One Equal World

Posts Tagged ‘equal rights

A businessman dressed in a suit and tie rips open his shirt, revealing a rainbow shirt underneath.

Image credit: Shutterstock

In all fifty states, same-sex marriage has been made legal. But in 28 of those states, mentioning your fiance’s name when asking for time off for your honeymoon can get you fired, because in more than half the country it’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workplace. And in the midst of the current conservative backlash against gay rights, it’s important to take grassroots stands in the workplace.

Here are a few suggestions for what you, your coworkers, and your boss can do to make acceptance one of your core values.

1. The big one: benefits. This is your employer putting their money where their mouth is. Make sure your coworkers with same-sex partners and non-traditional families have the same access to health care that you do, including gender-blind parental options, allowances for adoption and surrogacy, and gender-affirmation and transition-related care.

2. Help support resource groups for LGBT employees, particularly if you are in a state that still supports discrimination. They need a place where they can discuss the weight of those issues.

3. Ask what your company is doing to support LGBT people outside their walls. Do they give preference to relationships with other inclusive companies? Devote any resources to outreach? Does your leadership do any communicating on this issue, or is it just a line for show in the company’s values posters?

4. Track what’s actually happening. Does the data indicate that your goals for diversity are being met? This doesn’t mean hiring to a quota–if you’re truly inclusive, that should be entirely unnecessary. If you can’t have this data, ask your HR why.

5. Speak up when you hear ugly speech at work. It only takes one bigot to make LGBT employees feel unwelcome and under fire if everyone else lets their behavior go unremarked. Report what you hear, and hold your employer responsible for responding.

There are many, many more tactics to take to make your job a shelter for those who still need it. Most of these tactics can be applied to any under-served population, and will make you a role model for other employers in your community.

A protest held in support of LGBT individuals and others affected by the Trump administration.

Photo courtesy of mathiaswasik at Flickr Creative Commons.

According to Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Trump’s use of power in the White House is working to “galvanize the outrage” of people who voted against him, who will be harmed by his actions, or who have realized that they made a mistake in voting for him. “People are activated and ready to fight back,” he said, while meeting with New Jersey Senator Corey Booker in Philadelphia.

The two senators were meeting with LGBTQ+ activists in the city to make the point that the community needs to come together and stand against any anti-LGBTQ+ actions taken by Trump’s administration or by Congress. They were careful to remind listeners that 25 Senate seats, currently held by Democrats, are up for election in 2018.

If Democrats lose even eight of those seats, they won’t be able to stop the Republicans when they band together. They won’t even be able to filibuster.

The senators have some good advice. The LGBTQ+ community hasn’t been directly attacked yet, but it’s still very early in this administration, with it’s willingness to ignore the judicial branch and it’s nearly unchecked support from the legislative branch. Trump wasted no time on his “Muslim ban” or his wall on the Mexican border, so there’s no reason to think he won’t take action against the community as well, especially with a notoriously homophobic vice president and advisers who support neo-Nazis.

The community is sure to face threats from the current federal government, perhaps the most anti-LGBTQ+ government in American history, and the only way to face that is to stick together. But the senators made a point that the community is not alone, and has to work together with others. Women’s rights and immigrant rights are LGBTQ+ rights as well, and it is only through building a coalition, a unified front, that any marginalized people will come out of this okay.

An illustration of the multi-colored gay rights flag and the flag of Kenya.

A clash of cultures: President Obama’s support of LGBT rights is in conflict with the traditional views of Kenya’s President Kenyatta. Photo: Aleksandar Mijatovic |

President Barack Obama lectured Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta about his country’s rights record. Under Kenyan law, sexual activity between men is illegal and punishable with a maximum imprisonment of 14 years. Many Kenyan leaders had encouraged Obama not to discuss gay rights at all on his first trip to the country as President.

“When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode,” Obama said at a joint press conference with the Kenyan leader in Nairobi. “And bad things happen.”

