Americans support workplace equality

NEW YORK, N.Y. — According to the 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, 78 percent of heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at his or her job should be the standard for judging an employee, not their sexual orientation. Three out of five (62 percent) heterosexual adults agree that regardless of their sexual orientation, all employees are entitled to equal benefits, such as health insurance for their partners or spouses.

Many heterosexual adults believe their LGBT colleagues deserve fairness and equality in the workplace. For example, when also asked about different workplace benefits offered to spouses of married heterosexual employees compared to committed partners of LGBT employees, 74 percent of heterosexuals think both spouses and partners should receive family leave to deal with the loss of a spouse/partner or close family member.

Seven out of 10 heterosexual adults also think both spouses and partners should receive leave rights for family and medical emergencies as outlined in the Family and Medical Leave Act. A majority of heterosexuals (63 percent) also think both spouses and partners should receive untaxed health insurance benefits.

The 2010 Out & Equal Workplace Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck-Combs Communications. A total of 2,775 U.S. adults — of whom 2,334 indicated they are heterosexual and 386 self-identified as LGBT — participated.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, is still working its way through the United States Congress since its introduction in 1994.

The survey showed an education gap among adults about ENDA and how current law touches the lives of many LGBT Americans. Sixty-two percent of heterosexual adults did not know that under current federal law it is legal for an employer to fire someone because they are LGBT. Almost half (47 percent) of LGBT adults also did not know.

Court upholds lawsuit dismisssal

OHIO — In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth Appellate District, recently upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund that attempted to strip away the newly enacted domestic partnership registry for same-sex couples and their families. Last year, the Cleveland City Council voted to create a registry for same-sex couples. The ADF filed a lawsuit against the city arguing that the domestic partnership registry is a violation of the state’s 2004 constitutional amendment barring marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Immigration reform act introduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Sept. 30, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2010. This legislation, which provides many urgently needed changes to our national immigration law, protects same-sex couples by incorporating the substance of the Uniting Americans Families Act (UAFA), which would grant U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents the right to sponsor their same-sex permanent partners to immigrate to the U.S.

Pearson named top teacher

OMAHA — GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, has selected Omaha, Neb., teacher Ferial Pearson as the 2010 GLSEN Educator of the Year. Pearson, who was chosen out of nearly 100 nominations, is an English teacher at Omaha South High School and has served as the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance advisor since her first year teaching nine years ago, despite opposition from within the school community including several threats of lawsuits. She has helped grow her school’s GSA from one student to one of the country’s largest with 150 students. She also helped start Omaha’s Pride Prom, which has grown from 75 students five years ago to more than 300 this year from all across the state. Pearson moved to the U.S. from Kenya at 19.

Report spotlights trans athletes

CALIFORNIA/NEW YORK — A groundbreaking report sponsored by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and It Takes A Team!, an Initiative of the Women’s Sports Foundation, is urging high school and college athletic associations across the country to adopt standard policies to provide transgender student athletes fair and equal opportunity to participate on athletic teams. The report, “On the Team: Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student Athletes,” is the first ever to thoroughly address the complete integration of transgender student athletes within high school and collegiate athletic programs. The report is also the first to provide comprehensive model policies and a framework for athletic leaders to ensure equal access to school athletics for transgender students.

Mag promotes anti-gay violence

UGANDA —A two-month-old tabloid in Uganda called “Rolling Stone” (no relation to the U.S.-based publication) has turned to gay-baiting to grow circulation. As part of an early October cover-story, the magazine published photos of 11 Ugandan men it claims are gay accompanied by the phrase “Hang them.” The pictures appear to have been downloaded from Facebook profiles. Given the virulently anti-gay climate in Uganda, the magazine’s campaign could equal a death sentence for some of the pictured. Despite an outcry from international gay and human rights groups, “Rolling Stone” editors have vowed to publish more photos in forthcoming issues.

David Stout is the former associate editor of QNotes.