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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year To All!

2009 is finally over as we start to see a glimmer of recovery on the horizon for our economy. Although it was a tough year, it most assuredly challenged us to think "out of the box" in order to jump the professional hurdles. If that applies to you, then pat yourself on the back. You are a survivor and are stronger because of it all.

At Echelon Magazine, we are sending you our best wishes for a safe and prosperous New Year. In 2010, we look forward to ENDA passing in Congress to finally give the LGBT business community the respect that we deserve.

If you haven't signed up already, please opt-in to our free weekly newsletter to stay on top of LGBT business.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Federal Judge Rules U.S. Agency Has Waived Right to Appeal Order Requiring Health Insurance for Wife of 9th Circuit Employee and Lambda Legal Client

(San Francisco, December 22, 2009) — Chief Judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals Alex Kozinski today issued an order confirming that the
U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has failed to appeal in a timely
fashion from his prior order that a married lesbian court employee is
entitled to spousal health insurance for her wife.

"Judge Kozinski meant what he said:  Karen Golinski is entitled to be
treated equally as an employee of this federal court and her wife should be
eligible for health insurance just like other spouses,
" said Jennifer C.
Pizer, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal.  "And the judge cleared the way
today for Karen to take whatever action is needed to enforce her rights
against OPM."

Today's ruling explains that OPM's decision not to appeal makes the
November 19th order "final and preclusive on all issues decided therein as
to . . . [OPM] and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts"
including its "jurisdiction over governmental entities such as OPM."  The
November order will be reviewed by the Ninth Circuit Judicial Council in an
appeal limited only to issues properly presented by Blue Cross/Blue Shield,
Golinski's insurer, which appealed timely.

Lambda Legal and Morrison & Foerster LLP represent Golinski in her
discrimination complaint against the federal court.  Judge Kozinski
repeatedly has ordered that Golinski's wife, Amy Cunninghis, be enrolled in
Golinski's family insurance plan.  But OPM has told Blue Cross not to
comply, while also declining to appear in the proceeding or otherwise to
provide its legal analysis to either Judge Kozinski or Golinski's counsel.

"OPM has waived its right to appeal Judge Kozinski's order," said Pizer.
"Their press statements have no legal effect, and they continue to ignore
Judge Kozinski's ruling that our Constitution empowers the federal courts
to end discrimination against court employees.  It's hard to reconcile
their refusal to participate in this mandatory administrative process with
the Obama Administration's stated commitment to fair treatment of gay
," added Pizer.

"My spouse Amy and I are bitterly disappointed by the government's
," said Golinski.  "I followed the court's required procedures.
There are now two orders from Chief Judge Kozinski stating that I have
suffered discrimination and that the remedy is that my spouse should be
added to my family insurance plan.  This costs the federal government not
one penny.  Amy and I enter the new year still with unrelenting stress and
anxiety because her health insurance coverage is inadequate and costly."

Lambda Legal's Pizer represents Karen Golinski in this matter together with
James McGuire and Sarah Griswold of Morrison & Foerster LLP.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gaywheels Picks the Best of 2009

Each year, the editors of drive hundreds of new cars to find the best new vehicles for you, your partner, your family, and sometimes for ourselves too.
We published our inaugural Best Vehicles list in 2007 and are continuing the tradition in 2009 with some new faces and a new format.
Rather than pick just one Car or Truck of the year, we asked our editors to share their picks in various categories. After all, no vehicle can meet the needs of everyone. So we created a few categories and the list includes Best Family Car, Best Date Car, Best Makeover, Best New Car, Best Club Car and finally each editor chose a "Best Car for Me".

Read on...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Log Cabin Republicans Responds to Comments Made by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC)

In an interview with Bloomberg's Al Hunt regarding the notion of an openly Gay President, Senator Jim DeMint responded with "It would be bothersome to me just personally because I consider it immoral"


"Marriage is a religious institution. The federal government has no business redefining what it is," he said. "Governments should not be in the business of promoting a behavior that's proven to be destructive to our society."


