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Monday, December 24, 2007

Print 2.0?

Mention our competitors! Are you nuts?

That is probably what I would have said not too long ago as Echelon was just getting a footing on the Internet and was striving to increase brand exposure. Today is a different day. Now, naming your competitors and working together to help increase traffic on each other’s sites is the mainstay. Featuring competitors in “print”…. now who is ahead of the curve? Echelonmagazine.com is currently in construction on a brand new site that
features all of the elements of Web 2.0, but as that evolves, we hope your enjoy the articles in this issue pertaining to GLBT finance.

A GLBT finance issue is a relatively new item in today’s media. It not only serves the financial needs of our community but also tends to accentuate our collective personality as a people of substance that breaks down perceived myths.

Queercents.com’s Allison Einbinder provides a bit of comfort as our minds unwillingly turn towards what we did with our money in 2007 and how that translates into our tax obligations.

Echelon is proud to announce the re-launch of GFN.com (GayFinancialNetwork). Since 1998, Walter Schubert has been providing guidance on the issues affecting our money. I actually had the pleasure of meeting him back in 2004 and he took me on an awesome tour of the New York Stock Exchange. Schubert’s foresight in embracing Echelon back then demonstrated a keen sense of the current trend.

Aside from the other articles in this special focus on finance, I urge you to take a look at what Dr. Gary Gates of UCLA’s Williams Institute has to say about the media and quantitative surveys on our community. Dr. Gates is one of our
foremost experts on GLBT demographics and until the day comes when we
actually know how many of us there really are, keep your ear to the ground when you see or hear his name.

If you haven’t begun to incorporate the elements of Web 2.0 yet, I strongly
recommend it. We can all accomplish more by breaking down the invisible
barriers we set before ourselves and start working collaboratively.


Michael Lamb
Editor In Chief
Echelon Magazine

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mark My Words


By Mark Segal


Sometimes the national leadership of our community makes me shake my head in wonder. The last big suggestion to come from some of our national leaders is to boycott Wal-Mart. What? There are a couple of problems with this idea.

This holiday season, Wal-Mart is expected to outpace other retailers thanks to its low prices, which appeal to Americans suffering under President Bush’s “for rich men” economic policies. Second, how can we effect this boycott if we believe our own publicity about the affluent gay market? If
we’re all fashionistas, shopping at Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus, we
wouldn’t be seen in a Wal-Mart anyway.

Wal-Mart does not seem to be a great target to bring the community together
or ask allies to join us. (This is not to say that Wal-Mart isn’t a good
boycott target in general.) On the other hand, there is an event happening
in April that, if handled well, could unite the GLBT community and our
allies. Pope Benedict XVI is making his first official trip to the U.S. in
April. Like Wal-Mart, his organization does not offer domestic-partner
benefits. But unlike Wal-Mart, Benedict has a few choice words about our
community.

As a young man, Benedict served in Hitler Youth. He’s offended Muslims and
Jews as well. We know his positions on women’s rights, condoms and
homosexuality, and on homosexuality, let’s let him speak for himself:

“Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered to an intrinsic moral evil, and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.”

On same-sex couple adoption: “Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children.”

Benedict also led a witch-hunt in seminaries looking for priests with
evidence of homosexuality, calling homosexuality “objectively disordered”
and a “grave sin.”

A 2005 document on homosexual priests stated: “ ... the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, may not admit to the seminary and Holy Orders those who practice homosexuality, show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture.”

This man, who speaks of morals, runs an organization that is ostensibly the
largest pedophilia organization in the world, despite a 1961 church document
that stated: “Ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty.”

How dare this man speak of morals.

This April, the Pope will visit New York City and Washington, D.C. This is a
time for action, for mass demonstrations. We should make his visit a
statement that his behavior and language is not acceptable in a civilized
world.

At a recent “gay wedding,” Christian protesters reminded me of the hate of
the KKK toward African Americans and the hateful words of Nazi-era Germans
toward Jews.

Jews learned to never forget and this is why they speak up at any time
someone says anything slightly anti-Semitic. Let the GLBT community take a
lesson from them: This April is a time for us to speak up and speak out!

Mark Segal is PGN publisher. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

Printed in this blog with permission by Mark Segal PGN Publisher © 2007 Philadelphia Gay News

Many refer to Mark Segal as the dean of American gay journalism. As a pioneer of the local gay press movement, he was one of the founders and former president of both The National Gay Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. He also is the founder and publisher of the award winning Philadelphia Gay News which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Justifying Hate

ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) finally passed in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, November 7, 2007.

Although, Echelon Magazine would have preferred that they pass the version including gender identity protections, it will be interesting to see how the whole thing evolves and how far it will go. It’s likely that the Senate won’t even consider putting it on their slate of affairs until next year, and even more likely that old George won’t sign it. Whether or not it will actually be signed into law this time, and despite the lack of inclusion of our transgender brothers and sisters, ENDA as it stands today is a bold statement that our country’s political climate is moving in the right direction – even if it’s not exactly following our road map.

