Category Archives: ENDA

You’re Not Furious, And It’s Killing Us

I haven’t watched Glee in over a year, but like most people with an ear to the ground, I’d been expecting (SPOILER ALERT) one of the show’s gay characters to attempt or complete suicide this season. That finally happened this week when gay football player Dave Karofsky made a failed attempt. Fashion/Pop Culture bloggers Tom & Lorenzo (hereafter T Lo), who had praised the introduction of the gay romance last year, had some harsh words for the episode, and even harsher – and truer – words for the It Gets Better Project.

[K]ids only get so much out of “It Gets Better.” You know why? Kids, by their very natures, are not forward-looking; everything is RIGHT NOW and of the HIGHEST IMPORTANCE. We can’t think of any message from an adult more condescending to a teenager than “Shh. It’s okay. Just dream of ten years from now.” Especially since the message of “It Gets Better” pretty much accepts anti-gay bullying as an inevitability; something for the kid to just hunker down and get through. In other words: the message of “It Gets Better” whether it intends it or not (and obviously, it didn’t) is that the victims of anti-gay bullying have to do the work of dealing with it, but no one else does. “You’re on your own, kid. Chin up. The good news is, you might be happy in a decade.”

In the interest of full disclosure and bragging a little bit, I’ve internet-known Tom of T Lo for over a decade. Well before their website so deservedly took off, his and Lorenzo’s example was one of the reasons I finally came out in 2007, so I’m probably biased in favor of their opinion.

On the other hand, it could just be that they’re right.

The way for the creative community (and indeed, the entire world) to address anti-gay bullying is not through weepy portraits of its victims, but through SHEER RAGE. Fuck “It Gets Better.” Show us a campaign against gay teen bullying called “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW” and we’ll sign on in nano-seconds. Because the people who need to address anti-gay bullying definitely aren’t the victims – and not the bullies, either. It’s society that needs to change its attitudes toward gays, from the top down. And when the majority of people are righteously angered by any attempts to dehumanize gays or treat them as inferior – and more importantly, moved to act on that anger, rather than sitting at their computers and shaking their heads over it – then anti-gay bullying will practically evaporate. Every time a gay kid takes his life, it’s not he who’s at fault, nor is it the parents, the bullies, the church or the school district. WE ARE. WE ALL ARE. You should be furious about it, not gently weeping over music videos.

You know how I know T Lo are right? Because of this video.

February 21, 2012: Tanya Ditty from the anti-gay Concerned Women for America (Georgia chapter) compares gays to pedophiles, necrophiliacs

Anti-gay forces have been using this “23 sexual orientations” lie for years now, most memorably in 2009 by Rep. Steve King during debate on the Matthew Shepard Act (following then-Focus On The Family head James Dobson’s lead), when it was thoroughly debunked on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Following Ms. Ditty’s lying testimony Tuesday, the LGBT workplace protections bill was killed by Georgia House subcommittee. She was the only witness who spoke against it.

So here’s my question: How many newscasts have featured this prime example of what T Lo are talking about? How many national news sources have shown Ms. Ditty’s lies? What the hell, let’s open it up to Rachel Maddow, Bill O’Reilly, and all the rest. Tanya Ditty’s blatant, pre-debunked, harmful, hateful lies most certainly contribute to the atmosphere of scape-goating and hatred and death of gays; how many times have they been shown for what we know they are?

The answer is none, and I’ll bet you a nickel it will remain none. Unless you’re pretty doggone plugged into LGBT political blogs, you haven’t seen this video because quite frankly, it’s still okay to tell these kind of lies about lesbians, gays, bi, and trans people. Worse, telling the truth about us is still a liability. The network heads know what we all know. There is no “THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP RIGHT NOW” movement in America, nor will there be. Americans just don’t have any righteous anger about the mistreatment and dehumanization of LGBT people, and with It Gets Better‘s transformation from first aid to supposed cure, the gay community has let them know that being a little sad when our kids kill themselves is close enough for us.

Why Values Voter Summit 2011 Should End Presidential Campaign 2012

Last weekend, every Republican Presidential candidate with a chance of winning (plus Rick Santorum) appeared on stage at the Values Voter Summit, a meeting sponsored by two certified hate groups on par with (and one with ties to) the Ku Klux Klan and the Council of Conservative Citizens.

