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CEO Whose Career Was Destroyed By Fear Of Anti-Gay Bias Writes Gay Business Manifesto

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Conservative opponents of the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) often claim that a bill protecting gays and lesbians in the workplace is unnecessary because there is no problem of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the business world.

They even go so far as to claim that gays and lesbians enjoy a privileged place in the economic system while ignoring evidence to the contrary. Enter in a new book written by a someone who became a victim of anti-gay bias in his company even though he was the Chief Executive Officer, and one of the most powerful and celebrated CEOs in the world at the time.

John Browne, Baron Browne of Madingley is best known for his reign over the energy giant British Petroleum or BP between 1995 and 2007. During his time as CEO he was lauded as the “Sun King” for bringing about a period of exceptional growth and advancement to the company. Like many other prominent men in our time he was brought down by a sex scandal. In 2007, Browne was forced to resign from his beloved company after a judge found that he had committed perjury while giving details about a liaison he had with a male escort.

While it was the act of lying to a judge and not his homosexuality itself that ultimately did him in, it is clear that what led up to this point was an extreme fear on Browne’s part that being openly gay could undermine his career. Throughout his time at BP, Browne had never dared disclose the truth that he was gay to any of his colleagues. Even as he resigned he tried to sweep the issue under the rug, saying in a statement,

“I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private.”

Writing in Fortune today saying companies should “encourage a culture of openness,” Brown laments,

“Looking back now, I wish I had been brave enough to come out earlier.”

It’s also important to note that the first major anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ British subjects were not passed until 2003 as part of the Employment Equality Regulations in 2003, and were not extended to all areas of life until the passage of the Equality Act by the UK parliament in 2010.

Browne is once again in the news, but this time because he has written a new book entitled The Glass Closet: Why Coming Out Is Good Business. In his new manifesto he encourages the predominantly hetero-normative world of business to become more flexible and welcoming toward gays and lesbians. He discusses at length the negative effects being in the closet have both in terms of business productivity of workers as well as their personal relationships. Browne insinuates that had he not been confined to the closet for so much of his career, he may have been able to form more healthy relationships with other men earlier on instead of engaging with a male escort, which ultimately led to his resignation.

In a recent media blitz, he’s given several interviews and taken excerpts from his book explaining why he ultimately is happy to have been outed in 2007. In one except published by the Wall Street Journal he talks about the unexpected happiness that came as a result of his resignation. He also uses this as a way to encourage other gay men and lesbians in business to consider being more open about who they are.

Looking back, most of my fears about coming out were clearly unfounded. After I resigned, thousands of supportive letters poured in from around the world. I also underestimated both the capacity of my friends and colleagues to accept all of me and the extent to which people already knew, or suspected, that I was gay. Since then, I have remained active in the energy business, chaired the board of the Tate galleries, advised my fifth prime minister and built a wonderful relationship with another man. Had I known then what I know now, I would have come out sooner.

The lesson to be learned in Browne’s story is that even one of the biggest names in business could be brought down by homophobia that is still pervasive in much of the business world. Browne’s recent book and his advocacy for a more welcoming environment for gays and lesbians in the corporate sphere comes at what could be an increasingly crucial moment for ENDA in the United States congress. On the one hand, ENDA is receiving increasing support in the House of Representatives. However, ENDA has also lost a great deal of support…from LGBTQ organizations.

This week the number of Democrats in the House of Representatives who are no co-sponsoring ENDA dropped to just eight after Jim Costa of California signed on. And in a delightful turn of events, Republican Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey also pledged his support. Given the recent disaster with immigration reform and the recent defeat of one of it’s Republican supporters Eric Cantor, it’s good to hear that ENDA may still have a small chance of making it through the House this year.

Unfortunately, Conservative opponents who have been waging a national war against non-existent religious discrimination have planted a bomb in the act that threatens the support it has from the very Americans it will attempt to defend. ENDA contains a religious exemption clause that would hand  any religious organizations, even if they are non exclusively churches the ability to virtually ignore the bill’s statutes. But it is this religious exemption that has provided ENDA with the bipartisan support it is currently enjoying as it slowly but surely inches it’s way to the 218 votes needed for passage. This conflict was detailed in a report in Metro Weekly.

NCLR and the Transgender Law Center, which both lauded ENDA’s passage in the Senate last year, have since rescinded their support for the bill due to the religious exemption, according to The Washington Blade. But while they argue ENDA’s religious exemption as written is broader than it is under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act for other minority groups and would open the door to LGBT discrimination in places far beyond churches and synagogues, narrowing ENDA’s religious exemption could also cause shaky Republican support to collapse entirely.

“For me, my job is I’m a mathematician trying to get to 218 votes,” out Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) told Metro Weekly. “And if that’s the issue then we need to figure out how to get something done in this current environment. Either you change who is in those seats, which is something I’m working on for this fall, or we at least try to get something done as broad as possible, which can then be improved in the future when we have those opportunities. But certainly sitting back isn’t an option.”

A similar crisis took place in 2007 over the issue of protections for the transgender community being included in the bill. Today we are left with a hard decision about whether it is best to pass a flawed bill now that we can attempt to fix later, or whether we should stick to our guns and pass a much stronger bill to begin with that cannot be undermined later. Whatever we do, Browne’s recent advocacy shows that the fear of anti-gay discrimination in the workplace is very real even for the most powerful and accomplished.

Thomas Alberts is a Seattle-based activist and writer. He holds a B.A. in English with a minor in Gender Studies from Weber State University. He currently serves on the volunteer board for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and interns as a blogger for NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. He also previously worked with Planned Parenthood Global in New York and Washington, D.C. as a Global Youth Advocacy Fellow, and has written for RH Reality Check. Thomas can also be found onTwitter, Facebook, and A Few Choice Words.

