Washington State, Minnesota and Iowa are among the best places for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) individuals to work at, according to a new XpertHR report that evaluates the states offering the most progressive and friendly work environment for LGBTs. The report found only a handful of states are especially progressive and provide a particularly friendly environment for LGBTs. Six states in the Northeast made the list, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont, along with Washington State, Iowa, California and Minnesota.

“Although federal law does not protect LGBTs from employment discrimination, a number of states have enacted laws protecting lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals,” says Peggy Carter-Ward, Head of Content, XpertHR. “These states are leaders in safeguarding LGBTs against discrimination in the workplace -- by passing gay rights ordinances, permitting same-sex marriage, providing benefits to same-sex partners, and/or outlawing hate crimes.”

Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has long been a controversial issue. Fifty-two percent of the LGBT population lives in states that do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the Movement Advancement Project.

Given the rate of change of legal protections for LGBTs among the states and across municipalities, employers who have not yet considered LGBT issues are well advised to review their policies and strategies to ensure they are compliant with the legal trends and are aware of the broader cultural shifts underway. The implications of this shift for all employers are significant and likely to increase in the coming years.

The demise of DOMA was inevitable, and some companies saw this coming and they changed their policies and practices, but many employers haven't made any change and they are trying to catch up with this reality today.

XpertHR’s report examined state-specific laws protecting against and prohibiting discrimination, states offering same-sex marriage and other benefits, state laws on hate crimes, and a generally positive working and living climate for LGBTs to determine which states offered the best working environment.

While some might be surprised that Iowa--located in the conservative Midwest—made the list, the Hawkeye State has been a leader in the region when it comes to rights for LGBT individuals. Iowa became the first Midwestern state to recognize same-sex marriage in 2009 and it has provided benefits to same-sex partners of state employees since 2003. The same holds true for Minnesota, which in fact, has had an active gay rights movement since the 1970s and was the first state to implement gender identity protections.

Gay communities have thrived in California for quite some time, especially in cities like Los Angeles, Hollywood and San Francisco. In the 1970s, LGBT activist Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to public office in the country and was instrumental in passing one of the nation’s first gay rights ordinances in San Francisco in 1978.

New England states like Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont are increasingly liberal and provide LGBT individuals with expanded rights and protections. Massachusetts became the first state to permit same-sex marriage in 2003 and over 20 years ago Governor William Weld permitted state employees to register as domestic partners for bereavement leave and visitation rights in state hospitals and prisons.

In order to arrive at a listing of the top 10 LGBT employment friendly states, a number of criteria were using including:
  • Whether the state prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation;
  • Whether the state prohibits employment discrimination based on gender identity;
  • Whether the state permits same-sex marriage;
  • Whether the state prohibits hate crimes based on sexual orientation;
  • Whether the state prohibits hate crimes based on gender identity;
  • Whether same-sex partners are provided with state FMLA benefits;
  • State history of protecting LGBT rights including whether the state was a leader in extending protections;
  • The state’s general cultural environment and atmosphere;
  • The state’s general political environment and whether there have been LGBT politicians in leadership positions; and
  • Municipal and county protections for LGBT individuals.
About the Author
Beth P. Zoller is the legal editor for the discrimination, affirmative action, harassment, retaliation, employee privacy, and employee handbooks/work rules/employee conduct content in the employee management section of XpertHR. Prior to joining XpertHR, Beth practiced law for more than 10 years, representing employers with respect to employment discrimination and harassment claims, contractual disputes, restrictive covenant issues, family and medical leave, wage and hour disputes and a variety of other employment-related claims.

About XpertHR
XpertHR’s online service provides HR professionals with practical compliance tools and comprehensive guidance on federal, state and municipal law, helping employers stay current with evolving and complex employment law issues. It is published in association with sister company LexisNexis. XpertHR.com is a unique, easy-to-use solution organized around the day-to-day responsibilities of HR professionals. In addition to smart search features, you can browse through content by task, by topic, or by tool type to help you find just what you need in seconds. Our key features include the popular Employment Law Manual and Liveflo employment workflows. XpertHR is part of Reed Business Information.