Family Research Council and American Family Association have both been considered hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center for some time now, and with good reason; both groups push their shared agenda with dangerous propaganda and outright lies about LGBT people.

To repeat: Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum all accepted the invitation of these hate groups (as they have for years), hoping to get their endorsements and the votes of like-minded individuals.

Do you really need more information before you cast your vote in the 2012 presidential election? What stance on which issue could possibly make it okay to vote for a candidate who has actively courted bigotry?

choice-highway-sign

The Lavender Scare: New Documentary Exposes A Modern American Witch Hunt

Can’t wait to see The Lavender Scare, a documentary based on the book by David K. Johnson, currently in production that promises to tell a largely unacknowledged piece of LGBT history and modern American history. A new trailer was posted to youtube this week.

From the documentary’s website:

The Lavender Scare is not a historical documentary frozen in time. The issues it explores remain strikingly relevant today.

  • In the 1950s, it was said that the acceptance of homosexuality would promote the moral decay of our society. Today, opponents of marriage equality make a similar argument.
  • In the 1950s, it was said that allowing homosexuals to serve in government positions would threaten national security, create “homosexual cliques,” and destroy morale. Today, similar beliefs prevent gay men and women from serving openly in the military.
  • In the 1950s, politicians discovered that the “gay issue” could be used as a powerful weapon against their opponents. It is still happening today.

The Lavender Scare will provide important context to the battles still being fought today.

For gay audiences, particularly younger generations unfamiliar with the struggles of the past, it will provide important perspective and serve as an inspiring call to action.

I’m 100% behind this. There’s a real danger of LGBT history being lost with each new generation (one of the reasons California’s new LGBT history law is so important), and this kind of movie helps prevent that.

The fact that Director Josh Howard is a 60 Minutes alum with 24 Emmy Awards only makes me more excited.

No release date as yet, but I’m willing to wait for a thorough history lesson.

Linda Harvey: Smart Bosses Don’t Hire Gays

Linda Harvey of Mission: America
Linda Harvey of Mission: America

On her little radio program last Saturday, Linda Harvey interviewed Gary Glenn, head of the American Family Association Michigan chapter. (Gary is one of the reasons the Southern Poverty Law Center has the AFA on their hate group list. In fact, he’s quoted twice on the SPLC’s AFA page.)

I’m not what you would call an avid listener to Linda’s program, but the folks at Right Wing Watch are. Here’s a clip they shared today.

[wpaudio url=”http://blog.mattalgren.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/linda-harvey-gary-glenn-7-2-11.mp3″ text=”Linda Harvey and Gary Glenn talk about The Gays”]

Glenn: Herman Miller, which is a major employer and corporation in Holland [Michigan], a furniture company, supported this so-called gay rights ordinance on the claim that it allowed them to attract the best and brightest.

Harvey: Here we go, yeah we heard that before.

Glenn: What ridiculous folly to suggest that only those individuals who engage in homosexual behavior given all of its severe medical consequences constitute the best and the brightest. It’s not really bright to engage in behavior that puts you at dramatically higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse and AIDS and cancer and hepatitis, and according to various sources, premature death. So to suggest that engaging in that type of behavior defines someone as the best and brightest, which seems to be the line coming out of corporate America, is just ridiculous.

Harvey: You’re right. And higher rates of domestic violence and unstable relationships. I would not think of a homosexual person as a good employment risk, I just wouldn’t.

Of course, the little factoids they toss around are mostly false, and in some cases, like mental illness, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS prevalence, are directly tied to the rhetoric of Linda Harvey and people like her.

But that’s not really the point here. Lies and innuendo are SOP for people like Linda Harvey.

Linda Harvey is far from alone in her opinion. Most people just aren’t willing to come right out and say that discriminating against filthy gays is good and right. Most aren’t willing to actually admit that they don’t think gays should have jobs.

But perhaps the most unsettling part of Linda Harvey’s opinion is that it’s status quo in America.

There are no federal protections against discrimination against gay people in hiring. In 29 states, including most of the Midwest and all of the South, there are no state protections. Only 13 states protect Americans from being fired solely for being trans.

Yes, really.

(You can listen to the rest of the interview here. Mostly standard stuff for Linda, though I’ll be pulling out another interesting quote tomorrow.)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich: Discrimination Against Trans Employees “Appropriate”

Before we get into the meat of this post, I want to make sure the reader understands the state of current law: In Ohio, there is no statewide non-discrimination protection for LGBT employees. (You may recall that the Ohio House of Representatives passed a statewide ENDA bill in 2009. Ohio Senate leaders refused to allow a vote, and the bill died at the end of the session last December.)

