Swalwell: Move Super Bowl if AZ enacts LGBT law

The National Football League should commit to moving 2015’s Super Bowl out of Arizona if that state enacts a law letting businesses refuse to serve people because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, Rep. Eric Swalwell said Wednesday.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to level the threat. (Goodell’s brother, Michael, is gay and was quoted this month on NFL prospect Michael Sam’s decision to publicly disclose his sexuality.)

“In a recent statement, the NFL recognized that its policy emphasizes tolerance and inclusiveness, and I’m asking the NFL to stand by its words,” Swalwell said in a news reelase. “Arizona is fortunate to be the host of the 2015 Super Bowl, and I urge the NFL to commit to moving the 2015 Super Bowl from Arizona if the anti-gay SB 1062 is signed into law. In doing so, it would send a powerful signal that the NFL will not stand by while discriminatory laws are enacted.”

Arizona’s SB 1062 has been passed by both chambers of that state’s legislature, and Gov. Jan Brewer has until Friday to sign or veto it; news reports have said she’s leaning toward the latter, but it’s not yet clear what she’ll do.

(UPDATE @ 4:50 P.M.: It’s a moot point now; Brewer just announced she has vetoed the bill.)

Read Swalwell’s letter, after the jump…
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NJ hedge fund prez bankrolls anti-AB 1266 effort

A hedge-fund manager from New Jersey has contributed another $50,000 to the campaign to repeal California’s new law that gives transgender K-12 students rights such as access to the restrooms and locker rooms that they choose.

Wedding AnniversaryThis latest contribution, made Nov. 1 and reported Monday, brings Sean Fieler’s total contributions to the “Privacy for All Students – Stop AB1266” committee to $200,000 – almost as much as all other contributors to that committee have given so far.

Fieler, of Princeton, N.J., is president of Equinox Partners and chairman of the board of the American Principles Project, a conservative 501(c)(3) “founded to reinvigorate and restore those principles that made our country great. We take pride in leading the conversation, defending and promoting the universal truths that we are all ‘created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’” Fieler also has been a prolific donor to efforts opposing same-sex marriage.

AB 1266 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, requires that a K-12 pupil be permitted to take part in sex-segregated school programs, activities and facilities including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity and regardless of the gender listed on that pupil’s records. Though the law applies to a wide range of access, conservative opponents have dubbed it the “bathroom law.”

The Assembly approved it 46-25, the state Senate approved it 21-9, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law Aug. 12. The law will take effect Jan. 1, unless its opponents succeed in placing a repeal referendum on the ballot.

We don’t know yet whether they succeeded. Referendum supporters had until Nov. 10 to gather and submit valid signatures from at least 504,760 registered voters in order to put this on the ballot; hitting that mark usually requires gathering about 700,000 signatures to be safe. The Los Angeles Times reported Oct. 20 that they had gathered about 500,000. Southern California Public Radio reported Sunday that supporters said they’d submitted 620,000 signatures.


Stark re-introduces gay adoption & foster care bill

Rep. Pete Stark re-introduced a bill today that would ban discrimination in adoption or foster care placement based on the sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity, or based on the child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

H.R. 1681, the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act,” has 33 original cosponsors. Stark, D-Fremont, issued a news release saying it addresses the critical shortage of stable, safe and loving homes now available to children in the foster care system by setting a federal baseline that ends prejudiced restrictions.

Pete Stark“We now spend more than $7 billion per year on a flawed foster care system that doesn’t serve all the children who are in it, and permits discrimination against capable, loving potential parents and children,” Stark said. “It’s time for a federal fix to this critical child welfare and civil rights issue. Every child deserves the lifelong benefits that come from growing up in a stable home.”

Stark offered a similar bill in October 2009, but it never even got a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. Stark’s office says states including Virginia, Arizona and Illinois recently have tried to further restrict who can adopt, making this re-introduction particularly timely. A handful of states affirmatively allow gay men and lesbians to adopt jointly, while most states are silent on the issue.

