In the wake of Arizona’s legislature recently passing a law that allows for discrimination (under the guise of religious freedom), a pizzeria in Tucson has decided that it will no longer serve Arizona legislators.
Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza is taking a stand against the politicians who have voted in favor of Senate Bill 1062 which gives Arizona business owners the right to deny service to gays and others on the basis of religious freedom.
On Thursday the pizzeria posted a photo to its Facebook page (seen above) along with the message “"Funny how just being decent is starting to seem radical these days."
"A customer posted the sign to my Facebook feed, so I printed it up and laminated it," owner Anthony Rocco DiGrazia told The Huffington Post Friday (via Facebook). "The response has been overwhelming and almost all positive from across the globe. I just want to serve dinner and own and work in a place I'm proud of. Opening the door to government-sanctioned discrimination, regardless of why, is a huge step in the wrong direction. Thanks for all the support."
SB1062, which was approved along party lines (in the Republican controlled legislature) reads, in part:
Exercise of religion" means the PRACTICE OR OBSERVANCE OF RELIGION, INCLUDING THE ability to act or refusal to act in a manner substantially motivated by a religious belief whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.
From the Democratic side Senator Anna Tovar had this to say, "SB 1062 permits discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. With the express consent of Republicans in this Legislature, many Arizonans will find themselves members of a separate and unequal class under this law because of their sexual orientation. This bill may also open the door to discriminate based on race, familial status, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability."
While Republican Steve Yarborough had this take, "This bill is not about allowing discrimination. This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith."
The bill is now in front of Governor Jan Brewer who can either pass it or decide to veto it.
For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.
Facebook has added some new choices for its more than 159 million users in the U.S.. No, the choices do have to do with the advertisements that users will see, or their newsfeed, the social media giant has added approximately 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender as well as three preferred pronoun choices: him, her or them.
“There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world,” said Facebook software engineer Brielle Harrison, who worked on the project and is herself undergoing gender transformation, from male to female. On Thursday, Harrison changed her Facebook identity from Female to TransWoman.
“All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option, do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it’s kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are,” she said. “This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is.”
Facebook, which has 1.15 billion active monthly users around the world, also allows them to keep their gender identity private and will continue to do so.
“We applaud Facebook for making it possible for people to be their authentic selves online,” said Masen Davis, executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center .
According to representatives from Facebook the change did not happen overnight. The company consulted with a variety of LGBT activists and organizations before the recent roll-out. And, while only available in the U.S. right now, the plan is to take the initiative worldwide.
“Really, there was no debate within Facebook about the social implications at all,” said Alex Schultz, director of growth. “It was simple: Not allowing people to express something so fundamental is not really cool so we did something. Hopefully a more open and connected world will, by extension, make this a more understanding and tolerant world.”
For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.
To coincide with the opening of the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi Google has designed a ‘Doodle’ on it’s search homepage showing a rainbow colored, Olympic themed image in a show of support for LGBT athletes at the games and the LGBT community at large
Along with the image, the page also shows a quote from the Olympic Charter which states, "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
Google is following in the footsteps of AT & T which, earlier this week, became the first sponsor of the games to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay policies stating, "Russia's law is harmful to LGBT individuals and families, and it's harmful to a diverse society."
Google’s move was met with support from many human rights organizations including The Human Rights Campaign (HRC). "Alongside Olympic sponsors like AT&T, Google has made a clear and unequivocal statement that Russia’s anti-LGBT discrimination is indefensible. Now it’s time for each and every remaining Olympic sponsor to follow their lead. The clock is ticking, and the world is watching," said Chad Griffin, President of HRC.
This is not the first time Google has expressed its support for the LGBT community. The company has been outspoken in its support for marriage equality and in 2012 launched a company wide initiative called “Legalise Love,” that it described as a call to decriminalize homosexuality and eliminate homophobia around the world. The company also recognizes gay pride season each year by customizing search boxes to turn rainbow-colored when terms like “gay” and “gay pride” are entered.
For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.
Coca-Cola on Sunday became the first advertiser to feature a gay family in a Super Bowl television commercial.
The ad, titled ‘Beautiful’, shows a video montage highlighting a wide range of America’s diversity while the song ‘America the Beautiful’ is sung in seven different languages.
At approximately the :44 second mark the commercial fades to a clip that shows two male partners roller-skating with their daughter.