Discrimination in hiring because of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is 100% allowed by Ohio law, and no Executive Order can change that. The issue we’ll be looking at for the rest of this post is about people for whom the state of Ohio is their direct employer. Guards in Ohio prisons, office workers in the state house, construction workers on Ohio roads, etc.

Gov. Kasich, when is discrimination "appropriate"?
Gov. Kasich, when is discrimination "appropriate"?

New Republican Governor John Kasich began his term under fire when Gay People’s Chronicle reported that Kasich had failed to issue an Executive Order protecting state employees from workplace discrimination. Outgoing governor Ted Strickland’s Executive Order 2007-10S, which protected LGBT workers, expired when he left office.

On Friday, Governor Kasich (R) finally issued an order protecting LGB state employees with Executive Order 2011-05K, which unexpectedly and unnecessarily removed gender expression and gender identity from the list of protected qualities.

Frustrated at this ridiculous change in law, I decided to do the civic-minded thing and contact my governor. I actually ended up emailing Robert Nichols, press secretary for Gov. Kasich (R), and copied Felicia Godbolt and Melinda Carter of Ohio’s Equal Employment Opportunity office and Dan Kaman of the Department of Administrative Services. (Because hey, why not.)

Here’s my email to Mr. Nichols:

Mr. Nichols,

Regarding Governor Kasich’s Executive Order 2011-05K, there is some question as to missing content. This order, which replaced former Governor Strickland’s non-discrimination order, notably fails to protect employees from gender identity or expression discrimination, as Mr. Strickland’s did.

Please clarify: Has Gov. Kasich decided to roll back protection of transgender state workers? Should they fear for their livelihoods? If this is, as I hope, a simple oversight, will Gov. Strickland rectify the error in the next week?

Thank you.

Matthew D. Algren
Kettering, Ohio

Minutes later, I received this reply:

Hi, Matt…

The governor is opposed to discrimination in state employment and has made that clear in this executive order in the way that he feels is most appropriate.

Rob

I sent an email back seeking further clarification that Gov. Kasich (R) thinks discrimination against trans people is “appropriate,” but I don’t expect to hear back. My question was clear enough, and Mr. Nichols’ answer was clear as well.

So that’s where we stand tonight. For the first time in four years and with the stroke of a pen, one Republican has endangered the livelihoods of any of our Trans sisters and brothers who currently or potentially work for the State of Ohio, and he did it because . . . Well, because he could.

(He also appointed the state’s first ALL WHITE cabinet since 1962, but I’m sure that’s not at all relevant and I digress…)

The only question I have is this: As lesbian, bi, and gay people, do we stand with the trans members of our family, or are we just thankful that we made the cut this time?

I know my answer. We cannot allow Gov. Kasich (R) to treat us like this. We are one family, one community. In Christian terms, we are one body. I’m not sure what standing with them on this looks like yet, but the choice is clear.

Will you join me?

The Real Reason LGBT Rights Matter.

Note: I’m a terrible judge of my own stuff, but something I wrote on a message board as a reaction to another “Obama has a lot on his plate so just be patient” argument got a pretty good reaction, so I’m bringing to the blog. I’ve modified it for clarity and sourcing, and to clean up some mixed metaphors.


The most frustrating part of the fight for LGBT rights is that many people, both inside and outside the community, view it as a grab bag of issues. It isn’t. It’s One Issue with many moving parts, and it really doesn’t matter to me where we succeed first. The work will continue until the One Issue is completed, because in truth the One Issue is more than the sum of its parts.

There’s a reason LGBT people suffer depression and anxiety so much more often than straight people do. There’s a reason we’re twice as likely to suffer PTSD. There’s a reason our youth are three to seven times (depending on environment) more likely to die by suicide.

It’s no coincidence that our statistical 5-10% of the nation’s youth make up 20-40% of all homeless youth, that LGBT homeless youth are 56% more likely to abuse alcohol than straight homeless youth and 76% more likely to have been sexually assaulted.

Solving the One Issue has the side effect of bringing people back from the edge. That’s the real reason the fight is so important. It’s not about me getting married (I won’t) or joining the Marines (it is to laugh). It isn’t about me not getting a job because I’m a fag or being politely turned down for a loan or being turned away from a restaurant or being told my blood is tainted.

