The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 30

Jim Burroway

May 30th, 2012

ExxonMobile protesters in 2010.

ExxonMobil Shareholders To vote On Anti-Discrimination Policy: Dallas, TX. When Exxon merged with Mobil Corporation in 1999, the merged company ended Mobil’s domestic partnership program for its employees and rescinded Mobil’s non-discrimination policy. Since the merger, LGBT advocates have been trying to convince the ExxonMobil board to reinstate the non-discrimination policy. In 2010, only 22% of shareholders voted to uphold the policy, with most shareholders allowing the ExxonMobile board to vote their shares by proxy.

Today, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who is responsible for investment decisions for the $140 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, will once again bring a shareholder resolution to the annual board meeting calling for the corporation to adopt policies that ensure its employees are not fired or harassed at work because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. ExxonMobile earlier this year tried to block a vote on the proposal, claiming that the company has already informally implemented most of the changes sought. The Securities and Exchange Commission disagreed, ruling last March, “Based on the information you have presented, it appears that ExxonMobil’s policies, practices and procedures do not compare favorably with the guidelines of the proposal and that ExxonMobil has not, therefore, substantially, implemented the proposal.”

ExxonMobil is currently rated a minus 25 on Human Rights Campaign’s annual “Corporate Equality Index,” making ExxonMobil the first corporation ever to receive a negative score on the index. The shareholders meeting takes place at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (a.k.a “The Mort”) in Dallas, beginning at 9:00 a.m. CDT. It will be streamed live.

Lambda Legal, ACLU Announce Marriage Lawsuits On Behalf of Illinois Couples: Chicago and Springfield, IL. On June 1 last year, Illinois began granting civil unions for same-sex couples. Today on the eve’s eve of that anniversary, Lambda Legal and the ACLU are coordinating a joint announcement of separate lawsuits that will be field on behalf of LGBT families seeking full marriage equality. The Chicago press conference will take place at the Westin Chicago River North (320 North Dearborn Avenue, and will feature Camilla Taylor, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal who lead the litigation in Iowa resulting in the historic unanimous Iowa Supreme Court decision winning marriage for same-sex couples in Iowa. The Springfield press conference will take place at the State House Inn (101 East Adams), and will feature Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. Both press conference will begin at 10:30 a.m. CDT.

California Senate May Vote On Ex-Gay Therapy Curbs: Sacramento, CA. It now appears likely that the California Senate will vote on SB 1172, which would prevent licensed therapists from providing therapy to change sexual orientation to minors. It would also require that all others sign an informed consent statement. The bill would apply to licensed therapists only. Religious-based ex-gay programs and ministries would remain unaffected by the bill.

Several changes have been made to the proposed bill since the last time we looked at it, but the basic outlines remain the same. The bill has strong support from Equality California, and from several ex-gay survivors and their families. The bill’s supporters received a boost when Robert Spitzer retracted his 2001 ex-gay study and apologized to those who underwent ex-gay therapy believing it was effective. They also received unexpected support when the Pan American Health Organization called on governments to to ensure that “clinics offering (ex-gay therapy are) reported and subject to adequate sanctions.” NARTH strongly opposes the bill, and it has also drawn qualified opposition (PDF: 115KB/9 pages) from the California Psychological Association, which opposes the outright ban on therapy for minors as an intrusion on the organization’s management of its own code of ethics.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY (Black & Latino Pride); Birmingham, UK; Boston, MA; Buffalo, NY; Cambridge/Kitchener/Waterloo ON; Davenport, IA; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; Dresden, Germany; Gothenburg, Sweden; Honolulu, HI; Kansas City, MO; Karlsruge, Germany; Kiel, Germany; Lille, France; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Los Ranchos, NM; Mexico City, DF; Nantes, France; Pittsburgh, PA; Queens, NY; Riga, Latvia; Sacramento, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; Santa Cruz, CA; Sheffield UK; Sonoma Co, CA; Spencer, IN; Springfield, MA; Staten Island, NY; Tulsa, OK and Warsaw, Poland.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Beaver Lake, NY; Boston, MA; Clinton, NY; Long Beach, CA and Syracuse, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: AIDS Lifecycle, San Francisco to Los Angeles; Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Gay Days at Walt Disney World, Orlando, FL.

Paul Guilbert and Aaron Fricke

Male Couple attends Senior Prom: 1980. Aaron Fricke was a Senior in High school when he publicly came out as gay and stated dating Paul Guilbert and decided to ask him the Cumberland (Rhode Island) High School senior prom. His principal prohibited their attendance, saying the move “upset other students, sent the community abuzz, and rallied out-of-state newspapers to consider the matter newsworthy.” It also earned Fricke five stitches under his eye when he was attacked in the hallway. Fricke filed a lawsuit in Federal court, charging that the school district was infringing on his first amendment right to free speech. “I feel I have the right to attend,” he told the judge. “I feel I want to go to the prom for the same reason any other student would want to go.” The judge agreed (PDF: 60KB/7 pages), and not only ordered the school district to allow the couple to attend, but to beef up security in case there were any problems. And on this day in 1980, Frike and Guilbert attended the prom, and the case of Frike v. Lynch became an important legal precedent for other gay couples across the nation since then.