The timing of the ad is especially notable as Coca Cola has come under attack recently for their sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics and their relatively silent response to LGBT and human rights groups who have been asking the company to take a more vocal stand against Russia’s anti-gay policies.
“Coca-Cola has demonstrated to corporate America that being LGBT-inclusive is good business, but as the world turns its attention to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, it’s time for sponsors of the Olympics like Coca-Cola to show the whole world how beautiful LGBT families are,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement after the ad aired.
For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.
Corporate sponsors of the Sochi Winter Olympics should act now to urge Russia to halt the rising tide of discrimination, harassment and threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, 40 of the world’s leading human rights and LGBT groups said today, in a joint open letter.
The letter to all of the leading sponsors of the Sochi Olympics asks them to use their leverage as underwriters of the 2014 Winter Games in a variety of concrete ways. The groups urged sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law, which violates the Olympic Charter’s principle of non-discrimination, and to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to undertake systemic reforms to monitor and prevent human rights abuses in future host countries.
“Time is running out for the sponsors to take a clear stand in defense of Olympic values,” said Minky Worden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch. “These companies are sponsoring an Olympics marred by ugly discrimination and serious rights abuses. They should speak out forcefully for equality and human rights.”
The joint letter is addressed to the 10 TOP Sponsors of the Sochi Games (members of “The Olympic Partner” (TOP) Program)--Atos, Coca Cola, Dow Chemical, General Electric, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter & Gamble, Samsung, and Visa. The Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch and several other groups have engaged with the sponsors for nearly a year to urge them to act on abuses.
“Corporate sponsors are failing to stand up for Olympic values, which they proudly claim to be the core of the Olympic brand,” said Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of All Out. "The International Olympic Committee has confirmed that the Olympic Charter’s Principle 6 includes protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. While the Russian government may be considering amendments to the anti-gay laws, sponsors still don’t have a good reason to remain silent way while gays and lesbians in Russia suffer.”
The letter was signed by a wide range of international human rights organizations, including All Out, Amnesty International, Athlete Ally, Freedom House, Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, PEN and the Russian LGBT Network.
The complete list can be found at the bottom of the letter.
The groups call on the Olympic sponsors to take four specific actions:
*Individually and/or collectively, condemn Russia’s anti-LGBT “propaganda” law, which clearly violates the Sixth Fundamental Principle of the Olympic Charter (“Any form of discrimination… is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement”);
*Use their Olympics-related marketing and advertising – both domestically and internationally – to promote equality;
* Ask the International Olympic Committee to create a body or other mechanism to prevent serious Olympics-related human rights abuses in host countries and to monitor those that do occur; and
* Urge the IOC to ensure that future Olympic host countries comply with their commitment to uphold the Olympic Charter, including the principles of non-discrimination and media freedom.
“Corporations with a track record of support for equality should not shy away from their espoused values by staying silent as Russia wages an attack on its LGBT community,” said Ty Cobb, director of global engagement for the Human Rights Campaign. “In just a few days Russia will be trying to present an international image of a strong, vibrant country. Corporate sponsors must condemn Russia’s anti-gay law and not advance President Putin’s pageantry.”
For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.
Startups are hot these days. And so are LGBT issues.
Put them together and you get StartOut, a nonprofit designed to help queer folks get ahead in the fast, exciting world of entrepreneurship.
StartOut has been taking off in innovation centers like New York and San Francisco, but only recently has it begun to get a foothold in New England.
The push to boost the Boston chapter is largely thanks to activity generated by Patrick Grosso, who is active on StartOut's national board. Grosso recently relocated from New York City to the Boston area to take on the job of CTO at Online Buddies.
Last year, Grosso worked with a group of eager locals who put on a handful of well-attended events.
This year, the Boston StartOut chapter is kicking off 2014 with an Entrepreneurship Panel featuring notable local gurus such as Skyword Founder and CEO Tom Gerace, KleerMail Founder and CEO Chris Nolan, PayPal Director of Marketing Sarah Hodkinson, and The Welcoming Committee Founder Daniel Heller. Bay Windows co-publisher Sue O’Connell will moderate.
The event takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on Monday, January 27.
Additional information, including location, and how to register, can be found here: startout.org/events/boston-lgbt-entrepreneur-panel.
Eastern Bank Corporation received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), and is recognized by the Human Rights Campaign as one of the “Best Places to Work for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Equality.” The CEI is the premiere national benchmark for LGBT workplace inclusion and provides an in-depth analysis and rating of large U.S. employers and their policies and practices pertinent to LGBT employees.
