340 posts categorized "Consumers and Business"

August 15, 2014

They'll always have Vegas

FCS-headshot

Rev. Graylan Hagler is a candidate for At-Large Council.

August 12, 2014

Tony Perkins: Christian Businesses Should Donate Profits From LGBT Customers To Ex-Gay Ministries

Here's a new one. Thanks to Ian Silverstone at Right Wing Watch.

July 27, 2014

Bible museum dispute in the news

The dispute between Truth Wins Out and GLAA over the right of a privately funded Bible museum to open two blocks from the National Mall was highlighted on July 23 by Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis.

And reporter Tom Sherwood at NBC Washington wrote in his notebook on July 23:

Hobby Lobby high-five? Well, kinda. The owners of Hobby Lobby craft stores won national attention when they won their Supreme Court battle to limit contraception insurance coverage for their employees because of the owners’ religious beliefs.

That recently prompted Wayne Bensen of the advocacy group Truth Wins Out to “strongly urge” District officials to make it as difficult as possible for Hobby Lobby to get all the permits it needs to build a private National Bible Museum in Southwest D.C. (the old site of the Washington Design Center).

Bensen wrote that the project near the National Mall “would make a mockery of surrounding museums, which are based on research, history and scholarship.”

Well, throwing up administrative hurdles didn’t go over so well with local activist Rick Rosendall, who is president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.

“There is no legitimate basis to block it,” Rosendall wrote this week in the Daily Chose. “GLAA has a long history of defending our opponents’ First Amendment rights. This allows us to hold the moral high ground. ... We are much better off in the long run by respecting the rights of all, not just those who agree with us.”

Goodness, we better not let that kind of high-mindedness catch on. Maybe even the warring members of Congress might start working together. And then, what would the mean ol’ media report?

Don't worry, Tom. You'll always turn up something. Besides, high-mindedness is about as likely to catch on in Washington as a coherent thought in Rep. Louie Gohmert. Oh, dear, that didn't sound terribly high-minded, did it?

July 26, 2014

Applause from an adversary

The group Faith and Action says on its "About" page:

The missionary outreaches at Faith and Action are targeted specifically toward our nation’s public policy makers and particularly to Capitol Hill. We believe such a narrowly targeted effort is the most effective method for accomplishing our mission – to challenge our leaders with Biblical TRUTH.

If you suspect they are not big fans of GLAA's work, you are right. But on Friday, I came across this tweet in response to my article, "Free Speech and the Bible Museum":

Here is the praise from Faith and Action blogger kaitlynn:

We’re often too quick to condemn and too slow to compliment. So, this time we wanted to make a point to applaud the writer of this article for standing up for religious freedom to back a cause that we happen to agree with, and HE happens to disagree with.

Richard J. Rosendall (President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance) there are plenty of things we fully disagree with you on, but find your willingness to champion the freedom of speech and religious freedoms of everyone (despite the fact that you disagree with their views, and probably taking some heat for it) impressive.

I replied:

Oh, dear, I'm in trouble now! But thank you. I hear faint echoes of the famous Christmas ceasefire in WWI. Or to quote JFK: "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Best wishes and God bless America,

Rick Rosendall
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

A friend joked that I would be run out of town by angry liberals, and offered me sanctuary in another state (which I will keep confidential in case I need it); but joking aside, it is foolish and ahistorical to think we weaken our position by defending the free speech rights of our opponents. Censorship by our side is not only obnoxious and hypocritical, it is (as my article points out) unnecessary because we have the better arguments. As another friend put it yesterday, GLAA's approach demonstrates the maturity of our movement. (Or at least our corner of it, as I said back to him.)

July 15, 2014

Growing implications of Hobby Lobby ruling

Above, Jonathan Capehart (subbing for Steve Kornacki) discusses the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling with Gabriela Domenzain, Justin Snow and Chris Geidner. Below, Evan Wolfson joins the discussion.

Republican ENDA backers dig in while LGBT supporters jump ship

Ros-Lehtinen

Metro Weekly reports.

