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22nd July, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.

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  • grahamu_1999@yahoo.com
    22nd July, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest. 1. THE PROGRESSIVE Book Review: Out At Work: Building a Gay-Labor Alliance 2. WASHINGTON TIMES Federal
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 13, 2001
      22nd July, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.

      1. THE PROGRESSIVE Book Review: "Out At Work: Building a Gay-Labor
      Alliance"
      2. WASHINGTON TIMES Federal appeals court rules state of Missouri
      erred in firing worker opposing gay foster parents
      3. BOSTON HERALD Extremely tacky column excerpt by radio talk-show
      host (maybe that explains it) about Cheryl Jacques and her partner
      4. EDMONTON SUN Tacky letter about how many people actually hate us

      The Progressive, August 2001
      409 East Main Street, Madison, WI, 53703
      (E-Mail: godwin@... ) ( http://www.progressive.org )
      BOOKS: UNIONS MUST GO QUEER
      . OUT AT WORK: BUILDING A GAY-LABOR ALLIANCE, edited by Kitty Krupat
      and
      Patrick McCreery, University of Minnesota 268 pages $1995 (paper)
      By Martin Duberman
      Here are some fact you might not know:
      1. Most gay people are working class (whether "class" is
      defined by
      income, educational level, or job status.
      2. Class identity is an amalgam of identities: Our place
      within the
      economic structure is deeply inflected by our race, ethnicity,
      gender, and
      sexual orientation.
      3. Most people in this country, including many with poverty-
      line
      incomes, identify themselves as "middle class."
      4. In thirty-nine states, employers can still legally fire
      workers
      simply because they are gay.
      5. The workplace remains strongly defined by heterosexual
      norms.
      Most straight workers define "gender" as being either a man or a
      woman, and
      see reproductive marital monogamy as the most likely path to a happy,
      moral
      life.
      6. Within certain segments of organized labor, there is a new
      understanding of the plight of gay workers and a willingness to
      address it.
      7. There has not been a comparable growth in understanding
      within
      the national gay movement or a comparable willingness to address the
      economic plight and workplace homophobia that dominate the lives of
      many
      working class gays.
      These facts flow from a new collection of essays, Out at Work,
      edited
      by Kitty Krupat and Patrick McCreery. The book is of an importance -
      to a
      variety of progressive movements and communities - that is difficult
      to
      overstate.
      Why? Because it dares to suggest that the unionization rate
      may
      never increase much beyond its current 13.5 percent of the total
      workforce -
      and thus never become the engine of social reform we desperately need
      -
      unless it changes its ways. It must create a climate where workers
      who are
      not straight, white men can feel fully comfortable in discussing all
      aspects
      of their lives, can be reassured that their needs will be respected
      at the
      workplace, and will be represented forcefully within the union and
      during
      contract negotiations with employers.
      Out at Work focuses on how the traditional union agenda of
      fighting
      for higher pay and better working conditions must be broadened to
      include
      such issues as homophobic harassment at the workplace and domestic
      partnership benefits. But the essayists' eloquent arguments broadly
      apply
      to the plight of all workplace minorities.
      While most of the essayists argue that the union movement and
      the
      lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) movement badly need each
      other, they
      are well aware that any sustainable alliance must be preceded or
      accompanied
      by a considerable amount of transformative work within each
      movement. The
      dominant ideology, for example, of most of the largest lesbian and gay
      organizations would require a profound shift in emphasis, one which
      its
      members - and this is a huge sticking point - might find thoroughly
      discomfiting.
      In her brilliant essay "What Is This Movement Doing to My
      Politics?"
      the political scientist Cathy J. Cohen passionately limns her
      discontent
      with the narrow, centrist agendas that currently characterize the
      major gay
      and lesbian organizations. Since the demise of Queer Nation and the
      refocusing of ACT-UP on global AIDS, there's no longer a radical
      domestic
      wing of any import in the lesbian and gay movement (which is not true
      of the
      far smaller transgender, two-spirited, queer movements).
