22nd July, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.
- 22nd July, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.
1. THE PROGRESSIVE Book Review: "Out At Work: Building a Gay-Labor
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
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
income, educational level, or job status.
2. Class identity is an amalgam of identities: Our place
economic structure is deeply inflected by our race, ethnicity,
3. Most people in this country, including many with poverty-
incomes, identify themselves as "middle class."
4. In thirty-nine states, employers can still legally fire
simply because they are gay.
5. The workplace remains strongly defined by heterosexual
Most straight workers define "gender" as being either a man or a
see reproductive marital monogamy as the most likely path to a happy,
6. Within certain segments of organized labor, there is a new
understanding of the plight of gay workers and a willingness to
7. There has not been a comparable growth in understanding
the national gay movement or a comparable willingness to address the
economic plight and workplace homophobia that dominate the lives of
working class gays.
These facts flow from a new collection of essays, Out at Work,
by Kitty Krupat and Patrick McCreery. The book is of an importance -
variety of progressive movements and communities - that is difficult
Why? Because it dares to suggest that the unionization rate
never increase much beyond its current 13.5 percent of the total
and thus never become the engine of social reform we desperately need
unless it changes its ways. It must create a climate where workers
not straight, white men can feel fully comfortable in discussing all
of their lives, can be reassured that their needs will be respected
workplace, and will be represented forcefully within the union and
contract negotiations with employers.
Out at Work focuses on how the traditional union agenda of
for higher pay and better working conditions must be broadened to
such issues as homophobic harassment at the workplace and domestic
partnership benefits. But the essayists' eloquent arguments broadly
to the plight of all workplace minorities.
While most of the essayists argue that the union movement and
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) movement badly need each
are well aware that any sustainable alliance must be preceded or
by a considerable amount of transformative work within each
dominant ideology, for example, of most of the largest lesbian and gay
organizations would require a profound shift in emphasis, one which
members - and this is a huge sticking point - might find thoroughly
In her brilliant essay "What Is This Movement Doing to My
the political scientist Cathy J. Cohen passionately limns her
with the narrow, centrist agendas that currently characterize the
and lesbian organizations. Since the demise of Queer Nation and the
refocusing of ACT-UP on global AIDS, there's no longer a radical
wing of any import in the lesbian and gay movement (which is not true
far smaller transgender, two-spirited, queer movements).
In 1998 alone, as Cohen points out, the gay Human Rights
endorsed New York Republican Alfonse D'Amato for the Senate, the Log
Republicans honored a black politician who worked against affirmative
in California, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force accepted
later did return) a sizable contribution from Nike, which employs
labor, and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation accepted
not return) a gift from the right wing, union-busting Coors
Cohen's disgust with the national gay movement's efforts to
"sanitize, whitenize, and normalize the public and visible
of the gay community - to accentuate assimilation as the path to
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
political channels, such as electioneering and lobbying, for the goal
winning civil rights legislation. But she does worry, rightly in my
that a focus on civil rights alone has primarily benefited those who
already privileged and closed the door to the less conforming members
gay community - women and people of color, say, or transvestites,
people, and those who self-identify as transgender.
What heightens Cohen's concern is that so little discussion is
place within the major gay political organizations about issues
economic exploitation: not just domestic partnership benefits, but
right to a living wage and to decent working conditions. As Cohen
puts it, "Without dialogue and debate about what greater good we are
for, we may, in fact, achieve inclusion, but inclusion in an
Those who control the gay community's major resources and
organizations are currently committed to assimilationist goals that
little to do with gay working class grievances and a lot to do with
it easier for the already privileged to "join up." And the bitter
gay progressives well know, is that these organizations are powerful
their assimilationist goals accurately capture the values of most gay
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
argues, "through an unabashed privileging of normative sexuality -
non-fetishistic sexual relations between two adults in a monogamous,
committed relationship." In the long run, he says, this would
the dominant heterosexual norms of the workplace.