But, what boggled our mind, throughout the debate was why religions were given such an enormous amount of consideration with regard to how the law will apply to them. The newly passed ENDA continues to safeguard the discriminatory employment practices of religions. However, the “for-profit” religious institutions still feel that their faith/business is in jeopardy as they would not be able to fire gay people simply because homosexuality is against their religion.

Call us na├»ve, but we would think that a religion is a group of spiritual individuals whose dogma is based on love. Isn’t that the main theme of the bible, to love one another? Well, if this is love, we’re not feeling it. Let us try and figure this out for a moment. Religions consider Gays and Lesbians to be individuals who are living their lives in sin. Therefore, they need to be protected under the law by being able to not hire someone who is a sinner.

Let’s turn the tables for a moment and hypothetically require the removal of phrases stating non-discrimination on the basis of religion or creed. What if a company decided not to hire someone because they were a Christian – would our conservative friends have a problem with that? After all, your religion is a “choice.”

We are of the belief that humans do need spirituality, religion or some kind of connection to the divine in order to get out of our heads and try to come up with some kind of explanation for the unknown. Whether it is idolatry, Hinduism or tree worshiping, people have the right to believe whatever they want to believe. But, our country was founded on a principle of “Separation of Church and State” and that principle was created to protect our citizens from religious persecution. Our laws must be determined based upon what is right for our citizens regardless of creed. Anything else is a blatant nod to a collective group of Americans who blindly support a justification for hate.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

U.S. House Takes Historic Step by Passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

Vote Marks Major Step in Achieving Equality for All

WASHINGTON – In an historic step toward equality, the U.S. House of Representatives successfully passed today the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA. The vote, 235 to 184, marks the first time ever that either chamber of Congress has passed employment protections based on sexual orientation.

“Today, we witnessed the making of civil rights history in the U.S. House of Representatives by the passing of ENDA,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “This vote by Congress is an important step at ensuring that millions of gay and lesbian Americans will never again have to go to work in fear of losing their jobs because of who they are.”

In 31 states, it is currently legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation. In 39 states, it is legal to fire a person for being transgender.

The Human Rights Campaign helped introduce ENDA 13 years ago to prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. This year, for the first time, HRC and allies on the Hill included gender identity in the bill to also protect transgender workers. One month ago, House leadership made it clear that Congress did not have the votes to pass HR 2015, which prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This week, House Rules Committee reported out Congressman Frank’s HR 3685, a bill that protects only sexual orientation, to the floor.

While HRC was disappointed that HR 3685 did not include protections for transgender Americans, it believes the successful passage of Congressman Frank’s bill is a step forward for all Americans, and that it paves the way for additional progress to outlaw workplace discrimination based on gender identity.

“Our fight for equality will not be won overnight,” said Solmonese. “It will be won one step at a time, and we will not give up until we reach the finish line. This is a critical piece of legislation and a major step toward the finish line for all Americans.”

Throughout history, Congress has often taken an incremental approach toward equality for other civil rights and business regulatory legislation. For example, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was introduced in five consecutive congresses for eight years and was vetoed twice by former President Bush before it was finally signed into law on February 5, 1993, by President Clinton. Each time the FMLA was introduced, Members built upon the protection from the previous year’s legislative action.

Additionally, each piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress -- in 1957, 1960, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1990 -- continued the legislative path of the expansion of essential civil rights protections in law.

On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign joined the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR); the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), among other organizations in the civil rights community, in support of the bill that would make it illegal for employers to discriminate on sexual orientation. The letter was signed by 10 national civil rights and worker protection organizations representing millions of Americans.

A copy of the letter is available on HRC’s blog, HRC Back Story: http://www.hrcbackstory.org/2007/11/hrc-civil-right.html

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Breaking New Ground


The Echelon team just returned from the West Coast Franchise Expo in Los Angeles on October 19-21. As the Gay/Lesbian community has been somewhat hidden in the franchise industry in the past, we were very pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by the majority of the exhibitors as well as the attendees. At the onset of the Expo, I must admit that I was curious as well as a bit concerned that we would not be welcomed. However, the entire experience was a positive one and over the course of the three days proved to me that times are definitely changing.

Similar to the franchising industry in terms of GLBT inclusiveness is the sport of racecar driving. Evan Darling is a pioneer as he makes waves by being one of the only “out” race car drivers in the country. His courage and integrity in living and working in his truth is amplified by his desire to act as a role model to inspire young GLBT individuals.
Link
Evan Darling highlights Echelon’s first Auto Industry issue which will be featured as a regular issue each year. This issue marks the first time that our publication focuses on a particular industry and describes some of the positive stories that are occurring in the marketplace. It is encouraging to read about what GM has been doing lately in terms of their GLBT inclusion efforts and GayWheels.com is also making great inroads into this industry.

