Gay and Lesbian Journalists to Bust Boycott by Hotel Workers in Order to Hold Their Conference as Planned

My grand parents on my father’s side came here from Poland.  At Ellis Island they got a different name.  From Ellis Island they were taken to the iron mines of a company town called Mineville with company housing and a company store.  They were paid in company money called script good only for that company house and the company stores.  They were illiterate and the doctor who delivered my father spelled his name differently from the rest of his brothers and sisters.  My grandfather died of miner’s lung.

My other grandmother worked as a seamstress in the clothing and textile factories.

After my father came home from WW II he got a union job as a welder.  He was a member of the United Steel Workers Union.  Good pay, good benefits and a pension for hard body breaking work.

I grew up in a union house and learned early on that only the lowest forms of life cross workers picket lines. Rats, louses and scabs…

I am working class and proud.  I believe every worker should belong to a union and that unions should be able to break a corporation as easily as the corporations now break unions.

Therefore imagine my utter shock and disgust when I read the following from The Washington Blade

Gay journalists to face union picket line

Lou Chibbaro Jr. | Sep 01, 2010

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association has declined a request to withdraw its annual convention from San Francisco’s Hyatt Regency Hotel this weekend in connection with a labor union boycott of the hotel.

In a statement posted on its website, NLGJA officials said a cancellation of its contract with the hotel, which was signed three years ago, would result in a $150,000 penalty that could bankrupt the group.

The San Francisco chapter of Pride at Work, an LGBT labor group affiliated with the AFL-CIO, joined the city’s hotel workers union, Unite Here! Local 2, in calling on NLGJA to honor the union-initiated boycott of the Hyatt in an effort to win a long-delayed union contract for hotel employees.

“Although NLGJA understands the importance of collective bargaining and recognizes that worker actions are not to be blithely ignored, it is simply impossible at this late date for us to move this year’s convention to another hotel,” NLGJA President David Steinberg said in a statement.

“NLGJA was contacted by organizers from Unite Here! Local 2 in June, and we have had conversations with them for more than a month,” the statement says.

About 225 people were expected to attend the NLGJA convention, which was scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront district Sept. 2-5, according to NLGJA executive director Michael Tune.


Israel Alvaran, community outreach organizer for Unite Here! Local 2 and a member of Pride at Work said NLGJA would likely be faced with some added expenses for moving its convention to another hotel. But he said the union would have intervened to help NLGJA challenge a penalty fee from the Hyatt on grounds that the hotel most likely did not inform NLGJA of labor disputes and the possibility of a hotel boycott at the time the gay journalists group signed its contract with the hotel.

He noted that hotel labor disputes have been taking place in San Francisco for the past four years or longer.

“We’re disappointed that it never got to that point,” Alvaran said. “They never took the first step to look into moving the meeting.”

Read entire article complete with rationalizations on the part of this Gay and Lesbian Journalists organization as to why they won’t honor the picket line at:

Today when I listen to so many people who transition in middle age I am struck how many have class privilege.  They have professions and degrees, economic security that so many of us who were runaways or throwaways, people of color who grew up poor will never have.

I listen to those who carry on about ENDA, which for them means keeping that professional job.  But ENDA doesn’t mean so much when the jobs available to members of your class are part of the new servant economy.  When you are a barista with a degree.

For some of us the Employee’s Free Choice Act, benefits that include part time and contract/temp worker as well as issues like a “Living Wage” mean as much or more than things like ENDA.  Big fucking deal if you get a job where you aren’t discriminated against if you can’t afford to keep a roof over your head, eat, dress well enough to meet the dress code.  And I might add have enough left to enjoy living if only a little.

When the Textile workers in Lowell, Mass. went out on strike in the early 20th Century they demanded not just bread but roses too.

The LGBT/TQ movements owe much to the idea of Unions.  Harry Hay was a union organizer and many of us who have fought long and hard for LGBT/TQ rights are the children of union parents.

So I say to those of you who are journalists attending this conference. Shame upon you if you do not honor the worker’s picket lines.

Newt Gingrich Teams With Anti-Gay Zealot Lou ‘Uganda’ Engle For U.S. Cyber-‘Revival’

I can’t believe that I am actually listening to LGBT/T folks rationalize not supporting the Democratic Party in this fall’s elections.  Granted I’m mainly hearing this from conservative gay white men who are way too often blinded by both their class and skin privilege or their worship of strong powerful men to actually get up off their asses and support much of anything other than another party. (not the political sort)

Too often the heavy lifting has fallen on the political LGBT/T folks.  The activists who get abused by the do-nothings for not getting things done that might have gotten done had more people been willing to do the work.

You have to support the Democratic Candidates this fall.

Your lives may depend on it.

From Alternet:

By Frederick Clarkson, Talk To Action
Posted on September 1, 2010, Printed on September 2, 2010

The Christian right has often sought to stay the hand of God, angry with our failings as a nation, by “standing in the gap” at large prayer rallies and pleading for mercy. They have made a special point of doing so in the run-up to national elections since 1980, praying for “Godly” government and righteous candidates, and this year is no exception. The beneficiaries are almost always Republicans — and this year is probably no exception in that regard as well. But there is also an ominous element that mostly transcends parties and is on vivid display as we enter the fall campaign season.