I heard the same yesterday from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who was interviewed by Atlantic Editor-at-large Steve Clemons at a Women of Washington event at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel. She criticized the bill's LGBT critics for insisting on perfection, and described the religious exemption as moderate and reasonable, while acknowledging that ENDA (which has passed the Senate) only has 9 Republican co-sponsors in the House.

Sorry, Congresswoman, but nine Republicans do not a surge of bipartisan support make. As for a reasonable religious exemption, why should the standard be any different for LGBT people than for the groups protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act? I am sorry, but ENDA only focuses on employment discrimination to start with, and to have an overly broad religious exemption on top of that gives us little to rally around.

Ros-Lehtinen also mentioned she is pro-life. If one of her fellow Republicans is elected president in 2016, and has a chance to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she will doubtless be pleased at the likely loss of women's reproductive rights. The gay rights movement gained a great deal from the women's rights movement. Indeed, the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas that overturned remaining state anti-sodomy laws grew out of a string of constructive-due-process rulings starting with Griswold v. Connecticut and continuing through Eisenstadt v. Baird and Roe v. Wade.

I would love to know how Ros-Lehtinen squares supporting my rights while pulling out one of the foundations of our movement. But given the glib political answers she gave to several questions, it wouldn't leave me any more enlightened. I thanked her afterward for her support of gay rights, but given that, the last time I checked, she was the only member of the Republican caucus to have gotten a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign, if this is the best the GOP can do, we shouldn't get our hopes up.

(Photo of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen courtesy The Washington Post)

July 09, 2014

Geidner: Three Reasons LGBT Groups Are Fighting Over A Bill That Isn’t Going To Become Law

LGBT_logos

An interesting analysis by Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed.

GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
www.glaa.org

For Release:
July 8, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall
(202) 328-6278

GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA) voted at its monthly meeting on July 8 to adopt the following statement. It may be attributed to GLAA President Rick Rosendall.

GLAA joins the growing list of LGBT rights organizations that oppose the present version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In its current form, sweeping religious exemptions in ENDA could enshrine anti-LGBT discrimination into law by allowing far more organizations to bypass civil rights protections than are permitted under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Furthermore, provisions added by Senator Rob Portman through amendment seek, in his words, "to ensure that government cannot penalize a religious employer because it qualifies as exempt from the non-discrimination requirements of ENDA." These assurances could weaken existing state and city non-discrimination protections resulting in a step backwards in protecting the LGBT community.

Continue reading "GLAA opposes ENDA over sweeping religious exemptions" »

June 25, 2014

Jury finds HIV/AIDS grant money was used to build D.C. strip club

Stadium_club
(Photo: J.M. Eddins Jr./The Washington Times)

Matthew Cella at The Washington Times reports on a matter that we have been following for a few years:

A D.C. jury found that a nonprofit group and its director misappropriated more than $300,000 from the city’s HIV/AIDS program for renovations on a proposed job-training center that instead was used to open a strip club.

The jury found damages of $329,653 against the nonprofit Miracle Hands Inc. and its director, reformed gangster Cornell Jones, after a four-day trial in D.C. Superior Court.

GLAA wrote about this in our 2012 policy brief, which provides some context:

The contrast between Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr.'s vehement opposition to gay strip clubs in 2007 and his support for straight-oriented strip clubs in 2011 suggests a gaping double standard that he has not credibly explained. [Note: As we go to press, Councilmember Thomas appears set to resign as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors. We are not deleting this material because the issue continues to stir debate.] WAMU reported that Thomas "has supported the applications of the clubs and says these upscale strip clubs can be good corporate neighbors." Thomas denied being influenced by campaign donations, despite a Washington Times report (in June 2011) that "Keith Forney, a co-owner of the Stadium Club whose companies have received more than $90 million in D.C. construction funds since 2000, made separate payments to Team Thomas in 2008 and 2009 totaling $6,000." On top of this, former crack cocaine kingpin Cornell Jones is accused of diverting more than $300,000 in District HIV/AIDS funds to renovate the club. The city owes us a single standard that neither depends on campaign cash nor involves misuse of public funds.