It’s about people knowing that they exist, that their lives are real and important, that their government won’t assault them, and that it actually considers them in the same way it considers their parents and siblings and friends. That One Issue is the keystone to all the others.

The U.S. government is, right now, today, harming us with its codified discrimination because people in the majority approve of it. I want that harm to cease, quite selfishly, because I’m one of those people being harmed and I know a lot of other people who are being harmed. And though it irks me to no end, I suppose I shouldn’t think too poorly of people, even those who think they’re our allies, for not wanting it to change badly enough because of their own selfishness.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m going to shut up and bow my head until that far off, imaginary, never-to-come day when people in the majority have everything they want and decide it’s okay to finally make the government stop harming people.

No sir.

Enough is Enough: Matt Joins DNC Boycott

Don't Ask Don't GiveAlmost nine months ago, John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay of AMERICAblog initiated their “Don’t Ask Don’t Give” campaign, asking LGBT people to stop funding Democratic party campaigns until they actually make a concerted effort to keep their promises. I finally found a chance to join the cause last week when I received a fundraising email signed by Brad Woodhouse, Communications Director of the DNC. Below is my response to his donation request.

Mr. Woodhouse,

In response to your request for a small donation, I must unfortunately reiterate what so many others have said in the last few months. The Democratic party will not see one penny from my pocket until and unless substantial gains are made in the field of LGBT rights.

In 2008, the LGBT community helped give you the White House, the House of Representatives, and a super-majority in the Senate. What we’ve discovered is that there is little difference between a Democratic-led government and the Republican-led government of five years ago. Instead of taking a clear and decisive pro-civil rights stance, you thanked us by running the other way and choosing ***anything*** but LGBT civil rights.

  • You punted repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, with a compromise that doesn’t actually repeal anything, has yet to be voted on in the Senate or signed by the President, and reportedly is being considered for veto by President Obama.
  • You’ve put off the Employment Non-Discrimination Act until it’s logistically unlikely this year, with Speaker Pelosi characterizing the bill as “controversial” rather than rallying Democrats around this clear issue of civil rights.
  • Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act isn’t even being considered, no matter how many times President Obama says he’s “urged” Congress to do so.
  • Ending the discriminatory anti-gay blood donation ban has been discussed and rejected with no real push from the DNC to follow the science and penalize risky sex rather than responsible gay men in monogamous relationships for thirty years.
  • Bids to institute state-wide marriage equality have failed in part because of the lack of leadership and funding from the DNC, most notably in Maine last year.
  • Even a bill to offer safety to all school children has failed to find congressional footing because members of Congress get squeamish at the bill’s specific mention of LGBT kids who are many times more likely to be bullied, depressed, isolated, and suicidal than their straight peers.

So no. You will not get my money, you will not get my time, you will not get my voice, and you will not get my vote until you show me that you consider my rights as important as yours.

Candidates who have shown leadership for these completely reasonable LGBT demands retain my support and vote, but until I see substantial leadership and not excuses from the national party, my response remains the same:

NOT. ONE. CENT.

Cordially,

Matthew D. Algren

For far too long, Democrats have viewed LGBT people as nothing more than a committed source of funding and a reliable voting bloc. It’s time to teach them that we’re more than that.

Take the pledge.

Here’s why.

More Activists Arrested, This Time for ENDA

If you turned off the internet once Lt. Choi and Cpt. Pietrangelo were arrested, boy did you miss some major news.

Once they were done at the White House, Get Equal moved to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s offices on Capitol Hill and in San Fransisco. There they refused to leave until Speaker Pelosi committed to a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has been languishing in Congress for…well, years.

No identities yet; will update when I get them
No identities yet; will update when I get them

After several tense hours, four protesters at Pelosi’s office on the Hill were arrested and taken, coincidentally, to the same facility that Choi and Pietrangelo are being held in. Just before midnight, the ENDA 4 were released without bail.

Incidentally, Choi and Pietrangelo are being held without bail or contact to the outside world until they appear in court tomorrow.

Speaker Pelosi continues to stall on ENDA.

Sideshow Bob McDonnell to Gay Employees: “That is all.”

