington, 70.1 percent in Alexandria, 69.2 percent in Falls Church and 54.2 percent in Fairfax County. Voters in Loudoun and Prince William counties supported the measure with majorities of 54 percent and 61.7 percent, respectively.
Okay, so it’s a long shot. But let’s give it a shot!
Historic Safer Sex Posters Now on Display at Center for Sex & Culture
The Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco held a reception on World AIDS Day for “Safe Sex Bang: the Buzz Bense Collection of Safe Sex Posters.” Co-organized by CSC gallery curator Dorian Katz and New York-based writer and curator Alex Fialho, in close collaboration with Bense, the exhibition runs now through January 31, 2014.
Bense is a veteran safer-sex activist in the battle against HIV and STDs. He has collected and produced safer sex posters aimed at members of the queer community since the mid-1980s. In March 2012, Bense donated his collection to CSC of over 150 unique posters, accumulated primarily during his time as a graphic designer with various safer sex advocacy groups and as founder of the San Francisco safer sex club Eros. Circulated at a moment when the queer community experienced the initial ravages brought on by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, these posters comprise a striking aesthetic collection of graphically innovative design that explicitly visualizes diverse LGBTQ communities and safer sex activism.
“These posters do more than chart the tragedy of an epidemic, of an outsider community reeling from grief, loss, and the decimation of a blooming culture of sexual liberation,” says Bense. “The history of these posters is a story of a fight against stigma, hatred and ignorance; of a community stepping up to take care of its own; of finding a way to extinguish fear and build pride and self-esteem; and of devoted efforts of committed activists to communicate a path to health and survival.”
The exhibit spans from 1982 into the 2000s, from San Francisco to New York City, stateside, and internationally to Australia, Germany, Denmark and Canada. Highlights of the exhibition include the “Play Fair!” brochure produced by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in 1982, considered “the first queer positive, safer-sex pamphlet” (on loan from the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco).
CSC is located at 1349 Mission Street. Gallery hours: Monday 11:30 am – 3:30pm and by appointment.
Story by Dennis McMillan
Milk-Moscone March Brought Attention to Housing Evils, Including Ellis Act Evictions
The Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club produced the 35th Annual Milk & Moscone Rally and March in honor of slain Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, with the overall theme of housing evils. At the Harvey Milk Plaza rally, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence pointed out that “the current high tech gold rush and wave of economic and cultural Darwinism sweeping the City threatens to destroy our diversity.”
They said the world needs our weird and kooky artistic innovators, writers, poets, performers, and dreamers. The Cockettes, Angels of Light, Cycle Sluts, Doris Fish & Tippi, Flower Children, Janis Joplin and the 1960’s rockers, Beatniks and beat poets like Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti, founders of The Sisters, and Harvey Milk helped build this community and have added to the diversity and richness of this City. But they never could have afforded to live here today.
The Sisters led the crowd of about one thousand strong in their “Rosary of Housing Evils,” in a call & response, “Save us from the speculators!” They pointed out evictions are up 170%, and “we need to repeal the Ellis Act, unfairly evicting the disadvantaged; we must defend the eviction of Jeremy Mykaels, a disabled long-term Castro resident; we should extend rent control to ALL rental and commercial units; one person’s rent controlled apartment is NOT another person’s TIC or condo.”
Statistics do not lie: 3,705 families were evicted from their homes since 1997; 29% of homeless are queer; 40% of LGBTQ seniors can’t afford their rent; 40% of homeless youth are queer; rents have risen 21% this year; evictions are at a 12 year high; and a vacant building can sell for twice the price of an occupied one.
This was reason to gather in Harvey Milk Plaza to hear stunning speeches from riveting speakers, as well as the SF Gay Men’s Chorus singing inspirational numbers. A candlelight march down Market Street to City Hall included words of inspiration there from MILK movie screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and a recorded message from Milk, “You Gotta Give ‘Em Hope,” perfectly concluded the evening.
Story by Dennis McMillan