At last, some justice in the case. As the Times story quotes D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, the verdict “should serve as a warning to all those who would attempt to misuse District grant funds.”

House Appropriations Committee votes to block D.C. mj decriminalization

510px-Andy_Harris,_Official_Portrait,_112th_Congress

DCist reports:

An amendment introduced by a Republican Representative from Maryland to block the implementation of D.C.'s marijuana decriminalization law passed 28 to 21 in the House Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Andy Harris, a physician, introduced the amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill, saying today marijuana is "dangerous to the developing brain."

As D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton notes:

D.C.’s marijuana decriminalization bill is undergoing a 60-day congressional review period and is expected to take effect in mid-July. As expected, Republicans are using a rider rather than the disapproval process set forth in the Home Rule Act to try to block D.C.’s decriminalization bill.

Norton's statement includes the following:

“Representative Harris is not only trying to overrule the will of my constituents, to whom he is not accountable, he is acting contrary to the laws of his own state, which recently decriminalized marijuana,” Norton said. “It is particularly offensive that he is trying to impose on another Member’s district what he was unable to do democratically in his own. Before tomorrow’s markup, I hope Representative Harris realizes that his amendment violates his own professed principles of local control of local affairs. Even those who profoundly disagree on particular local laws adhere to the most basic American principle of local control. Representative Harris can’t overturn the marijuana decriminalization laws of the 18 states that have decriminalized marijuana so he has stooped to using autocratic, anti-democratic power to seek to overturn our local laws. His constituents are going to be surprised to learn that their Member, who argues for limiting the federal government’s power over even traditionally federal matters, is offering an amendment that would insert the federal government into a local government’s local affairs. Representative Harris has been in Congress for two terms, but has only managed to introduce 10 bills this Congress, and he has not introduced a single amendment on the House floor this Congress. Surely, he should spend more time focused on bills and amendments to benefit his own Maryland constituents instead of introducing an amendment that will harm minorities, especially African Americans, in my district. Our allies in Maryland and across the country are prepared to help us prevent this amendment from being enacted.”

GLAA's policy brief for 2014, Building on Victory, states the following:

It makes no sense for the relatively benign marijuana to be proscribed while alcohol, a proven killer, is legal. Tommy Wells' bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts, Bill 20-409, is a good beginning. We support David Grosso's legalization and regulation bill, Bill 20-466. We understand the District's caution regarding Congress; but in light of developments elsewhere, and considering the damage done to lives by incarceration for victimless crimes, we are glad that the District has joined the nationwide discussion of this issue.

Thanks to Congresswoman Norton for fighting for the District. We have some work ahead of us.

Cochran beats back Tea Party challenger

Sen. Thad Cochran narrowly defeated Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in Tuesday's runoff election. As you can see from the above non-concession speech, the GOP's internal blood-letting ain't over. Get your popcorn.

My theory: Thad Cochran may have been helped by his porn star name. See Mississippi's broadband porn rental rate.

A yoga tax by any other name

Barry
(Photo credit: Washington City Paper)

The D.C. Council on Tuesday, by a vote of 9-4, upheld the so-called yoga tax (or wellness tax or gym tax) as part of the tax reform package in the 2015 budget. Does this mean all the kvetching over this trivial matter will finally stop? One can always hope, but Lane Hudson, one of the leaders of the protest against the tax, says he's only just begun. Or something.

Meanwhile, Miss Emily Litella, disguised as Marion Barry, came out squarely against the yogurt tax.

June 16, 2014

Obama wil sign executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors

President-Obama-June-11-2014-638x425
(AP Photo by Charles Krupa)

More crumbs! (Sorry, Larry Kramer briefly hacked my account.) I mean, thank you Mr. President. Better late than never!

