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.
October 9, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
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.
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.
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).
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.
Today in Civil Rights History: Lawrence vs. Texas Vindicates Due Process Rights of Gays and Lesbians
June 26, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Today marks the sixth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, in which the Court held that the Constitution protects the fundamental right of consenting adults to make decisions about their private, consensual sexual activity without interference from the government, and invalidated a Texas law criminalizing private, adult, consensual sodomy.
Writing for the majority of the Court, in an opinion joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter, and Stevens, Justice Kennedy explained that the state cannot demean the existence of gay people or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.
The decision overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, which had permitted laws criminalizing same-sex conduct. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said: "Bowers was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today. It ought not to remain binding precedent. Bowers v. Hardwick should be and now is overruled."
"This is an historic day for fair-minded Americans everywhere," said Elizabeth Birch, then-executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, at the time the decision was handed down. "We are elated and gratified that the Supreme Court, in its wisdom, has seen discriminatory state sodomy laws for what they are - divisive, mean-spirited laws that were designed to single out and marginalize an entire group of Americans for unequal treatment."
June 24, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of LCCR, speaking in support of ENDA at the bill's introduction on Capitol Hill on June 24, 2009.
Also pictured (l to r): Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D. Wis., and Rep. Jared Polis, D. Colo.
Although employment laws intended to protect people from workplace discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity are on the books in local communities and states around the country, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation reports that more than 3 in 5 U.S. citizens live in areas that do not have these laws.
Only 12 states and the District of Columbia have banned employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Eight states have outlawed employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Many businesses are finding that it is becoming more and more important to have policies prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in order to remain competitive. The HRC Foundation found that 85 percent of Fortune 500 businesses now have non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, up from 51 percent in 2000. Thirty-five percent of Fortune 500 businesses have non-discrimination policies that include gender identity or expression. In 2000, only three Fortune 500 companies had this policy.
Today, the House of Representatives re-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.
"We look forward to the swift passage of this legislation and seeing President Barack Obama sign it into law so that our nation can continue the progress it began in civil rights 50 years ago," said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
June 22, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Stonewall Inn in 1969.
Credit: Diana Davies
This Sunday, June 28, will mark the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the event largely regarded as a catalyst for the LGBT movement for civil rights in the United States. The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.
At the time, there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.
June 4, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Julian Bond, NAACP chairman, testified yesterday in support of the Uniting American Families Act before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would give gay and lesbian U.S. citizens and permanent residents the right to sponsor their foreign-born permanent partners for legal residency in the U.S. The act does not provide any other benefits and all other immigration requirements must be met.
"It is because the NAACP supports the civil rights protections of all people, and is opposed to discrimination based on any criteria, that we support inclusion of the principles inherent in Uniting American Families Act in any comprehensive immigration reform," said Bond.
May 27, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the State Department will guarantee equal benefits and protections to same-sex partners of American foreign service workers.
Many benefits provided to married couples have been long denied to same-sex partners, such as life insurance, health insurance, diplomatic passports, transportation expenses to overseas posts, and emergency evacuation of high danger posts.
Gay and lesbian diplomats and heterosexual diplomats have called upon the State Department to provide these benefits for several years. In February, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affair Agencies (GLIFAA) sent Clinton a letter signed by 2,200 foreign service workers, calling for equal benefits for same-sex partners.
The State Department has not said when the new policy will take effect.
April 16, 2009 - Posted by The Leadership Conference
Tomorrow is the National Day of Silence, the largest student-run action to end bullying and create safer schools for all, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Participants across the country take a vow of silence and only speak when necessary during the day to raise awareness about the problem of anti-LGBT bullying.
The first Day of Silence was organized in 1996 by students at the University of Virginia. A year later, nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. Last year, more than 8,000 middle schools, high schools, and universities participated nationwide.
This year students are choosing different ways to spread the word about the Day of Silence. Some are using Twitter to encourage people to participate. Others are wearing face masks with an "X" over the mouth to represent their silence or t-shirts with messages like, "Gay? Fine by me."
According to the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center, almost 30 percent of youth in the U.S. are involved in bullying, either as a bully, a target of bullying, or both.
In recent years, numerous incidents of children committing suicide because of being bullied have made the news. On April 6, an 11-year-old boy named Carl Walker-Hoover hanged himself after enduring daily taunts of being gay and tormented by his peers. Hoover, who did not identify as gay, would have turned 12 today.
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