Friday, March 29, 2013

Spreading Racism via Facebook

by Tom Jacobs
Originally Published: March 29th, 2013

Heavy Facebook users are more likely than those who log on occasionally to react positively to racist remarks.
Is Facebook a particularly powerful medium to spread racist messages? That’s the disturbing implication of a newly published study.
“Frequent users are particularly disposed to be influenced by negative racial messages,” psychologists Shannon Rauch and Kimberley Schanz write in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
They argue these heavy users log onto the site in search of social inclusion rather than information—and as such, they’re prone to express agreement with the material they see without thinking about it too deeply. This combination of “a need to connect and an ethos of shallow processing” creates an atmosphere conducive to the spread of racist thoughts.
Rauch and Schanz describe a study featuring 623 Internet users, nearly 95 percent of whom had a current Facebook account. They were asked how often they checked the site, reporting their typical usage on an eight-point scale from “less than once a week” to “20 or more times per day.”
They then read one of three versions of a Facebook Notes Page, which was purportedly written by a 26-year-old white male named Jack Brown.
One version contained what the researchers describe as a “superiority message,” a post in which Jack “contrasted the behaviors of black and white individuals, only to find consistent superiority of the whites.” The second contained a “victim message,” a post in which Jack argues that “whites are the most oppressed racial group in America.” The third contained an “egalitarian message,” a post in which Jack gives examples of anti-black racism he has witnessed.
The study participants were asked, among other things, “how much they agreed with the message,” “how accurate they found it,” “how much they liked the writer,” and how likely they were to either share the post with others or argue against it.
The researchers found more-frequent Facebook users did not differ from the others in their reaction to the egalitarian message. However, they “were more positive toward the messages with racist content—particularly the superiority message,” they write.
Why would this be? “Frequent Facebook users are likely susceptible to negative persuasive messages because they engage in less critical processing, either because of their online experiences or personality traits,” Rauch and Schanz write. “Agreement and positive attitudes are driven by a need to belong and connect with others.”
They note that, compared to those who use the site primarily for entertainment or “connecting with others,” the minority of Facebook users who report they use the site to find information and express their opinions were more likely to reject the racist messages. This group “appeared to discriminate between messages” to a far greater degree than the others.
“This is a sobering finding, given that Facebook use has become increasingly commonplace, and … information-seeking is not a primary motivation of most Facebook users,” Rauch and Schanz conclude.
“Facebook clearly has diverse content,” they note, “which can include persuasive messages of a sort that warrant critical thinking and some depth of processing.”
But critical thinking is often absent when people are motivated by the desire to be accepted, or to be entertained. As a result, this study suggests, some pretty disturbing stuff is being received with uncritical acceptance.

Read the original article by Tom Jacobs from Pacific Standard here: 

Menino welcomed diversity to Boston

by Alan Wirzbicki
Originally Published: March 29th, 2013

I met Tom Menino in 1993, the year before I won a seat in the state legislature. I’ve always admired his straight talk and wry humor, his unpretentious personality and his commitment to public service. I liked that he enjoyed the company of regular folk as I did— we would joke that we preferred a community meeting to a black tie affair, any day.

In 1999, the mayor invited me to join his administration, and I worked with him for eight years as chief of housing and director of the department of neighborhood development. Together we tackled revitalization projects and spearheaded an initiative to create a comprehensive housing blueprint for Boston called Leading the Way.

He is a man of action— full of energy, with a great capacity for hard work. He pushed the envelope on social issues. He ventured into sections of the city, which had historically been overlooked— and he invested in those communities. He has made Boston a more open and accessible place, welcoming diversity and helping the city move beyond its history of racial strife. He welcomed gays, immigrants, women, and people of color into his administration. He cared about the plight of low-income families and the homeless, and showed a special compassion for children and teens.

Years after I left my job with the city, I joined a national organization that helps reconnect young people who have gotten off track with education and jobs. In 2011, the mayor co-sponsored a resolution urging Congress to restore funding to the federal YouthBuild program. This issue was right up his alley and he took immediate action, always the public servant, ready to lend a helping hand.

