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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Out & Equal dismayed by Letterman joke made as the government makes history by adding gender identity to federal Equal Employment Opportunity policies

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is dismayed that The Late Show with David Letterman used the historic presidential appointment of former Out & Equal Board Member Amanda Simpson to a senior advisory post within the Department of Commerce as an opportunity to insult the transgender community.

In a move that is all too familiar to the LGBT community, Simpson's identity was made the target of an outrageously insensitive joke without regard to the exemplary qualifications she brings to her new position.

"It is this exact experience - focusing on who we are rather than the skills we bring to the workplace - that we have been fighting since I started Out & Equal," said Executive Director Selisse Berry. "Discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is unacceptable."

Simpson has three decades of aerospace, defense and technology experience, and most recently worked as a deputy director at Raytheon. She served on Out & Equal's Board of Directors for three years until last month, when she stepped down to assume her presidential appointment as the senior technology advisor to the Bureau of Industry and Security. 

Ironically, the Letterman incident comes as President Barack Obama's administration today, through the Office of Personnel Management, has started to list gender identity and transgender employees among the classes protected by federal Equal Employment Opportunity policies.
Berry added, "We should be celebrating the progress that the White House actions mean for the LGBT community, and not having to defend ourselves from discrimination and jokes made at our expense."

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