Like a well-oiled machine, the Human Rights Campaign has churned out a record number of companies scoring 100% in their Corporate Equality Index (CEI). We list each company in this issue specifically to applaud their endeavors and also to illustrate how each and every one of us need to realize how respect for the GLBT community in the workplace is growing. This year’s CEI depicts an increase in the number of companies scoring 100% by 41%. So, depite how well ENDA bades in Congress this season we can rest assured that the business world is recognizing GLBT equality in the workplace. As so many companies are aligning their internal corporate culture with the diverse communities within our country, their efforts will obviously impact their bottom line.


Michael Lamb
Editor-In-Chief
Echelon Magazine

Subscribe now to receive the Nov/Dec 2007 issue.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SYMBOLISM OR SUBSTANCE IN ENDA DEBATE?


By Jody M. Huckaby

When the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received its first-ever vote in the House of Representatives and passed the Education and Labor Committee on Oct. 18, it should have been a historic - and celebratory - moment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. But there was a cloud hanging over the vote, with over 300 LGBT and allied groups in the United ENDA Coalition advocating for the original form of the bill introduced earlier this year- one that finally included a ban on discrimination based on gender identity. The House Democratic leadership's decision to strip those protections from the bill, leaving only sexual orientation covered, has turned what should have been a victory into an unnecessarily divisive, disappointing setback for the LGBT movement.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has characterized this primarily intra-community conflict as the protestations of a "fringe minority of transgender activists" or the "extreme left" of the LGBT population. Nothing could be further from the truth. One look at the list of organizations and the constituencies we represent makes that crystal clear. This is not a conflict between "pragmatic incrementalists" and "all-or-nothing idealists." This controversy goes to the very core of what brings the LGBT community together, and it has forced a much-needed debate to the surface. It is time for some truth-telling and difficult conversations about what it means to be a community advocating for workplace protections.
Our coalition is urging Congress either to restore gender identity protections via an amendment offered by Congresswoman and out lesbian Tammy Baldwin or, if that cannot be accomplished, to drop the effort to pass LGBT anti-discrimination legislation this year. The reality is that this President will not even consider signing such a bill, whether it covers gender identity or only sexual orientation. This gives us the opportunity in the coming months to continue to educate our elected officials - and the public - about how matters of gender affect people of all sexual orientations.

Legal experts have criticized the existing bill as having far too many flaws to provide adequate protections for individuals based on sexual orientation, which often is closely linked to their actual or perceived gender expression. Gay, lesbian and bisexual people who are "straight-acting and appearing" might indeed face a safer future following the passage of this bill, but those who more outwardly transgress gender norms would remain vulnerable under the stripped-down ENDA. Sadly, this has been lost in nearly all of the media coverage of this issue.

Simply put, men who are perceived as effeminate and women who are seen as masculine are often singled out for discrimination in the workplace, and federal case law is not settled as to whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides sufficient protection for such individuals. Take the example of Christopher Vickers, a private police officer at an Ohio hospital. He claimed that he had been discriminated against and verbally and physically harassed on a daily basis after he became friends with a gay man. Much of the harassment focused on questioning Vickers' masculinity and suggesting that his sexual practices were those traditionally associated with women. Just last year, a federal appellate court threw out Vickers' case because it found that Title VII does not forbid this type of discrimination. Keeping gender identity protections in ENDA would help correct such rulings and represent a major advance in the civil rights of all Americans -- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight.

While under most circumstances we would support efforts to achieve a tactical victory in the House this year, we feel that seriously weakening the bill and dividing the LGBT community represent a price that is simply too high to pay for a purely symbolic exercise. We believe that maintaining an inclusive ENDA, with protections for the entire LGBT community intact, is both the pragmatic and principled way to proceed.

Advocates of the stripped down ENDA have said that insufficient education has been done concerning transgender Americans and broader issues of gender identity. However, they appear to have overlooked the dramatic, recent gains made in adding gender identity protections to state and local law. Twelve states, the District of Columbia and more than 90 counties and municipalities now protect transgender people from workplace discrimination. Together, these jurisdictions contain more than 100 million people, about 37 percent of the U.S. population. While more states and localities have sexual orientation protections (representing just over 50% of the U.S. population), the gap is narrowing rapidly.
Since 2003, every state and nearly ever municipality that has enacted sexual orientation protection has also covered gender identity. In large measure, this progress has been the result of the growing unity, solidarity and cohesion of the LGBT community.

United ENDA's primary goal is to keep our community and our allies united behind an inclusive ENDA until progressive forces have strengthened their position in Congress and there has been a change for the better in the White House. Our coalition represents not only LGBT people, but their parents, family members and straight allies who understand the importance of keeping the community united rather than pulling it apart. Watering the bill down now and dividing the LGBT community for a victory that is more apparent than real is a dangerous distraction and the wrong precedent to set.

If members of Congress need more education on gender identity issues, let's continue to increase our work to do that now. Let's make sure they know that surveys show that 60 percent of transgender respondents have either no source of income or earn less than $10,000 a year, demonstrating the desperate need for employment protections for transgender people. Let's make sure they know how frequently lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are subjected to discrimination based not on their sexual orientation but also because of attitudes about how "real" men and women are "supposed" to look and act
. Let's work together to pass the right bill, one that unites LGBT people, their families and straight allies together, not an inadequate bill that fails protect everyone equally.