About Reed Business Information
Reed Business Information brings leading brands to an audience of millions of decision makers worldwide through its multi- platform media of data services, online lead generation services, community websites, magazines and events.

Source: Press Release
New Report Finds Workplace Discrimination, Wage Disparities, and Health Disparities

Atlanta, GA — A new report released today offers the most comprehensive analysis to date of the inequities facing transgender workers in the American workforce—from finding and keeping good jobs, to having equal access to job-related benefits, to obtaining adequate health insurance coverage. ”A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers” is a companion to the recently released report, “A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits and More Taxes for LGBT Workers.”

The report also offers specific recommendations for policymakers and employers to reduce and eliminate inequities for transgender workers and help restore America’s basic workplace bargain of fairness and equality. “A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers” is co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project, or MAP; the National Center for Transgender Equality, or NCTE; the Center for American Progress, or CAP; and the Human Rights Campaign, or HRC, in partnership with Freedom to Work, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, and SEIU.

Recent CAP polling shows that 73 percent of voters support protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment. Despite this strong public support, no federal law provides explicit legal protections for transgender workers based on gender identity/expression, and only 17 states and the District of Columbia offer these protections. As a result, transgender workers face higher rates of unemployment and are at greater risk of poverty.

“A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers” reveals that:
  • Transgender workers report unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole (14 percent versus 7 percent at the time the workers were surveyed)
  • More than 4 in 10 transgender people (44 percent) who are currently working are underemployed
  • Transgender workers are nearly four times more likely than the population as a whole to have a household income of less than $10,000 (15 percent versus 4 percent at the time the workers were surveyed)
“This new report underscores the harsh reality of what it means to live and work as a transgender person in this country,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE. “Like other workers, transgender Americans deserve to be judged by our work and contributions and not by one aspect of who we are.”

“Unfair laws and policies impose real, everyday burdens on transgender workers across the country,” said Ineke Mushovic, executive director of MAP. “It’s shocking that in this day and age, federal nondiscrimination law still does not explicitly protect a high-performing worker from being fired just because he or she is transgender.”

Among the burdens and inequities faced by transgender workers:
  • Pervasive misunderstanding, hiring bias, and on-the-job discrimination. Many Americans have very little understanding of what it means to be transgender. As a result, for transgender people seeking work, the entire job search and hiring process is full of challenges, particularly if a legal name or gender on an identity document (for example, a driver’s license) does not match the outward appearance of the applicant. Once a transgender employee is hired, he or she may face many forms of harassment and discrimination, including denial of promotions or unfair firing.
  • Wage inequities. In addition to job discrimination, transgender employees face wage disparities that make it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families.
  • Lack of explicit legal protections. Transgender workers facing discrimination may seek recourse by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, for sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC will work to mediate a settlement on the worker’s behalf and has done so successfully. However, EEOC rulings are not binding on private employers, furthering the need for explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender workers under federal law.
  • Inability to update identity documents. Intrusive and burdensome requirements can still make it difficult or impossible for many transgender people to obtain accurate and consistent identification documents.
  • Unequal access to health insurance benefits. Exclusions in health insurance often deny transgender workers access to both basic health care and transition-related care.
  • Denial of personal medical leave. Employers may deny transgender workers leave for necessary transition-related care, incorrectly stating that such care does not constitute a “serious medical condition.” As a result, transgender employees may face a difficult choice: put their jobs at risk to care for themselves, or make do without the necessary health care and put their health in jeopardy.
“Far too often, employers offer health benefits that do not provide the coverage and medical leave that are crucial to the well-being and security of transgender workers and their families,” said Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs at CAP. “Workplace fairness means more than freedom from harassment; it means equal access to the benefits that transgender employees need to live healthy and productive lives.”

“Despite the progress made at the local, state, and federal levels, transgender Americans face workplace discrimination at alarming rates,” said Jeff Krehely, vice president and chief foundation officer at the Human Rights Campaign. “The EEOC’s recent decision in Holder v. Macy, which found that discrimination against transgender workers is prohibited since it is a form of sex-based discrimination, was important; however, we have a ways to go until we are able to end the cycle of discrimination, unemployment, and underemployment of qualified workers who are willing and able to contribute to society in meaningful and productive ways.”