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‘Jan. 6 Wasn’t a Fantasy’: Top Missouri Paper Says It’s ‘Long Past Time’ for Senate to Investigate Josh Hawley

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On Sunday, the editorial board of the St Louis Post-Dispatch called on the U.S. Senate Ethics Panel to investigate Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) over any possible involvement he may have had in the Jan 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Hawley, whose political future will be haunted by a photo of him giving a raised fist to insurrectionists as they stormed the halls of Congress has been excoriated by the paper’s editors multiple times, but Sunday’s call for an investigation ramps up their attacks on the home state senator.

According to the board, “Ten months after a group of Senate Democrats lodged ethics complaints into the conduct of Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas regarding their roles in sparking the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Senate Ethics Committee has shown no sign of movement.,” with the editors saying it is “long past time” to take a hard look at both Republican senators.

“Jan. 6 wasn’t a fantasy; it was real, and the culpability of these two senators must be determined,” they wrote. “Hawley and Cruz were the only two senators to object to certification of Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election results, citing (with zero evidence) supposed concerns about the election’s integrity. That was the same baseless, toxic nonsense then-President Donald Trump had been spewing since before the election. Such talk whipped up the mob of Trump loyalists to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6.”

Related: Lauren Boebert needs to be subpoenaed to explain her ‘violent revolution’ Jan 6th tweets: MSNBC contributor

Adding, “Even after the violence, he persisted in voting with just five other senators to continue promoting Trump’s big lie that Biden’s win was illegitimate,” the editors wrote, “If he had an ounce of honor, he’d have heeded our Jan. 7 call for his resignation (we certainly weren’t alone on that). But at this point, why even talk about honor?”

Writing that, “Just because there’s a mechanism in place allowing senators to object to election results doesn’t mean it’s OK for Hawley to abuse that process for crass political gain,” the editorial concluded, “Hawley and Cruz have the right to defend themselves from the allegations — but so far, they haven’t even had to. The Ethics Committee should stop sitting on this.”

You can read the whole piece here.

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‘Hang on a Minute’: Chuck Todd Confronts GOP Governor Who Wants ‘Liberty’ for Vaccines but Not for Abortion

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NBC host Chuck Todd on Sunday challenged Gov. Tate Reeves (R-MS) over his push to deny abortion rights for women while insisting that people should have control over their own bodies when it comes to vaccines.

During an interview on Meet the Press, Todd noted that Reeves had recently championed “freedom and individual liberty” when it comes to vaccine mandates.

“Why should the state of Mississippi tell a woman what they should do with their body?” Todd asked. “Why shouldn’t they have that individual freedom on their body particularly in the first 20 weeks [of pregnancy].”

“The far left loves to scream ‘my body, my choice,'” Reeves replied. “And what I would submit to you, Chuck, is you absolutely ignore the fact that in getting an abortion, there is an actual killing of an innocent unborn child that is in that womb.”

Reeves went on to insist that fetuses should be considered “babies” at 15 weeks of age.

“Those babies at 15 weeks can feel pain,” he argued. “The difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself. Abortions actually go in and kill other American babies.”

“But vaccines are not about yourself,” Todd interrupted. “Hang on a minute. A vaccine is about protecting a larger community. A vaccine is about preventing spread. You could argue a vaccine mandate is a pro-life position.”

“You could certainly argue that, Chuck,” Reeves agreed. “The vaccine may not keep you from getting the virus. It may not keep you from spreading the virus but it can keep you from ending up in the hospital. That’s what’s been proven during this delta surge that we’ve seen in America.”

He added: “Conversely, when you’re talking about the pro-life position of protecting unborn babies, let’s put it also in perspective, the fact is that during this very horrible and challenging time since I was sworn into office in January of 2020, Chuck, we’ve had 800,000 American lives lost because of Covid. And my heart aches for every single one of those individuals that has died because of Covid … But since Roe was enacted, 62 million American babies have been aborted and have therefore been killed.”

Watch the video below from NBC.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Demonstrating ‘The Depth of Power She Has Over Kevin McCarthy’: Politico Reporter

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Appearing on CNN on Saturday morning, Politico’s Rachael Bade explained that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s overwhelming desire to become the leader of a Republican Party-dominated House has put him at the mercy of the demands and whims of extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

As the plans for the 2022 midterm elections ramp up, and political prognosticators are saying a GOP House takeover is highly likely, McCarthy’s path to staying leader is not certain with the far-right wing of the party balking at just handing the California Republican the gavel.

As Bade explained to CNN’s Christi Paul, Taylor Green is just now starting to feel her power over McCarthy grow.

“What is the takeaway for Kevin McCarthy?” Paul asked. “Particularly, I have to point out that after last night, Marjorie Taylor Greene said she tweeted that she got off a good call with him. spent time talking about problems not only for the country. ‘I like what he has planned ahead.’ Two different — two different points of view from her and in a 24 to 48-hour period. What do you make of that?”

“Look, I think Kevin McCarthy has a really long year ahead of him,” Bade suggested. “You’re right, the midterms are far away. That vote for him to become speaker is a long way off, but Marjorie Taylor Greene is just starting to realize the depth of power she actually has over Kevin McCarthy.”

“This is a man who has wanted to be Speaker for a decade,” she continued. “He needs her vote, he needs her support in order to get the gavel. I think what you’ll be seeing for the next few months, for a year, anytime Kevin McCarthy does anything to infuriate Marjorie Taylor Greene or infuriates [Donald] Trump — they’re going to be lording it over his head.”

“He’s got this real bind right now, he’s going to be in this pickle for a very long time,” she later added.

Watch below:

 

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