Jody M. Huckaby, Executive Director, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National. PFLAG is one of nearly 350 organizations that are part of www.UnitedENDA.org

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

ENDA: Spelling it Out!

Dear Congressman Wamp:

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my request that, in your representation of me and other Tennessee citizens, you vote to uphold those qualities that make America such a wonderful place; namely: equality, opportunity, and self-sufficiency.

I am also thrilled to see that you are of the opinion that the Constitution affords each person equal standing in the eyes of the law. I take your statements in the message below to mean you will not be voting for any constitutional amendments that may restrict personal liberties or equalities. I would also read your response to mean that you will vote in favor of providing same sex partners with rights equivalent to those of their heterosexual counterparts.

Congressman Wamp, as an American who is educated, pays taxes, and holds a professional job in your district, please let me assure you my right to earn a living and my ability to pay taxes are threatened by ignorance in the workplace every day. This does not mean I, or others, should run and hide or fear retribution for who God made us. While we do not yet have definitive proof, all genetic studies point to the fact that homosexuality is determined by a specific genome coding, activated by endocrine triggers.

Now, I can not choose whether or not I like men or women, nor can I choose the color of my skin, but I can choose to fight for the rights of every American, whether they be black, white, hispanic, gay, straight, male or female. And sometimes minorities in society require— and deserve— the aid of the blind, impartial law.

I can not, with any greater urgency, encourage you to speak with citizens in your district who fight discrimination in the work place daily. Many of them, in fact, work in government offices and departments. For your argument against voting for equality in the workplace, you sight that the law and constitution is already on my side; if so, why is it not protecting the very people who work for the government directly?

Congressman Wamp, I am happy to speak with you regarding this or any other subject. I sincerely hope that I may be able to help sustain a dialogue so that all of your citizens are represented equally and fully.

Best regards,
Chris Dutton


Subject: Message from Congressman Zach Wamp
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2007 12:58:14 -0400


Dear Chris:

No one should ever have to face discrimination for any reason. Federal, state, and local laws provide protection of life and liberty for all United States citizens. The Constitution guarantees protections for each of us, and the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of these protections over and over again.

A society free from discrimination is a goal we share even though we may differ on what is necessary to achieve it. Unfortunately, passing more laws does not guarantee intolerance. The law and the constitution are already on your side.


WarmestRegards,
Zach Wamp
Member of Congress

Monday, October 8, 2007

Transgender Workplace Diversity

New Book Title now available on Amazon.com

Transgender Workplace Diversity: Policy Tools, Training Issues and Communication Strategies for HR and Legal Professionals

Jillian T. Weiss, J.D., Ph.D.

This book is a step-by-step "how-to" for corporate and legal professionals on transgender issues in the workplace.

It is targeted to the needs of employers who are facing transgender issues and want an accessible resource for creating transgender-friendly policies, training management and co-workers, and providing effective communications with clients and customers working with transgender employees. It provides organizational leaders with a roadmap and detailed explanations. It is also useful for transgender employees who want to get their employers on the right track with authoritative information targeted to the modern workplace.

The book provides transgender basics, including the correct terminology to use, and an explanation of the gender transition process impacting the workplace. It discusses gender identity law and policy, such as bathroom and dressing room issues, identification and records changes, and health benefits for transgender employees. It includes a sample gender transition policy, training guidelines, and HR/legal frequently asked questions. An appendix contains legal information important to understanding the complex landscape of federal, state and local regulation.

The author, Dr. Jillian T. Weiss, has a J.D. and a Ph.D. in Law, Policy & Society, as well as 20 years of experience in the corporate world. Currently Associate Professor of Law and Society at Ramapo College of New Jersey, she has conducted research involving hundreds of companies and public agencies that have adopted "gender identity" policies. She publishes a popular blog on the subject of Transgender Workplace Diversity, http://transworkplace.blogspot.com , and has published several articles on the subject of gender identity, which may be found at http://phobos.ramapo.edu/~jweiss . Dr. Weiss is also Principal Consultant for Jillian T. Weiss & Associates, a consulting firm that works with organizations on transgender workplace diversity issues. She consults with corporations, law firms, diversity trainers and governmental organizations regarding training, policy development and communications strategies in the area of gender transition. Dr. Weiss has worked successfully with Fortune 500 companies and large public agencies during the past few years. Her work has been featured in news stories by the Associated Press, the Society for Human ResourcLinke Management, Workforce Management Magazine, and HR Executive Magazine. Her insights into the workplace issues of the transgender community are especially keen because of her experience as a transgender woman.

More information about the book is available at http://transworkplace.blogspot.com . If you are interested in reviewing the book for your publication, contact Dr. Jillian T. Weiss at jtwassociates@gmail.com for a review copy by mail or online ebook.

