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Archive for August, 2013

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Walmart to offer domestic partner benefits

Walmart, gay news, Washington Blade

Walmart will begin to offer domestic partnership benefits to employees (Photo by Bobby P.; courtesy Wikimedia Commons).

@ WashingtonBlade.com/Chris Johnson
The nation’s largest retailer will begin to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees in same-sex relationships, although LGBT advocates are calling on the company to go further.
Walmart — which, with more than two million workers, is the biggest private employer in the world — announced that it would begin to offer these benefits along with other changes on Monday in a postcard that was sent to workers obtained by the Washington Blade and other media outlets.
Under the heading “Enrolling domestic partners,” the postcard states, “Beginning in 2014, if you’re a full-time associate you can cover your spouse/domestic partner in the medical, dental, vision, life, critical illness or accident plans.”
Randy Hargrove, a Walmart spokesperson, said the “full suite” of benefits will be available starting Jan. 1 to employees who have domestic partners.
“The benefits that we will be offering will be available to an associate’s same or opposite-sex spouse, or an unmarried partner, whether it’s the same or opposite-sex,” Hargrove said.
The company, Hargrove said, defines domestic partnership as someone living in a relationship similar to marriage. The parties in the relationship must be living together for at least 12 months and intend to continue sharing a household indefinitely.
But Hargrove said the company isn’t looking for proof from employees that they have met requirements and is working off an honor system.
“Walmart’s beliefs are built on a foundation of integrity, and so no proof will be required to enroll a spouse or partner, just as no proof is not required today to enroll a spouse,” Hargrove said.
Hargrove said the company isn’t taking a position on same-sex marriage, but is adopting the new policy as different states enact different laws on marriage equality.
“We haven’t taken a view on that, but what we’ve done is we’ve developed a single definition for all our associates that can provide consistency across all of our markets because different states are developing different definitions of marriage and domestic partnerships, civil unions,” Hargrove said. “By adopting a single definition, we’ll offer clarity and consistency for our associates.”
While Hargrove said the company has provided benefits to employees in opposite-sex marriages, he said the company hasn’t recognized same-sex marriages and those couples will have to go through the domestic partnership system to receive benefits.
Hargrove said the policy change came about after discussions within the company, but not the result of any kind of board vote.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement provided to the Washington Blade that as a teenager he worked at his local Walmart in Arkansas — the home state of the company’s corporate headquarters.
“Now, as president of the Human Rights Campaign, I am moved by my former employer’s historic action that further proves equality is good business,” Griffin said. “Having worked for years to improve their HRC Corporate Equality Index score, Walmart, as America’s largest employer, has sent a cultural signal that equality for LGBT people is the simplest of mainstream values and we look forward to continuing to work with them.”
According to HRC’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index, Walmart previously offered an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy, but in addition to lacking partner benefits also didn’t provide transgender-inclusive health insurance or LGBT competency training or resources.
Michael Cole-Schwartz, an HRC spokesperson, said the institution of domestic partner benefits will change Walmart’s score on the Human Rights Campaign’s CEI score, but HRC is still assessing what that will mean in terms of points.
“They are likely not at 100 percent so after we figure their final score there will definitely be more for them to do,” Cole-Schwartz said. “Walmart has been on a slow but steady progression of LGBT inclusion and we expect that will continue.”
News that Walmart will begin to offer domestic partner benefits comes amid controversy after the company announced it has halted plans to build stores in D.C. after the District passed a law requiring large retailers to pay at least $12 an hour to employees.
Darren Phelps, executive director of the LGBT labor group Pride at Work, said he welcomes the change to offer domestic partner benefits to employees, but wants to see more from the company in terms of wages for employees.
“Our issue with Walmart first of all is workplace safety,” Phelps said. “While they are extending domestic partnership to same-gender loving people in our community, our workers should receive their living wages. We have great issues around that. While they have an extended an olive branch, Walmart needs to step up and do what is right to make sure that all workers are receiving liveable, fair wages.”

