Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Little Of This And A Little Of That

These are some of the stories that have caught my eye and I want to comment on them.

The first is an update on the story about Amanda Simpson who was appointed to the Commerce Department by President Obama, it turns out that she is not the first transgender person appointed by the President. Dylan Orr was the first. Orr began on December 7th at the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the Department of Labor. This is from PrideSource…
Obama makes first trans appointments
Dylan Orr, Amanda Simpson make history in newest positions
By Lisa Keen

Amanda Simpson starts work this week as one of the first presidentially appointed transgender persons to the executive branch of any administration. The honor as the first belongs to Dylan Orr, a 30-year-old law school graduate from Seattle.

Orr, a native of Seattle, graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in July and was admitted to the bar in November. During law school, his studies focused on disability rights, civil rights and employment and immigration issues. He served as president of the law school's GLBT student organization. He did his undergraduate work at Smith College in Massachusetts, and also worked for a time with the Department of Social Services in Salem, Massachusetts.

In addition, President Clinton appointed Lynn Conway to the Air Force Board of Visitors…

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 31, 1996

President Clinton Names Lynn Conway to the Air Force Academy
Board of Visitors

President Clinton announced today his intent to appoint Lynn

Conway of Michigan, to the U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.

Conway is professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Professor Conway is widely known as a pioneer in microelectronics and as co-author of the classic text on very large scale integrated (VLSI) chip design.

During the early 1980's she also led the Defense Department's Strategic Computing Initiative, a major research program that developed intelligent weapons technology. In 1989, she was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Conway is also director of a major visual communications demonstration project at the University of Michigan.

Conway, who was born in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., earned a B.S. and an M.S.E.E. from the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University.

The Air Force Academy Board of Visitors visits the Air Force Academy annually and provides the President and the Air Force with consultations and advice concerning overall activities of the Academy.
At the same time we were celebrating our victories on the federal front, there was another victory on a state level. The New York State Thruway Authority was found by the state Division of Human Rights to have discriminated against an employee. The Times Union in Albany NY in an article reported,

Transgender bias at Thruway
Former Army dispatcher wins $55,000 after firing at authority

By BRENDAN J. LYONS, Senior writer

ALBANY -- A transgender woman who was secretly subjected to harassment, openly called "drag queen" and "freak," and later fired by the New York State Thruway Authority has been awarded more than $55,000 for her ordeal.

A judge with the state Division of Human Rights has issued an order sustaining a complaint by Mackenzie W. Valentine, 29, a former Army dispatcher and military police officer from Cohoes who was diagnosed with gender identity disorder and underwent a court-approved gender change several years ago. The transformation took place around the time that Valentine, who changed her name from "Matthew Valentine," began working for the Thruway Authority in Albany as a $15.30-an-hour dispatcher.

Valentine's co-workers, including supervisors, learned of Valentine's gender history and began secretly using state computers to view information about her on publicly accessible Web sites.

"This work atmosphere encouraged employees from the beginning of (Valentine's) tenure to engage in making disparaging remarks about her sex and GID (gender identity disorder)," states a 24-page decision by Migdalia Pares, an administrative law judge with the state Division of Human Rights.

The judge's decision was signed Dec. 22, six days after Gov. David Paterson signed an executive order prohibiting state agencies from discriminating against people on the basis of gender identity.
In another discrimination case in Des Moines Iowa case, I think you will be surprise to see where I stand on this case.
Searching their souls: Can church include transgendered?

It began innocuously enough when the incoming priest at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Student Center at Drake University noticed a piece of paper on a copy machine in the parish office.

On it was a counselor's authorization of hormone therapy for a transgendered person about to undergo a sex change. On a letterhead that included the center's name and address.