Thank you, Mayor Menino, for building a better Boston. Because of your stewardship, we have a stronger city and a better place to live.- See more at:

Read the original article by Alan Wirzbicki from here: 

Anti-Atheist Discrimination at the Post Office

by Mark Silk
Originally Published: March 29th, 2013

As the less hip among you may not know, there is an ├╝ber-cool company in Berlin that specializes in neo-Bauhau footware with names like Kitten Testicle Grey, Ocean Fish, H├Âllenfeuer (Hellfire) Red, and Naughty Schnitzel Pilz. They come with either the Darwin Love Sole or the Ich Bin Atheist Sole.
For under $200 you can get yourself a pair. The company?ATHEIST SHOES, of course.
It will astonish no one who’s been following the rise of the Nones that sales in the U.S. have been pretty darn brisk, but last year word reached the company that packages were taking longer to arrive than they should. Sometimes they didn’t arrive at all. American customers began suspecting that the problem was that ATHEIST-branded packing tape. Could it be that the U.S. Postal Service was holding up the merchandise because of its manifest godlessness?
Good Germans that they are, the company decided to conduct A Serious Empirical Experiment. They sent 2 packages to each of 89 customers in 49 states, one sealed with the branded tape and the other with neutral. Sure enough, the ATHEIST-taped packages took an average of three days longer to arrive, and of 10 that didn’t arrive at all, nine were ATHEIST-taped.
Significantly–especially for those of us interested in regional religious differentiation–there was no regional variation at all. Packages more no more likely to slow down in the hyper-religious Deep South than in the hypo-religious Pacific Northwest. This was a nationwide federal problem.
Atheist soles
Would Fedex and UPS also go piously postal? Opting not to find out, ATHEIST SOLES has instead dispensed with its ATHEIST-branded tape. Your next pair of Naughty Schnitzels will now come wrapped in an unmarked plain brown wrapper, just like your old issues of Penthouse. Just don’t put your feet up on the counter next time you’re in Mississippi.

Read the original article by Mark Silk from Religion News Service here: 

Another Supreme Chance to Ban Discrimination

by Hans von Spakovsky
Originally Published: March 29th, 2013

On Monday, the Supreme Court agreed to review an important case on race and sex discrimination (also known as affirmative action) that will give it another chance to overturn a court of appeals ruling and confirm that discrimination is always wrong.
Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is an unfortunate example of the activism practiced by too many federal judges today. In 2006, voters in Michigan approved a ban on “all sex- and race-based preferences in public education, public employment, and public contracting.” It passed by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent and was almost identical in language to a similar referendum passed in California in 1996.
Having lost at the ballot box, the supporters of affirmative action and racial quotas filed a lawsuit claiming that the Michigan referendum violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In a closely divided case, eight judges of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals adopted a startlingly expansive view of the Equal Protection Clause.
The majority held that banning racial and sex discrimination in the college admissions process deprived the plaintiffs of equal protection under the “political-process doctrine” for two reasons: because the initiative targeted a program that “inures primarily to the benefit of” a minority group and because it reallocates political power and the decision-making process in a way that places a special burden on the minority’s ability to try to overturn it through the normal democratic process.
As one of the seven dissenting judges, Julia Smith Gibbons stated the majority’s opinion basically claims that “Michigan must retain its racial and other preference policies in higher education and that the state’s voters cannot make the contrary policy choice that factors like race and gender may not be taken into account in admissions.” As Gibbons pointed out, this argument flies “in the face of the core equal protection principle of nondiscrimination—a principle consistent with the choice of the people of Michigan.”
In essence, the court declared that the U.S. Constitution protects racial and gender preferences, which Judge Gibbons noted is “a concept at odds with the basic meaning of the Equal Protection Clause, as understood and explained through decades of jurisprudence.” Even the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with this type of claim when it upheld a similar California referendum in 1997.
The Sixth Circuit’s decision cannot be justified under the law because it turns the Equal Protection Doctrine on its head, holding that when a state bans unequal treatment under the law it somehow violates the concept of equal protection under the law. The case will be heard when the new term of the Supreme Court begins in October 2013. One hopes the Court will give this decision the short shrift it deserves and overturn it.

Read the original article by Hans von Spakovsky from The Heritage Network here: 

