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Trans rights bill, ‘ex-gay’ therapy ban top Md. legislative agenda

Heather Mizeur, Delman Coates, Montgomery County, Silver Spring, Maryland, Maryland House of Delegates, Democratic Party, gay news, Washington Blade

Del. Heather Mizeur is seeking to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Efforts to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression and so-called “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors are top priorities for Maryland LGBT rights advocates during the 2014 legislative session that begins on Wednesday.

State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will introduce the transgender rights bill in the state Senate. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the measure in the House of Delegates, even though the chamber passed a trans rights bill in 2011.

“We didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work with our House members,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote struck down a bill Madaleno and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced that would have banned anti-trans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. State Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted against the measure.

Both Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) back the bill.

“I am very hopeful, given the way the culture has changed in a progressive direction in Maryland and given the support we now have from the Senate and House leadership, we will get the six votes in the Judicial Proceedings Committee to move the bill,” said Dana Beyer, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland.

Evans told the Blade the gubernatorial campaign will only improve the measure’s chances of passing during this legislative session.

Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, whom Equality Maryland endorsed last month, told the Blade in a statement he is “fully committed” to passing the trans rights bill this year.

Evans said both Brown and his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, have pledged to testify in support of the measure in Annapolis.

“They will use the connections they have in the General Assembly to help us secure the votes we need,” said Evans. “Having Anthony Brown come and testify and talk about it is going to be instrumental in the legislature.”

Bob Wheelock, spokesperson for Attorney General Doug Gansler’s campaign, noted Gansler told Equality Maryland he backs the trans rights bill and would “definitely” sign it if lawmakers approve it. Gansler’s running mate, state Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s County), co-sponsored the measure in the House of Delegates in 2011.

State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) also co-sponsored the 2011 bill.

“No one should face discrimination on the basis of gender identity — equality in Maryland shouldn’t have to wait this long,” she told the Blade. “I will be a vocal advocate for these important protections to ensure that all Marylanders are treated the same way in their jobs, housing and public accommodations.”

Measure seeks to ban ‘ex-gay’ therapy to minors

State Del. Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore County) has introduced a bill that would ban “ex-gay” conversion therapy to minors in Maryland.

The original version of House Bill 91 only includes sexual orientation, but Cardin’s legislative director Josh Greenfield told the Blade on Tuesday it will be amended to include gender identity and expression. Madaleno is also expected to introduce the measure in the Senate.

“There are numerous gay conversion therapy providers as well as organizations like the infamous International Healing Foundation located right here in Maryland advocating for what I consider very harmful conversion therapies,” said Cardin, noting Prince George’s County Public Schools last year stopped using an anti-bullying curriculum that included references to the Bowie-based organization and other “ex-gay” groups. “To me it is incredibly repulsive.”

Evans told the Blade that Equality Maryland is working with Cardin, who is running to succeed Gansler as attorney general, to “explore some non-legislative options to reach the same goals.” These include working with state boards that govern therapeutic practices in Maryland to change administrative policies.

“If we can do this without legislation, I am all about it,” said Cardin. “I am not interested in the glory. I’m interested in solving problems.”

International Healing Foundation Director Christopher Doyle criticized Cardin and others who seek to ban conversion therapy to minors in Maryland.

“This is not being fueled by mental health advocates,” Doyle told the Blade on Tuesday. “This is being done by political organizations that are more interested in promoting a political ideology as opposed to clients’ rights.”

Maryland lawmakers are also expected to debate the decriminalization of marijuana and the potential legalization of the drug during this session.

Equality Maryland is a member of a coalition of groups that seek to reform the state’s marijuana policy.

Mizeur in November announced she supports the legalization of marijuana as a way to fund early childhood education. Miller earlier this week adopted an identical position.

“Our prohibition laws have been a failure,” Mizeur told Bruce DePuyt of News Channel 8 during a Jan. 6 interview. “Maryland’s marijuana laws have ruined people’s lives.”

08
Jan
2014

Virginia House subcommittee to consider marriage ban repeal bill

Ken Cucinelli, gay news, Washington Blade

Then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Jan. 10 reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage in a non-binding opinion. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Washington Blade has learned a Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Jan. 20 is scheduled to consider a bill that would repeal the commonwealth’s statutory same-sex marriage ban.