“Eastern Bank is honored to be nationally recognized as a best place to work for LGBT equality,” said Nancy Stager, Executive Vice President, Human Resources & Charitable Giving, Eastern Bank. “We embrace diversity in our workplace because it makes us a better employer and a better provider of service to our customers. Our diverse workforce helps us truly understand the challenges facing our communities and better positions us to be able to target resources to build and maintain the fabric of our communities.”
The 2014 CEI rated 934 businesses, with 303 achieving the top rating of 100 percent and earning the honor of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality.” The CEI rates companies on 40 specific policies and practices. To achieve a perfect score and the coveted distinction of “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality,” companies must have fully-inclusive equal employment opportunity policies, provide equal employment benefits, demonstrate organizational LGBT competency, publicly declare their commitment to equality, and exercise responsible citizenship.
A recognized leader in diversity through its advocacy efforts and internal programs, Eastern Bank in 2010 was the first company in the country to sign GLAD’s amicus brief that asked the US Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). On March 26, 2013, a strong contingent of Eastern Bank employees joined MassEquality and GLAD and hundreds of supporters at Government Center in opposition to DOMA, as the US Supreme Court heard cases related to Same Sex Marriage. Three months later, Eastern Bank testified for the second time on Beacon Hill in support of public access for transgender people.
In June, Eastern Bank also joined a short, but growing, list of companies in Massachusetts by expanding its health insurance to include coverage for gender-related care, including transition-related surgery and supporting services. It continues to work with organizations and employers across Massachusetts in this regard.
A complete list of 2014 Corporate Equality Index rankings can be found here.
Pasta company Buitoni has come up with a clever response to anti-LGBT comments made last week by the chairman of its competitor Barilla.
Buitoni released the image above on their facebook page with the hashtag #pastaforall. To date the image has been ‘like’ by more than 3,000 people and ‘shared’ by more than 6,000.
Last week Guido Barilla, chairman of the Barilla Group, said his company would not have a gay family in any of his company’s advertising because he wants to market to “traditional families.” He then went on to say that anyone who disagrees could go "eat another brand of pasta."
Guido Barilla made the anti-gay comments during an interview with La Zanzara on Radio24 Wednesday. When asked why the company has no same-sex couples in its advertising Barilla responded, "We have a slightly different culture. For us, the 'sacral family' remains one of the company’s core values. Our family is a traditional family. If gays like our pasta and our advertisings, they will eat our pasta; if they don’t like that, they will eat someone else’s pasta. You can’t always please everyone not to displease anyone. I would not do a commercial with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect toward homosexuals – who have the right to do whatever they want without disturbing others – but because I don’t agree with them, and I think we want to talk to traditional families. The women are crucial in this."
Once word of Barilla’s comments began to spread he released a new statement in which he said:
Regarding my comments at the radio program La Zanzara, I [apologize] if my words generated misunderstandings or controversy or if they hurt some people's feelings. In the interview I just wanted to underline the centrality of the woman's role in the family. To be clear, I just want to specify that I do have great respect of every person, without any kind of distinction. I do respect gay people and everybody's freedom of expression. I also said I do respect gay marriage. Barilla in its advertising has always chosen to represent the family because this is the symbol of hospitality and affection for everyone.
Long’s Jewelers has launched a new ad campaign geared to reaching the lgbt community and the locally owned and operated jeweler is using local couples as the models in their ads. There are two different ads in the campaign, one features a lesbian couple and the other a gay male couple.
The women, Julie and Paula Astl , were married in May of this year. The two met through mutual friends years ago and would see each other at different events every now and then. “I always remember Julie because she was so nice, so uplifting and always so happy...of course, she was also very cute and had a face and personality that you just don't forget , said Paula. Years later (and a few relationships later) the two were re-introduced and decided to get together for dinner in Davis Square. “A few dates later butterflies were flying around both of us and have been ever since!” she continued The couple got engaged in July 2012 and just got married in May 2013.
The men featured in the campaign are Ben and Adam Berry. Ben and Adam met in Provincetown 7 years ago. Ben was working at the ice cream store at Spiritus Pizza (as well as playing Romeo in the Shakespeare on the Cape production of Romeo and Juliet) while Adam was in town visiting a friend. The two had known about each other since 2003 due to a mutual friend Elliot who had always said "You have to meet this guy I know, Ben. You would be perfect for each other." and vice versa.