      In 1998 alone, as Cohen points out, the gay Human Rights
      Campaign
      endorsed New York Republican Alfonse D'Amato for the Senate, the Log
      Cabin
      Republicans honored a black politician who worked against affirmative
      action
      in California, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force accepted
      (through
      later did return) a sizable contribution from Nike, which employs
      sweatshop
      labor, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation accepted
      (and did
      not return) a gift from the right wing, union-busting Coors
      corporation.
      Cohen's disgust with the national gay movement's efforts to
      "sanitize, whitenize, and normalize the public and visible
      representations"
      of the gay community - to accentuate assimilation as the path to
      acceptance
      and power - has led her to say, with justifiable anger, "Can I have my
      [radical] politics and be a part of this [gay] movement?
      Increasingly, I am
      sorry to say, I'm not sure."
      Cohen doesn't minimize the importance of working through
      traditional
      political channels, such as electioneering and lobbying, for the goal
      of
      winning civil rights legislation. But she does worry, rightly in my
      view,
      that a focus on civil rights alone has primarily benefited those who
      are
      already privileged and closed the door to the less conforming members
      of the
      gay community - women and people of color, say, or transvestites,
      leather
      people, and those who self-identify as transgender.
      What heightens Cohen's concern is that so little discussion is
      taking
      place within the major gay political organizations about issues
      relating to
      economic exploitation: not just domestic partnership benefits, but
      the
      right to a living wage and to decent working conditions. As Cohen
      pointedly
      puts it, "Without dialogue and debate about what greater good we are
      working
      for, we may, in fact, achieve inclusion, but inclusion in an
      oppressive
      society."
      Those who control the gay community's major resources and
      organizations are currently committed to assimilationist goals that
      have
      little to do with gay working class grievances and a lot to do with
      making
      it easier for the already privileged to "join up." And the bitter
      truth, as
      gay progressives well know, is that these organizations are powerful
      because
      their assimilationist goals accurately capture the values of most gay
      people.
      In his superb essay on the politics of the federal Employment
      Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), Patrick McCreery demonstrates that the
      outpouring of mainstream gay support for ENDA is on one level
      understandable, since it would, if it ever passes, establish needed
      work-place protection. But those benefits would come, McCreery
      forcefully
      argues, "through an unabashed privileging of normative sexuality -
      meaning
      non-fetishistic sexual relations between two adults in a monogamous,
      committed relationship." In the long run, he says, this would
      strengthen
      the dominant heterosexual norms of the workplace.
      Turning to labor's side of a potential gay-labor alliance, we
      find a
      comparable situation: a set of strong obstacles to cooperation in
      tandem
      with some recent developments that give grounds for hope.
      First on the list of the obstacles has to be homophobia at the
      workplace. A mere twenty years ago, that homophobia was so fierce and
      endemic that only the rare homosexual would think about coming out -
      knowing
      the consequences would almost certainly include being fired, verbally
      harassed, or physically assaulted. Today, homophobia still runs deep
      in the
      workplace, and gay-bashing remains a constant threat. But this
      discrimination is now somewhat contained by the formation of gay
      caucuses
      within some unions, as well as by the determination of some union
      leaders,
      preeminently the head of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, to put gay rights
      and
      safety at the forefront of their agendas. But there is a very long
      way to
      go in combating homophobia.
      Some of the worst offenders in the workplace, sadly, are
      members of
      other minorities. Their own oppression has not guaranteed a
      sympathetic
      attitude toward other oppressed people. And especially not in those
      people
      who, by their very being, challenge deeply held religious beliefs or
      notions
      of "proper" gender roles.
      Some activists argue that the general increase over the past
      few
      decades in public understanding about homosexuality has already, at
      the
      workplace level, changed a significant number of hearts and minds:
      Gays are
      now more willing to come out, and their straight counterparts are more
      supportive in their responses.