Turning to labor's side of a potential gay-labor alliance, we
comparable situation: a set of strong obstacles to cooperation in
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 -
the consequences would almost certainly include being fired, verbally
harassed, or physically assaulted. Today, homophobia still runs deep
workplace, and gay-bashing remains a constant threat. But this
discrimination is now somewhat contained by the formation of gay
within some unions, as well as by the determination of some union
preeminently the head of the AFL-CIO, John Sweeney, to put gay rights
safety at the forefront of their agendas. But there is a very long
go in combating homophobia.
Some of the worst offenders in the workplace, sadly, are
other minorities. Their own oppression has not guaranteed a
attitude toward other oppressed people. And especially not in those
who, by their very being, challenge deeply held religious beliefs or
of "proper" gender roles.
Some activists argue that the general increase over the past
decades in public understanding about homosexuality has already, at
workplace level, changed a significant number of hearts and minds:
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
Committee (LAGIC) in District Council 37 (the union of New York City
employees), as well as the creation of Pride at Work, a national
gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender trade unionists, which, in
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
Using the history of LAGIC as a case study, Jones demonstrates how the
rule-driven bureaucratic structures of many unions thwart
decision-making and power-sharing. In particular, they constrict the
ability of gay and lesbian organizers to increase their numbers and
in the struggle to redefine "workers' rights" in a more expansive way.
Jones subtly and persuasively shows how LAGIC itself has
of the formalistic features of its parent union, D.C. 37, and has
more traditional over time. It largely forgoes the radical
had marked its early days and no longer addresses the significant
in lifestyle and belief that actually exist among its highly
The key lesson Jones draws from LAGIC's evolution is that "the
existence of a lesbian and gay union caucus does not automatically
radical challenge to the status quo, nor is it inherently
writes. "Often, mobilization and organizing occur within
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
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.
the specific issues of whether it's possible to create an expanded
between gay and nongay workers that could serve as an important
social change, there's evidence available to feed either an
The pessimists can point to the profound homophobia that still
at most workplaces. As Sweeney puts it in his own essay in Out at
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
the door for people their members view as 'different.' For gay and
workers, in particular, that remains a hard reality to this day."
doesn't mention transgender workers, but he should have, since their
travails are often severe and usually go unacknowledged; should you
any doubt about this, see the incisive and poignant "conversation" in
Work with the "GenderQueer" Riki Anne Wilchins.)
There is additional fuel for pessimism in the way those
and lesbian organizations with the greatest resources and the most
public presence continue to ignore or marginalize economic issues.
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
inhibits any radical analysis of class." I disagree with the editors
they include transgender organizations as allied with "a politics of
assimilation" - if anything, by their very being, they stand in
to it. But I think the editors are on target when they complain that
two largest LGBT organizations, the Human Rights Campaign and the
Gay and Lesbian Task Force, have in the past committed far too much
money to the assimilationist issues of the right of gays to marry and
serve openly in the military. The new head of the Task Force, Lorri
promises to take that organization, at least, in a more radical
Those who hold to an optimistic view of the prospects for an
gay-worker alliance can also cite a significant amount of evidence to
bolster their hopes. Certain unions, particularly the American
of State, County, and Municipal Employees AFSCME) and the Service
International Union (SEIU), have taken the lead in supporting strong
caucuses and in educating straight workers about the significant
fear and discrimination that gay workers experience in the
also true that an increasing number of gay and lesbian workers are
aside their doubts about the value of unions and are beginning to
that organized labor, for all its shortcomings, could well become a
significant force in the struggle for gay and lesbian rights,
Krupat, in her fine essay "Out of Labor's Dark Age,"
the rising hope among many gay union activists: "Straight workers and
advocates for workers' rights may not be ready to abandon
standards... but they are becoming more conscious of the inequities
double standard." Increasingly, for example, straight workers
material importance and ethical rightness of making sure that domestic
partnership benefits for gay people are negotiated into contracts with
Not only might unions transform the workplace for gays and
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.
social identity issues, and not solely economic ones, become an
part of union demands, heterosexual norms could, over time - probably
lots of time - give way to a far more inclusive embodiment of the
exceedingly varied lives, the amalgam of identities, that union, in
represent - even though until recently they mostly preferred not to
A reconfigured working class would fully acknowledge not merely the
geographical and economic dimensions of its struggle, but also its
gender, and sexual ones.