Although Adam was 2 hours late for their first date (a work problem), he was soon forgiven. “We had our first kiss at the end of the night and I knew then I had found my Romeo,” remembered Adam.
This is not Adam’s first time in the pages of Boston Spirit. He appeared on the cover of the September 2012 issue in conjunction with an article on lgbt paranormal activity in New England. Adam stars on the SyFy channel’s ‘Ghost Hunters’ television show.
Criag Rottenberg, President of Long’s, thinks the campaign does a great job of capturing the excitement of a wedding. “We are excited to make our latest Boston Spirit Magazine campaign more personal by featuring real local Boston area couples in our ads! We were overwhelmed by the number of couples who responded to the call for pictures. It was so difficult to choose only two couples. We hope this is the beginning of a long standing tradition of featuring happy Boston couples in our campaigns. There's something special about a photograph of a genuine moment, especially the pure joy of a wedding.”
YouGov BrandIndexhas named their Top 20 of the best perceived brands by the LGBT community. Coming in at number one on the list is YouTube (taking he place of the Android Operating System which slipped to number 15).
Nearly half of the brands in the Top 20 are in technology or entertainment, including YouTube, Netflix, Amazon.com, Samsung, Kindle, Google, Android, iPhone, PBS, HBO. Amazon, Google, HBO.
Falling out of the top 20 this year: iPad, Disneyland/Disney World, Apple, Advil, LG, Starbucks, Comedy Central, iPod, and Skype.
Capital One made the largest gains in perception by the LGBT community during the first half of this year with Coca Cola making the second biggest gains.
All 1,100+ brands in the YouGov BrandIndex brand universe were measured with the company’s buzz score, which asks respondents “If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” All results were filtered for respondents who identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of two companies with a passion for modern furniture. To celebrate their long-standing businesses, Circle Furniture will host Thayer Coggin’s Design Classics Roadshow. As part of their celebration, Thayer Coggin is sharing a collection of internationally acclaimed designer Milo Baughman’s furniture from the mid-century modern era.
“In celebration of our 60th anniversary, we are taking these design classics to furniture showrooms across the country,” said Mrs. Royale Coggin Wiggin, president of the company. “Milo Baughman and Thayer Coggin worked together to define a classical era of modern furniture in America. This road show will highlight the history of our company and spotlight our commitment to excellence and craftsmanship in making American contemporary furniture.”
“The Thayer Coggin event could not have come at a better time, since we ourselves are celebrating our 60th anniversary,” said Peggy Burns, co-owner of Circle Furniture. “60 years in business is an incredible accomplishment, and we are excited to share this milestone with Thayer Coggin and our beloved customers.”
The opening reception for this contemporary furniture trunk show will be on Thursday, May 30th at Circle Furniture’s downtown Boston showroom, 31 St. James Avenue. The display will be available May 25th through June 5th.
To benefit The One Fund Boston, Circle Furniture will auction off two Milo Baughman chairs that were generously donated by Thayer Coggin. For more information about the auction please visit www.circlefurniture.com.
One Million Moms (OMM) is demanding that Disney put a stop to the 23rd annual Gay Day at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on Saturday, June 1.
OMM is an organization with less than 57,000 likes on Facebook. It is known for its call to boycott of JC Penney last year, after out gay talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres became a spokesperson for the retailer.
The group's latest targeted marketing calls on members to contact Disney's CEO to demand that he end Disney Gay Day.
Disney claims that they have no control over Gay Day or who enters the park on any given day.
Adding interest to the story, Instinct magazine points out that the new president of Disney World, George Kalogridis, is gay.
June 1 Gay Pride Day at Disney
As soon as school lets out at the end of May, many families will plan to take their family vacation right away. Tens of thousands will make reservations in Orlando, Florida, for the first weekend in June. Warning! Not everyone there will be excited, innocent children anticipating a fun weekend at Disney World. The first Saturday in June, homosexuals, bisexuals and transvestites will be at the Magic Kingdom with an agenda and purpose different than what would be expected at Disney.
Homosexuals will be celebrating the 23rd anniversary of Gay Day wearing matching Gay Day merchandise, such as T-shirts. There will also be transvestites dressed in drag showing their support for the event. This event is planned with the intent to expose and desensitize children to this lifestyle by same-sex couples holding hands, hugging and kissing. In short, a Gay Day participant's main goal is to be seen versus seeing Disney World.