Editorial: Gay marriage is all about equality under the law

Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

The Supreme Court made history this week as it considered oral arguments on California’s Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in that state, and the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricts federal marriage benefits to only a married man and woman.
It is rare that two cases of such magnitude arrive before the Supreme Court in the same session — and perhaps even rarer that public sentiment changes so profoundly and so quickly on such a controversial issue. The court was wise to accept both cases, and now the nation stands on the precipice of momentous cultural and legal decisions this summer.
As this newspaper editorialized in December, we urge the Supreme Court to affirm the right of gay couples to marry based upon the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law. It is critical that the court also make clear that such a ruling won't require churches whose doctrines oppose same-sex marriage to perform such ceremonies.
Previously, we have opposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation.
Equality under the law also should include the opportunity for gay couples to marry, and both Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act should be struck down.
Yes, some of the constitutional issues are complex ones — legal concepts of standing, equal protection and the limits of federal power. But the cultural and social issues that underpin these cases are rooted in the fundamental American notion of a level playing field.
During the Defense of Marriage Act arguments, for example, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg astutely pointed out that the federal ban pervades every part of life and law, amounting to having “two kinds of marriage, the full marriage and then this sort of skim milk marriage.”
Likewise, during arguments in the Proposition 8 case, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, “Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them?” To which Charles Cooper, the attorney defending Proposition 8, responded: “Your Honor, I cannot. I do not have any — anything to offer you in that regard.”
American attitudes have shifted dramatically since Congress overwhelmingly supported the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and California voters enacted Proposition 8 in 2008. A recent poll commissioned byThe Washington Post shows 56 percent of Americans supporting gay marriage. Among those ages 18 to 29, the number is 81 percent.
Barack Obama last year became the first sitting president to affirm support for same-sex marriage.. Notable conservatives such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson, who argued the constitutionality of same-sex marriage to the court, also support the right of gay couples to wed.
We respect religious traditions that consider same-sex unions an affront to their beliefs and note that the First Amendment protects places of worship from being compelled to conduct same-sex marriages.
Nevertheless, gay couples deserve the same legal rights as everyone else. Fairness demands this outcome, and change is coming.
What they said
“Suppose a state said, ‘Because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55.’ Would that be constitutional?”
– Justice Elena Kagan

“Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision-making that the government could make? Denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort, any other decision?”
– Justice Sonia Sotomayor

“The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chief Justice, that no other group in recent history has been subjected to popular referenda to take away rights that have already been given or excluded [from] rights the way gay people have.”
– Roberta A. Kaplan, lawyer opposing the Defense of Marriage Act

Read the original article from here:

How Sesame Street can teach gender equality

by Agence France-Presse
Originally Published: March 29th, 2013

POSITIVE ATTITUDES. TV executives in India and Afghanistan try to use shows like Sesame Street to change children's attitude on issues like gender equality. File AFP/Georg WendtPOSITIVE ATTITUDES. TV executives in India and Afghanistan try to use shows like Sesame Street to change children's attitude on issues like gender equality. File AFP/Georg Wendt
NEW DELHI, India - Indian and Afghan producers of children's TV favorite "Sesame Street" are brainstorming in a New Delhi office, swapping tips on how to make Big Bird and his fluffy pals palatable to local viewers.
As the show makes India a satellite hub for production and training, it is a chance for the Afghan producers to tap into their Indian peers' 6 years of experience in balancing sensitivities in their own culturally and religiously diverse nation.
In doing so, the Afghans are working out how to avoid upsetting their own audiences in their quest to teach reading, writing and arithmetic in a conflict-torn country where only 50% of children attend school.
"This is all the education they're getting," says Sayed Farhad Hashimi of the other half. Hashimi is an advisor to the Afghan show that launched in 2011 and is now heading into its second season as "Bagch-e-Simsim" (Sesame Garden).
Hashimi notes that in his religiously conservative, warring country, the program treads a fine line, and is unique as a show for young children there.
"Parents control the television and they're going to turn it off if they don't like what they see," he explains over cups of green tea in mugs emblazoned with "Sesame Street" puppets.
"We don't want that to happen. We want it to be received well -- in fact it's vital," he says, adding that the program consults with the government and parents about content.
"In most places, schools aren't open, so we're reaching out to high-need areas."
"Sesame Street", which airs in countries from Pakistan to Tanzania to Turkey, insists its co-productions are not done to create positive attitudes toward the United States but to "foster positive attitudes" in children about themselves.
"The goal is to reach all children at the same time as accommodating local sensibilities," explains Ira Joshi, an education director of the Indian version of the highly popular US show, as the Afghans nod strongly in agreement.
Gender equality
On this afternoon, ideas fly thick and fast as the Afghans and the Indians, along with producers from the US parent show, work on a plot showing a 7-year-old girl learning Afghanistan's vigorous Attan national dance.
"We can get her to practice with her little brother," suggests Mina Sharif, the bubbly Canadian-Afghan producer of the Afghan show, which is funded by the US Department of State and broadcast 4 afternoons a week.
"We'll get the whole family involved -- everybody will be clapping -- even the grandfather," Sharif tells the session.
In the initial season, Afghan script writers feared parents might frown on encouraging children to dance -- such activity is often seen as sexual in Afghanistan -- so they got them to "exercise" instead.
But these writers figure they've found a way round by getting all the family to participate while the brother partnering his sister will send a message of "gender equity" in a country where girls rights are often severely curtailed.
"The boy's participation puts the gender part of it across," says Lilith Dollard, content specialist for the US Sesame Street, which has become a global entertainment powerhouse since its 1969 launch.
"Gender equity is a cross-cutting theme for all we do," says Dollard.
Acceptance of diversity
Gender equality is also an important buzzword for program makers in India where girls are often undervalued, which results in them getting less food, medical attention and schooling than boys.
Promoting acceptance of diversity is another priority, with the Afghans introducing children in different provinces to each other and the Indian program-makers doing the same.
"In India, we show a slice of a child's life" in different parts of the country. "We show what these kids have in common," says Joshi.
Both the Afghan and Indian programs promote education with puppets wearing school uniforms to express the importance of education for both boys and girls.
The Indian show features a gutsy girl muppet who says: "Stay in school, study, work hard --- there isn't anything you can't do."
In Afghanistan, the program sought to push the envelope a little last season.
"Sesame Street" viewers in Afghanistan include around one million 3-to-7-year-olds, its target audience, but the actual number of watchers is much greater as whole families are clustered around the set.
"To show the experience of the first day at school, we had a little girl as role model, not a boy as might be the case -- taken to the school by her father and mother," says Hashimi.
But the show's tried-and-tested formula of songs, letters and numbers presented by the vibrantly hued puppets is in abundance in both the shows.
"We don't want to overload the program with messages -- we want it to be fun," says Dollard. –