June 14, 2014

State LGBT groups split on ENDA’s religious exemption

GetEQUAL_religious_exemptions_to_ENDA_protest_insert_c_Washington_Blade_by_Michael_Key

Chris Johnson of the Blade reports:

The Washington Blade polled more than 50 state LGBT groups this week on their position regarding ENDA with its current religious exemption. The language would continue to allow religious institutions, like churches or religious hospitals and schools, to discriminate against LGBT workers in ministerial and non-ministerial positions even if the bill were to become law.

The religious exemption in ENDA is broader than similar exemptions under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for categories of race, gender, religion and national origin.

The most common response from statewide LGBT groups — including Equality Illinois and Equality California — was that they continue to support ENDA, but oppose or have concerns about the bill’s religious exemption.

GLAA is in the latter group. Here is the statement I gave Johnson:

GLAA has long supported ENDA. Our position was to support the best achievable bill, because we understood the value of strategic compromise--not as an end point but as a way station in the ongoing struggle for equality.

But here in DC, as in the marriage equality fight, we have successfully fought against overbroad religious exemptions. Of course religious groups enjoy protections in their core religious functions; outside that sphere is another matter. For example, Catholic Charities demanded to be able to discriminate against same-sex couples as a government contractor providing adoption services. We and the DC Council said absolutely not. Catholic Charities then chose to stop delivering those services, which were taken over by another organization that was prepared to obey the law.

It is time to push back against the religious bullies. Religious exemptions beyond those applying to discrimination under Title VII should not be accepted in ENDA.

June 12, 2014

An inadvertent ad for Uber?

A "go slow" protest in Trafalgar Square by taxi drivers against competition from Uber could prompt more people to use the Uber app. I can't believe that's what the protesters intended.

June 11, 2014

The moratorium that wasn't

I figured in this story on the SALM ANC-focused blog about Ward 2 CM Jack Evans bringing up the subject of a liquor license moratorium on 14th Street NW. Such a moratorium was roundly rejected by the ANCs and residents last year, so it's odd that Jack brought it up. But Jack has cleared it up: no moratorium on 14th.

May 09, 2014

Michael Sam signs with Visa

The NFL draft is underway. As we watch and wait for Michael Sam to make history, here is his new commercial for Visa, with whom he has signed an endorsement deal.

As nfldraftscout.com reported on May 7:

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam was named the Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner. The honor goes to athletes or contributors who transcend sports. Sam will receive the award at the the 2014 ESPY Awards on July 16. Sam was SEC co-Defensive Player of the Year. He announced in February that he is gay, making him set to become the first openly gay player in the NFL. ESPN said in a statement it is honoring Sam for "his courage and honesty that resonates beyond sports." "I'm very honored to be presented with the Arthur Ashe award," he said. "It is about courage. You know I don't think there is anything courageous I did. I look forward to when we can live life in a world when gays don't have to come out in public."

Meanwhile, Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reports that a DC lobbyist named Jack Burkman threatens a "relentless" boycott effort against any team that signs Sam. Get ready to order your Michael Sam gear from whatever team drafts him.

April 29, 2014

Tom DeLay salutes Cliven Bundy

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports:

On his Washington Times Radio show last Wednesday, former House GOP leader Tom DeLay reiterated his defense of Cliven Bundy, arguing that the Nevada rancher — who has repeatedly lost in the courts and refuses to recognize the existence of the United States government — doesn’t have to obey the law on land use.

“He doesn’t owe the federal government anything because he doesn’t recognize that the federal government can come take his livelihood away from him and he’s standing up for the rule of law, the real law, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and fighting against what is happening to him,” DeLay said.

This is the former House Majority Leader. All you can do is shake your head.

Magic Johnson on Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

NBA legend Magic Johnson reacts to racist statements by longtime L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling's offensive remarks can be heard here. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will hold a press conference on his investigation into the matter this afternoon.

Magic, of course, is right. Sterling must go.

Speaking of Magic and respect for others, below is a clip from last year of Magic talking about his son E.J. coming out.

