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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

2009: An inspirational year for LGBT equality

Selisse Berry This year has shaped up to be one of the most inspiring in the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, with history-making legislation in the works.
We celebrated a successful 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Florida – attracting nearly 2,000 attendees and some of the world’s most well-known leaders – and federal lawmakers passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the first federal law that is specifically inclusive of the full LGBT community. 

President Obama not only signed the act into law, but soon after announced the official end of the HIV Travel and Immigration Ban. It is inspiring to see our federal leaders taking a stand to protect the LGBT community from problems that have existed for far too long.

Federal lawmakers are now considering crucial legislation that would protect the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community from discrimination at work with the fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Out & Equal has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to assure that the nation's leading corporations provide policies and protections for its LGBT employees in the absence of federal protections. The federal government is now poised to do what most major corporations have been doing for years – putting policies in place that protect employees from discrimination.

While this bill has a good chance of passing, your help is needed. It is essential that you contact your Senators and urge them to support this bill, known as ENDA. President Obama has said that he is ready to sign this bill. All we need now is for the Senate to act.
It has been an exciting year for growth at Out & Equal as well.

We saw the launch of Out & Equal, a unique job search and employment networking website that links diversity-friendly employers with top LGBT talent. LGBTCareerLink allows businesses the opportunity to expand their professional networks and contacts with job seekers and employers who are looking for top-notch talent. In its very brief history, LGBTCareerLink has successfully surpassed benchmarks for websites of its size.

Diversity training has also seen a remarkable increase in the past year. Designed for a wide variety of audiences our training programs are specifically tailored for corporations, mid-to-small businesses, educational institutions, faith communities, governmental agencies, community groups and nonprofit organizations.

During 2009, our Town Call speaker series, which features guest speakers presenting on current and pertinent topics via one hour telephone conference calls, was expanded to once per month. Each Town Call attracts busy working professionals and employee resource group members across the world.

All of these new and exciting programs and activities, when added to
Out & Equal’s existing programs, demonstrate an ever increasing assortment of the educational and forward-thinking resources that are open and available to everyone.
Now, while this is all positive news that’s worth celebrating, there is still much more work that needs to get done in order for us to realize our vision of workplace equality for all.
By working together on ENDA, we will see our vision of workplace equality for all become reality at workplaces throughout the country.

I am privileged to be part of a wonderful organization and community that brings together a group of diverse individuals and institutions all working toward a common mission.
Let's work together to make change. Together, we can be the difference.
Selisse Berry signature
Selisse Berry
Executive Director

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