      These activists cite the emergence of the Lesbian and Gay
      Issues
      Committee (LAGIC) in District Council 37 (the union of New York City
      employees), as well as the creation of Pride at Work, a national
      caucus of
      gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender trade unionists, which, in
      1998,
      became an official constituency group of the AFL-CIO.
      In a deeply researched and closely reasoned essay, Tamera Jones
      further complicates our sense of the dynamics at play in these new
      groups.
      Using the history of LAGIC as a case study, Jones demonstrates how the
      rule-driven bureaucratic structures of many unions thwart
      decentralized
      decision-making and power-sharing. In particular, they constrict the
      ability of gay and lesbian organizers to increase their numbers and
      leverage
      in the struggle to redefine "workers' rights" in a more expansive way.
      Jones subtly and persuasively shows how LAGIC itself has
      adopted some
      of the formalistic features of its parent union, D.C. 37, and has
      become
      more traditional over time. It largely forgoes the radical
      inclusivity that
      had marked its early days and no longer addresses the significant
      variations
      in lifestyle and belief that actually exist among its highly
      diversified gay
      membership.
      The key lesson Jones draws from LAGIC's evolution is that "the
      existence of a lesbian and gay union caucus does not automatically
      pose a
      radical challenge to the status quo, nor is it inherently
      conservative," she
      writes. "Often, mobilization and organizing occur within
      organizational
      fields and institutional settings that were not designed to support
      transformative or collectivist politics."
      Jones's lesson must, indeed, be learned. But we need to hold
      in
      mind, as well, that - as with all social movements that are genuinely
      transformative - the struggle for gay rights in the workplace will
      inevitably pass through alternating cycles of advance and retreat.
      As for
      the specific issues of whether it's possible to create an expanded
      alliance
      between gay and nongay workers that could serve as an important
      agency of
      social change, there's evidence available to feed either an
      optimistic or
      pessimistic view.
      The pessimists can point to the profound homophobia that still
      exists
      at most workplaces. As Sweeney puts it in his own essay in Out at
      Work,
      promoting the rights of gay and lesbian workers has "been a slow and
      painstaking process... And we still have quite a long way to go.
      Historically, unions have had to be challenged and prodded before
      opening
      the door for people their members view as 'different.' For gay and
      lesbian
      workers, in particular, that remains a hard reality to this day."
      (Sweeney
      doesn't mention transgender workers, but he should have, since their
      travails are often severe and usually go unacknowledged; should you
      be in
      any doubt about this, see the incisive and poignant "conversation" in
      Out At
      Work with the "GenderQueer" Riki Anne Wilchins.)
      There is additional fuel for pessimism in the way those
      national gay
      and lesbian organizations with the greatest resources and the most
      visible
      public presence continue to ignore or marginalize economic issues.
      Krupat
      and McCreery put it this way: "Unfortunately, many LGBT activists and
      organizations remain aloof from the union movement, distrustful and
      sometimes even disdainful, choosing instead a politics of
      assimilation that
      inhibits any radical analysis of class." I disagree with the editors
      when
      they include transgender organizations as allied with "a politics of
      assimilation" - if anything, by their very being, they stand in
      opposition
      to it. But I think the editors are on target when they complain that
      the
      two largest LGBT organizations, the Human Rights Campaign and the
      National
      Gay and Lesbian Task Force, have in the past committed far too much
      time and
      money to the assimilationist issues of the right of gays to marry and
      to
      serve openly in the military. The new head of the Task Force, Lorri
      Jean,
      promises to take that organization, at least, in a more radical
      direction.