AFA: Shops who display ‘We Don’t Discriminate’ stickers are bullying Christians

We-dont-discriminate-sticker

Pink News reports:

The American Family Association has claimed that by pledging not to discriminate against their customers, Mississippi businesses are ‘bullying’ Christians.

The campaign was born after the state’s Governor, Phil Bryant, signed a ‘religious freedom’ law, protecting businesses who discriminate against gay customers.

Eye roll. AFA says shops that proclaim "We don't discriminate" are bullying Christians. My question is, why don't the alleged bullying victims make a virtue of it by offering up their suffering as a sacrifice to the BVM? And don't bully me by asking what that stands for, o ye godless!

April 07, 2014

Supreme Court won’t hear anti-gay photographer case

The Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it won’t take up a case in which a New Mexico photography business alleges its rights were violated when it landed in hot water for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony.

In orders published Monday morning, the court listed the case, Elane Photography v. Willock, without comment as among the cases it won’t consider.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Elane Photography, which was found to have violated New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law for refusing to take a photo for the same-sex wedding ceremony for Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth in 2006. (The wedding was only ceremonial because the incident took place before the state legalized same-sex marriage.)

Thank the Goddess for small favors.

April 05, 2014

Fox's Starnes denounces treatment of ex-Mozilla CEO

Fox News reporter Todd Starnes writes at Townhall.com to defend now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich:

Why not demand that those who oppose gay marriage relinquish the right to own property? Why not take away their right to vote? Why not take away their children? Why not just throw them in jail? Why not force them to work in chain gangs? Why not call for public floggings? Or better yet, let’s just strap them down on gurneys, stick a needle in their arm and rid the world of these intolerant anti-gay bigots once and for all.

I want to assure Mr. Starnes that I oppose those traditional conservative measures.

April 04, 2014

Signorile refutes Sullivan on forced resignation of Mozilla CEO

Michelangelo Signorile wrote a detailed response to blogger Andrew Sullivan's criticism of "left-liberal intolerance" for the downfall of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich this week.

I agree with Signorile. Eich was totally out of synch with his company's employees, for one thing. This was a case of the market working. The First Amendment's free speech provision prevents the government from silencing you. It does not prevent a company from firing you when they decide that your actions will do the company harm.

'Safe Bathrooms DC' Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

The D.C. Office of Human Rights announced on April 3:

D.C. Office of Human Rights

“Safe Bathrooms DC” Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Innovative reporting method uses Twitter (#safebathroomsDC) to accept complaints

Thursday, April 3, 2014

CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy & Communications – 202.481.3773; elliot.imse@dc.gov

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Public bathrooms can present many challenges: inevitably long lines, empty paper towel holders, and faucets that manage to spray more water onto your clothes than into your hands. Yet these challenges are trivial when compared to those some transgender and gender non-conforming people face when using gender-specific public bathrooms. Fear of harassment or violence can create a stressful experience, and many people report scouring the neighborhood until they can locate a gender-neutral bathroom. Now, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) is asking community members to help make it a bit easier for the transgender and gender non-conforming community, with today’s launch of its Safe Bathrooms DC campaign.

Aimed at rapidly increasing the number of single-occupancy gender-neutral public bathrooms in the District, the campaign features photos of common bathroom challenges, and aims to encourage people to report non-compliant bathrooms using Twitter or the OHR website. The District is one of the few jurisdictions in the nation that requires all single-occupancy bathrooms at restaurants, businesses or other public places to be gender-neutral, without labels such as “male” or “female.” While in the past non-compliant bathrooms could be reported to OHR through the traditional complaint submission method, now community members can quickly alert OHR by tweeting the business name and location using the hashtag #safebathroomsDC, or by submitting a short five question form on the OHR website.

Continue reading "'Safe Bathrooms DC' Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms" »

Honey Maid: Love

Honey Maid responds to hate letters with one of the best commercials ever. As plenty of people have already commented, let's make s'mores!