The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just, and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Source: Press Release from Center for American Progress

A New era at the Vatican.

Openness, modesty, change: Pope Francis has launched a revolution in the Vatican as he seeks to clean up the Catholic Church and improve its image. In the process, the pontiff is making friends as well as enemies.

Pope Francis’ comments reflect a hopeful change in tone; now, all Catholics should be included and affirmed as a matter of basic human dignity

WASHINGTON: Following his historic visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, Pope Francis made multiple comments about gay Catholics in the priesthood during a wide-ranging press conference aboard the Papal plane. 

By all accounts, the Pope was speaking in response to a question about gay priests within the Roman Curia when he said, "Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?" He went on to discuss the so-called “Gay lobby,” gay leaders within the church seeking to change it from within, remarking, “they shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers."

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, made the following statement.  

“While Pope Francis’s words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone. Like his namesake, Francis’s humility and respect for human dignity are showing through, and the widespread positive response his words have received around the world reveals that Catholics everywhere are thirsty for change.”

“But as long as millions of LGBT Catholic individuals, couples and youth alike are told in churches big and small that their lives and their families are disordered and sinful because of how they are born—how God made them—then the Church is sending a deeply harmful message. One’s sexuality is an immutable characteristic, and every leading medical and mental health organization has declared that attempts to change or suppress that fact are profoundly damaging. It’s time to send positive and affirming messages to all people, because the Bible is clear. All people have dignity in themselves and in their love for one another. It’s time for Church teaching to reflect that simple fact.”

A recent poll from New York Times/CBS News found that more than six in ten American Catholics support equal marriage, compared to 53 percent of the country as a whole. Another poll released today by Gallup, shows over 60 percent of Catholics support a law to legalize marriage equality in all 50 states, far greater than support by members of any other organized religion. The Catholic hierarchy would do well to listen to its members.


This morning, Wednesday, June 26, 2013,  in a 5 to 4 decision the United States Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, and the federal government must treat the marriages of same-sex couples the same as all other marriages for purposes of federal programs and benefits. The Court also ruled that the proponents of California’s Proposition 8—the 2008 measure that stripped the freedom to marry from same-sex couples in that state—did not have the right to appeal Judge Vaughn Walker’s 2010 decision striking down the measure. Same-sex couples will again be able to marry in California. 

We've waited for years. And we've just learned that California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act are HISTORY! said Kate Kendell, Esq. NCLR Executive Director

Leading Jewish Social Justice Group Celebrates Ruling as True to American Jewish Values
NEW YORK CITY—In a landmark victory for civil rights, the US Supreme Court today struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prevented same-sex couples in legal marriages from enjoying equal protection under federal law and equal access to federal benefits for married couples.  The court also dismissed an appeal regarding California’s Proposition 8, making it possible for same-sex marriage to resume in that state. “American Jews nationwide applaud today’s ruling from the Supreme Court, which continues the proud American tradition of ever-expanding personal rights, and honors the Jewish values of shared humanity and equality that we hold dear,” said Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc, a leading national Jewish social justice organization.  “Having faced prejudice and bigotry throughout our history, the Jewish community does not tolerate unjust discrimination against others.  Personally, as a gay Jewish man who has long been fighting for LGBT rights, it means so much to see our highest court rule that my family has as much right to happiness and protection under the law as any other. We have come far.  But there is more to do. The Court has opened the door to greater equality for all people, and now is the time for our state and national officials to lead the march through it.  Our elected leaders must turn this decision into action and make full equality a reality for all Americans and their families.”

"Today’s historic decisions put two giant cracks in the dark wall of discrimination that separates committed gay and lesbian couples from full equality,” said HRC president Chad Griffin, who brought together the bipartisan legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies that brought the Proposition 8 case to the Supreme Court. “While we celebrate the victory for Californians today, tomorrow we turn our attention to the millions of LGBT people who don’t feel the reach of these decisions. From the Rocky Mountains to the heart of the South, it’s time to push equality forward until every American can marry the person they love and all LGBT people are guaranteed equal protection under the law.”