Read the original article by Agence France-Presse from Rappler here: 

Kicked out? Racism accusation could see England ordered to play at fan-free Wembley

by John Cross
Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

The future? Wembley could look like this DURING an England match
The future? Wembley could look like this DURING an England match
England are facing the nightmare prospect of playing their next home World Cup qualifier behind closed doors.
That's the prospect after an anti-racism group reported England fans to football's world governing body, FIFA, for chants about Rio Ferdinand and his brother Anton in San Marino last Friday.
Precedents have already been set, with FIFA forcing Hungary and Bulgaria to play home World Cup qualifiers at empty stadiums last Friday.
England’s next qualifier is against Moldova on September 6 and the Football Association now face an anxious wait to discover whether FIFA dish out extreme punishment.
Anti-racism group FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) confirmed on Thursday that they had made a complaint about a chant about the Ferdinand brothers.
The chant was by England fans in San Marino angered at former captain Ferdinand, who rejected the chance of an international return because of a back problem, but then took a 15-hour return flight to appear as a TV analyst in the Middle East.
The chant's lyrics involved both Ferdinand brothers being burnt on a bonfire, which FARE believe has obvious racist overtones.
A FARE spokeswoman said: “It refers to the racist abuse Rio Ferdinand received, along with his brother Anton. We don’t make the judgment.
“We send a report to FIFA but in the end it’s their decision whether they open proceedings or not. And whether they issue a fine or not.”
England fans also sang songs about the IRA and there are allegations that supporters under banning orders made the trip.
Hate figure: Was England fans' abuse of Rio Ferdinand racist?
Matthew Peters
FARE did admit that they did not have a representative at the game and were relying on reports.
"FIFA, in the last couple of incidents they’ve dealt with, have shown a stronger side. They banned Hungary and Bulgaria from playing with fans last Friday. Forced them to play behind closed doors.
"That’s quite rare to have a major tournament qualifier behind closed doors. The last two incidents we reported FIFA showed a very strong hand."
QPR defender Ferdinand was involved in a high-profile racism case after Chelsea captain John Terry was banned and fined £220,000 by the FA for racially abusing him.
England’s fans have also turned on his older brother, Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand, after he snubbed a call-up because of a long running back injury but still did TV punditry on Al Jazeera.
Hungary were punished for fans making anti-semitic chants at Israel supporters during a friendly last August and is a clear warning to England.
They were also fined £27,000, while Bulgarian fans were banned for previous racist chants.
The bad news for the FA is that this issue has emerged as football’s authorities start to clamp down on racist behaviour at grounds.
On Thursday, European football's governing body, UEFA, urged referees to stop matches if they heard racist chants, told players to walk off the pitch if they heard racist abuse and said they should also report racist team-mates. 
England keeper Joe Hart claimed he was hit by objects thrown by Montenegro fans in Tuesday night's second leg of the qualifying double header, and there were calls for FIFA to take action against the Balkan nation.
But now it is the England fans and the FA who are in the dock.
And with England already facing a battle to book their place in next year's World Cup, FIFA disciplinary charges could lead to a vital qualifier being played in an empty Wembley - if the precedent set by Hungary and Bulgaria is anything to go by.
Manager Roy Hodgson spoke after the draw in Montenegro about needing the support of fans, with three of England’s four remaining qualifiers to be played at Wembley.
England supporters disagreed about the intent of the offending song.
Paul Bishop, 48, who has been travelling home and away with England for 12 years, said: “I didn’t hear the chant but I’ve got friends who did and, without a doubt, it is definitely racist.
“I don’t like Rio, I don’t approve of what he did but that, for me, will never have anything to do with his colour. If I’d heard that song then I would have confronted the person singing it.”
But Hereford fan Mark Knapper, 54, who has not missed an England game for 10 years, said: “No way was it racist. It was banter, nothing more. People were incensed about Rio not reporting up.
“We were accused of being racist in Bulgaria two years ago for singing, ‘Where’s your caravan?’ Surely that is political correctness gone mad. That’s not racist.”
Mirror Sport did contact the FA, but they declined to comment as the report had been made to FIFA.

