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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

LGBT Rights

There is currently no federal law protecting individuals from job discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation. This means that at any time, someone can be discriminated against, fired or not hired simply because he/she is or is perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

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'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy to Change by 2011

February 3, 2010 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, announced yesterday the creation of a working group within the Department of Defense that will evaluate how to implement a full repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the law that requires LGBT servicemen and women to keep their sexual orientation a secret or face discharge.

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Report Finds Record Support for Pro-LGBT Legislation in 2009

January 28, 2010 - Posted by Beth Sadler

A report released this week by The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) found that there were as many pro-LGBT bills passed nationwide in 2009 as there were in 2007 and 2008 combined. 

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Amanda Simpson: First Ever Transgender Presidential Appointee

January 4, 2010 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Amanda Simpson

President Obama recently appointed Amanda Simpson, a transgender woman, to be the senior technical adviser to the Department of Commerce.

Simpson the first ever transgender presidential appointee – will serve in the department's Bureau of Industry and Security. The federal agency enforces sanctions and embargoes on various goods and regulates the export of sensitive technologies, such as software and machinery. Since 9/11, the bureau has made restricting the export of technologies that could be potentially used to create weapons of mass destruction a top priority.

With 30 years of experience working in the aerospace and defense industries, most recently serving as deputy director in advanced technology development at Raytheon Missile Systems, Simpson is exceptionally qualified for the position. 

A dedicated civil rights activist, Simpson played a major role in getting Raytheon to include gender identity as part of its equal employment opportunity policy in 2005.  She sits on the board of two national organizations, Out & Equal and the National Center for Transgender Equality, a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people and a member of The Leadership Conference.

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Assistant Attorney General Perez Testifies on the Need for ENDA

November 11, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Enacting legislation that would prevent employers from discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a top priority for the Obama administration, according to Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We cannot in good conscience stand by and watch unjustifiable discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals occur in the workplace without redress," Perez told members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions at a hearing last week on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). "We have come too far in our struggle for 'equal justice under the law' to remain silent or stoic."

As head of the Civil Rights Division, Perez oversees the enforcement of federal laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender, disability, religion, and national origin, including the Voting Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act. 

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HUD Combats LGBT Housing Discrimination

October 27, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently proposed new regulations to ensure that its housing programs are open to all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The regulations clarify that the term "family" as HUD uses it includes LGBT individuals and couples and requires HUD grantees and participants in HUD programs to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The regulations specify that any mortgage loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration must be based only on credit-worthiness and not on unrelated identity factors.

The department also plans to authorize the first national study of discrimination of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing.  Although there have been no national studies of housing discrimination against LGBT people, state and local studies show significant evidence of discrimination.

"The evidence is clear that some are denied the opportunity to make housing choices in our nation based on who they are and that must end. President Obama and I are determined that a qualified individual and family will not be denied housing choice based on sexual orientation or gender identity," HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said.

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Equality March Continues the Work of the Gay Rights Movement

October 14, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference


Photo Credit: Nicole Sweeney

Tens of thousands converged on Washington, D.C., this past Sunday in a demonstration of support for the LGBT community.  The march, organized by Equality Across America called for "equal protection in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states." 

Cleve Jones, a gay civil rights icon and one of the march's organizers, firmly told the crowd, "We're not settling. There's no such thing as a fraction of equality."

The Equality March took place 30 years after the first National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 14, 1979.  It was the first of several national marches that transformed the gay liberation movement into a unified national movement.

Categories: LGBT Rights

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Today in Civil Rights History: The AIDS Memorial Quilt Is Displayed for the First Time

October 9, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The AIDS quilt laid out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The AIDS quilt laid out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. 

The quilt has gone on many tours since, with panels being added at each stop and a reading of names traditionally following each display. It currently includes more than 44,000 panels, including panels from every state and dozens of countries. To date, it has been visited by over 14 million people and has helped the NAMES Project Foundation raise more than $3 million for AIDS services.

The quilt, while impressive for its size and scope as the largest community art project in the world, is perhaps most significant for other reasons. It is full of emotionally powerful and often uplifting responses to a tragic pandemic. It offers an opportunity for those who have lost loved ones to AIDS to commemorate their lives in a unique way. 

As important as the quilt is for the gay community and those impacted directly by the disease, it also sends an important message to the world. It represents the scale and impact of the AIDS pandemic to others through both its large size and deeply personal patchwork pieces.

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House Hearing Highlights Urgent Need to Pass ENDA

September 24, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

Witnesses at yesterday's House Education and Labor Committee hearing on the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) reaffirmed the need for the passage of this important civil rights legislation.

ENDA would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The bill is modeled after existing laws that protect workers from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability.

The committee heard from a wide array of witnesses, including Vandy Beth Glenn whose testimony highlighted the devastating consequences of discrimination.  Glenn was a dedicated employee of the Georgia State Assembly, but when her employer found out that she was completing a gender transition, she was promptly dismissed.

"My editorial skills had not changed. My work ethic had not changed – I was still ready and willing to burn the midnight oil with my colleagues, making sure that every bill was letter-perfect. My commitment to the General Assembly, to its leaders...The only thing that changed was my gender – and because of that, the legislature I'd worked so hard for no longer had any use for my skills," Glenn said.

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Senate Introduces ENDA

August 5, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Today, the Senate introduced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in all states across the country. ENDA would extend the same federal employment discrimination protections currently given to race, religion, gender, national origin, age, and disability.

"The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights strongly supports ENDA.  We believe that civil rights should be measured by a single yardstick, which means that workers should be hired or fired based on performance and qualifications, not on immutable characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.  For too many Americans, this principle has little meaning, and this long overdue legislation will finally close a major gap in our nation's civil rights laws," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR).

The House of Representatives introduced its version of the bill in June.

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Putting an End to Anti-Gay Bullying

July 6, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The suicides of 11-year-olds Jaheem Herrera and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover in April have refocused many people's attention on the problem of anti-gay bullying. Both boys committed suicide after enduring anti-gay bullying at school.

Two-thirds of students report being bullied, according to Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) data from 2005, yet some groups of students are disproportionately targeted for harassment. Nearly 90 percent of LGBT students polled in a GLSEN study reported being verbally harassed in school, while less than a fifth reported that teachers intervened on the student's behalf upon overhearing derogatory remarks. 

Largely as a result of verbal and physical harassment, LGBT students attempt suicide at more than four times the rate of the general student population. Both Herrera and Hoover reported being called gay and tormented by their peers, though Hoover did not identify as gay.

GLSEN is one of many national organizations that work to provide schools with work resources they need to prevent and fight bullying.  GLSEN has found that schools that have implemented anti-bullying policies have experienced substantial reductions in bullying.

The Safe Schools Improvement Act, which was introduced in Congress on May 5, will require schools that receive federal funding under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act to implement anti-bullying policies specifically aimed at protecting against bullying based on race, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors.

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