On Labor Day weekend, Lou Engle, head of the fiery neo-Pentecostal group, The Call, is leading a worship service in a sports arena in Sacramento, California, and a “solemn assembly” at the state Capitol the next day. These events were initially billed as a 10th anniversary of The Call’s first youth rally on the National Mall which drew, according to the organization, 400,000 people. Since then, the Sacramento event has been repositioned as the kick-off of a major Christian right fall political campaign initiative. Engle says it will be the “hinge of history” opening the door to “the greatest awakening” and “returning our nation to its righteous roots.”

There are several important dimensions of this effort. One is that this is an effort at reaching and mobilizing evangelical young people into Republican politics, particularly in California; another is that it represents a new stage in the long-term cooperation between conservative Catholics, fundamentalists and the neo-Pentecostals. And finally, the militant rhetoric of Engle’s armies of activists is escalating, and their organizational infrastructure seems to be increasing, especially in cyberspace.

Before we discuss these, there is one additionally remarkable aspect of this. The eminence grise of this initiative appears to be former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose organization Renewing American Leadership (ReAL) is apparently the force behind a series of Christian right events being organized under the rubric of “Pray & Act.” This is politically important, but as Gingrich’s role becomes more public, it may also become morally dissonant, since Gingrich is well-known (and has been recently highlighted in the news) as a thrice-married serial philanderer (his recent conversion to Catholicism not withstanding). This certainly makes him an unlikely guide for a religious political movement whose leaders believe that the fate of America hinges on the health of heterosexual marriage.

Continue reading at:

Stephen Hawking: God didn’t create universe

From CNN:

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN//
September 2, 2010 3:41 p.m. EDT

LONDON, England (CNN) — God did not create the universe, world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book that aims to banish a divine creator from physics.

Hawking says in his book “The Grand Design” that, given the existence of gravity, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” according to an excerpt published Thursday in The Times of London.

“Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” he writes in the excerpt.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going,” he writes.

Continue reading at:

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Britain – The Equality Act 2010 – Where are we now?

[2010-09-02 Boyes Turner]

Boyes Turner Employment lawyers for employers

2010-09-02 18.32

The Equality Act 2010 – Where are we now?

After much speculation, the Government will be bringing The Equality Act 2010 into force – albeit with some changes to public sector responsibilities which are currently the subject of consultation.

Unlike other pieces of legislation which come into force on a set date, the Equality Act 2010 needed Parliament to pass special legislation to bring it into being. This has now happened. On 06 July 2010 ministerial regulation-making powers and Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) powers to issue codes of practice under the Act came into force allowing the government to issue subordinate legislation or guidance. This was followed with further ministerial regulation-making powers and government-issued codes of practice on 04 August 2010.


When will it come into force?

It is anticipated that the Equality Act 2010 will come into force in various tranches, the first of these being 1 October 2010 when the follow pieces changes will take effect:-

• The basic framework of protection against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation in services and public functions; premises; work; education; associations, and transport. This will replace the various separate pieces of discrimination legislation into one single Act of Parliament.

• Changing the definition of gender reassignment, by removing the requirement for medical supervision.

• Levelling up protection for people discriminated against because they are perceived to have, or are associated with someone who has, a protected characteristic, so providing new protection for people like carers.

• Clearer protection for breastfeeding mothers.

• Applying the European definition of indirect discrimination to all protected characteristics.

• Extending protection from indirect discrimination to disability.

• Introducing a new concept of “discrimination arising from disability”, to replace protection under previous legislation lost as a result of a legal judgment.

• Applying the detriment model to victimisation protection (aligning with the approach in employment law).

• Harmonising the thresholds for the duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

• Extending protection from 3rd party harassment to all protected characteristics.

• Making it more difficult for disabled people to be unfairly screened out when applying for jobs, by restricting the circumstances in which employers can ask job applicants questions about disability or health.

• Allowing hypothetical comparators for direct gender pay discrimination.

• Making pay secrecy clauses unenforceable.

• Extending protection in private clubs to sex, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment.

• Introducing new powers for employment tribunals to make recommendations which benefit the wider workforce.

• Harmonising provisions allowing voluntary positive action.


Provisions the Government is still considering:

• The Socio-economic Duty on public authorities – this is currently the subject to consultation. (see below)

• Dual discrimination.

• Duty to make reasonable adjustments to common parts of leasehold and common hold premises and common parts in Scotland.

• Gender pay gap information.

• Provisions relating to auxiliary aids in schools.

• Diversity reporting by political parties.

• Positive action in recruitment and promotion.

• Provisions about taxi accessibility.

• Prohibition on age discrimination in services and public functions.

• Family property.

• Civil partnerships on religious premises.