· Paperback: 268 pages

· Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (September 27, 2007)

· ISBN-13: 978-1419673283

· LCCN: 2007905925

· Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches

· Price: $18.99 Paperback

Thursday, October 4, 2007

WEAKENED ENDA MEANS LESS PROTECTION FOR EVERYONE



“Definitions of who is protected by the bill leave gaping loopholes so that no one will be fully protected against discrimination. Congress should finish the work it began 44 years ago when it made employment discrimination based on sex illegal, and once and for all rid the workplace of sexual stereotypes. ”



Statement

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and the Transgender Law Center are dedicated to establishing and preserving the civil rights and civil liberties of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Between us, we have been responsible for most of the public interest litigation about the rights of LGBT people in this country.

We have been working for the day when the federal government makes the workplace discrimination LGBT people face illegal since the first such proposal was introduced in Congress in 1976. But as much as we wish that day had already arrived, it will not do much good if all we get is a bill that would not protect our community’s basic rights. While the first version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) introduced this year would have protected our community, the version introduced last week would not.

We see three significant problems with this weakened version of the bill:

1. Protections for transgender people were removed.

2. Definitions of who is protected by the bill leave gaping loopholes so that no one will be fully protected against discrimination.

3. The blanket exemption for religious employers is broader than the exemptions in other civil rights laws and leaves many workers with no legal protections.


1. Protections for transgender people were removed. This is unacceptable. Transgender people have been a part of our community’s fight for civil rights since it began, and there is no principled reason to pass a law that does not cover gender identity and expression. We have come too far in our understanding of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity to leave anyone behind, unprotected by law.

2. Definitions of who is protected by the bill leave gaping loopholes so that not even lesbians, gay men and bisexuals are likely to be fully protected against discrimination. This new version of the bill says that it prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, which it defines as “homosexuality, heterosexuality or bisexuality.” That definition not only leaves out transgender people, but creates a gaping loophole that we are concerned may leave out others as well.

There is a serious risk that courts will say a law banning only sexual orientation discrimination offers no protection to men who are fired because their employers think they are effeminate and women who are fired because employers think them too masculine. Focusing on the definition of sexual orientation, courts may well say that Congress only intended this new version of ENDA to cover discrimination against a person because of the simple fact that he or she is or is thought to be gay, straight, or bisexual and could further say that sexual orientation is defined only by a person’s choice of sexual or relationship partners. In other words, the courts could rule that the law does not cover discrimination because a person is seen as not meeting others’ expectations of how a “real” man or woman should look and act. Congress could have included that kind of gender nonconformity and stereotypes in ENDA, they may rule, but quite explicitly chose not to.

While some might argue that the prohibition on discrimination based on “actual or perceived” sexual orientation protects against that, courts might rule that an employer has not violated this new version of ENDA if the employer simply says that it has no problem with gay people but just did not want a worker whom the employer thinks was too feminine or masculine - something an employer might say about almost any gay man, lesbian or bisexual. That is why the protection this new version of the bill purports to provide could prove illusory for many people. .

If this sounds unlikely, it isn’t. We have already seen very similar, super technical interpretations of what is prohibited under laws that ban discrimination based on marital status, sex or disability.

Moreover, discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity at some level are all discrimination based on stereotypes about what is or is not appropriate for men and women; what jobs are appropriate, what relationships are appropriate, what kind of personal and public identity is appropriate. Trying to split them apart makes little sense and invites the kind of legal hairsplitting that has made so many civil rights laws less effective.

Splitting sexual orientation from gender identity in ENDA would also have the perverse effect of leaving those who most need the protections of federal law out in the cold. Between our organizations, we have many, many years of experience working with people who have been discriminated against. No one suffers more than those who appear most visibly to depart from the conventions of gender.

Congress should finish the work it began 44 years ago when it made employment discrimination based on sex illegal, and once and for all rid the workplace of sexual stereotypes.


3. The blanket exemption for religious employers is broader than the exemptions in other civil rights laws and leaves many workers with no legal protections. Every federal civil rights law has a limited exemption for religious organizations. The 1964 Civil Rights Act says it is not illegal religious discrimination for a religious organization to give preferences to members of its own church. The Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA) has a similar exemption, and also allows a religious organization to require employees to comply with its religious tenets.

The first version of ENDA this year had exemptions for churches and for jobs outside the church for ministers and religious teachers and administrators. It also allowed religious groups to require people who work for them in other jobs to comply with all the major tenets of the religion. But this first version of ENDA did not allow employers to refuse to hire someone just because of a religious objection to LGBT people. If employers chose to require adherence to religious tenets, their policy had to require compliance with all major tenets including those, for example, about marriage and divorce. Under this earlier version of ENDA, if employers such as hospitals and universities did not require adherence to all of their major religious tenets, they could not invoke the religious exemption only to single out and discriminate against LGBT people..

The newest version exempts all religious groups from the law completely. It is not a broad exemption; it is a total exemption. It would give religiously affiliated hospitals, social service agencies, shelters and universities complete freedom to discriminate against LGBT people.