Read the original article by John Cross from here: 

Business leaders talk about diversity in work place

by Eleanor Kennedy
Originally Published: March 29th, 2013

Diversity breeds innovation. Innovation breeds business success.
That’s the message more than 50 members of the Lynchburg business community heard Thursday morning at the Innovative Thinking breakfast, a program developed by an action group from “Many Voices — One Community,” Lynchburg’s community dialogues on race and racism.
Gloria Witt, a member of the committee that coordinated Thursday’s breakfast, said the event was “designed to kind of reinforce the idea that diversity is good…for the workplace, for the environment, for humanity.”
In the keynote address, Virgil Smith, vice president of talent acquisition and diversity for Gannett, highlighted some of the ways the media giant works to promote diversity in its workforce. He compared recruiting to fishing, telling the employers in attendance that if they want to catch salmon, “you have to fish where they are.”
He recommended some best practices, such as adopting “core schools” for recruiting interns and future employees, creating talent development and mentoring programs and making the people in charge of hiring accountable for the amount of diversity they bring into the company.
Local business people had the opportunity to tell their stories of diversity. Minority and female representatives from Wells Fargo, First National Bank and Centra spoke about their experiences and how their company’s commitment to diversity has impacted the business environment.
Smith, who played professional baseball as a young man, said, like anything else, the business world is all about winning. And the best way to win, he said, is to bring in talent from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of skill sets.
“You want to build a winning team,” he said.

Read the original article by Eleanor Kennedy from News Advance here: 

Flexible Work Hurts Working Mothers

by Evann Gastaldo
Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

(NEWSER) – Amid all the uproar over Marissa Mayer ending telecommuting at Yahoo, the biggest concern of many was that the new policy would hurt working moms. But studies show it's actually flexible work policies that do the most harm to working moms, writes flex-worker and mom Dwyer Gunn on Slate. In particular, research has shown that alternate career arrangements can result in women making less money per hour and not advancing. Consider Europe, where many countries embrace family-friendly policies like generous paid leave and part-time worker protections—but women in the workforce in those countries are also more likely to have been "mommy-tracked" into less demanding, lower-level, part-time jobs.

That may be because employers are hesitant to hire women if they believe women are more likely to take advantage of such family-friendly policies and be "in and out of the labor force," explains one labor economist. How to combat the problem? More gender equality when it comes to family policies could help—if men start taking paternity leave regularly, the stigma associated with flexible work will be reduced. "Family-friendly policies may be the best way to encourage women to remain in the workforce, but as long as these kinds of alternative arrangements and career paths are overwhelmingly utilized by women and ignored by men, workers will pay a price for taking advantage of them," Gunn writes. Click for her full column.

Read the original article by Evann Gastaldo from Newser here: 

Wells Fargo Commits Billions In Lending to Women-Owned Businesses

Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

Announcing a large expansion of its 18-year-old women’s lending commitment, Wells Fargo earlier this month committed to lending $55 billion to women-owned businesses by 2020.

The announcement comes during National Women’s History Month, and was made by Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo lead executive for Small Business and West Coast Regional Banking president, at the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) 22nd Annual Latina History Day conference in Downtown Los Angeles.

“Women-owned businesses are among America’s fastest growing segments, and we are honored to support their role in shaping the future of small business,” said Stevens. “As a leader in lending to women, Wells Fargo is dedicated to helping women succeed financially — in business and personally.”

Since first implementing the initiative in 1995, which initially had a goal of lending $1 billion to women in its first three years, Wells Fargo has provided more than $38 billion in capital to women business owners, a group that grew in size by more than 20 percent from 2002 to 2007, according to the latest Census data. The National Women’s Business Council says that approximately 30 percent of the businesses in the U.S. today are owned by women.