Ministers are considering how to implement these remaining provisions in the best way for business and for others with rights and responsibilities under the Act. Their decisions will be announced in due course.


And for the Public Sector …

A government consultation, Promoting equality through transparency, on proposed draft regulations for specific public sector duties, and on the list of public bodies that will be subject to the general and specific duties was published on 19 August 2010 and closes on 10 November 2010. The results of this consultation are expected to be published 3 months thereafter.


What should employers be doing?

1. Ensure your policies and procedures are up to date and comply with the October changes; having an equal opportunities policy that has not been reviewed as at October 2010 will not be acceptable to an Employment Tribunal.

2. Check contracts of employment to ensure there are no secrecy clauses stopping employees discussing their salaries – from October these will not be allowed.

3. Ensure managers are trained in equal opportunities and are aware of the forthcoming changes – keep records of training session attended. Have a look at ACAS guidance and the Codes of Practice issued by EHRC, these provide useful guidance; they can be accessed through their websites.

The key thing with any legislation change is to be prepared! The Equality Act 2010 marks a massive change in the culture of equality within the workplace and its effects should not be underestimated.

We will be running seminars and training programmes on the Equality Act 2010. For more information about courses for your business, please contact us on

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.


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It’s Not About Alan Simpson Anymore, It’s About Barack Obama

From Huffington Post:

Terry O’Neill

President, National Organization for Women

Posted: September 1, 2010 05:18 PM

Since the publication of Alan Simpson’s now infamous categorization of Social Security as “a milk cow with 310 million tits,” calls for his resignation or firing by President Obama have spread like wildfire. I agree that Simpson should go — but that’s the easy part. The real elephant in the room isn’t the one on the Social Security commission — it’s President Obama.

As Robert Kuttner wrote on the Huffington Post, “Simpson’s ‘Tits’ Are the Least of It.” Kuttner observed:

The campaign to fire Simpson has the right spirit but the wrong target. Obama should draw a line in the sand and make clear that if the commissioners propose cuts in Social Security, he will consider the whole exercise tainted.

Sounds good — but has Barack Obama shown any sign of the intestinal fortitude to take such a step? The ticking time bomb co-chaired by Alan Simpson, d/b/a the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (a name only a focus group could love), was created, as Kuttner reminds us, to be a smokescreen from the start, the theory being that the commission would give the president “cover” and demonstrate that he was fiscally responsible.

After the drubbing Obama has received from Republicans in Congress over health care, energy and the economy, he should be giving this strategy a big re-think. Exactly who is Obama looking for “cover” from? How many Republicans who are not from the state of Maine are likely to be persuaded by a Democratic President’s contortions to display “fiscal responsibility,” — which in this case means throwing the middle class under a bus? With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Let’s be clear: Social Security hasn’t contributed one penny to the deficit, and cutting it won’t fix the problem. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Social Security and the deficit:

“When you talk about reducing the deficit and Social Security, you’re talking about apples and oranges.To change Social Security in order to balance the budget, they aren’t the same thing in my view.”

The silence from the White House on this score has been deafening. And Barack Obama’s hesitation has only affirmed the very deliberately framed argument beneath Alan Simpson’s seemingly impromptu, asinine remarks.

Simpson has spent his entire time on the commission trying to convince the U.S. public that cutting Social Security benefits will somehow help reduce the federal deficit. That simply isn’t so. Social Security has nothing to do with the federal budget deficit. Its financing is completely separate from general revenues. In fact, by law, Social Security funds are not permitted to be directly spent on government operations other than its old age, survivors and disability programs.

Oh, and that tired old saw that Social Security isn’t solvent and won’t be there when most of us retire? That’s not so either. Social Security is solvent all the way to 2037 because of steps taken back in 1983, which successfully prepared the system for the retirement of the baby boomers. And with very modest tweaking, the system can be solvent through 2084. (For more details, see the Social Security Trustees 2010 Report.)

The good news is that the people of this country are not fooled. Polls show overwhelming opposition to cuts in Social Security — huge majorities of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, even Tea Party supporters don’t want benefit cuts. But despite all that, Barack Obama still won’t draw a line in the sand to protect Social Security.

That’s why the National Organization for Women is pushing back. We’re calling on President Obama to go beyond generalities and vague assurance and take a clear, unambiguous and forceful stand. Women can’t wait until the next election–or even next week–to hear it.

And Alan Simpson? He can go back to “putting his size 15 feet” in his mouth along with the baby pacifiers NOW members are this week sending his way!

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Summer’s Almost Gone

Yesterday evening the sky clouded up and it started to rain.

This morning I woke up to rain.  The kids are back in school already and Labor Day weekend starts tomorrow.

Next week we are going to hearing on toxic coal ash pollution with the Sierra Club.

September brings Dallas Pride Day and the State Fair.  We are going to see the Yankees play the Rangers again.  Baseball being arguably the only professional sport in America that hasn’t degenerated into pure macho dick waving, with the dick wrapped in a flag.

So I woke up this morning with end of summer songs in my head.

A little Doors

And a little Lotte Lenya

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