Sincerely held religious belief has been used to justify segregation, race discrimination, sex discrimination, and discrimination against people with disabilities, not in the 19th century, but within the last 25 years. And while the separation of church and state may require some accommodation of religious bodies, what is new about this latest version of ENDA – and unacceptable – is the idea that civil rights protections should completely give way to religious organizations. What people choose to believe, and how they choose to worship are their business, and the Constitution rightly keeps the government out of it. But when an employer uses religion to justify taking away a job from an orderly, custodian, secretary, social worker or doctor, the government has an overriding interest in preserving equal opportunity.

It should be no different with discrimination against LGBT people. Congress should treat religiously held beliefs that being gay is sinful just as it treated religiously held beliefs that women are unequal and that segregation was God’s law. It should uphold a person’s right to believe it, but keep it out of the workplace.

Conclusion:

Our common goal is passage of a fair and inclusive employment non-discrimination statute and we pledge to work with members of Congress to ensure that the new law serves its important purpose – securely to protect our community against workplace discrimination. A law that does not actually do that is a law not worth having.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Trans-Knowing

Echelon has just returned from an incredible trip to our nation’s capital as we attended the 2007 Out and Equal Workplace Summit. This year’s event turned out an unbelievable 2,300 attendees, was organized to a tee and we left creating new friends and a deeper connection to the GLBT business community.

During the course of the 3-day event we were hearing rumors about the split in ENDA’s current legislation whereby one bill included the transgender community and one did not.
From my own experience, I have not had the dignity of getting to know and speak to a trans-person.

At the Summit, I met a Trans Woman from a very well known aerospace company that turned out to be an occurrence that has deeply enhanced my perception of humanity. Her challenges associated with her transition. Most of what she revealed were things that I somewhat expected, however, her question to her mother of why she wasn’t growing breasts and her girlfriends caused an explosion and an opening in my mind to which I will never forget.

It wasn’t so much the particular anecdote about her childhood question that made the full impact, but the fact that it never occurred to me how the transition process really begins in the mind of a child. Which brings me to my point; how well do we know our transgender brothers and sisters?

These days, most Americans have had the wonderful experience of knowing a Gay or Lesbian person in their lives and have realized how their religiously conditioned fear-based beliefs did not hold water. We are now enjoying a greater acceptance by mainstream America and most of those surveyed in recent studies show that they agree with our objective in attaining federal legislation to ensure workplace equality.

UNDER THE BUS

Just as our heterosexual counterparts have grown to know us better, I believe that our community at large has also been remiss in knowing the Trans community. We have included the T in GLBT or LGBT for years. So why now would we be willing to support a split bill on ENDA that will only include Gays and Lesbian while we throw the Trans people under the bus? It is a complete and utter aberration and a sign of weakness to amputate this soulful community that so richly deserves the same workplace equality as we do. Speaker Pelosi’s choice to support a split bill is merely a desperate attempt to get something passed and provide us with a false perception that they are actually doing something in Congress. Why not then create 4 bills instead of 2 and see which one falls under Bush’s veto pen? United we stand and divided we fall.

Michael Lamb
Editor-In-Chief

ENDA Protest At Pelosi's SF Office

(San Francisco, California) Several dozen members of San Francisco's LGBT community demonstrated Tuesday in front of the Federal Building, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has an office.

The Democrat, once a favorite of the Bay Area's gay and transgender community has run into opposition over changes to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that would remove protections for trans people and reduce rights of workers in same-sex relationships.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One in Four Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Adults

One in Four Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Adults
Switched over Past Year to Companies that Support the GLBT Community
Seven in ten gay men and lesbians have switched products or service providers because they learned the company engaged in negative actions toward the GLBT community

ROCHESTER, NY - September 24, 2007 - According to a recent national survey, approximately one in four (24%) gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) adults say they have switched products or service providers because they found a competing company that supports causes that benefit the GLBT community in the past 12 months, assuming that other factors such as price, quality, and convenience were not considerations. This includes fully one-third (32%) of gay men who say they have switched products or services within the last 12 months because they found a competing company that supports GLBT causes.

These are a few highlights taken from a nationwide survey of 2,868 U.S. adults, (ages 18 and over) of whom 350 self identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The study was conducted online between August 7 and 13, 2007, by Harris Interactive(r), a global market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the GLBT market.

The survey also found that a high proportion of gay men and lesbians (70%) had switched products or service providers because they learned the company engaged in actions that are perceived as harmful to the GLBT community.

In terms of their brand loyalty behavior, about two-thirds (66%) of all GLBT adults reported that they would be very or somewhat likely to remain loyal to a brand they believed to be very friendly and supportive to the gay, lesbian and transgender community - even when less friendly companies may offer lower prices or be more convenient. Three out of four (75%) gay men and lesbians also said they would remain loyal to the gay-friendlier brand.

"For nearly a decade, we have tested customer loyalty benchmarks, to better understand the connection between GLBT consumers and brand reputations. Consistently, no matter how we frame the questions, we find GLBT consumers place a high value on brands that earn and grow respect within the community," said Wes Combs, President of Witeck-Combs Communications. "They remain loyal to companies that support causes that are important to them, and are highly motivated to learn about corporate social responsibility in all its forms. They are among consumers most motivated to vote with their dollars."