Think of it: an economic-justice movement that included gay
and a gay movement that concerned itself with a more equitable
of wealth. Emerging in tandem, they could engineer a revitalized
and a reinvigorated politics. With so much at stake, it's hard not
with the optimists - after all, how but through optimism have social
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/ )
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
the state of Missouri erred when it fired a religious social worker
opposed the state's policy of licensing homosexuals as foster parents.
"This is an important decision that underscores the fact that
government cannot discriminate against employees because of their
beliefs," said Francis J. Manion, senior counsel for the American
Law and Justice (ACLJ), which represents the social worker, Larry
in the case.
The Phillips case began in 1996, soon after the Baptist family
was dismissed from his job overseeing 80 foster homes after
religious grounds, Missouri's efforts to recruit homosexuals and
Mr. Phillips, now 47, resisted when he was ordered to grant a
parent's license to an admitted lesbian.
He was even more concerned when his employer, the Missouri
of Social Services, placed a young girl struggling with her sexual
in that lesbian's home.
When Mr. Phillips questioned the placement, he was told by his
homosexual supervisor that his religious beliefs were hindering his
to do his job.
Gene Kapp, a spokesman for the ACLJ, said yesterday that Mr.
was terminated on Nov. 18, 1996, both because of his religious
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
accused the state of violating his constitutional right to religious
The suit charged that the state discriminated against Mr.
because his religious convictions prevented him from sanctioning
as foster parents. The ACLJ, based in Virginia Beach, is a public-
law firm that focuses on constitutional issues.
A verdict by a federal jury in October 1999 went against the
and assessed compensatory and punitive damages totaling $26,000. Six
later, a federal judge affirmed the jury's verdict and awarded Mr.
compensation for attorneys' fees that came to nearly $60,000.
The Missouri attorney general's office then appealed to the
Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis.
In a 13-page opinion released Thursday, a three-judge panel of
appellate court concluded it is "unlawful" to seek the "termination
subordinate based on that employee's request for accommodation of his
"The appeals court understands that the state of Missouri went
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
Mr. Manion said, "We hope the case ends here."
But he stressed that if the state of Missouri appeals again,
continue to vigorously defend our client's constitutional rights."
Scott Holste, spokesman for the state attorney general's
yesterday, "We're still reviewing the opinion" and have not decided
to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. He declined to give
other comment on the 8th Circuit's ruling.
David M. Smith, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the
largest homosexual rights advocacy group, declined to recommend
litigation by the state until he has read the full opinion.
But Mr. Smith did say: "Diversity of religious beliefs should
respected, as long as they don't influence public policy that should
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 )
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
political life: You never put your 20-something gal-pal on your own
when you can let some other solon hire your Sapphic soulmate and give
the 92 percent pay raise.
And in return, you reciprocate by hiring the undercover lover
whichever hack put your live-in heartthrob on the dole.
This is how all the pros handle their cheating, Cheryl --
Levy worked at the Bureau of Prisons, after all, not in U.S. Rep. Gary
And Monica Lewinsky got shipped out to the Pentagon soon after
first flashed her thong in the Oval Office.
Maybe Cheryl isn't as cunning as she thinks -- when you're
doctor with the shades drawn with some kid in your office, you don't
this kind of paper trail. . . . [The rest is about other topics.]
. Howie Carr's radio show can be heard every weekday afternoon
WRKO-AM 680, WHYN-AM 560, WGAN-AM 560, 95 WXTK-FM and online at
Edmonton Sun, July 22, 2001
#250, 4990-92 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T6B 3A1
(E-Mail: sun.letters@... )
( http://www.canoe.ca/EdmontonSun/home.html )
Regarding the survey indicating major support for homosexuals
16). They must have done the poll at the gay pride parade or polled
member lists. Outside of the spotlight and among the majority, the
lifestyle is still viewed with disgust. Go to the truckstops or local
hangouts where people feel safe voicing their opinions. If anything,
is less tolerance and acceptance there. The very nature of the
repugnant and in reality it is medically unhealthy and takes an
toll to our health system.
- W. Waschuk, Devon
(They don't poll truckstops.) <== Sun comment
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