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s premier resource and support network for LGBT military families, released the following statement today in response to the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the 2nd Circuit Court's ruling on the unconstitutionality of DOMA.  “Considering today’s ruling in favor of federal recognition of same-sex marriage, we are especially eager to see the Department of Defense quickly extend equal benefits for all legally married service members," said Stephen Peters, president of AMPA. "It's a great day for all LGBT families, but especially our military families who for so long have sacrificed more than should be asked of them."

“Today, we congratulate plaintiff Edie Windsor, her incredible legal team, and all those who have stood up for the freedom to marry in America. This victory is especially sweet for our nation’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, who can now not only serve openly, but can serve knowing that their loving, committed, and legal marriages will be recognized by the military they serve and the nation they protect,” said Army veteran and OutServe­SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson.

GetEQUAL -- a national LGBT social justice organization -- issued the following statement about this morning's Supreme Court rulings on Proposition 8 (dismissed due to lack of standing 5-4) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA struck down 5-4 as unconstitutional):

"We're happy today because our community finally has secured the right to marry in 13 states and Washington, DC. But we know that partial freedom is not freedom -- we must not leave behind our sisters and brothers who are not fully equal at marriage counters across the country. Our work is far from over -- not simply in our struggle for marriage equality in all 50 states, but also in employment, immigration, housing, credit, public accommodations, and so many other ways. Today we celebrate, but we are getting right back to work."

From Courage  Campaign:  "Just now, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional. That means loving, committed, legally married same-sex couples across our nation will have every federal right they deserve -- including military benefits, Social Security, taxation, and more. This is a huge win for the LGBT equality movement. But our federal government is notoriously slow to implement huge changes like this--bureaucrats slow things down. Many couples can't wait for critical benefits when it comes to issues like immigration, and that's where you come in."

"At long last, the legal marriages of countless gay and lesbian couples will be afforded the same federal recognition and protections as any other," said GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz. "Today is a cornerstone for justice and equality -- when our nation once again moved closer to recognizing and celebrating all LGBT Americans for their contributions to our great country." 

About All Out:  "We encourage gays and lesbians in the U.S. to remember their brothers and sisters around the world. We must not rest until everyone is treated equally regardless of where they live. While marriage for gays and lesbians will be a reality once again in California, the law is still a complicated mess for gays and lesbians in the United States,” said Andre Banks Executive Director of All Out. “Gay Americans have on again off again protections depending on where they live, and where they travel. This is unacceptable, and un-American. We will continue to fight until the freedom to marry is available in 50 states and every country around the world.”  

by ReconcilingWorks

The Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin, a premier scholar on Martin Luther, elected as Lutheran Bishop

Lutherans for Full Participation celebrates the election of the Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin as Bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA), during the synod's three-day annual assembly in Woodland Hills, California.

This election of a partnered and openly gay member of the clergy marks a historic first for the ELCA. Erwin will serve as one of 65 synodical bishops in the denomination. Bishops function as spiritual leaders, administrators, and chief executive officers of synods which are, save one, geographical collections of congregations.

"The election of Pastor Erwin to the office of bishop occurred because he was the best candidate, not because he was a partnered gay man. Pastor Erwin is an eminent scholar and church leader. He is a teacher at heart and was an excellent pastor long before he was ordained in 2011. In many ways his election is simply the logical and appropriate next step for our denomination following the 2009 elimination of policies precluding pastors in committed same-gender relationships," said Emily Eastwood, executive director of ReconcilingWorks.  "In other ways, Pastor Erwin's election marks a new and brighter day for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Lutherans as one of our own has been chosen not in spite of being gay, but because he is truly gifted and skilled for the office. Once again, today we are proud to be Lutherans."

Prayer, discernment, and the Holy Spirit led the voting members to choose Pastor Erwin as their leader.  Voting members chose a bishop based on their own consciences, not bound by the views of their congregations but by the Gospel with its call to invite everyone to the table.

ReconcilingWorks (previously known as Lutherans Concerned) worked for decades to lift the ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy.  In 2009, the ELCA Churchwide Assembly voted to lift the ban, in place since 1989.