The House Civil Law Subcommittee is expected to take up the measure — House Bill 939 — that state Del. Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax County) introduced last week.

“This is the first time the House of Delegates will get to actually address Virginia’s statutory ban on same-sex marriage in the Code of Virginia in at least the last five years as opposed to the Constitution of Virginia,” Surovell told the Blade on Tuesday. “While marriage rights face an uphill battle in the heavily Republican Virginia House of Delegates, I am encouraged to learn that it will at least hold a hearing on the bill.”

The House Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee last year killed Surovell’s proposed resolution that sought to repeal a 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

State Del. Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), chair of the House Privileges and Elections Committee, on Jan. 9 announced it will not consider any so-called first reference constitutional amendments during the 2014 legislative session. These include proposed resolutions that sought to repeal the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

State Del. Rob Krupicka (D-Alexandria) last week introduced a proposed resolution that sought to amend the state constitution to allow same-sex marriage in Virginia. The proposal would have also allowed the commonwealth to recognize gay nuptials legally performed in Maryland, D.C. and other jurisdictions.

Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk on Jan. 30 is scheduled to hold a hearing in a federal lawsuit that challenges the commonwealth’s same-sex marriage ban. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Virginia in August filed a class action federal lawsuit on behalf of two lesbian couples from the Shenandoah Valley who lack marriage rights in the state.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring all support nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wrote in a non-binding opinion he sent to state Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William County) on Jan. 10 — one day before the former GOP gubernatorial candidate left office — that a governor “may not direct or require any state government agency to allow same-sex couples to receive joint marital status for state income tax returns.” The Prince William County Republican has introduced a bill that seeks to codify the policy then-Gov. Bob McDonnell announced in November that requires married same-sex couples to file their state income tax returns as single individuals because the commonwealth does not recognize their unions.

It remains unclear whether McAuliffe and Herring will defend Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban.

15
Jan
2014

Uganda president to reportedly reject ‘fascist’ anti-gay bill

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

The RFK Center on Saturday said Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will ‘reject’ the controversial Anti-Homosexuality Bill. (Photo by the U.K. Department for International Development; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday reportedly said he will reject a “fascist” bill his country’s Parliament approved last month that would impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights said in a press release that Museveni made the comments during a meeting with RFK Center President Kerry Kennedy and two of her organization’s staffers — Santiago A. Canton and Wade McMullen — in Entebbe, Uganda. The group said Archbishop Desmond Tutu also took part in the meeting via telephone.

McMullen told the Washington Blade the meeting was “never contentious” even though participants “often disagreed with the president’s position and assessment of the issues.”

“He was willing to listen carefully to all our points, and was very candid in his answers,” said McMullen.

McMullen added Tutu’s participation was “very impactful.”

“I welcome President Museveni’s decision to reject this hateful bill,” said Tutu in the RFK Center press release. “It is time for our African brothers and sisters to move past the antiquated notion that someone could be a criminal for who they love.”

The RFK Center’s press release noted Museveni “promised” the organization during a meeting last March that he would not sign “any bill that discriminates against any individual.” The organization said Museveni also pledged to introduce a new measure “aimed at protecting minors from being coerced into sexual activity.”

“I am pleased that President Museveni has upheld his promise to reject any piece of discriminatory legislation,” said Kennedy. “While we are concerned with plans to move forward with a new bill, we urge the president to ensure it will not discriminate against LGBTI people nor imperil the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the country.”

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT advocacy group, said on Saturday he welcomes Museveni’s comments.

“We have a clear position that the president [won’t] sign the bill in its current format,” Mugisha told the Blade. “He is willing to dialogue.”

The meeting took place a day after a Ugandan newspaper reported Museveni has blocked the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill because Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga allowed a vote on the measure without the required number of lawmakers needed for quorum. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would also criminalize the promotion of homosexuality originally contained a provision that would have imposed the death penalty on anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

“A homosexual is somebody who is abnormal because the normal person was created to be attracted to the opposite sex in order to procreate and perpetuate the human race,” said Museveni in a Dec. 28 letter to Kadaga of which the Blade obtained a copy.

The Obama administration, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Havi Pillay and Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are among those who criticized the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Dec. 20. Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, announced after Ugandan lawmakers approved the measure that his company would not do business in the country.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in March 2012 filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda that accuses the evangelical Christian of exploiting anti-gay attitudes in the East African country and encouraging lawmakers to approve the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. U.S. District Judge Michael A. Posner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts last August ruled the group’s lawsuit can move forward.