Methodology

Harris Interactive(r) conducted the study online within the United States between August 7 and 13, 2007, among 2,868 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 2,518 indicated they are heterosexual and 350 self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (this includes an oversample of GLBT adults). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. In addition, the results for the gay and lesbian sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay and lesbian population that Harris Interactive has compiled through many different online surveys. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Please note also that we distinguish sexual orientation from gender identity in querying respondent characteristics -- we are interested in the attitudes and characteristics of the transgender population, however given the consistently low incidence of response from transgender individuals, it is extremely difficult to draw specific conclusions from this population data taken separately.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates.These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

About Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc.

Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc. is the nation's premier marketing communications and public relations firm, specializing in developing and implementing effective strategies reaching the gay and lesbian consumer market. With over fourteen years experience in this unique market, Witeck-Combs Communications serves as a bridge between corporate America and gay and lesbian consumers. In 2006 Bob Witeck and Wes Combs co-authored Business Inside Out: Capturing Millions of Brand Loyal Gay Consumers (Kaplan Publishing), considered the first-ever book on marketing insights, practical tips and strategies targeting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender market.They have appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, New York Times and Washington Post. For more information visit www.witeckcombs.com.

About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is the 13th largest and one of the fastest-growing market research firms in the world. The company provides innovative research, insights and strategic advice to help its clients make more confident decisions which lead to measurable and enduring improvements in performance. Harris Interactive is widely known for The Harris Poll, one of the longest running, independent opinion polls and for pioneering online market research methods. The company has built what it believes to be the world's largest panel of survey respondents, the Harris Poll Online. Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its North American, European and Asian offices, and through a global network of independent market research firms. More information about Harris Interactive may be obtained at www.harrisinteractive.com. To become a member of the Harris Poll Online and be invited to participate in online surveys, register at www.harrispollonline.com.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When Homophobes bear false witness: The ENDA Edition

Desperate Right-Wing Rhetoric Becomes Increasingly Shrill, Hate-Filled

WASHINGTON -- Homophobic right wing groups are engaged in a frenzy of lies over legislation designed to end workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans. However, the falsehoods and rhetoric have become increasingly laced with hate-filled slurs and desperate attempts to create an atmosphere of divisiveness.

On Sunday, despite numerous documented cases of workplace discrimination against gays, Tom McClusky, Vice President of the Family Research Council, (a religious right group obsessed with gay issues), refused to admit that these cases happen. He told the Associated Press that ENDA “is affording extra protection to a group that has not been disadvantaged."

Mr. McCluskey should meet Officer Michael Carney and take a moment to listen to his story at: www.passendanow.org. If McCluskey had attended the hearing on ENDA last week, he would have heard Officer Carney’s story of being fired for no other reason than because he was gay. Fortunately, Carney prevailed in his lawsuit because Massachusetts offers workplace protection. However, had he lived in 31 states in this country he would have had absolutely no legal recourse for this discriminatory firing.

Additionally, the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA reported findings from a 2007 study ( showing a clearly uneven playing field for many GLBT workers:

· At least one in 10 gay, lesbian, and bisexual people surveyed report suffering employment discrimination.
· At least 10 percent of straight coworkers report witnessing discrimination against gay, lesbian, and bisexual colleagues.
· The number of sexual orientation discrimination complaints filed is similar to the number of complaints filed for sex or racial discrimination in states that have laws ensuring gays and lesbians are treated equally at work.

(To view the complete report visit:
http://www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/publications/Bias%20in%20the%20Workplace.pdf)
Link
Matt Barber, who works at an organization called Concerned Women of America, is equally obsessed with gay issues. In his anti-ENDA rant, Barber issued an e-mail laced with homophobic slurs stating “the facts show that homosexual behavior is changeable” among other falsehoods. Barber would be hard-pressed to actually document his assertions, but, when the homophobes are on the attack, they do not let facts interfere. And instead resort to outlandish claims that have no bases in science or fact and masks schoolyard type of attacks on transgender people’s appearance as credible arguments against federal legislation.

HRC’s President Joe Solmonese said, “Fortunately, the leadership in Congress is preparing a rational debate on ENDA. The religious rights hysterical gay-bashing is decidedly un-Christian behavior. But, homophobic hypocrites have no boundaries.”

Solmonese added, “We already know that hate is a cottage industry for the religious right. We know that lies and distortions are key to their lobbying strategy, too. The rhetoric of hate increasingly falls on deaf ears and their lies and falsehoods can also be obliterated with facts. We don’t know why these self designated religious leaders choose the path of hate and lies. But make no mistake, we don’t intend to let them get away with it.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

Monday, September 17, 2007

HRC Releases Their 2007 Corporate Equality Index - Corporate Quotes

Today, the Human Rights Campaign released the results of their Corporate Equality Index which measures the inclusiveness policies for GLBT business professionals.

Here are a couple of quotes related to the topic:

“More businesses than ever before have recognized the value of a diverse and dedicated workforce,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “More importantly, these employers understand that discrimination against GLBT workers will ultimately hurt their ability to compete in the global marketplace.”

