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



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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Reporters Reveal Some Republicans Don’t Understand What a Default Means – and Don’t Believe the Debt Ceiling Is Real



CNN’s Jim Acosta and John Avlon compared notes on Republicans speaking on raising the debt ceiling over the weekend only to realize that the far-right members refuse to support the deal between Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Acosta cited an interview he conducted Saturday with Rep. Tim Burchett (R-TN), who said he’s voted for shutdowns and would vote again this week.

After ranting about cutting spending, Acosta said, “Well, you can have the argument about cutting spending during the budget and appropriations process, but as you know, Congressman, the U.S. has never missed making payments on its bills before. In the last 45 years, Congress has raised the debt ceiling 65 times. So, again, I go back to the question: is it responsible — I understand what you’re saying about how much your daughter spends, but we’re not talking about $15. We’re talking about the American economy. Is it responsible to be the deciding vote to send the country into default?”

Burchett claimed that the country wasn’t going to be sent into default. He crafted a conspiracy that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen kept changing the date the U.S. default would happen.

“Nobody is, as the young people say, nobody has provided the receipts. Nobody has called her into Washington and said, ‘Show us the math on this,'” he said.

Yellen works at the Treasury Department, which is in Washington.

Burchett also had his own math, saying that if they cut the budget spending to the 2022 levels, the country would be in a surplus. The House passed a massive defense spending package that would have required cuts from other places.

“All they’re doin’ right now is scarin’ people,” Burchett claimed. “They’re talkin’ about cutting programs that have no need other than political cronyism, we’re tellin’ our seniors — and the Democrats will, and I get it — they’re tellin’ the seniors they’re gonna be cut. Veterans are gonna be cut. And nothing can be farther (sic) from the truth. And that’s just the reality of politics.”

The reason Democrats were citing cuts to seniors and veterans goes back to the Republican Party budget bill that required cuts to seniors and veterans. That’s because returning to the 2022 budget levels means making cuts to increases already passed by Congress.

Acosta turned back to Burchett to ask if he believed the debt ceiling wasn’t real.

“I think the debt ceiling is — it’s just a creative thing to hold us into responsible — into check,” said Burchett.

Avlon cited Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who claimed he refused to sign a bill that would bankrupt the economy.

“Well, hold it right there,” said Avlon. “I mean, if you let the country default on its debt, that’s functionally the same thing.”

An annoyed Avlon was frustrated the process was even something allowed to happen.

“It’s a fact, Congress has to control the pursestrings. So, frankly, someone should figure out the 14th Amendment side of this because I think this is not the way we’re supposed to play ball, the greatest nation in the world constantly every couple of years when there’s a Democratic president flirting with defaulting on our debt because it’s fiscal policy by extortion,” said Avlon. “This is a win to the extent that we came up to a bipartisan agreement, but this is not the way the greatest nation in the world should conduct its fiscal policy. It’s ridiculous. And it didn’t happen when Donald Trump was president because Democrats worked with Republicans to ensure the debt ceiling was raised three times.”

See the discussion below or at the link here.

Image: GOP Rep. Tim Burchett


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‘Start the Kevin McCarthy Death-Clock’ After Biden Wins Debt Ceiling Battle: Rick Wilson



Appearing late Saturday night on MSNBC after it was announced that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had reached an agreement “in principle’ on a budget deal, former GOP strategist Rick Wilson claimed this could be the beginning of the end for McCathy’s speakership.

Sitting in on a panel with guest host Michael Steele, Wilson suggested that McCarthy’s decision to compromise with the president to avoid a default that would spin the economy into chaos will not go over well with far-right members of his House caucus who could make a motion to “vacate the chair” to express their displeasure.

Asked by host Steel about what comes next, Wilson stated it was a win for the White House which will not make conservatives happy.

RELATED: ‘Crazy cuckoo MAGA people’ could sink debt ceiling deal: Dem strategist

“Great night for Joe Biden, great night for the White House even though I think their messaging has been kind of tentative the past few weeks” the Lincoln Project founder began. “I think though we are now going to start the Kevin McCarthy death-clock. He has certainly got a very angry part of his caucus tonight who probably burning up his phone no matter how good it is for the country not to default.”

“It’s not going to please the chaos caucus in the GOP,” he added.

Watch below or at the link:


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Debt Ceiling: McCarthy Faces ‘Lingering Anger’ and a Possible Revolt as Far-Right House Members Start Issuing Threats



As House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) continues to negotiate a deal to avoid a debt crisis, members of the far-right Freedom Caucus are growing furious with him over broken promises he made to them.

According to MSNBC political analyst Steve Benen, with a slim GOP majority in the House, McCarthy is walking a tightrope to get a budget deal passed and may need help from House Democrats if members of his caucus refuse to go along with him.

As Benen points out, in order to win the speakership McCarthy agreed to an easier path for a motion to “vacate the chair” which could end his tenure as Speaker. That could come into play if the Freedom Caucus stages a revolt.

“… as the negotiations approach an apparent finish line, the House Republicans’ most radical faction is learning that it isn’t likely to get everything its members demanded — and for the Freedom Caucus, that’s not going to work,” he wrote in his MSNBC column.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: Trump in danger of heightened espionage charges after bombshell report: legal expert

Citing a Washington Times report that stated, “[Freedom Caucus members] want everything from the debt limit bill passed by the House last month plus several new concessions from the White House,” Benen suggested far-right House Republicans are now issuing veiled threats.

In an interview, Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) stated, “I am going to have to go have some blunt conversations with my colleagues and the leadership team. I don’t like the direction they are headed.”

With Politico reporting, “The [House Freedom Caucus] was already unlikely to support a final bipartisan deal, but lingering anger with Kevin McCarthy could have lasting implications on his speakership,” Benen added, “If this is simply a matter of lingering ill-will from members who come to believe that GOP leaders ‘caved,’ the practical consequences might be limited. But let’s also not forget that McCarthy, while begging his own members for their support during his protracted fight for the speaker’s gavel, agreed to tweak the motion-to-vacate-the-chair rules, which at least in theory, would make it easier for angry House Republicans to try to oust McCarthy from his leadership position.”

Adding the caveat that he is not predicting an imminent McCarthy ouster he added, “But if the scope of the Freedom Caucus’ discontent reaches a fever pitch, a hypothetical deal clears thanks to significant Democratic support, don’t be surprised if we all start hearing the phrase ‘vacate the chair” a lot more frequently.”

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