The meeting between Museveni, RFK Center staffers and Tutu also took place a day after the Blade reported U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and four other lawmakers — U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.) and Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) — will travel to Uganda next week.

A source who is familiar with the trip said the delegation is scheduled to meet with Museveni on Jan. 23 while they are in the East African country. The source told the Blade the lawmakers have thus far rejected Ugandan LGBT rights advocates’ requests to meet with them while they are in Uganda.

Inhofe’s spokesperson, Donelle Harder, on Friday denied reports the delegation will meet with Museveni while in the country.

18
Jan
2014

Coke defends arrest of gay Russian human rights advocate

Coke added it had no problem with Olympic security wearing the Coke logo while detaining human rights advocates.

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23
Jan
2014

GLSEN warns of ‘school to prison pipeline’ for youth

Eliza Byard, GLSEN, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Ending discriminatory practices in school discipline is one of the most critical civil rights issues facing K-12 education today,’ said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, a national group that advocates for LGBT youth in the nation’s schools, says LGBT students and youth of color have long been disproportionately impacted by overly harsh school disciplinary practices.

In a statement released earlier this month, GLSEN praised a new Obama administration initiative to discourage elementary and secondary schools from administering student discipline based on race or other discriminatory grounds.

But the GLSEN statement notes that the initiative issued jointly by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice doesn’t specifically reference LGBT youth, raising concern that overly harsh disciplinary practices will continue to funnel LGBT students into what education experts call a “school to prison pipeline.”

This so-called “pipeline,” education reform advocates say, refers to students who land in the criminal justice system, including prison, after being repeatedly suspended or expelled from school. Reform advocates, including GLSEN, have argued that alternative disciplinary approaches should be employed to ensure school safety without overly relying on suspension and expulsion as punishment.

GLSEN has pointed to numerous cases where LGBT students are suspended or expelled for “fighting back” after being targeted for bullying and violent attacks by other students.

“Ending discriminatory practices in school discipline is one of the most critical civil rights issues facing K-12 education today,” GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said in the group’s statement.

“GLSEN commends the Departments of Education and Justice for these long-overdue guidelines that will help to erode decades of policies that have robbed countless youth of a chance to get an education and forced many of them out of school and into the criminal justice system,” she said.

She added, “While the omission of the specific challenges facing LGBT youth is disappointing, we are pleased that the guidelines focus on prevention and intervention strategies by supporting developmentally appropriate and proportional responses to school discipline that encourage and reinforce positive school climate…We encourage the Departments to examine the extent and effects of discipline disparities among LGBT youth and to provide leadership and guidance to ensure that school discipline practices do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

An example of what LGBT activists called biased school treatment of LGBT youth took place in November when a female transgender student at Hercules High School in Contra Costa County, Calif., was arrested and charged with battery for fighting with three other straight female students.

The transgender student said a fight broke out between her and her classmates, which was captured on video, after she defended herself from repeated taunts and harassment from the three girls. Activists noted that all four students were suspended from the school for fighting but the transgender student, Jewlyes Gutierrez, 16, was the only one arrested and charged in the incident.

The school and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office have declined to disclose the reason that Gutierrez was prosecuted in the case while the others were not, saying the matter is pending in juvenile court and they are prohibited form discussing cases involving a minor.

GLSEN has said studies have shown that LGBT youth disproportionately experience bullying and harassment in schools. The group cites a 2010 study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, showing that LGBT youth experience a significantly higher level of disciplinary action in schools along with youth of color than do heterosexual youth and whites.

In response to a call from the Blade, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said she would make inquiries on why the joint DOE-DOJ school guidance document didn’t include specific reference to LGBT youth, but did not immediately respond.

In a Jan. 8 press release announcing the guidance document, DOE and DOJ said the school discipline guidance initiative was aimed at helping states, school districts, and schools develop “practices and strategies to enhance school climate and ensure those policies and practices comply with federal law.”

The press release noted that federal law currently prohibits schools from engaging in discrimination based on race and disability.

President Obama and most heads of federal departments and agencies in the Obama administration have said that although Congress has yet to pass federal legislation to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, federal agencies would do what they could to put in place policies to protect LGBT people from discrimination.