“McDermott is committed to attracting and retaining exceptional talent to our global practice. With this commitment in mind, McDermott has prioritized the development of strong diversity programs and practices, and the Firm has achieved great momentum in recent years,”
commented Harvey Freishtat, Chairman of McDermott Will & Emery.

Demonstrating that it continues to be an enlightened work environment for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community, law firm Morrison & Foerster LLP has again achieved a perfect 100-percent score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 2007, earning the distinction of being one of the “Best Places to Work for GLBT Equality.”

“Yahoo! is proud to be part of HRC’s Corporate Equality Index and to be in the company of a pioneering group that has stepped up to create a more inclusive work environment for today’s diverse employee groups,” said Cammie Dunaway, chief marketing officer and executive sponsor of the LGBT employee group at Yahoo!. “We’re committed to making Yahoo! a great place to work and remain focused on offering progressive employment policies and benefits while recruiting the best talent from all backgrounds. We value our tens of millions of LGBT consumers around the world and are always looking for ways to further connect them to the information, passions, and communities that matter most to them, on our Yahoo! LGBT Pride site and across our network."


Sunday, September 16, 2007

National Weekend Stories on ENDA, Southern Comfort Conference

An Update Provided By The Human Rights Campaign

I wanted to bring a couple of major stories that appeared over the weekend to your attention:

1) Late Friday evening the Associated Press posted the first major, national mainstream media story leading up to the ENDA mark-up that is believed to be happening this upcoming week in the US House. I have copied the story below and it can also be found online at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/fn/5136216.html The story starts to bring into focus the political landscape around the legislation and, more importantly, gives a sneak preview of the right-wing’s messaging around the bill.

2) Earlier this evening, the AP posted their second major story around the ENDA vote in the House. This story was written by the AP’s Northeast reporter and therefore focuses more on Rep. Frank and Sen. Kennedy but the story will no doubt find its way across the country and prompt other potential localized follow-up stories. You can view the article either below or online at: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/09/16/frank_expects_house_to_pass_ban_on_job_bias_against_gays/

3) In the Sunday edition of the LA Times, a story profiled the Southern Comfort Conference’s Trans Career Expo that happened this weekend in Atlanta. HRC’s Communications Team provided the SCC with additional resources for press outreach and was able to secure this LA Times story about the SCC. You can read the story in Sunday’s LA Times either below or online at: http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-transgender16sep16,1,925955.story?coll=la-news-a_section

As ENDA makes its way through the House this week we will be sure to try and keep you updated with the best information we have coming out of Congress. Also, please be on the lookout for advisories about potential communications activities around the bill’s mark-up.

Best,


Brad Luna
Communications Director
Human Rights Campaign

Safety In Numbers


It’s been said many times that business is the social change agent that ultimately affects us politically. Thank God for that. In order for businesses to increase their sales volume, they have to have an understanding of who their buyers are and make adjustments to their internal corporate culture as well as their products and services to meet the needs of their customers.

Corporate America has made incredible strides toward
streamlining their companies to match their customers. The HRC’s Corporate Equality Index reports higher amounts of companies that score 100% every year. Equality Forum just produced recent numbers indicating that improvements are now being made towards a better workplace environment for our transgendered co-workers.

So as corporate America does their part, GLBT professionals must also step up to the plate by
participating in the various surveys and studies that are being conducted on our community. Since our demographic is not even considered in the US Census, we can only speculate as to how large the GLBT community is in America. Companies like Witeck-Combs Communications, Harris Interactive, Opuscomm Group and others calculate annual surveys which are then utilized by corporations to beef up their connection to our community.

Our government has a very delayed “keep up with the Joneses” relationship with corporate America. Although it may take them a year and a day to drift towards the obvious trends, they eventually see the light. ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) would have stayed on the cutting room floor
without the collaborative efforts of the Human Rights Campaign and our very honorable “counters.”

Whether you’re an out professional or questioning whether to have your second coming out as an out professional, when that form comes in your email - FILL IT OUT.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

July/Aug 2007 Issue


Things are looking up for GLBT business! ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) was
re-introduced in Congress and Echelon is back in print.

The rebirth of a bill to provide basic protections in the workplace coincides with the resurrection of the only GLBT-business publication in America.
Whether or not ENDA goes through this time, Echelon emerges as the leader in Gay business
media and will continue to present the case to
support the rule of equality in the workplace.

Bob Witeck of Witeck-Combs Communications graces our pages like a lifeguard on the beach
giving a green light to all corporations that will alleviate their fears on marketing their products and sevices to our community. This insightful interview poses as a stalwart benchmark on media politics.

Kathleen Watt turns in a unique and innovative article on the program for GLBT self-identification in the workplace initiated by Sun Microsystems Inc. Quantifying our numbers at work sets the stage for finally acknowledging our community’s major contributions in the business milieu.

We hope you enjoy the great diversity of our editorial content as we begin a long and successful dialogue, providing you with the motivation and inspiration to help you succeed in your career.

Subscribe Here!


Michael Lamb
Editor-In-Chief