March 19, 2014

Honey Maid 'Wholesome' commercial sets righties quivering

Right Wing Watch reports:

Conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd said yesterday that she will no longer buy Honey Maid’s Graham Crackers because one of their advertisements features a same-sex couple with their child.

Discussing a Huffington Post article on the new ad, Mefferd took issue with Honey Maid’s use of the world “wholesome” to describe same-sex couples.

You can listen to Mefferd's scorn-filled voice below. Or just make a batch of S'mores with the kids and sing campfire songs.

195 Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to sign LGBT executive order

Metro Weekly reports:

Nearly every Democratic member of the Senate and 148 Democratic members of the House of Representatives urged President Barack Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from LGBT workplace discrimination in a letter sent Tuesday.

With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) having hit a wall in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after passage in the Senate last year, members of the House and Senate called on Obama “to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.”

Please do it, Mr. President.

March 14, 2014

Sam Adams Beer pulls out of South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade

Boston.com reports that Sam Adams Beer issued the following statement regarding the gay-exclusionary South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible. We share these sentiments with Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and others and therefore we will not participate in this year’s parade.

It was said of Sam's cousin John, "He handled every kind of case — land transfers, trespass, admiralty, marine insurance, murder, adultery, rape, bastardy, buggery, assault and battery, tarring and feathering." Once again, the family name is associated with what Churchill called the traditions of the Royal Navy: rum, sodomy, and the lash. I'm just anticipating the next press statement from indignant Hibernians.

March 04, 2014

Fox news babe asks a civil rights question, doesn't like the answer

I think this is Megyn Kelly talking to Bernie Goldberg, but I confess these Fox News models all start to look alike to me. I think Margo Channing had it right when she handed Max Fabian the bicarb: "One good burp and you'll be rid of that Miss Casswell."

March 02, 2014

Tim Cook Erupts After Shareholder Asks Him To Focus Only On Profit

Apple-ceo-tim-cook-18
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images)

Tell it, Mister Cook.

(The Apple CEO, in case you missed it, is openly gay.)

February 27, 2014

Tea Party Nation: Brewer's Veto Imposed 'Slavery,' Mandatory Penis Cakes For 'Homosexual Weddings'

Right Wing Watch shares the latest lunacy from the president of Tea Party Nation, in reaction to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of SB1062.

Weighing in from another moon base, Tucker Carlson said on Fox News that requiring businesses to provide equal services to gay customers is fascism.

When you've gone too far for John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Mitt Romney, you might want to take a reality check. On the other hand, blogger Andrew Sullivan worries about a backlash:

As for the case for allowing fundamentalists to discriminate against anyone associated with what they regard as sin, I’m much more sympathetic. I favor maximal liberty in these cases. The idea that you should respond to a hurtful refusal to bake a wedding cake by suing the bakers is a real stretch to me.

Yes, they may simply be homophobic, rather than attached to a coherent religious worldview. But so what? There are plenty of non-homophobic bakers in Arizona. If we decide that our only response to discrimination is a lawsuit, we gays are ratcheting up a culture war we would do better to leave alone. We run the risk of becoming just as intolerant as the anti-gay bigots, if we seek to coerce people into tolerance.

Unless one is prepared to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this is absurd. Licensed businesses are not entitled to discriminate against their customers. That is a price we pay for living in a diverse society. In any case, Andrew shows no sign of having researched the number and geographic distribution of non-homophobic Arizona bakers. What if you live in a small town with only one bakery, and it puts a "No Homos" sign in its window?

As a general rule, I don't want hostile people preparing food for me. But that should be my choice. As a participant in the local economy, I want to be treated with respect. A gay version of Jim Crow is not acceptable. When we talk about LGBT equality, we do not add an asterisk that says "unless it makes someone uncomfortable." Whatever the legal standard is for everyone else, that is what should apply to us as well. Libertarians generally think that non-discrimination laws should only apply to the government; but that is not the status quo, and their view, while intellectually coherent, is not popular and is not about to be enacted. As for a backlash, we've been fighting one since before I started my activist career in the late 1970s. We are winning the culture war that was launched against us by people who thought everyone should be forced either to believe and talk and act the same as them or to disappear. Well we did not disappear.