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Liberty on the Screen: Profiles in Film

Date/Time
Date(s) – 08/29/2013

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Location


America’s Future Foundation, the Moving Picture Institute, and Taliesin Nexus invite you to a special one-of-a-kind event featuring screenings of short liberty-minded films followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers.

Learn about the latest ideas in libertarian film making, meet the directors, see their work, learn about film opportunities for you, and discuss the future of film for liberty. Get your ticket below!

Featuring:

Rob MontzJuche Strong

Laura KaseyDog DaysSean MaloneNo Vans Land


*********************************************************************************August 30-September 2
San Diego, CA

Town and Country Resort
All day/all night

Disgust your inner Objectivist!  Smoke pot with anarchists under beautiful weather while abjuring electoral activity at Libertopia 2013.

I went to Libertopia 2011.  It wasn’t awash in gays, lesbians, or obvious bisexuals, but they do always promote their confab with graphics like this.

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On Thursday, Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley) confirmed what has long been suspected by folks following her story, she is not a gay man, she is a transgender woman. If only her confident-sounding official announcement could have been made in happier circumstances. On Wednesday, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for various charges — including violation of the Espionage Act —  related to her leak of hundreds of thousands of documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and numerous private diplomatic communications.
Read more at Stag Blog.

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By Zelie Pollon
SANTA FE, New Mexico (Reuters) – Same-sex marriages are now legal in New Mexico’s most populous county and the city of Albuquerque, a court ruled on Monday, adding to recent victories for gays and lesbians seeking the right to wed statewide.
Last week, a judge in Santa Fe County ordered the county clerk there to issue same-sex marriage licenses and a clerk in the southern part of the state decided to hand out such licenses independently of any court ruling.
The ruling could set precedent for expanding the right of gays and lesbians to eventually marry statewide in New Mexico, said representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violates the state constitution, which prohibits gender-based discrimination, wrote Bernalillo County Judge Alan Malott in a decision on Monday clearing the way for same-sex marriage in that county.
“Gay and lesbian citizens of New Mexico have endured a long history of discrimination,” Malott ruled. “Denial of the right to marry continues this unfortunate, intolerable pattern and establishes irreparable injury on plaintiffs’ part.”
The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. It is one of several cases filed recently in New Mexico on the question of gay marriage.
The case included plaintiffs from Santa Fe County and the judge also ruled that gay marriage licenses should be issued there. But a ruling last week by a different judge had already cleared the way for same-sex marriage in Santa Fe County.
Under Malott’s ruling, Bernalillo County, with 673,000 residents, will also be required to immediately issue same-sex marriage licenses.
That will mean that three counties in New Mexico will hand out the licenses, including Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico where the county clerk last week said he would start doing so.
Thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage.
“Our state is now on the brink of joining the growing list of states who live and honor the values of family, liberty and love,” Peter Simonson, ACLU of New Mexico executive director, said in a statement.
The group was not sure how the ruling would affect the state’s other 30 counties which are not issuing same-sex marriage licenses, said Micah McCoy, spokesman for the ACLU of New Mexico.
“It’s a pretty unconventional route for this kind of case to take, but it will be very useful in arguing the case in other counties where people want to get married,” McCoy said.
The New Mexico Supreme Court has declined to rule on lawsuits seeking the right for gays and lesbians to marry, but asked lower courts to handle them first.
Republican lawmakers in the state said they were contemplating ways to fight the decisions by the district court judges in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties as well as the Dona Ana County Clerk’s move to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
“It is inexplicable how a district court just today discovered a new definition of marriage in our laws, when our marriage law has not been changed in over a century,” State Senator Bill Sharer, a Republican, said in a statement.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)

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A DHS employee speaks.

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Alabama GOP Votes Against Punishing Head of College Republicans for Defending Gay Marriage

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