      Those who hold to an optimistic view of the prospects for an
      expanded
      gay-worker alliance can also cite a significant amount of evidence to
      bolster their hopes. Certain unions, particularly the American
      Federation
      of State, County, and Municipal Employees AFSCME) and the Service
      Employees
      International Union (SEIU), have taken the lead in supporting strong
      LGBT
      caucuses and in educating straight workers about the significant
      amounts of
      fear and discrimination that gay workers experience in the
      workplace. It's
      also true that an increasing number of gay and lesbian workers are
      casting
      aside their doubts about the value of unions and are beginning to
      recognize
      that organized labor, for all its shortcomings, could well become a
      significant force in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights,
      benefits, and
      safeguards.
      Krupat, in her fine essay "Out of Labor's Dark Age,"
      summarizes well
      the rising hope among many gay union activists: "Straight workers and
      advocates for workers' rights may not be ready to abandon
      heteronormative
      standards... but they are becoming more conscious of the inequities
      in this
      double standard." Increasingly, for example, straight workers
      recognize the
      material importance and ethical rightness of making sure that domestic
      partnership benefits for gay people are negotiated into contracts with
      employers.
      Not only might unions transform the workplace for gays and
      lesbians,
      but as gay workers take their place at the table, they, like women and
      people of color before them, could help to transform union culture.
      Once
      social identity issues, and not solely economic ones, become an
      intrinsic
      part of union demands, heterosexual norms could, over time - probably
      over
      lots of time - give way to a far more inclusive embodiment of the
      exceedingly varied lives, the amalgam of identities, that union, in
      fact,
      represent - even though until recently they mostly preferred not to
      notice.
      A reconfigured working class would fully acknowledge not merely the
      geographical and economic dimensions of its struggle, but also its
      racial,
      gender, and sexual ones.
      Think of it: an economic-justice movement that included gay
      people,
      and a gay movement that concerned itself with a more equitable
      distribution
      of wealth. Emerging in tandem, they could engineer a revitalized
      workplace
      and a reinvigorated politics. With so much at stake, it's hard not
      to go
      with the optimists - after all, how but through optimism have social
      justice
      movements ever come into being and been able to sustain themselves?


      Washington Times, July 22, 2001
      3600 New York Avenue NE, Washington, DC, 20002
      (Fax: 202-269-3419 ) (E-Mail: letter@... )
      ( http://www.washtimes.com/ )
      http://www.washtimes.com/national/20010722-93356214.htm
      State erred in firing worker opposing gay foster parents
      By Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
      A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling that
      found
      the state of Missouri erred when it fired a religious social worker
      who
      opposed the state's policy of licensing homosexuals as foster parents.
      "This is an important decision that underscores the fact that
      the
      government cannot discriminate against employees because of their
      religious
      beliefs," said Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the American
      Center for
      Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents the social worker, Larry
      Phillips,
      in the case.
      The Phillips case began in 1996, soon after the Baptist family
      man
      was dismissed from his job overseeing 80 foster homes after
      protesting, on
      religious grounds, Missouri's efforts to recruit homosexuals and
      lesbians as
      foster parents.
      Mr. Phillips, now 47, resisted when he was ordered to grant a
      foster
      parent's license to an admitted lesbian.
      He was even more concerned when his employer, the Missouri
      Department
      of Social Services, placed a young girl struggling with her sexual
      identify
      in that lesbian's home.
      When Mr. Phillips questioned the placement, he was told by his
      openly
      homosexual supervisor that his religious beliefs were hindering his
      ability
      to do his job.
      Gene Kapp, a spokesman for the ACLJ, said yesterday that Mr.
      Phillips
      was terminated on Nov. 18, 1996, both because of his religious
      convictions
      and "in retaliation" for an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
      complaint he filed against his employer a few days earlier.
      A federal lawsuit that the ACLJ filed on Mr. Phillips' behalf
      in 1997
      accused the state of violating his constitutional right to religious
      freedom.
      The suit charged that the state discriminated against Mr.
      Phillips
      because his religious convictions prevented him from sanctioning
      homosexuals
      as foster parents. The ACLJ, based in Virginia Beach, is a public-
      interest
      law firm that focuses on constitutional issues.