Remember that episode of The Simpsons where they went into the Witness Relocation Program because Sideshow Bob was out to get Bart? Fifth Season, second episode called Cape Feare. The one where they sang the entire score from the HMS Penifore. Possibly the best episode ever produced.

Remember now? About ten minutes into the episode, Sideshow Bob appears in the following 23-second scene:

On February 5th, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) made the rounds not unlike Sideshow Bob, telling Virginia employees through Executive Order that they would not be discriminated against–specifically–due to their race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or any disabilities.

And for the first time since 2002, Virginia’s lesbians and gay men have been left off the list. In other words, “That is all.”

From the Virginian-Pilot:

A 2008 Gallup poll showed nine out of 10 Americans believe gays deserve equal rights for job opportunities. A Virginia poll that same year produced identical results.

Those polls have translated into tangible improvements in working conditions for countless people. Most Fortune 500 companies ban discrimination against gays. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, adopted its anti-discrimination policy in 2003. Thirty states have adopted protections for public workers. Salt Lake City, the epicenter of conservative America, passed an anti-discrimination ordinance last year with the support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The state workers who plow Virginia’s roads, investigate consumer fraud complaints and monitor rivers for pollution aren’t able to share in that progress. Since the 1970s, Virginia governors have issued executive orders barring discrimination in the state work force based on race, gender, disability or religion. Govs. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine extended those protections to gay employees. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed an executive order last week but did not include sexual orientation, saying that decision is up to the legislature.

After coming to work each day for eight years knowing that they were guaranteed equal treatment in hiring and promotion decisions, gay state workers are now left to wonder and worry about their careers.

We need a federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

That is all.

Tim Tebow’s Deal with the Devil

Much interweb ink has been spilled over Tim Tebow’s anti-abortion commercial scheduled to air during the Super Bowl. To be honest, I don’t have too much of a problem with it, even though CBS rejected a completely innocuous gay-inclusive United Church of Christ commercial six years ago. The real test will be next time a credible gay-positive ad is presented. Until they show us differently, I’m inclined to accept CBS’s statement that their standards have changed with the times.

As I see it, the real problem is that millions of people will be tuned in on Sunday not knowing that Tim Tebow is lending his credibility (such as it is) to Focus on the Family (FoF), a dangerous, homophobic organization built on a doctrine of prejudice and fear.

Here is a short, incomplete list of positions that Tim Tebow supports through his association with FoF and by extension FoF’s sister organization Family Research Council (FRC). (FoF and FRC were split in 1992 solely for tax reasons.)

  • In February 2009, FoF official affiliate Family Policy Council of West Virginia ran a commercial that said that same sex marriage was “attacking” marriage while showing a heterosexual family in crosshairs.
  • In March 2009, FRC President Tony Perkins said that the United States should sign an anti-gay rights statement offered in the United Nations, thereby joining with GWB’s “Axis of Evil”.
  • In May 2009, FoF founder James Dobson claimed that the Matthew Shepard Act (now Law) protects pedophiles because the law doesn’t define “sexual orientation”. Of course, current law already defines the term, so there was no need for a new definition. This was explained in committee before an amendment ordering definition was rejected as unnecessary.
  • In July 2009, FoF celebrated the “findings” in a “study” by NARTH that said that Ex-Gay treatments are “beneficial”, a statement that every credible source rejects outright.
  • In September 2009, FoF organized a rally in support of Maine’s anti-gay civil rights campaign. They were so frightened of having their words on the record, they barred the press from the event.
  • Not only that, they refused tickets to people who didn’t fall in lock-step with their agenda.
  • In February 2010, five days before the Tebow commercial was set to air, FRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Peter Sprigg told Chris Matthews’ audience that gays should be thrown in jail. Two years earlier, Sprigg told a reporter that he wanted gays “exported”.
  • In February 2010, three days before the Tebow commercial was set to air, FRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Peter Sprigg unambiguously advocated kidnapping if a non-custodial parent doesn’t like the judge’s order.

These positions and more (I’ve barely scratched the surface) are supported by Heisman Trophy-winning Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow through his association with FoF. And don’t give me any guff on the harshness; we’d say the same thing if he did a commercial for any other supremacist group.

Hopefully next time Tebow’s on the field he’ll put Matthew 23:23-28 under his eyes. He (and they) could use the reminder.

P.S. Another reason I’m in favor of CBS running the commercial: That’s $2.8 million they won’t have to spread more vitriol against the LGBT community.