TAG | ACLU
Grab a tissue then watch.
I posted this video on the Wide Rights Facebook page where I will often post news, videos and/or quick thoughts on issues. During busy times of year (like now, during finals), I lack the free time to devote the attention necessary for a full blog post. This video, however, had to be forwarded here as well in the event you only check this website for updates.
Last week, I was able to attend two OutLaws events at Moritz. The first, co-hosted by ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), titled, “Struggling for Equality: The Progress of GLBT Rights in Ohio,” was held on Tuesday in our auditorium. The second, on Thursday, was a small discussion group with a partner and an associate from Jones Day about being openly gay at a large firm.
The “Struggling for Equality” event was split into two parts. Kim Welter, from Equality Ohio, started with a presentation on the current state of gay rights in Ohio. Based on a handful of objective criteria, Ohio was tied for second to last for state legislation for the LGBT community. Wow. Columbus is such a gay friendly city, and although I knew it was not the same across the state, I would not have expected Ohio to be below the middle of the pack. Kim pointed out that although many of the cities and counties in the state are doing a decent job for protecting LGBT rights, outside those boundaries, the pertinent state laws are lagging behind.
They handed out an excellent pamphlet with glaring statistics to highlight the areas where the Ohio state laws do not match the values of the population. The statistic with the most disparity? 91% of Ohioans say people should have a guaranteed right to visit their partners in the hospital; Ohio law allows hospitals to keep them apart. Another interesting one was that 63% of Ohioans say that students should be safe from bullying based on real or perceived orientation or gender expression. I’d really like to know what the other 37% think. With multiple recent suicides among young students resulting from bullying based on perceived sexual orientation, it is remarkable that anyone would consider this bullying behavior as acceptable.
The second half of this presentation was by Tara McKenzie Allison from TransOhio. Her presentation went through the succession of case rulings in Ohio pertaining to Title VII protection from discrimination based on sex under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I loved the excerpt she pulled from a case opinion relating transitioning transgendered people to a convert of any religion. An employer cannot say they are okay with Jews and Christians, while discriminating on those that convert; thus, Title VII should also protect those that are in the process of transitioning their sex or gender.
The second event of the week, the discussion group with staff from Jones Day, was less relevant to gay rights in general and to even my own aspirations, but it was still an excellent event to attend. Greg Gorospe, a partner who is also involved in their diversity initiatives, said all the right things. But he also acknowledged that simply saying the right things, or having the right policies on the books, cannot substitute for an opening and accepting culture. I was glad that the discussion group also included Travis Jackson, an openly gay associate at Jones Day. His remarks about the business culture and how welcoming the company has been to him and his partner were important. The disparaging revelation came not from Jones Day, but rather, the lack of response for the other large firms that the OutLaws co-chairs Drew and Kara contacted. Their silence or reasons to not participate indicate that although some firms, like Jones Day, may be good work environments for the GLBT community, many still have remnants to the unfortunate white, male, conservative roots of the legal community.
I want to thank Kara and Drew for helping to plan these events and Kim, Tara, Greg, and Travis for their presentations. I’d encourage you to check out the links above if you want to learn more about the organizations or their initiatives.