Grand Divisions

Tennessee Equality Project seeks to advance and protect the civil rights of our State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons and their families in each Grand Division.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Harold Ford, Jr. faces his toughest crowd in New York

Hat tip to Towleroad for the video link; video shot by David Badash.

Well, he did it. Harold Ford, Jr. spoke before the Stonewall Democrats tonight. The crowd at the New York Lesbian, Gay & Transgender Center was tough. Observers are describing it as a bad night for Ford. It was in the sense that he endured precise, grilling questions on his record and his motives. He was interrupted regularly, but considering his past positions and the build up to the event, it turned out to be a more civil affair than I expected.

The crowd wasn't interested in giving Ford a pass on anything and was clearly weighing the prospect of Ford vs the more known quantity of equality advocate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. But I can't help but think that the night was a win for everyone. Ford showed courage (some might say audacity) in facing his strongest critics and the New York GLBT community clearly communicated its anger and incredulity while still giving him a fair hearing. It's the kind of event that needs to happen more often around the country. Let's hope the dialogue continues.

-Chris Sanders

Monday, February 22, 2010

Discrimination against GLBT community noted in Nashville Poverty report

Nashville's Poverty Reduction Initiative Plan with Executive Summary & Action Committee Reports came out today. Released by the Mayor's Office and initiative co-chairs Howard Gentry of the Nashville Chamber Public Benefit Board and Cynthia Croom of the Metro Action Commission, the document offers recommendations in the areas of child care, economic opportunity (the committee on which I served), food, health care, housing, neighborhood development, and workforce development.

I read through the plan this morning and was pleased when I got to the section on workforce development. Right there on page 66, discrimination against the GLBT community is acknowledged as a barrier not once but twice. One of the action steps recommended is:

Action 5
Provide quarterly workshops for business on related topics in order to lower barriers
and increase cultural sensitivity in the employment process.
The recommended action steps include: 1) holding quarterly workshops that increase awareness of various topics including federal/state/local incentives (work opportunity tax credit), physical/mental disabilities, religious accommodation and multicultural awareness
(socioeconomic barriers, GLBT, and job readiness training); and 2) inviting all businesses, ranging from small start‐ups to Fortune 500 companies, to this quarterly workshop.

How will this action reduce poverty in Nashville, what are the expected outcomes, and what willbe the change that occurs if this action is taken?

This action seeks to increase knowledge and awareness of cultural differences which will enhance the employers’ ability to recruit and retain quality employees. The city of Nashville is steadily attracting both quality employers and employees. In an effort to lead the business community to do the right thing, these workshops can support businesses by creating a forum where the benefits and concrete “how‐to’s” of cultural sensitivities can be discussed. As a result, businesses can better understand how embracing efforts to lower barriers and increase cultural sensitivity in the employment process can positively affect their bottom line and benefit the community. Participants will have an increased knowledge of federal/state/local incentives (work opportunity tax credit), physical/mental disabilities, religious accommodation, and multicultural awareness (socioeconomic barriers, GLBT, job readiness training). There will be increased rates of hiring populations that live in poverty. END

First, this is perhaps the first time that a Metro report of this scale has acknowledged that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is one factor among many that contributes to poverty in our city. And in that regard, it is a good reminder to both the mainstream and the GLBT communities that we are not immune to poverty, joblessness, and underemployment--all intensified by discriminatory practices. Second, armed with the moral authority of having passed its own non-discriminatory ordinance, Metro is in a position to recommend more open discussions with business about discrimination against the GLBT community. These discussions alone will not solve the problem, but they represent another step forward. There is a recognition that such discrimination ought to be part of the dialogue along with other factors like disability, ethnicity, etc.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Quotation of the Day: "...not vessels for votes."

Nick Herbert, a gay conservative member of the British Parliament, addresses the Cato Institute today. In the write-up about his appearance, the Advocate quotes him in a Guardian piece:

"Gay people are not the property of the left, or of any party,” Herbert's speech reads. “They are not an interest group or a political commodity to be traded. They are not vessels for votes. Gay people are motivated by the same issues as any other voter. They will vote for the political party which best sits with their views — so long as that party does not make itself taboo."

If one party takes the American GLBT community for granted and the other fails to see opportunity, we can't move public policy. We will win when they compete for us. I'm not holding my breath.