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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Message from the Founding Executive Director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates Selisse Berry

I’ve just returned from the inauguration of our 44th president, Barrack H. Obama, in Washington, D.C. The energy and the sense of community I experienced there was incredible and life affirming. Cynthia and I attended the Equality Gala, co-sponsored by Out & Equal, and connected with friends from all over the country.

The jubilation and pride we saw throughout the capital area was euphoric. I remember in June 2007 when Barrack Obama said, "While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."
This represents a historic opportuntiy for all Out & Equal supporters to make progressive change in workplaces across the country. Already President Obama and Vice President Biden have included LGBT Civil Rights in their official plan, which is available on the President’s website They include:

Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement
Obama and Biden will reverse the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration's Department of Justice. They will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.

Combat Employment Discrimination
Obama and Biden will work to overturn the Supreme Court's recent ruling that curtails racial minorities' and women's ability to challenge pay discrimination. They will also pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.
Expand Hate Crimes Statutes

Obama and Biden will strengthen federal hate crimes legislation, expand hate crimes protection by passing the Matthew Shepard Act, and reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice's Criminal Section.

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