(Washington, DC) - In response to comments made by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) in an interview with Bloomberg News columnist Albert R. Hunt, Log Cabin Republicans has issued the following statement:

"It is disturbing to see such divisive and hateful words coming from a United States Senator, who is also a respected leader of the 'Tea Party' movement. In a state that has made great strides in overcoming discrimination, Senator DeMint's comments reveal a belief that is anti-conservative and anti-Republican," comments Log Cabin Republicans National Board Chairman Terry W. Hamilton. "Senator DeMint is clearly out of the mainstream of GOP and American thinking. Good Americans and good Republicans don't support discrimination of Senator DeMint's brand - period."

Log Cabin Republicans National Spokesperson Charles T. Moran comments: "Senator DeMint's beliefs betray an un-conservative ideology that throws principle out the window when it becomes inconvenient. The primacy of state's rights is the bedrock of our nation's Constitution. The Senator betrays the trust of the American people when speaking and acting like a bully instead of a statesman. Senator DeMint's continued antics put in jeopardy the GOP resurgence in 2010. This is the time for Republicans to unite and hold Democrats accountable for failed economic progress and out-of-control spending, and not waste time on divisive social issues." 


"Another milestone in the quest for LGBT equality was reached last night with the historic election of Annise Parker as Mayor of Houston.  Annise is an incredibly qualified and gifted public servant, who focused her campaign on public safety, the economy and the future of Houston.  She stood up to last minute anti-gay attacks with grace, courage and determination which carried the day. Houston, America’s fourth largest city, sent a positive message to the nation, that it chose the best person for the job based on her experience and qualifications, while at the same time breaking another glass ceiling. We congratulate Annise on her stunning victory, and we congratulate the Victory Fund for their tireless and successful work on her behalf."

Friday, December 4, 2009


In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally: Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now. At a time when our government is deeply focused on the critical issue of employment, it is inexcusable to delay action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Each and every job lost to prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity needlessly compounds the unemployment challenges facing our nation. We call on Congress for the immediate passage of ENDA.

For decades now, we have called upon Congress to pass legislation to address the basic right of LGBT people to work free from discrimination at our jobs, and now Congress tells us we must wait another year. In 29 states, it remains legal to fire people based on sexual orientation and in 38 states, discrimination based on gender identity remains legal. In failing to take swift action to pass ENDA, our government allows unfettered bigotry to go unchecked, leading to the loss of jobs, fear in the workplace, economic instability, and personal hardship, while allowing employers to lose competent experienced workers. ENDA is urgently needed by our communities.

The majority of Americans consistently state their support for employment protections and voters have affirmed similar state and local measures. There is absolutely no reason for Congress to continue to delay this non-controversial bill or drop LGBT issues to the bottom of their agenda. We will not be denied basic rights any longer.  Nothing is more important than protecting peoples’ jobs so ENDA must pass now. Further delays are absolutely unacceptable.

Matthew Coles & James Esseks, Co-Directors, American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project
Terry Stone, Executive Director, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
Toni Broaddus, Executive Director, Equality Federation
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director, Family Equality Council
Lee Swislow, Executive Director, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders
Jarrett Tomás Barrios, President, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation
Joe Solmonese, President, Human Rights Campaign
Rachel T. Niven, Executive Director, Immigration Equality
Earl Fowlkes, President/CEO, International Federation of Black Prides, Inc.
Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director, Lambda Legal
Christian Berle, Director of the Log Cabin Republicans National Office
Sharon J. Lettman, Executive Director/CEO, National Black Justice Coalition
Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality
Rebecca Fox, Executive Director, National Coalition for LGBT Health
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund
Michael Mitchell, Executive Director, National Stonewall Democrats
Gregory Varnum, Executive Director, National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Selisse Berry, Founding Executive Director, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
Jody Huckaby, Executive Director, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) National
Jo Kenny, Interim Director, Pride at Work AFL-CIO
Masen Davis, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center

Additional organizations may be added.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Statement from GLAAD and ABC on ABC’s Decision to Cancel Performances by Adam Lambert

New York, NY, December 3, 2009 – After it was announced that ABC decided to cancel appearances by openly gay singer Adam Lambert on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Dick Clark’s ‘New Year's Rockin' Eve,' the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spoke several times with ABC today regarding concerns that Adam Lambert was being held to a double standard.