29
Jan
2014

How an Irish drag queen inspired the world (video)

Panti Bliss (aka Rory O'Neill) on the day Irish homophobes tried to ban the word "homophobe."

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06
Feb
2014

SPECIAL REPORT: Poverty in the LGBT community

Kadeem Swenson, poverty, LGBT, gay news, Washington Blade

Kadeem Swenson told the Blade in 2010 that his parents kicked him out of the house for being gay. He spent a year living in abandoned buildings in D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Editor’s note: This week, the Blade kicks off a special yearlong focus on poverty in the LGBT community. The occasional series will examine the problem with special reports from D.C. and around the country. To share your ideas or personal story, visit us on Facebook or email knaff@washblade.com.

 

As the 50th anniversary of the U.S. war on poverty launched by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 is commemorated this year, LGBT advocates are pointing to little noticed studies showing that the rate of poverty in the LGBT community is higher than that of the general population.

In a 2013 report analyzing data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other data measuring poverty in the United States, the Williams Institute, a research arm at the University of California Law School in Los Angeles that specializes in LGBT issues, concludes that rates of poverty are higher than the general population among gay men and lesbians between the ages of 18-44 and gay men and lesbians living alone.

The report shows that couples – both gay and straight – tend to have a lower rate of poverty than single people and the population as a whole. But it found that the poverty rate for lesbian couples is higher than that of gay male couples and opposite-sex couples and the poverty rate of same-sex African-American couples is higher than it is for opposite-sex African-American couples.

Among the report’s findings that surprised LGBT activists were data showing that bisexual men and women had poverty rates of 25.9 percent and 29.4 percent respectively – higher than gay men (20.5 percent) and lesbians (22.7 percent). The report says the same set of data show that heterosexual men had a poverty rate of 15.3 percent compared to a rate of 21.1 percent for heterosexual women.

“The LGB poverty data help to debunk the persistent stereotype of the affluent gay man or lesbian,” the Williams Institute report says.

“Instead, the poverty data are consistent with the view that LGB people continue to face economic challenges that affect their income and life chances, such as susceptibility to employment discrimination, higher rates of being uninsured, and a lack of access to various tax and other financial benefits via exclusion from the right to marry,” the report says.

The report uses the U.S. Census Bureau definition of poverty for 2012 in its analysis of LGBT poverty levels based on family income. That definition lists the “poverty line” for a single person household as an annual income of $11,815 or less. The poverty line for a two-person household was $15,079, and for a four-person household was $23,684 in 2012.

 

poverty, gay news, Washington Blade

Researchers with the Williams Institute say this graph summarizes their findings of higher poverty rates among samples of mostly LGB and some LGBT people in the U.S. The bar graph on the left represents data taken from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). The chart in the center is taken from data from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The chart at right is from a 2012 phone survey conducted by the Gallup Poll organization. (Graph courtesy of the Williams Institute)

Trans poverty ‘extraordinarily high’

 

A separate study prepared jointly by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2011, called “Injustice at Every Turn,” shows dramatically higher rates of poverty and homelessness among transgender Americans in each state, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Kylar Broadus, senior policy counsel and director of the Trans Civil Rights Project for The Task Force, called the poverty rate in the transgender community “extraordinarily high.” He said a key factor leading to economic hardship among transgender people is the persistent problem of employment discrimination.

“There’s double the national rate of unemployment,” he said in discussing the trans community of which he said he’s a member. “And once we’re employed 90 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment and discrimination on the job,” he noted in pointing to the NCTE-Task Force study.

“Forty-seven percent said they experienced adverse outcomes such as being fired, not hired or denied promotions because of being transgender or gender non-conforming,” Broadus said.

He said the respondents reported various forms of housing discrimination that are contributing factors to homelessness in the transgender community. According to the study, 19 percent of respondents reported having been refused a home or an apartment to rent and 11 percent reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression.

“Nineteen percent experienced homelessness at some point in their lives because they were transgender or didn’t conform as well, and then 55 percent were denied access to shelters,” he said.

Another study released by the Williams Institute last week reports that 2.4 million LGBT adults, or 29 percent, “experienced a time in the last year when they did not have enough money to feed themselves or their family.”

The study, written by Williams Institute demographer Gary Gates, found that LGBT people are more likely to rely on the federal food stamp program for assistance than their heterosexual counterparts.