Rev. Dr. Erwin holds the Chair of Lutheran Confessional Theology professor at California Lutheran University and directs the Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture.  A native of Oklahoma, he is an active member of the Osage Nation of Native Americans. He has served as the ELCA representative to the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches, as board member of Augsburg Fortress Publishers, and as member of the ELCA Higher Education Task Force.  An ordained minister in the ELCA, Dr. Erwin and his partner, Rob Flynn, attend St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, California. 

Paris, France -  On Friday May 17, 2013,, President Hollande signed a bill that gives gays and lesbians the right to marry France.
  • French President Hollande signs bill giving gays and lesbians the right to marry in France

  • More than 300,000 All Out members signed a petition urging the French Parliament to pass the bill

  • All Out members rallied in 17 cities throughout France leading up to bill’s passage

“More than 300,000 All Out members spoke loud and clear and the French government responded,” Andre Banks Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out said, “Now, those who signed France’s largest online petition in history have been answered. Marriage for gays and lesbians is a reality in France.”

“In 76 countries it is a crime to be gay, in 10 it could cost you your life,” Andre Banks continued. “France is sending a strong message to the world that no one should sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or who they love. We invite the French government and the French people to join All Out in building a powerful global movement for love and equality.”

To see the live signature totals from All Out’s petition visit: https://www.allout.org/en/actions/egalite_maintenant

Source; All Out press release
Brazil’s National Council of Justice just ruled that public notaries across the country cannot turn away gays and lesbians seeking marriage licenses

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - On Tuesday, Brazil’s National Council of Justice with a vote of 14 -1 approved a resolution that prohibits public notaries across the country to deny same-sex couples access to marriage.

While rulings by the National Council of Justice can be appealed to the Supreme Court, an appeal in this case appears unlikely. Brazil’s Deputy General Prosecutor Francisco Sanseverino said the Brazilian Federal Public Ministry (MPF) would not appeal the decision.

“At All Out, we are building a world where no person will have to sacrifice their family or freedom, safety or dignity because of who they are or who they love,” Andre Banks, Executive Director and Co-Founder of All Out said today. ”Brazil’s National Council of Justice’s ruling brings our vision one step closer to reality. We celebrate this incredible moment with thousands of All Out members across Brazil and Latin America.”

“I am so proud of my country,” Leandro Ramos, All Out’s Campaign Manager for Brazil said. “Even though our marriage equality bill is still looming in Congress, this is a historic moment we should all celebrate. In 76 countries it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life, but in Brazil we can serve as an example to the rest of the world. No matter who you are, you should have the freedom to marry the person you love.”

Source: Press release by All Out
by David Cohen

NBA player Jason Collins announced today that he's gay in a story for Sports Illustrated, By doing so,Jason became the first  professional male basketball player to come out. He is the first player in a major American team sport to announce that he is gay.
"I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation," Collins wrote. "I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand." 

“Jason Collins’ courage should be commended” said Andre Banks Executive Director and Co-founder of All Out. “Our members clearly agree. Hundreds of people signed a note thanking Jason Collins for breaking his silence within minutes of his announcement. We hope more professional athletes come out. Not only will they have an active fan base ready to support their careers, but their position as a positive role model will save lives and reduce bullying. Collins may not realize this yet, but he is a hero.” 

President Obama called Collins today and told him that he was impressed by his courage, according to a White House official who was not authorized to discuss the private conversation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Former President Bill Clinton, and his daughter Chelsea who attended Stanford with Collins, both applauded Collins' courage in announcing that he is gay..

“All the support I have received today is truly inspirational. I knew that I was choosing the road less traveled but I'm not walking it alone" wrote Jason Collins on Twitter 

Jason straight forward statement is an important moment in the history of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, and a special moment for any professional in American sport. All Collins wants is to be himself and to be honest. He want to be who he is, and to continue do his work and contribute to the game he loves with dignity, and stand tall and pride in front of all people. 

We hope that everyone around Jason especially his colleagues in the NBA, his fans will continue their support, and respect him for what he earn through the years.

We should all wish the 34-year-old man Jason, continued success for the courage he showed today, We should learn from this man, From the man who is a free agent,  from the man who ended last season with the Washington Wizards after being traded by the Boston Celtics,  We should learned how to be comfortable in our own skin and to be proud for who we are.

To see the live signature totals from All Out’s thank you note: http://www.allout.org/thank-you-jason