In addition to the cumulative lending goal, Wells Fargo supports numerous organizations focused on the education, growth and advancement of women business owners. The company provides a variety of banking and financial services for small businesses. For more information, visit or call the National Business Banking Center at 1-800-CALL-WELLS.

Read the original article from EGP News here: 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

On LGBT equality, there still lots of work to do

by Jamelle Bouie
Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

In yesterday’s Supreme Court oral arguments over the Defense of Marriage Act, Chief Justice John Roberts asked if DOMA really deserved heightened scrutiny, given growing support for marriage equality. “You don’t doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different States is politically powerful, do you?”, he asked Roberta Kaplan, who argued the case against DOMA, “As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case.”
And Roberts isn’t wrong. Over the last week, a rush of political figures have been falling over themselves to show support for marriage equality. Since Sunday, Senators Claire McCaskill, Jay Rockefeller, Mark Warner, Jon Tester, and Kay Hagan have announced their support for same-sex marriage. And that’s in addition to Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio — who announced his support two weeks ago — and Virginia’s junior senator, Tim Kaine, who told the Richmond-Times Dispatch last week that he has (quietly) supported same-sex marriage since 2006.
But there’s more to Roberts’ question than this. Buried in his question is a curious assumption: That recent political success represents the full acceptance of LGBT Americans into mainstream life. That might be true for some, but it’s far from accurate for many others. Just last December, for example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released datashowing a rise in the number of hate crimes directed against gays and lesbians. Nearly half of the 6,222 reported hate crimes were motivated by racial bias. More than twenty percent of hate crimes were directed against people on the basis of sexual orientation. This marks the first time sexual orientation has surpassed religious affiliation as the second most-common motivation for hate crimes. And it’s not hard to find examples, like this one, of a young Texas woman beaten unconscious by a man yelling anti-gay slurs.
There’s more. In all but sixteen states and the District of Columbia, employers candismiss workers on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Five other states just prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and nine other states limit their protections to public employment. In twenty states, LGBT Americans have no protections. That includes Virginia, where just last month a subcommittee in the House of Delegatesvoted to kill a state senate bill that would have banned employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Same-sex marriage is an important part of the fight for LGBT equality, but it’s far from the only part. What Roberts’ doesn’t seem to realize is that in much of the country, identifying the “wrong” way can still cost you your job, your safety, or even your life. And now that the Democratic Party is on board with marriage equality, it’s worth pursuing a new push for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act — which would prohibit discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — and which was last introduced in the 112th Congress by Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank in the House and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley in the Senate.
Attitudes are moving in the right direction, but between the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex marriage bans in states across the country, and continued employment discrimination, there’s still a long way to go before LGBT Americans have their full due as citizens. Supportive politicians, in other words, still have a lot of work to do.

Read the original article by Jamelle Bouie from The Washington Post here: 

National Rifle Association Whitewashes Racial Discrimination Suit Against Corporate Partner