“One in four bisexuals (25 percent) receive food stamps,” the report says, “34 percent of LGBT women were food insecure in the last year; and LGBT African Americans, Native Americans, and Native Hawaiians experienced food insecurity in the last year at rates of 37 percent, 55 percent, and 78 percent respectively,” the report says.

 

LGBT homeless rate high in San Fran

 

Yet another report released last June found that 29 percent of the homeless population in San Francisco identified as LGBT. The report, which was part of the city’s biennial homeless count, included for the first time a count of the number of homeless people who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brian Bassinger, director of the San Francisco-based AIDS Housing Alliance, which provides services to the HIV and LGBT communities, said although the finding to some degree reflects the high LGBT population in San Francisco, which is 15 percent, he believes LGBT people make up a sizable percent of the homeless population in other cities throughout the country.

Bassinger said he also believes the 29 percent figure for San Francisco is most likely an under count and that the actual number is higher.

“LGBT people in the shelter system here are regularly targeted for violence, harassment and hate crimes, which are very well documented,” he said.

Since much of the effort to count homeless people in the city takes place at shelters, large numbers of LGBT homeless people are not counted because they generally avoid the shelters out of fear of harassment and violence, Bassinger said.

He said his group also closely monitors a development in San Francisco threatening to push the city’s older LGBT population into poverty and which may be occurring in other cities – the enormous rise in the cost of housing due to gentrification and a booming real estate market. Those who for years have lived in popular gay neighborhoods as tenants are being displaced by the conversion of rental apartment buildings and houses into upscale condominiums, Bassinger said.

“Long-term San Franciscans who have spent decades building the system to deliver access to equal treatment under the law here in San Francisco are getting displaced by all of these people moving into our community,” he said.

And because they can no longer afford to live in San Francisco many are being forced to move to other parts of the state or other states that are less LGBT friendly and don’t have the support community they came to enjoy for so many years, according to Bassinger.

The Williams Institute’s 2013 report, meanwhile, analyzes data from four surveys of the U.S. population with a demographic breakdown that included mostly gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals as well as a smaller, combined “LGBT” sample.

The four surveys were conducted by these organizations or government agencies:

• The 2010 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau with a sample of more than 500,000 and which included data from same-sex couple households.

• The National Survey of Family Growth conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics from 2006-2010 included a sample of more than 19,000 people throughout the country, including people who identified as LGB, the Williams Institute study says.

• The California Health Interview Survey conducted by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research in collaboration with California Department of Public Health surveyed more than 50,000 Californians, including LGB adults from 2007 to 2009.

• A Gallup Daily Tracking Poll conducted between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012 with a sample of more than 120,000 adults from 18 and older, included people who identified themselves as LGBT in all 50 states and D.C. The poll was conducted by phone.

The report includes these additional findings on the subject of poverty in the LGBT community:

• African-American same-sex couples have poverty rates more than twice the rate of different-sex married African Americans.

• One-third of lesbian couples and 20.1 percent of gay male couples who don’t have a high school diploma are in poverty, compared to 18.8 percent of heterosexual couples.

• Lesbian couples living in rural areas are more likely to be poor (14.1 percent) compared to 4.5 percent of lesbian couples in large cities; 10.2 percent of gay male couples who live in small metropolitan areas are poor compared with just 3.3 percent of gay male couples who live in large metropolitan areas.

• Nearly one in four children living with a male same-sex couple and 19.2 percent of children living with a female same-sex couple is in poverty. This compares with 12.1 percent of children living with married heterosexual couples who are in poverty.

• African-American children in gay male households have the highest poverty rate (52.3 percent) of any children in any household type.

• 14 percent of lesbian couples and 7.7 percent of gay male couples received food stamps, compared to 6.5 percent of straight married couples. In addition, 2.2 percent of same-sex female couples received government cash assistance compared to 0.8 percent of women in different-sex couples. And 1.2 percent of men in same-sex couples received cash assistance compared to 0.6 percent of men in different-sex couple relationships who received cash assistance.

The report’s co-author Lee Badgett, a Williams Institute senior fellow and professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said it’s difficult to draw a conclusion from the Williams Institute and other studies as to why there are higher poverty levels in the LGBT community.