After these discussions ABC issued the following statement to GLAAD:

"Given the live nature of the American Music Awards, Adam Lambert’s performance, which differed greatly from his rehearsal, caught many, including the network, off guard. This is not a question of Lambert’s sexual orientation. As is evidenced by GLAAD’s media report card, ABC is at the forefront of positive gay and lesbian portrayal on television. We welcome openly gay performers and look forward to continuing our great work within the LGBT community."

“It would appear that the kiss between Adam Lambert and his keyboardist did not factor into ABC’s decision,” said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “ABC has a history of positive gay and transgender inclusion that includes featuring kisses between gay and lesbian couples on-air.”

“We applaud the visibility of openly gay performers and congratulate Adam Lambert for sharing his story on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this week as well as his upcoming appearance on The Jay Leno Show,” Barrios said.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New York Senate Fails to Pass Marriage Equality Bill: Lambda Legal Says, "This isn't over."

(New York, December 2, 2009)—Today, the New York Senate took a long overdue vote on the marriage equality bill presented by Governor Paterson but failed to pass the measure, thereby denying equality to New York’s same-sex couples.

Statement from Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal:

"We are disappointed but not discouraged by the New York Senate’s failure to finish the job started by Governor Paterson and the Assembly. The vote taken today denies justice to the thousands of same-sex couples in New York who are still not allowed to get married in their home state. "

"But justice and equality cannot be held back for long.  Same-sex couples and their families deserve to be treated fairly, and New Yorkers understand that discrimination and exclusion is unfair. "

"As always, Lambda Legal will continue to make the case for equality and will continue to defend the state’s recognition of out-of-state marriages, as we did in New York’s highest court last month.  But no matter how many times we defend families in court or how consistently the state upholds recognition of out-of-state marriages, same-sex couples in New York are still vulnerable to discrimination until they can marry in the state where they live. This is not over. "

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Washington, D.C. Council Votes in Support of the Freedom to Marry

Look to New York and New Jersey to Continue the Momentum Toward Fairness

New York, December 1, 2009 — Statement by Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry, following the District of Columbia City Council’s 11-2 vote in support of the freedom to marry, the first of two required votes:

Today, the District of Columbia’s City Council listened to their constituents and overwhelmingly voted in support of protecting families throughout the District, the first of two votes needed by the council to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.  A majority of voters, and families, from across New York and New Jersey now look to their representatives in the state legislature to do the right thing and vote in support of the freedom to marry.  As research has shown, by voting for the freedom to marry for gay couples, legislators in these states will continue to be re-elected just as every other state legislator who has voted in support of marriage equality and ran for re-election.”

Take Action on ENDA Now!

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which was originally planned for a House vote in September or October of this year, then November, is now expected to be voted on in February 2010. This timing is particularly problematic because it would put ENDA into the Senate at a very difficult time for most Senators: a major legislative logjam, a major jobs initiative, midterm election campaigns, and a promised Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal.

"ENDA is a powerful piece of legislation that will prohibit workplace discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation or gender identity under federal law, and is necessary because it is still legal to fire a person based on their sexual orientation in 29 states, and in 38 states it is legal to do so based on gender identity.  The time has come for all workers to receive equitable treatment under the law," said Justin G. Nelson, Co-Founder and President of the NGLCC.

The House Committee on Education and Labor is responsible for moving ENDA out of committee and onto the floor of the House of Representatives. Committee Chairman George Miller of California has stated that the bill is being held to vet language that has been vetted for years.

We encourage you and your members to reach out to Chairman Miller encouraging him to take immediate action on ENDA.  His office can be reached at 202-225-3725.

To learn more about ENDA and NGLCC's complete slate of legislative advocacy, please visit