by Timothy Johnson
Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

National Rifle Association President David Keene is covering up allegations of racial discrimination in order to protect one of its corporate partners and attack the Obama administration. 
In his March 27 Washington Times column, Keene claimed that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued Bass Pro Shops because "the company won't hire convicted felons" to sell guns, "which the commission claims amounts to illegal racial discrimination." In fact, the EEOC sued Bass Pro Shops in 2011 and 2012 after receiving reports alleging racially discriminatory hiring practices, including an alleged directive from Bass Pro Shops owner John Morris to not hire minorities.
Keene also did not disclose that the NRA has a financial relationship with Bass Pro Shops, which includes a collaborative effort to open a 10,000-square foot firearms museum at Bass Pro Shops headquarters.
The initial lawsuit, filed in federal court on September 21, 2011, alleged that Bass Pro Shops was "engaging in a pattern or practice of unlawfully failing to hire Black and Hispanic applicants for positions in its retail stores nationwide" and was "unlawfully retaliating against a class of employees who opposed actions by [Bass Pro Shops]." The suit also alleged that Bass Pro Shops had "unlawfully destroyed records relevant to whether unlawful employment practices have been or are being committed."
The suit describes multiple instances of racial discrimination in its allegations against Bass Pro Shops that occurred in stores located in Louisiana, Texas and Indiana.
According to the EEOC's complaint, an assistant general manager at a Louisiana store told a human resources manager that "we don't hire n*****s" as explanation for why a qualified African-American candidate was not hired. The manager of a Houston area store was alleged to have told the human resources manager that "it was getting a little dark in here you need to hire some white people." Similar discriminatory hiring practices were alleged at an Indiana store where a supervisor was observed throwing away job applications submitted by individuals who he thought had a "n***** name":
Several times in late 2008, a department "Lead" in a Bass Pro store in Indiana was seen discarding employment applications after he decided that the name on the application "sounded like a 'n***** name.'" This Lead employee opined that "n*****s steal and did not make good employees."
The EECO also alleged discrimination against Latinos in a Houston area and Indiana store. According to the complaint:
[T]he General Manager of a store in the greater Houston area would, on a daily basis, use the words "wetback," "Pedro," and "Mexican" to refer to people of Hispanic origin. At a store in Indiana, a Lead employee who screened applications stated that "Hispanics should be shot at the border by the border patrol."
In July 2012, EEOC refilled suit against Bass Pro Shops with additional allegations of racial discrimination. In its complaint, EEOC alleged that Bass Pro Shops owner and founder John Morris said in a meeting of store general managers that, "this company will never have a quota system because that's not the kind of people I want working in my stores," and made similar comments at store openings. According to the EEOC, "Defendants' hiring preference for Whites was known and followed by store managers throughout the company and was sometimes referred to simply as 'the Profile.' Only White applicants fit the Profile."
The suit also states that, "Human Resources Managers from Bass Pro stores in three different states acknowledged Morris's directive that applicants be hired based on their 'physical characteristics,' a coded reference to discrimination against minorities on the basis of race, national origin, and other impermissible factors."
To support these claims, the suit lists specific examples of racial discrimination in hiring and other store policies that are alleged to have occurred in Louisiana, Iowa, Texas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana, Alabama, and Georgia. 
These allegations included an admission by a store manager that he was following Morris' alleged directive to not hire African-Americans:
81. Ed Billingsley, the Store General Manager in Bossier City, Louisiana, from about 2004 to 2008, instructed a customer service manager not to hire any more Black employees.
82. Billingsley admitted that he was following Morris's hiring directive of favoring White applicants over minority applicants, in defending his discriminatory practices.
On March 18, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas allowed the lawsuit to go forward, noting that, "The EEOC has worked diligently to list almost 200 potential claimants who ... are black and Hispanic applicants who have been denied employment by defendants."
In his Washington Times column, Keene also failed to disclose that Bass Pro Shops and the NRA have a substantial financial relationship that includes collaboration on membership drives and the opening of an NRA firearms museum at Bass Pro Shops headquarters in Springfield, Missouri.
According to an October 2012 NRA blog post, "The new NRA Museum at Bass Pro Shops headquarters will feature more than 10,000 square feet of America's most significant sporting arms treasures amid the over 400,000 square foot store - Missouri's #1 tourist attraction."
In July 2012, Bass Pro Shops promoted the opening of the museum by placing NRA promotional materials on its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racecar. According to a NRA Hunters Rights article, NRA board member Richard Childress fielded the car's entry into the Dillon's Nationwide Series.
Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops who was alleged by the EEOC to have told his subordinates to not hire minorities, told NRA Hunters Rights, "This was an excellent opportunity for us to announce the NRA Museum being at our flag ship store in Springfield."
The NRA and Bass Pro Shops also recently collaborated on a NRA membership drive where individuals who purchased a $25 one-year NRA membership received a $25 Bass Pro Shops gift card. Bass Pro Shops is an NRA retailer that currently sells NRA-brand targets and shooting glasses.  
[Think Progress, accessed 3/28/13]
Bass Pro Shops has also been involved in the NRA's lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action. A 2006 press release issued by the NRA-ILA commended Bass Pro Shops for taking "fast and decisive action," when it was discovered that the anti-hunting Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held an event at a Bass Pro Shops store. According to the release, "BASS has informed all of their store managers that anti-hunting groups, including their local affiliates, will not be allowed to participate in store activities or operate at store locations." The release also lauded Bass Pro Shops as "a strong partner in the fight to protect our hunting heritage."
The NRA-ILA itself has conducted events at Bass Pro Shop stores, including a "Grassroots Workshop[]" to promote proposed legislation to make it easier to carry a gun in public.

