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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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GUNS

3 Dead in Current Active Shooting in Austin – Outrage as Texas Lawmakers Move to Make Unlicensed Open Carry Legal

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Three people are dead in a shooting in Austin, Texas, with the gunman is at large, per multiple reports and the Austin-Travis County EMS:

“Police and medics are staging at a parking lot in the area where a Starbucks and Trader Joe’s are located, but the actual scene of the shooting is further down Great Hills Trail, according to officials,” KVUE reports.

KVUE senior reporter Tony Plohetski is on-scene:

There have been at least 150 mass shooting this year.

As reports flood social media many expressed outrage at Texas GOP lawmakers who this past week voted to eliminate requirements for gun licenses, which would allow open or concealed carry of handguns without a license.

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Maria Bartiromo and Stephen Miller Panic Over Voting Rights Putting Democrats in Charge ‘Forever’

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Fox News host Maria Bartiromo and former Trump administration official Stephen Miller worried over the weekend that Democrats will be in charge “forever” if voting rights are expanded or protected.

During an interview on Bartiromo’s Sunday morning program, the Fox News host accused social media platforms of inflicting “cancel culture” on conservative voices.

Miller argued that Republicans should pass laws protecting Chrisitians on social media as soon as the party regains control of government.

“Yeah, will Republicans have the chance?” Bartiromo agreed. “That’s the whole point of H.R. 1, Nancy Pelosi wanting to put this bill through so that Democrats are in charge forever or certainly decades. Your thoughts on election integrity and that Democrat [sic] H.R. 1 bill.”

“It’s a real sign of the threat to the health of our democracy,” Miller opined. “When democracy faces risk, when democracy is imperiled, what you see happening instead is the party in power tries to change the rules of the game structurally to stay in power.”

Miller argued that the voting rights bill is “a very dangerous path to go down.”

“H.R. 1 is saying, now that we’re in power, let’s fundamentally change the rules of how elections are conducted to stay in power,” he continued.

“Unbelievable,” Bartiromo gasped.

“That’s a very scary thing,” Miller said. “And so if you care about democracy, you should all say with one voice, no, it is the right of every state in this union to set their own election rules as desired by their own citizens to protect the security and integrity of their own elections. That’s fundamental!”

“It’s all quite extraordinary,” Bartiromo lamented.

Watch the video below from Fox News.

 

 

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'RACIST DOG WHISTLE'

‘Violent, Vain, Boasting Oafs’: GOP’s New ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus Brutally Dismantled by Historians as ‘American Fascists’

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On Saturday, Newsweek profiled a number of historians outraged at the effort by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to create an “America First” congressional caucus that would defend “Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

Grand View University associate professor of medieval history Thomas Lacaque did not mince words: “These American fascists have no relation to Anglos or Saxons, the terminology is clearly chosen on far right lines. They do remind me of Beowulf, though —violent, vain, boasting oafs who think killing is governance and will die doing dumb shit leaving the nation in ruins.”

“There is no such thing as ‘Anglo-Saxon’ political traditions’ unless Margorie [sic] Taylor Greene is talking about Old English charters and she isn’t,” wrote University of Toronto medieval scholar Mary Rambaran-Olm. “If she wants to return to those, she’ll have to stop advocating for gun use. ‘Anglo-Saxon’ is being weaponized by the far-right.” She added that the very term “Anglo-Saxon” is a “racist dog-whistle, inaccurate and generally sucks balls.”

The new caucus, which Greene co-founded with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and has attracted membership interest from Reps. Barry Moore (R-AL) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX), has even drawn criticism from other Republicans.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) responded to the news by saying, “The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles.” And Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), a frequent critic of Trump loyalists, has called for any Republican who joins the caucus to be stripped of committee assignments and expelled from the Republican conference.

 

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