      A verdict by a federal jury in October 1999 went against the
      state
      and assessed compensatory and punitive damages totaling $26,000. Six
      months
      later, a federal judge affirmed the jury's verdict and awarded Mr.
      Phillips
      compensation for attorneys' fees that came to nearly $60,000.
      The Missouri attorney general's office then appealed to the
      U.S.
      Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis.
      In a 13-page opinion released Thursday, a three-judge panel of
      the
      appellate court concluded it is "unlawful" to seek the "termination
      of a
      subordinate based on that employee's request for accommodation of his
      religious beliefs."
      "The appeals court understands that the state of Missouri went
      too
      far in utilizing its heavy-handed tactics," said Mr. Manion.
      "The actions of the state amounted to nothing more than
      state-sponsored religious discrimination."
      Given the string of successes Mr. Phillips has enjoyed in the
      courts,
      Mr. Manion said, "We hope the case ends here."
      But he stressed that if the state of Missouri appeals again,
      "we will
      continue to vigorously defend our client's constitutional rights."
      Scott Holste, spokesman for the state attorney general's
      office, said
      yesterday, "We're still reviewing the opinion" and have not decided
      whether
      to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. He declined to give
      any
      other comment on the 8th Circuit's ruling.
      David M. Smith, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the
      nation's
      largest homosexual rights advocacy group, declined to recommend
      further
      litigation by the state until he has read the full opinion.
      But Mr. Smith did say: "Diversity of religious beliefs should
      be
      respected, as long as they don't influence public policy that should
      treat
      all people fairly."


      Boston Herald, July 22, 2001
      1 Herald Square, Boston, MA, 02106-2096
      (Fax: 617-542-1315 ) (E-Mail: letterstoeditor@... )
      ( http://www.bostonherald.com )
      http://www2.bostonherald.com/news/columnists/carr07222001.htm
      Jacques learns a hard lesson in hack hiring 101
      by Howie Carr
      Nobody asked me but:
      Sen. Cheryl Jacques (rhymes with Fakes) forgot a cardinal rule
      of
      political life: You never put your 20-something gal-pal on your own
      payroll
      when you can let some other solon hire your Sapphic soulmate and give
      her
      the 92 percent pay raise.
      And in return, you reciprocate by hiring the undercover lover
      of
      whichever hack put your live-in heartthrob on the dole.
      This is how all the pros handle their cheating, Cheryl --
      Chandra
      Levy worked at the Bureau of Prisons, after all, not in U.S. Rep. Gary
      Condit's office.
      And Monica Lewinsky got shipped out to the Pentagon soon after
      she
      first flashed her thong in the Oval Office.
      Maybe Cheryl isn't as cunning as she thinks -- when you're
      playing
      doctor with the shades drawn with some kid in your office, you don't
      leave
      this kind of paper trail. . . . [The rest is about other topics.]
      . Howie Carr's radio show can be heard every weekday afternoon
      on
      WRKO-AM 680, WHYN-AM 560, WGAN-AM 560, 95 WXTK-FM and online at
      www.howiecarr.org.


      Edmonton Sun, July 22, 2001
      #250, 4990-92 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 3A1
      (E-Mail: sun.letters@... )
      ( http://www.canoe.ca/EdmontonSun/home.html )
      Letter:
      Regarding the survey indicating major support for homosexuals
      (July
      16). They must have done the poll at the gay pride parade or polled
      NAMBLA
      member lists. Outside of the spotlight and among the majority, the
      gay
      lifestyle is still viewed with disgust. Go to the truckstops or local
      hangouts where people feel safe voicing their opinions. If anything,
      there
      is less tolerance and acceptance there. The very nature of the
      lifestyle is
      repugnant and in reality it is medically unhealthy and takes an
      enormous
      toll to our health system.
      - W. Waschuk, Devon
      (They don't poll truckstops.) <== Sun comment
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