Fricke later wrote about his experiences in Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay. He also collaborated with his father on another book about coming out, Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father.

Christine Jorgensen: 1926. She was born in the Bronx, and described herself as “frail, tow-headed, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games.” She was also known as George. After a stint in the army following World War II, her identity as a woman was overwhelming — and her physical development as a man was underwhelming. As she attended dental school, she began taking the female hormone ethinyl estradiol on her own and began researching the subject of sexual reassignment surgery. At the time, the only surgeries being performed were in Sweden. But at a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, she discovered Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Denmark’s Minister of Justice allowed her surgery to take place.

Christine’s surgery was not the first of it’s kind, but that’s how it was presented on December 1, 1952 when the New York Daily News carried the front-page headline, “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty.” When she returned to New York the following February, she became an instant celebrity. She was reputedly the most written-about person in 1953, and she tried to use her celebrity as an opportunity for education. Educating the entire world turned out to be a huge task, but it was a task she was ready to take on. She acted in summer stock, toured the lecture circuit, wrote an autobiography, and made countless radio and television appearances. After her surgery, she was engaged to marry John Traub, but that engagement was called off. In 1959, she announced her engagement to Howard J. Knox, but the couple were unable to obtain a marriage license because Jorgensen’s birth certificate still listed her as a male. By the time the engagement was called off, Knox had already been fired over the publicity. Shortly before she died in 1989, she said she had given the sexual revolution “a good swift kick in the pants.” She died of bladder and lung cancer just a month shy of her 63rd birthday.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Timothy (TRiG)

May 30th, 2012

There’s some inspiring stories there. Thanks for the work you do on these posts, Jim.

I must get hold of those books. They sound like good reading.


Timothy (TRiG)

May 30th, 2012

By the way, the link to the Fricke court judgement is broken.


Jim Burroway

May 30th, 2012

I’ve fixed the link.

Timothy Kincaid

May 30th, 2012

I know of no boycott, but I don’t buy Mobil. I go out of my way and pay more at the pump to avoid giving them my custom.

– – –

I’m disappointed that the sponsors of the ex-gay ban have not worked with the CPA to resolve their concerns. By going in heavy handed, this feels less like a solution to a problem and more like political revenge.

I hope the Senate votes this bill down. If they meet with the CPA and focus on problem resolution (rather than moralizing about the evils of those who are not pro-gay) then they can bring back a bill we can all support.

I also hope that Equality California stops sending out untruthful emails about the bill. The one I received this week informed me that change therapy is harmful to the patients. While that is true for some, it is not universally true and some patients have benefitted from the therapy.

There’s enough truthful things to criticize about the practice. There’s enough good policy that could be set. We really don’t need to be untruthful or heavy handed.

Priya Lynn

May 30th, 2012

Timothy said “I also hope that Equality California stops sending out untruthful emails about the bill. The one I received this week informed me that change therapy is harmful to the patients. While that is true for some, it is not universally true and some patients have benefitted from the therapy.”.

The shidloe and Schraeder study showed the “therapy” is widely harmful and it is the position of all major mental health organizations that the therapy is harmful. None of the major mental health agencies says the “therapy” has benefitted anyone so your anecdotes of benefits do not allow you to make a truthful scientific claim that the “therapy” benefits some.

As I recall, even you acknowledge that in your anecdotes that the clients have not benefitted from attempting change orientation, rather that they have benefitted from counselling for other issues such as excessive drug or alcohol use, sexual promiscuity and so on. If that were true then clients of this “therapy” can still readily get counseling for such issues and as the counselling to change orientations isn’t helpful even in your anecdotes it is not just pointless to have it available, it is harmful and it is high time it is the APA and other agencies declared it unethical.

Priya Lynn

May 30th, 2012

In my previous comment I said “it is the position of all major mental health organizations that the therapy is harmful.”. I meant to say “it is the position of all major mental health organizations that the therapy is sometimes harmful.

Regan DuCasse

May 30th, 2012

The Christine Jorgenson story was a book my family had in our home library. We had so many books on different kinds of history, and social issues. My folks were intellectuals, really. Our house tended to have like minded visitors.

I learned about transgender surgery and medical hormones and therapy from that book, at the age of eleven. I was a very precocious reader, as were my brother and sister.
Difficult subjects were not held back from us kids. We were black kids, two of us were girls. Things could be difficult for us, and already had been for members of our family.
Learning about other people, and their social status, and difficulties were the reason we were taught to LEARN and experience other people, before deciding they weren’t worthy of respect just because they were mysterious to others.
I was in grade school and that’s not too early an age to learn about this fact of human life and gender. The transgendered are manifesting this reality at much earlier ages, and children will have siblings who are.

Children, after all, learn a lot of things about medical technology, support and so on, that helps people and makes them happy or cures them of things that have made them unhappy.
Children do get that. And there is nothing in the world, or justification for being taught to be so hostile and insane about the transgendered, the reaction is to be abusive and violent.

Unprovoked violence is always going to be something inexplicable to children.
In comparison, teaching to understand and respect the transgendered isn’t hard at all.

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