What came quickly after is changing a community:

The intervention of the bishop, worried about liability for the Diocese of Des Moines. The firing of the transgendered woman who worked part time as parish housekeeper and who, as an independent social worker, used parish offices to provide counseling for transgendered clients. Nearly 100 parishioners organizing separate prayer services instead of going to Mass because they said they sought a welcoming place for all. And angst in a once-tight faith community about how the church should minister to those whose lifestyles aren't condoned by the church.
I believe the church had a right to fire her, because it was a religious organization. I do think that a religious organization has the right to be bigoted and discriminatory when it comes to their religious organization. It was their church and they can chose who they want to include or exclude. However, having said that, I also believe that if a religious organization has facilities that are open to the public, then they cannot discriminate and must obey the anti-discrimination laws.
In 2007, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization in New Jersey was involved in a battle over using their pavilion on the boardwalk for civil unions. A NY Time article said,
Group Loses Tax Break Over Gay Union Issue
Published: September 18, 2007

A boardwalk pavilion in the seaside town of Ocean Grove, N.J., that has been at the center of a battle over gay civil union ceremonies has lost its tax-exempt status because the state ruled it no longer met the requirements as a place open to all members of the public

In a letter to the administrator of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns the pavilion property, the state commissioner of environmental protection, Lisa Jackson, declined to recertify the pavilion as eligible for a real estate tax exemption it has enjoyed since 1989 under the state’s Green Acres Program, but did renew the tax-exempt status of the rest of the boardwalk and the beach, also owned by the association.

“When people hear the words ‘open space,’ we want them to think not just of open air and land, but that it is open to all people,” said Ms. Jackson. “And when the public subsidizes it with tax breaks, it goes with the expectation that it is not going to be parsed out, whether it be by activity or any particular beliefs.”
In this case I believe that the religious organization did discriminate because of the couples sexual orientation. The religious organization was not operating the pavilion as a private church, but they operated the pavilion as a public accommodation, therefore subject to the sate anti-discrimination laws.


Jamiegottagun said...

The separation of church and state does not protect churches from following the same laws in regards to their employees as any other employer would be required to do.

If the State of NY has a gender-identity specific job protection, then the church was in abeyance in firing the employee.

Your allowed to be as narrow-minded as you wish and call it religion, but you still have to obey the law.

Diana_CT said...

Private organization can discriminate and it is not just my opinion, but the Supreme Court has rule so (I don’t like the ruling, but that is the courts decision). The Boy Scouts of America took it to the U.S. Supreme Court and in a 5-4 decision ruled that they could discriminate. CNN ( reported back in 2000 that,
Chief Justice William Rehnquist agreed. He said for the court majority that applying a state public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit a gay troop leader violates the group's constitutional right of expressive association.

There have also been court ruling upholding the discrimination by religious organizations…

From (,
The court's decision here was correct [a campus pastor Lutheran High School of Greater Minneapolis sued the church over his firing and he lost the case] — and it's not the first time that church employees have been fired for being gay, even if their position was entirely secular. An mail clerk of 31 years was fired by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association because she was spotted kissing a woman. Employees of churches and associated religious organizations do not have legal protections from arbitrary behavior like that.
However, the article goes on to say…
These are private organizations and, as such, are not publicly accountable — but the lack of such accountability also means that they should not be eligible for public funding.

I rather chose my battles. I rather let them discriminate all the want in their private religious organizations, but I’ll fight them tooth and nail if they refuse to treat trans-persons or a gay or lesbian persons at a religious hospital. Because a hospital is a public accommodation that is there to treat all people.

David Scott said...

It should go without saying that a person should be allowed to marry whomever they choose. Until the right-wing, religious fanatics in this country stop trying to control everybody else and force their “morals” down the throat of the country, there can be no real freedom in the United States. Civil rights cannot simply be "voted away," that is the purpose of the Bill of Rights. Religious activists should be left out of these decisions completely. I invite you to my web pages devoted to raising awareness on this puritan attack on our freedom:

Diana_CT said...

I just got spamed. It amazes me that somebody takes the time to put spam on blogs when the know they will only be deleted.
What I found funny was it was for part time jobs from home... was it to post spam in blogs.