As my colleague Bob Summersgill noted a few days ago, D.C. Councilmember Yvette Alexander tried in 2009 to add a religious exemption provision to D.C.'s marriage equality bill during its committee markup. The vote on that amendment was 4 to 1 against. The Archdiocese of Washington wanted a number of similar carve-outs added to let them violate the D.C. Human Rights Act, and then-Judiciary chairman Phil Mendelson (with our strong backing) refused.

Most Americans already think that using religion as a pretext for discrimination is wrong. They are right about that. In such a religiously diverse society, we cannot allow pharmacists or restauranteurs or automobile mechanics or hospitals or city clerks to refuse service based on their religious beliefs. If we are to avoid being at one another's throats, we simply must be more tolerant of our differences. The problem is that the ones most loudly demanding a religious exemption actually just want right-wing Christians like them to have that right. This is a ploy to preserve privilege in the guise of religious freedom. And as we see in Arizona, it is not working. As Intel and Apple and Delta Airlines pointed out, it's bad for business.

Resistance is Futile

You will be assimilated into the Google hive mind.

The internet is noting what happened to this woman in a bar in San Francisco when she wore Google Glass.  She has called this a hate crime.  As she notes the product hasn't even been released yet. But when it is released it will be irresistible.

Think of some of the possibilities. An app has been announced Where when you meet someone new in a bar you can take a photo of them and it will search a database and identify who they are. A woman could know if this person is who they say they are, if they are married or has a criminal record. Gay men could know if the guy was on the downlow and what they were packing in their pants. And you could get a review of their performance in bed from your trusted social circle. Priceless. Grindr for Glass can't be far away. And the amazing thing is that people will pay to be assimilated. A lot.

Keep in mind that this is just the start. They are already working on contact lenses that have video displays in the lens. In 50 years the technology will be light years along. Instead of having a earpiece for sound you will have implants. So while non-enhance humans are sleeping you could be learning new things. And Google could improve your mental health by assuring you that you have nothing to worry about from technology and your retirement is perfectly safe in a 401k plan invested in their company. In 50 years the non-enhanced will be at a distinct disadvantage. This woman is a visionary not a clueless Glasshole.

February 25, 2014

Apple joins outcry over AZ anti-gay bill

As a user of several Apple products, I say thank you, Tim Cook, for your company's stance.

February 13, 2014

Most D.C. mayoral hopefuls favor liquor-licensing reform

Mark Lee's business column in the Blade this week discusses mayoral candidates' responses to GLAA's question on liquor license reform. Here's a portion:

The question, one of 12, is as follows: “Will you support strengthening Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reforms by eliminating license protests filed by citizens associations and ad hoc groups, requiring stakeholders to participate in the community process provided by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission?”

Best Answer: Mayor Vincent Gray. He’s a “YES” and demonstrates his keen understanding of the need for reform while clearly enunciating why: “Frivolous licensing protests filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) stand in the way of businesses operating free of special operating protocols. Protests by ad hoc groups…should not interfere with the issuance of ABC licenses to businesses.”

Great Answer: D.C. Council member Jack Evans. He’s a “YES” and provides a rationale: “I have heard from both residents and businesses that the ABC Board takes too long to make decisions. I think this needs to be a more decisive process…Dragging out some of these cases months and months really can be very unfair to everyone and unnecessarily divisive.”

February 09, 2014

Such an offer!

My inbox, like yours no doubt, is inundated by information and sales pitches. One of the nonstop updates from the Democratic National Committee is titled, "You haven't signed the petition, Richard." (If I'd known they were monitoring me so closely, I'd have dressed better.) An email from Amazon Local offers tickets to the Shakespeare Theatre Company production of "Henry IV Part Two," a visit to the Winery at Bull Run, and laser toenail fungus removal treatment. The Bard would make a moldy pun.