In past years when we have contacted Disney representatives about this same issue, their response was simply that they do not sponsor this event.
On June 1, unsuspecting families will witness a well-orchestrated event that Disney says they have no control over. Disney has taken no action to stop this, which leaves families stunned and offended. So instead of a normal day at this popular theme park, parents will be angry at the harm this causes families.
Disney has been irresponsible for far too long. Disney representatives and security need to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere and require proper conduct and dress code on a daily basis.
Parents who have already made travel plans to be in Orlando during this time should make arrangements to visit a park other than the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, June 1.
Please click on the following link to send your email to Disney's CEO and other Disney officials urging the park to no longer "go along" with Gay Day. Disney should monitor this day and event for public displays of affection and require proper conduct and appropriate attire. This should always be policed, but especially on Gay Day.
Bay Windows, a weekly newspaper serving the area’s lgbt community, has launched a new, non-traditional, model for increasing its revenue. The 30 year old weekly is turning to its readers.
In an article in this week’s edition a letter written by co-publishers Sue O’Connell and Jeff Coakley points out that “the dynamic of how newspapers make money has changed. While community newspapers like ours fight for ad dollars, readers demand more from our publication. Bay Windows is exploring additional revenue models to meet this demand.”
The letter goes on to state, “We (Bay Windows) request your financial support. We believe a viable model to bring the revenue needed to improve Bay Windows is a mix of advertising revenue and voluntary financial contributions from you, our readers.”
Bay Windows is distributed every Thursday and is free of charge. It has been a pillar in the lgbt community since 1983 and received national attention in the recent Presidential election for its coverage on Mitt Romney when Mr. Romney served as the Governor of Massachusetts.
According to the donation page supporters can donate anywhere from $25 - $1,000.
Read the full letter below:
Bay Windows has been proud to serve the New England LGBT community since 1983. Bay Windows has always been a free publication, and our online website has always been free.
For the past thirty years, our newspaper and website have been advertiser supported. How much news we can cover, how many pages we can print or post, how many papers and how many locations we can deliver, has been determined by the revenue from the advertisements that appeared in our publications.
The dynamic of how newspapers make money has changed. While community newspapers like ours fight for ad dollars, readers demand more from our publication. Bay Windows is exploring additional revenue models to meet this demand.
Some publications, including The New York Times and The Boston Globe are moving to a reader-funded models for their online content. Jeff and I never want to put any of our content behind a paywall—there should be as few barriers as possible between those in need and the information about our LGBT community.
We request your financial support. We believe a viable model to bring the revenue needed to improve Bay Windows is a mix of advertising revenue and voluntary financial contributions from you, our readers.
Bay Windows turns 31 this year. Will you pledge your support for the upcoming year by contributing funds? Your contribution will help us keep the website and paper free and improve our coverage.
Please, if you are able, we welcome your support and ask you to spread the word.
Please note - your contribution is not tax deductible.
On Wednesday this week Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, told investors that if they had a problem with the company’s decision to publicly support marriage equality they could sell their stock and go elsewhere.
The exchange took place at Starbucks’ annual meeting when a shareholder named Tom Strobar described Starbucks’ first-quarter performance as disappointing, and suggested the results were due, in part, to a boycott by the National Organization for Marriage.
“In the first full quarter after this boycott was announced, our sales and our earrings — shall we say politely — were a bit disappointing,” Strobhar said.
This prompted Schultz to reply that the company’s stance on marriage equality had nothing to do with earnings but were about “respecting diversity.” He went on to state, “If you feel, respectfully, that you can get a higher return than the 38 percent you got last year, it’s a free country. You can sell your shares of Starbucks and buy shares in another company. Thank you very much.” Schultz’s statement was met by loud applause from those in attendance.
For 2012, Starbucks delivered a 14 percent increase in net revenues over the prior year, reaching a record $13.3 billion. The company returned approximately $1.1 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividend payments.
In February, Starbucks joined nearly 300 other companies in filing a brief calling on theU.S. Supreme Court to overturn a section of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples.
According to a new report, fast food chain Chick-fil-A, who caused a stir in Boston last year when Mayor Menino took issue with the companys policy of donating to anti-gay groups, has not only continued to donate to these groups but in 2011 increased it’s donations over previous years.