California legalized single-parent adoptions by lesbians and gay men in 1978. A state law that took effect in 2002 let domestic partners adopt a child of his or her partner as a stepparent. And the California Supreme Court in 2003 affirmed the validity of second-parent adoption, a process that allows unmarried couples, including lesbian and gay couples, to establish a legal relationship with the couples’ children.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, has announced she’ll introduce the bill in the Senate.

“Far too many children in foster care have little hope for a permanent family and end up being parented by the government,” said Linda Spears, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs for the Child Welfare League of America. “We must support all qualified adults who are interested in providing a nurturing, adoptive home—regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. Having a real live, caring parent is incredibly important for ensuring a child’s success. Rep. Stark’s bill represents progress for these children whose goal is to simply be loved.”

Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler said the bill addresses “an undisputed child welfare crisis in this country, with more than 500,000 children in foster care and 120,000 of them available for adoption.”

“One in four children in this country is being raised by a single parent, two million children are being raised in LGBT households,” she said. “We all recognize there is no single type of family in America anymore.We must not allow anyone to use politically motivated and specious arguments about safeguarding traditional family structures to deny families to children in need.”

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) National Executive Director Jody Huckabee says having youth in loving homes with supportive families reduces risk factors such as poverty, homelessness, incarceration, mental illness, and pregnancy. “Our organization has been supporting parents, families and children all over the country for over 35 years, and we know from our experience that it is in the best interest of every child – and, in fact, the right of every child – to have the loving care and support of a family.”

Bill Gram-Reefer, editor and publisher of the Halfway to Concord blog, gave voice to some conservatives’ concerns about such legislation soon after Stark introduced the earlier bill in 2009:

Like a finger looking for any eye to poke this measure would effectively ban government partnerships with any public or private agency that chooses not to place children with same-sex couples. It also raises the very dangerous possiblities of organizations being banned from receiving state certification whether or not they receive government funding, based on over reaching discrimination rules proposed by Stark and others as the new liberal trump card.

The clear irony of Stark’s willingness to cut off the nose to spite the face is that while claiming to advance tolerance, his bigoted legislation works to marginalize groups because of their sincerely-held convictions.


Speaker John Perez says ‘It Gets Better’

California Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, released a pair of YouTube videos today as part of the “It Gets Better” series created to counter a spate of LGBT teenage suicides due to bullying and harassment by their peers.

Here’s the short version:

And here’s the long version, where in he discusses his experience coming out over the Thanksgiving holiday when he was in college:

“The rash of suicides we’ve seen in the past year have been nothing short of heartbreaking in every sense of the word. The particulars are the same in every case, where the kid felt so lonely and isolated and had no hope for the future to the point where they felt the only answer was taking their own life,” Pérez said in a news release. “The It Gets Better series is a way for each of us who struggled with the same issues to reach out to the kids and let them know how wonderful and special and not alone they are. I chose to do this video now because with the holiday season approaching it’s more critical than any other time of the year to send the kids a message of hope.”


Hearing on bill to ban LGBT work discrimination

House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, on Wednesday morning will hold the first full House committee hearing on a bill that would bar employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

H.R. 3017, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, authored by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., would prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. For now, it’s legal to discriminate in the workplace based on sexual orientation in 29 states, and in 38 states based on gender identity.

Those scheduled to speak at Wednesday’s hearing include:

  • U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.
  • U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.
  • Stuart Ishimaru, Acting Chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • William Eskridge Jr., John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence, Yale Law School
  • Vandy Beth Glenn, fired from her Georgia state legislative job when she told her supervisor she was transitioning from male to female
  • Camille Olson, partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP
  • Craig Parshall, senior vice president and general counsel, National Religious Broadcasters
  • Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center
  • Brad Sears, executive director of the Charles R. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA School of Law
  • The bill’s 159 co-sponsors include the entire Bay Area delegation but for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; the Speaker customarily refrains from cosponsoring, debating or voting on all but the most vital legislation.