“The people that I know who worked with LGBT people in poverty talk about the reasons being very complex,” she said.

“I suspect that there are lots of disadvantages that people face, whether it’s in the labor market or in schools and that maybe somehow they kind of come together, that they are sort of cumulative over time and make people more vulnerable to poverty. But I think we don’t really know exactly why that happens,” Badgett told the Blade.

In the Williams Institute report, she and co-authors Laura Durso and Alyssa Schneebaum call for further studies to explore the factors that contribute both to “poverty and economic resilience” within the LGBT community.

“Our analyses highlight different demographic subpopulations that may be particularly at-risk; however, we are unable to take a more fine-grained approach to identifying factors that contribute to poverty in these different communities,” the report says.

“Identifying the conditions under which individuals and families descend into and escape from poverty will aid service organizations and government agencies in designing interventions to address this significant social problem,” the report concludes.

Broadus of the Task Force said discrimination and bias make up at least some of the conditions that force LGBT people into poverty.

“We are less economically secure as a community due to suffering at the hands of discrimination in employment, marriage, insurance and less familial and societal support,” he said. “The LGBT community as a whole lives at the margins and some at the margins of the margins such as women, people of color and children. When some of our community is vulnerable we are all vulnerable.”

12
Feb
2014

Triple whammy fun

Pinstripes, dining, gay news, Washington Blade

Bowling alley at Pinstripes. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

If you’re looking for an enjoyable way to spend a snowy afternoon or even an evening with friends then look no further than Pinstripes Bowling, Bocce and Bistro (1064 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.).

This 34,000-square-foot space in the Shops at Georgetown combines an eclectic mix of bocce courts, bowling lanes and some Italian/American cuisine served up in the Bistro. This mega-establishment opened its doors to the public in January.

Pinstripes brings a thoroughly different entertainment and dining experience to Washington. The Georgetown location (sixth for the company) features 14 well appointed bowling lanes, six bocce courts, as well as employees who know how to play bocce, and an expansive dining room with a wide selection of food and wine. The menu at Pinstripes features small plates, pizzas and flatbreads, salads, sandwiches, pastas, large plates and, of course, dessert. There are also daily chef features, late night bites and a kid’s menu available.

On the blustery and snowy afternoon we visited we decided that we were going to try several items off the menu, but we were going to let the wait staff aid in the decision-making process. The wait staff seemed to be impeccably trained and they were able to make some well-informed recommendations. The prosciutto and fig flatbread was the standout for us that afternoon. It had a thin, warm smoky crust, gorgeous slices of prosciutto and a copious amount of plump sweet figs that created a memorable dish. Not as successful however, were the tenderloin sliders. Our waiter said we would be fighting over the last one; unfortunately we were not impressed by this dish and happily shared the last one.

Pinstripes, dining, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo courtesy of Pinstripes, Inc.)

While not a showstopper, we also enjoyed the chicken and goat cheese fusilli pasta with rosemary crème sauce and fresh cracked pepper. The sauce managed to cling to every piece of pasta and once stirred, the goat cheese provided the perfect amount of tang for the dish. For dessert, which is necessary if you plan on playing bocce and bowl (for the extra energy of course), we indulged in the flight of desserts. This profligate masterpiece included the divine caramelized cheesecake, an apple pear bread pudding and the decadent and dangerously rich Frangelico chocolate cake.

After dining it was time to venture over to the bocce ball court. I had never played bocce before, so it was useful to have an employee available to explain the rules and ways to play. Otherwise, my first instinct would have been to hurl the bocce ball fast pitch softball style into the crowd of people at the other end of the court. Think Queen of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland”; if she can do it, so can I. After learning the basics, it was time once again to proceed to the next activity of the evening. Bowling and drinking beer was obviously next in line.

The last time I bowled, the venue wreaked of stale beer, had sticky floors, uncomfortable plastic chairs, and I remember more than one child screaming at the top of its lungs. This was not the case at Pinstripes. The alleys had comfortable leather banquets and a clean homey feel to them, and no children were screaming. My bowling skills were not any better in these comfortable surroundings and after a couple of the Citizen Belgian Style Pale Ales (which were delicious), there was absolutely no chance I was going to be able to bowl the ball anywhere except the gutter.