Last summer Menino had threatened to stop the restaurant from opening a location in downtown Boston. In a letter to Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy Menino wrote, “I was angry to learn on the heels of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston,” Menino wrote. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it. I urge you to back out of your plans to locate in Boston.”
Menino later backed off that claim stating that he was simply using the “bully pulpit" of his office to call attention to Chik-fil-A policies.
According to a report by Think Progress, the restaurant chain nearly doubled its contributions to anti-gay groups from 2009 to 2011. According to Think Progress, the Winshape Foundation (the charitable arm of Chick-fil-A) gave $2,896,438 to the Marriage and Family Foundation in 2011, a massive increase over the $1,188,380 donated in 2010.
The Marriage and Family Foundation was founded in 2007 Dan Cathy and originally called the “Marriage and Family Legacy Fund.” Its purpose was to serve as the “implementation and funding” arm of Marriage CoMission, a group which promotes the “traditional family structure.”
Although a few reports came out last year stating that Chick-Fil-A would cease its policy of donating to anti-gay groups, those reports have proven to be erroneous. When asked about the company’s policy in an interview with the Baptist Press, Cathy said that Chick-fil-A was “guilty as charged” regarding its millions of dollars in contributions to established anti-gay organizations.
Grindr is an app that helps gay men connect with each other. But, because of its success, it is reshaping the way social media leaders think about how people meet up, according to a New York Times article about a new book that explores the popular application's implications.
"It is easy to write off Grindr — a location-based dating application for gay men — as a hookup application because, well, that is what it is," writes Jenna Wortham for the New York Times, but, she says:
… the company, which is approaching its fourth anniversary, has amassed more than five million users who spend on average 90 minutes each day using the application. Billions of messages fly across the service every year, and 76 percent of the company’s revenue comes from money generated by Grindr users who fork over cash for the service’s premium features.
The implications of that success are explored in a new book by Jaime Woo, called Meet Grindr: How One App Changed the Way We Connect. Woo spoke recently at a South By Southwest conference. According to the New York Times:FULL ENTRY
Suze Orman recently penned a column detailing the inequities between heterosexual couples and same-sex couples when it comes to federal benefits. Inequities that, hopefully, will be corrected when the Supreme Court hears cases related to DOMA this spring.
Speaking on her own relationship with her partner, Kathy Travis, Orman writes:
If the federal government recognized same-sex marriage, then when one of us dies our assets would seamlessly transfer free of tax to the survivor. That's a basic right that every heterosexual married couple has.
But because there is no federal recognition of same-sex marriage, if I die first, or vice versa, before either of us can inherit what is now jointly our assets, there would be a federal estate tax bill that one of us would currently have to pay. Again, to be clear: If we were a heterosexual married couple, there would be no estate tax regardless of the size of the estate or who died first.
Orman goes on to detail other issues, specifically with Social Security:
Married heterosexual couples can maximize their Social Security retirement benefits by taking advantage of the highest-earner's benefit. When both spouses are alive, the lower earner can opt to collect a monthly benefit check that is equal to 50% of his or her spouse's benefit. For many married couples, that 50% spousal benefit is often much higher than what the lower-wage-earning spouse could collect based on his or her own earnings record. Most important, when the high earner dies, the surviving spouse is allowed to collect 100% of the deceased's higher benefit.
Because same-sex marriages aren't recognized on the federal level, gay and lesbian couples are not eligible for Social Security spousal benefits. The lower earner cannot claim any benefits based on the higher earner's benefit. A heterosexual couple married for just a few months is able to collect a federal benefit that same-sex couples who have been together for decades can't.
And finally, on health insurance, Orman details that the current regulations are costing same-sex couples nearly $200 million in additional costs and employers nearly $60 million.
Health insurance is another area of severe federal financial discrimination against gay couples. I am so glad to see more employers extending health insurance benefits to same-sex partners. But because same-sex couples are not considered legally married under the eyes of the federal government, the dollar value of the health coverage is considered taxable income.
A 2007 study estimated that this gay health insurance penalty costs same-sex couples an aggregate $178 million ($1,069 per household), while employers paid an additional $57 million in payroll tax on that taxable income. No heterosexual married couple or their employers pay that penalty.
CLICK HERE to read the entire piece.
The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), Illinois’ largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights advocacy organization, has released a statement confirming that Chick-Fil-A will no longer give money to anti-gay organizations.
From the statement:
In a letter addressed to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.