Kenyatta said that while the US and Kenya share many common values and goals, gay rights is not one of them. “The fact of the matter is Kenya and the U.S. share so many values: common love for democracy, entrepreneurship, value for families — these are some things that we share,” Kenyatta said. “But there are some things that we must admit we don’t share. Our culture, our societies don’t accept.”

The new conference followed closed-door discussions in which the two leaders agreed to collaborate on economic growth. Obama said to reporters that African entrepreneurs were key to fighting security threats like Somali militant group al Shabaab, which has targeted Kenya.

Obama’s first pilgrimage to Kenya was three decades ago where he backpacked through the nation where he has roots. He also mentioned during this visit that he would return to the country to do philanthropic work there after his presidency.

The Cinetopia International Film Festival (CIFF) returns this month to venues in Ann Arbor and Detroit, and with it come some pretty big names in LGBT activism and filmmaking. One of them is Dustin Lance Black, the award-winning American screenwriter, director, and producer. One of Black’s greatest achievements is when he took home the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the iconic contemporary film “Milk.” Another one of his achievements lies in his passionate efforts to overturn California’s anti-LGBT Proposition 8.Dustin-Lance-LGBT

Dustin Lance Black serves on the Board of Directors of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the organization that was instrumental in getting California’s Proposition 8 overturned last summer. He’s joined there by powerful LGBT activists and public figures such as political strategist Ken Mehlman, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, and other leaders. During CIFF, the young Hollywood heavyweight will participate in a panel discussion and Q&A session following 2 screenings of “The Case Against 8,” a documentary that chronicles the work that went into overturning California’s infamous ban on same-sex marriage.

Despite being unaffiliated with the documentary, Black experienced first hand the trials, media frenzy, and social and political activism that made AFER such an equal rights asset during its own case against 8. “Featuring attorneys David Boies and Ted Olsen, the two prosecuting couples and Black himself, ‘The Case Against 8’ gives audiences the inside scoop on the overturning of Proposition 8, which gave same-sex couples in California the right to marry,” explains the M Live Media Group of what to expect from the documentary. It will be interesting to see Black in front of the camera, and in front of audiences during the panel talks, instead of behind the scenes. As the one-year anniversary of Prop 8’s demise draws near, it couldn’t be a more fitting time to honor AFER, Black, and all of the other courageous activists who continue to work tirelessly for equal rights for all.

Learn more about the film at

Image via (Ricardo DeAratanha/Los Angeles Times)

marriage equality

The queen gave her royal seal of approval for marriage equality in England and Wales.
paintings /

In another leap forward for marriage equality, the U.K. announced its legalization of same-sex marriage on July 17th after Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal stamp of approval. The Queen’s approval is considered a ‘formality,’ and the last step necessary for a bill to become a law in England.

More importantly than the legislative power the Queen’s approval provides, her motion to legalize same-sex marriage represents the social weight her decision carries. The new law allows couples to get married in civil unions and religious ceremonies in England and Wales, although the Church of England is reportedly still barred from performing same-sex unions. The law also allows couples that had previously entered into a civil partnership to convert their status into a marriage.

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The defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. Karen Golinski, a staff lawyer for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, brought the case in order to arrange for spousal benefits for her wife Amy Cunninghis.  The two married in 2008 when marriages were briefly legal in California.

One of the interesting things about the case is that the Justice Department has decided not to defend DOMA, per an announcement by President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder last year.  This means that the JD, who would usually be defending the law against Golinkski, actually joined her instead and helped to bring the case.

Instead, defense of DOMA has turned to a lawyer hired by a House of Representatives group going by the name of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White rejected all the arguments that the BLAG put forward in defense of DOMA and ordered the government to allow Golinski to enroll her wife in a family health plan.   According to his ruling, the DOMA is essentially unconstitutional discrimination against same-sex married couples.

In even better news, the Obama administration announced last week that it was extending their decision to stop defending the law to all actively serving military personnel and veterans in same-sex marriages.

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