After an afternoon of softball pitching, gutter ball throwing and eating, I was thoroughly surprised by how much I enjoyed Pinstripes. It definitely provides a great new way to spend an evening with friends. You can eat, drink and play without leaving the building, and if a member of your group only wants to do one of those things, that’s an option as well. So if you are looking for something to do on a Friday night, give Pinstripes a chance. Just make sure to call ahead to make a reservation for a bowling lane or bocce court.

19
Feb
2014

Fox News blasts Arizona’s “Jim Crow laws for homosexuals”

"I don't know why you would want to bring Jim Crow laws back to the forefront for homosexuals."

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25
Feb
2014

Business now greatest ally in LGBT equality pursuit

LGBT equality, corporate, cooperation, gay news, Washington Blade

Corporate leadership on LGBT equality should be embraced as an asset in broadening civil adoption and cultural acceptance.

“The Fortune 500 is the most effective lobby for gay rights.”

So declared television journalist George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic Party adviser, last Sunday on the political news program he hosts.

Stephanopoulos was referencing the widely acknowledged role that business played in Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s veto last week of state Senate Bill 1062. The legislation would have extended the legal shield granted to religious institutions against being sued for denying service to persons based on religious beliefs. Existing law would have been broadened to include “any individual, association, partnership, corporation, church, religious assembly or institution or other business organization” provided the required religious beliefs were “sincerely held” and a lawsuit or other sanction would substantially burden the exercise of them.

Public focus on developments in Arizona, and to a lesser extent similar bills being considered in other states, was widespread – as was public disdain. Business leaders, industry organizations and corporate entities are credited with prompting Brewer’s decision.

Clarion corporate antipathy, both within the state and across the country, was decisive. Business pressure for a veto, both in the public arena and behind the scenes, was pervasive and engaged businesses both small and large. Brewer prominently referenced business opposition when announcing she had halted the law. The next day White House Press Secretary Jay Carney first identified business when enumerating those who had successfully contributed to the bill’s demise.

Government has long been a lagging indicator of popular opinion and tardy in implementing policy revisions. Public sentiment on LGBT civil equality has outpaced legislative action at the federal level and in most state and local jurisdictions. Large numbers of businesses have led the way in implementing a complement of now commonplace protections in the workplace, usually much earlier and often more broadly than those guaranteed by the actions of either elected officials or government bureaucracies.

Since the landmark adoption in 1975 of sexual orientation employment protections by AT&T, fair treatment has expanded exponentially among businesses. In its Corporate Equality Index for 2014, the Human Rights Campaign reports that historic numbers of American businesses “champion LGBT equality” – including 91 percent of Fortune 500 companies providing explicit protections on the basis of sexual orientation. Growth in recent years has accelerated at unprecedented rates.

Business leaders and organizations understand that embracing modern standards of equitable treatment is essential to attracting and retaining talent and best maintaining a corporate environment encouraging success. Companies also require the ability to relocate employees absent reluctance based on the territorial legal implications for workers and families. Larger enterprise with centers of commerce spanning geographic locations and political jurisdictions have little patience for the burden of managing the administration of variable tax and benefit policies or suffering inconsistencies in workplace matters.

Disgruntlement with differing jurisdictional same-sex marriage laws, for example, will likely speed laggard federal regulatory and benefit clarifications as well as spur national uniformity. Business advocacy could prove to be a notable incentive for encouraging both a national right to marry and consistent conveyance of privileges and obligations.

Ironically, should the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act be enacted its practical significance will be largely illusory, outpaced by wholesale prior corporate implementation as standard practice. The numerous exemptions stipulated in the long-languishing legislation will leave untouched the small segment of micro-businesses and other institutions most likely to include the relative few who would desire to resist compliance if affected. In local jurisdictions with similar laws, legal claims have been nearly nonexistent – softening business concerns regarding the potential volume of frivolous or retaliatory complaints and the expense of defending against them.

Business affirmation and advancement of fair and equal treatment offers benefit of normalizing the notion and strengthening community support. Corporate leadership on LGBT equality should be embraced as an asset in broadening civil adoption and cultural acceptance. It is imperative that allies be acknowledged instead of permitting those promoting a perpetual state of alienation to prevail.

Enterprise is not the enemy.

Mark Lee is a long-time entrepreneur and community business advocate. Follow on Twitter: @MarkLeeDC. Reach him at OurBusinessMatters@gmail.com.

04
Mar
2014