Also, according to TCRA, senior management has sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that stated that, as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.” This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”
“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most important part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased their donations to anti-gay groups in 2011 and going forward. With some of the groups that they were donating to being classified as hate groups, and others actively trying to halt the movement toward full civil rights for LGBT people, Chick-fil-A has taken a big step forward. We are encouraged by their willingness to serve all people and ensure their profits are not used to fight against a minority community that is still trying to gain full and equal civil rights.”
“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we still would like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior. As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”
The 14th annual 2012 Reaching Out conference of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) graduate business school students is coming to Boston. The conference, which attracts more than 1000 students and industry professionals representing all sectors of the business community, from finance and marketing to government and the arts, provides a unique opportunity for LGBT students to network with Fortune 500 companies, business leaders and recruiters from across the globe. The 3 day event will be held at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center in Boston October 18 – 20, 2012.
This year’s theme, “Together, Building Community” illustrates the conference’s mission to provide an inclusive environment for prospective and current LGBT MBA students to connect with LGBT professionals in a way that fosters personal and professional growth. This year’s keynote speaker is Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better Campaign” a project that empowers members of the community to share stories on how and why life gets better to help prevent suicide among LGBT youth.
According to Kevin Smith, President of the Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference Board of Directors, the conference is a major catalyst in shaping the future of LGBT MBA students in the workplace. “Our organization is dedicated to promoting the acceptance and visibility of LGBT businesspeople and their interests in the work environment,” said Smith. “Through workshops, networking, social events, and career expos, we hope to further strengthen the LGBT network and engage leaders in discussions that will help us achieve full equality both in the US and abroad. Equality in the workplace begins in the classroom.”
The only student run MBA conference of its kind in the country, the Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference is organized by current LGBT MBA students from MIT Sloan, Yale School of Management, and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. At this year’s conference more than 80 companies will be represented including Google, Southwest, Amazon Inc., McKinsey & Company, American Express, Boston Consulting Group, Ernst & Young, Fidelity, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble, Target, Toyota and Wells Fargo. In addition, many top business schools will be attending including Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, NYU Stern, Columbia, Yale and Georgetown. “There is no other opportunity or venue for LGBT MBA students to have this type of access to the top employers and graduate schools,” revealed Smith. “We are proud to be able to provide the resources and contacts that will help strengthen the vital LGBT business community.”
The Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference will be held October 18 – 20 at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center, Boston, MA. For registration and information, visit www.reachingoutmba.org.
The Human Rights Campaign has released a statement supporting Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s stance against fast food chain Chick-Fil-A’s anti-LGBT “practices”. Recently, Mayor Menino sent a letter to Chick-Fil-A’s President Dan Cathy. In the letter Menino calls out Cathy for his “prejudiced statements” against same-sex marriage and said that having a branch of the restaurant chain across from City Hall “would be an insult.”
HRC Vice President of Communications and Marketing Fred Sainz released the following statement:
“We applaud Mayor Menino for calling out Chick-fil-A’s anti-LGBT practices. We have been asking people to make their own decisions about whether to continue supporting Chick-fil-A based on the facts available, and Mayor Menino has done just that. Mayor Menino’s rebuke of Chick-fil-A sends a strong messages that their habit of supporting hateful organizations that demonize LGBT Americans are out-of-step with not just Bostonians, but the majority of fair-minded Americans. Chick-fil-A is on the wrong side of history, and we look forward to seeing more and more elected officials and businesses speak out against their discriminatory practices.”
Massachusetts-based Eastern Bank named three prominent local LGBTs to its Boards of Trustees and Corporators on today, March 5.
President and CEO of AIDS Action Committee Rebecca Haag is now a member of Eastern Bank's Board of Trustees.
And Founder and Executive Director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition Gunner Scott and Executive Director of MassEquality Kara Suffredini have joined the bank's Board of Corporators.
Monday's announcement follows last Wednesday's bestowal of a MassEquality Icon Award on Eastern Bank for its leadership in the LGBT community.
Founded in 1818, Eastern Bank has been making dramatic inroads with the LGBT community since its acquisition in 2010 of Wainwright Bank. Wainwright was widely recognized for its support of LGBT concerns and counted hundreds LGBT organizations as clients. The bank notably allowed the use of its conference room facilities for Boston Pride Committee meetings for many years.
Eastern Bank has continued Wainwright's LGBT outreach and furthered it with the addition of Haag, Scott, and Suffredini to its governance structure.FULL ENTRY