February 05, 2014

Howling at the moon: Dupont group decries noise

Noise_insert_by_Bigstock

Mark Lee at the Blade takes on the latest silliness from the NIMBYs of Dupont.

January 30, 2014

Cheerios offers sequel to its interracial family ad

Simple and flawless.

Enforcing an executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors

Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality expresses the perplexity shared by many LGBT advocates as to why President Obama has refused to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination against employees of federal contractors, as he promised during the 2008 campaign.

But as our friend Kurt Vorndran, legislative representative for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), points out, such an order would not be enforceable in practical terms unless the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) gets sufficient staffing and budget to enforce compliance. OFCCP was created by President Johnson through executive order in 1965, and expanded under Nixon. It was decimated (not eliminated) by Reagan. In other words, Reagan kept the window dressing. Right now, according to the DOL website, OFCCP has 800 staff. That is for all their EEO and affirmative action programs related to federal contracts nationwide. Firms they go after love to drag proceedings out as long as possible and then demand dismissal because the action is not timely.

House Speaker John Boehner says we have enough regulations already, but that is a mere slogan to conceal the GOP's long and relentless efforts to cripple the government's ability to regulate everything from food and medicine safety to employment discrimination. Then they decry government ineffectiveness. That is a most cynical game. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly in federal agencies to repair and restore the government's regulatory apparatus. But there is a limit to what you can do without the resources being budgeted for it.

So we need more than an executive order. We need the staffing and budget to enforce it. The devil is in the details.

Update: Kurt Vorndran adds:

In the last year of the Clinton Administration, OFCCP had an FTE level of 786. The G.W. Bush Administration decimated the office to a level of 585. By FY2011, the Obama Administration was able to restore the office to the approximate level before Bush (755 FTEs). While the office is now back to the level of staffing from 13 years ago, it has a tremendous backlog. Director Shiu has tried to make the office more efficient, but given an increase in workload since 2001, she has a tough job.

Enforcing a sexual orientation E.O. is also going to take resources as most of OFCCP's effectiveness and work comes not from individual complaint examinations but by compliance reviews. They are going to have to develop some innovative ways to do lgbt compliance reviews.

January 26, 2014

Gay libertarians defend discrimination as freedom of expression

Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times reports that some illustrious gay and pro-gay libertarians have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in defense of the right of anti-gay photographers, florists, and bakers to refuse their services to same-sex couples:

Those filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the ADF’s position [defending the anti-gay business owners] include some high-profile supporters of gay marriage, including Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute legal counsel; Eugene Volokh, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law professor; and Dale Carpenter, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

No. We are talking about licensed businesses. What our libertarian friends are effectively defending, as with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is the right of businesses to refuse their services to anyone of whom they disapprove (including based on religious beliefs). By their logic, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have applied only to discrimination by the government -- while restaurants, shops, hotels and other places of public accommodation would have been able to continue refusing service to African Americans. No way. But do not call the libertarians sellouts: they are being true to their principles. I just think they are wrong. At some point we must check our principles against reality.

A further point: Personally, I would not want to hire someone for my wedding who disapproved of us. But that should be our choice. It should not be the right of a licensed business owner to discriminate without penalty.

Get real, Coca Cola

This update on a classic Coke commercial by Queer Nation NY is a powerful indictment of its sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics. I'm surprised that Coca Cola's lawyers haven't yet squashed it. Bravo to the folks who put this together.

Below is the trailer for Queer Nation NY's short film, The Road to Sochi. As you watch it, remember that there are people who are more offended by this kind of film than by the world's participation in Putin's Olympics. I mean, we cannot abide rudeness! Back in the 1960s, many Americans were outraged by singer Eartha Kitt's use of an appearance at the White House to protest the murderous, colonialist, and futile Vietnam War in front of President Johnson. She was blackballed for it. At this very moment, all around us are people who consider it obvious that following protocol trumps impolitic truth-telling. Otherwise, advocates for social justice would not have to work so hard. It's not that people cannot hear. They don't want to listen. That makes them much worse than sheep.