Read the original article by Timothy Johnson from Media Matters here: 

UEFA Urges Players To Speak Out On Racism

Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) - UEFA's executive committee wants players to speak out against teammates and fans after racist incidents at soccer matches.
The UEFA ruling board on Thursday ratified a proposal on tackling discrimination presented by its Professional Football Strategy Council, which is chaired by President Michel Platini.
A call for tougher sanctions echoed recent comments by FIFA President Sepp Blatter, but went further in stressing a key role for players to curb the problem.
Players and coaches, "namely those with most influence on the perpetrators of racist acts - (should) speak out, even if this may mean criticizing their own fans or players," UEFA said.
After high-profile incidents in the English Premier League last season, Chelsea and Liverpool were criticized for solidly standing by John Terry and Luis Suarez, respectively, who served bans for racially insulting opponents.
The debate on racism in European soccer intensified this season after incidents including a bad-tempered match between Serbia and England in an Under-21 European Championship playoff, and stadium closures imposed by FIFA on Hungary and Bulgaria for World Cup qualifiers.
AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng's decision to walk off the field, causing an exhibition against a fourth-tier Italian club to be abandoned, led FIFA to appoint him to a task force studying the problem.
The UEFA strategy panel - which included delegates from national associations, leagues, clubs and players' unions - met Wednesday in Sofia and urged competition organizers to tell referees "to stop matches in cases of racism."
Still, UEFA's claim of zero tolerance of racism comes after it declined to open disciplinary action against Zenit St. Petersburg following a Europa League match two weeks ago against Basel, where Russian fans reportedly targeted monkey noises at the Swiss club's players.
The UEFA statement Thursday called on state authorities to "play their part" by "providing the football bodies with the necessary legal means; acting and emphasizing to arrest, prosecute and ban from stadia for significant periods those responsible for racist acts; allowing the exchange of information regarding racist activities between states and football bodies."

Read the original article from NBC Sports here: 

Christianity and the Parental Rejection of LGBT Youth

by Carl Siciliano
Originally Published: March 28th, 2013

As millions celebrate Easter, I need to ask my fellow Christians to wake up to the terrible fact that far too many LGBT youth are being abused and rejected in Christian homes.

Many conservative Christians are increasingly preoccupied with fighting against the equal treatment of LGBT people in our society. And no one suffers more harm from this fight and the intolerant climate it creates than the LGBT children of too many of these Christians. As the director of the Ali Forney Center, the nation's largest organization providing housing and support to homeless LGBT youths, I see the reality of this harm in the faces of the thousands of desperate and frightened teens who turn to us for help after being driven from their homes and reduced to homelessness.

The stories these youth tell us about the religion-based abuse they endure from their parents are heartbreaking and deeply disturbing.

I think about the 15-year-old boy from rural Delaware whose father, a minister in the Church of the Nazarene, attacked him when told his son was gay, tried to strangle him, and then immediately banished him from their home. Or the 17-year-old girl whose Pentecostal parents drove her out into the back woods of New Jersey and tossed her out of the car. I think of the 16-year-old boy from Connecticut whose Catholic mother, upon learning he was gay, called a priest who made him lay the floor and attempted to "drive the demons out of him."Or the boy from New Hampshire whose Baptist parents told him that God is so disgusted by homosexuals that he "vomits them out."

Again and again we hear young people tell us tales of torment and abuse in their homes. Told that they are disgusting, that they are sinners, that they are abominations. Made to hate themselves. Made to wish that they were dead.

In recent weeks, I have filmed several of the young people who receive care at the Ali Forney Center talking about the religious abuse and family rejection they endured in their Christian homes. The stories they tell of physical and verbal abuse and the destructive toll taken on their young selves are very hard to hear, but it is important that we listen.

A recent study by the Family Acceptance Project on the impact of family rejection of LGBT youth found that parents who identify as "strongly religious" were significantly more likely to reject their children. According to research by the Center for American Progress, there are an estimated 300,000 homeless LGBT youth in our country, and the leading cause of their homelessness is family rejection.

It doesn't have to be like this. Jesus Christ never spoke a word of condemnation against homosexuals. Churches don't have any need to condemn LGBT people, or fight against our equal treatment in our country. A growing number of church communities have chosen to be affirming and supportive of LGBT people. I have the joy of experiencing this directly in the numerous church groups who send volunteers to cook in our shelters and collect clothing and even Christmas gifts for our young people.

A healthy society prioritizes the safety of children. Decent people do not stand by in silence when children are being abused. We need to recognize that the condemnation of LGBT people in churches leads to the abuse and rejection of LGBT children in far too many Christian homes. As Christians, commanded to love one another, we need to demand that this climate of rejection stops. We need to educate our communities and our religious leaders about the terrible harm being done to LGBT youth in the name of God.

I ask you to pray for the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youths suffering the terror and degradation of homelessness on the streets of our nation. And I ask you to pray for the even greater number of LGBT teens battling despair and hopelessness as they suffer abuse and rejection in their homes.

Read the original article by Carl Siciliano from Huffington Post here: