Pressure Builds for President Obama to Sign Federal Contractor Executive Order
DALLAS, TX -- Earlier today, ExxonMobil -- for the 14th year in a row -- voted down a shareholder resolution calling for a company-wide non-discrimination policy inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans.
"ExxonMobil continues to dig in its heels to prove that it is one of the most ardent proponents of LGBT discrimination in the country. While ExxonMobil rakes in billions of dollars in federal contracts each year -- paid for with taxpayer money -- it's stunning that the company is so actively and blatantly out of step with the three-quarters of the American public who support LGBT workplace protections."
ExxonMobil (XOM) has considered similar resolutions for 14 years in a row, since Exxon and Mobil merged and Exxon withdrew the LGBT workplace protections that Mobil already had in place. Year after year, ExxonMobil has defied the conventions of other Big Oil companies and has insisted on actively discriminating against LGBT applicants and employees. This year, the shareholder resolution was brought by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. It was defeated by a vote of 81% to 19%.
ExxonMobil is one of the largest federal contractors in the country, having been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts since 2000. Those federal contracts are paid for with taxpayer dollars, thereby supporting ExxonMobil's discriminatory practices with public funds. There is currently no federal law making workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity illegal. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (H.R. 1755 and S. 815) was recently introduced in Congress, and faces an uphill battle for passage.
In the meantime, President Barack Obama holds enormous power to stem this tide of discrimination by signing an Executive Order that would bar federal contractors like ExxonMobil from discriminating against LGBT applicants or employees. Executive Orders exactly like this have been issued previously and have never been rescinded by future presidents -- especially important was E.O. 11246, which barred federal contractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and also requires federal contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin."
Recently, Democratic donors have grown restless with the inaction of President Obama and Democratic members of Congress. One donor, Jonathan Lewis, recently penned an op-ed at the Huffington Post indicating his frustration (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-d-lewis/no-more-excuses-mr-president_b_3308196.html) and has vowed not to give to the party until more is done to support LGBT equality (http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/05/29/gay-donor-cuts-off-dems-over-immigration-bill/).
Even among its Big Oil peers, ExxonMobil has an abysmal record on LGBT issues. According to the Human Rights Campaign's 2013 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), here's how other Big Oil companies scored: On a scale of 0 to 100, Shell Oil had a score of 95, British Petroleum (BP) had a score of 90, and Conoco Phillips had a score of 55 (they protect sexual orientation but not gender identity), but on the same 0-to-100 scale, ExxonMobil had a score of -25 -- negative 25 points. Only one other company in the top 20 Fortune-rated companies scored below a 55 on the CEI scale.
GetEQUAL is a national grassroots social justice organization whose mission is to empower the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community and allies to take bold action to demand full legal and social equality, and to hold accountable those who stand in the way. For more information, go to www.getequal.org.
Welcome * Bienvenido * Bem-vindo * Yokoso * ยินดีต้อนรับ * Willkommen * Bienvenue * καλωσ ηρθατε * Benvenuto * ברוך הבא * Welkom * Välkommen
by David Cohen
On Wednesday May 2, 2013, Chicago welcomed The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association’s Annual Global Convention for their 30th anniversary conference. The IGLTA is the world’s premier educational and networking event for the LGBT tourism industry.
Many events and parties were planed to take place all around town. The IGLTA members are celebrating the history and accomplishments of the organization during the last 30 years, while paving the way for the continued growth for the years to come.
United Airlines, the official sponsor of IGLTA Convention, welcomed tourism professionals from more than 20 countries. "United proudly celebrates the richness of not just our employees' diverse backgrounds, but our customers' too," said Dave Hilfman, United's senior vice president of worldwide sales, during the IGLTA press conference on Wednesday at the Willis Tower Skydeck. "As we say, diversity flies with us. And United is honored to sponsor IGLTA's convention in Chicago this year."
The 2014 convention will be held in Madrid, Spain, and the organizers are promising to rock your stay.
For more information visit www.igltaconvention.org
I always believed in hard work, and the benefits that come with it. For 2012 PINK & PINK PAGES were recognized for its excellence and we won four major awards.
The "Best of Chicago 2012 Award" for publishing and service. Publisher David Cohen, was one of the "TOP 5% Most Viewed LinkedIn Profiles for 2012." PINK was named "TOP10 Gay & Lesbian Magazines/Publications in the USA for 2012" by Cision Navigator, and one of the year's "10 Best Lesbian Magazines" in the world by Dating Advice.
My goal of reaching 1,000,000 hits per month became a reality in January 2013. The number of hits has been increasing every month since May 2012 which received only 30,000 hits.
So what's new for 2013?
For a long time I had an idea to transform the PINK & PINK PAGES into an Ultimate Gay Experience©.
I want to engage our readers in a dynamic way with our print and our website and create a one stop shopping for all gay needs. We offer good editorial, entertainment, shopping online, travel, airline reservations, gay weddings, rent or buy a home or commercial space and much more. Instead of waiting until Gay Pride, I have decided to launch my idea this spring. Since then, I have been working non stop, about 20 hours a day to accommodate all the inquiries we got. It feels great, just like the old good days.
For the first time ever, the spring issue of the PINK & PINK PAGES will include 5 section (instead of 2). The new Gay Visitor Guide to Chicago and the Gay Wedding Guide dubbed "Here Come The Grooms, and the Brides" are great resources to every member of our community. The guide will include of my favorite places to see, to do, where to shop, dine, drink, and much more.
By Gay Pride this year our cities Denver, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle will follow Chicago. The Gay Pride issue will be released at the last week in June and it will include all 6 cities in one publication.
The NEW PINK PAGES will consist of five sections:
PINK the magazine.
A Gay Visitor Guide to Chicago: what to see, do, shop, eat, drink and more.
Here Come the Grooms and the Brides, our resource guide to Gay Wedding services.
PINK PAGES is our yellow pages of gay own and gay friendly businesses.
PINKCoupon is our savings section offering many deals from our advertisers.
The PINKStore & PINKGives-A-Way, our recent features on PINKmag.com will complete the gay experience to our loyal readers and followers.
PINK & PINK PAGES will be the only publication that will provide all these services in one spot in print, and in one place on the website. Set apart from the rest of the LGBTQ publications this one stop shopping online and in print will become the most comprehensive source of information and entertainment spot to serve the LGBTQ community in the USA in the years to come.
As always, we welcome your questions and comments. Send us an email and tell us how we can improve the PINK PAGES, so it will serve you better.
Happy Gay Pride 2013.
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To all our readers, colleagues, friends, law makers and honest people all around the world.
For the first time in over 22 years, I'm Asking for Help! Please read my letter to Budget / Avis Rent A Car, and join me by showing your support in the fight against injustice. Please read my review on YELP, and show your support by writing your comments here or on Yelp!
Please help me spread the word using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, e-mails etc. We must unite together, and demand our politician and law makers to legislate new laws that will protect us from companies like Budget and Avis. We must stop them from taking advantage of loop holes in the banking system. We must stop them from abusing innocent citizen and from stealing our money!
Here is my story:
On June 22, 2012, I rented an economy car from Budget Rent A Car at 214 North Clark St. in Chicago, for the cost of $193.99 per week, to be returned to the same location on Friday, June 29, 2012.
Sharon, the sale person on site assured me that I will not have any problems if I decide to extend the rental lease for a month. All I had to do is to call the 24-hour number listed on the papers she gave me. We established the cost of $600.00 per month during our conversation.
On 6/29/12 at 4:40 p.m., I called the number listed on rental papers I got from Sharon. To my surprise I reached the office of Avis Rent A Car, and not Budget. Later on, I learned that Avis and Budget are owned by the same company –– the Avis Budget Group.
A woman named Frieda answered the phone. She couldn't find my reservation or information in their system, and I found this to be odd. A few minutes later her colleague Mary was able to find my information. STRANGE!
All I wanted to do is to extend my rental lease to a month, and to return the rental car back on July 21, 2012, to the same office on Clark Street. Instead, Mary tried to sell me a new deal, and was not interested in extending my rental agreement, because she couldn't get commission on the existing car rental lease. From a $1,200 deal she went down to a $800 deal per month, but I was not interested in buying, I was only trying to extend my agreement and deal Sharon who I met first at the rental office on Clark Street. If you do the math you will know that $193.99 multiplied by four (weeks) is less than $800.
I had to cut this conversation short because I lost my trust in Mary. I Ended our conversation by telling Mary that I will finalize everything with Sharon on the day I will return the rental car, Saturday, July 21, 2012. All Mary had to do to remedy this situation was to extend the existing lease into Budget's computer system. Guess what, she never did! She deliberately did NOT DO HER JOB!
On Friday, July 17, 2012, at about 9:15 a.m., my front door buzzer rang. Two men identified themselves as Avis/Budget security employees who were there to repossess the rental car and the car keys. I was shocked and surprised. I called Budget to find out what was going on, by dialing 866-996-6784, the number I got from the security guys.
Ms. Johnson, who answered the phone was unprofessional and rude. She treated me as a thief and criminal, something I did not deserved. She claimed that Budget sent me emails and called my office number. Unfortunately, the person who emailed these letters used a different email address not mine. This wrong email is listed on the Order of Recovery that was given to me by the security guy; this piece of paper was my proof of returning the vehicle and the keys back to Budget. Don, one of the security men was the one who approved, confirmed and signed this paper which I kept. Ms Johnson refused to give me any explanation to why the information wasn't in the computer system. She was only interested in getting the vehicle and the keys back, which I returned voluntary.
To date, I never got any call from Budget. They must have called someone else just like they did with their emails. All my incoming messages are recorded, and sent to me as an email that includes the telephone number of the person or company who made the call to me. It also includes the date, time, and the message they leave for me.
I never stole any car in my life. A car thief will always hide the car he stills, and definitely will not park it in front of his home, The security guys volunteered to explain this to me, ans you should have known that I parked the car in front of my home.
On Sunday, June 24, 2012, I reported to my bank the credit card I gave to Budget on June 22, 2012, as a stolen card. My bank Chase issued me a new credit card which arrived 10 days later. All payments transactions were to be canceled, and not to be processed on this credit card number effective immediately.
On July 25, 2012, Budget processed and took out $1706.78 from my bank account, and few days ago, on August 24, 2012, Budget took out additional $26.65 using my old stolen card information, and processed a transaction without my authorization and without having my signature on any of the receipts they processed. This is stealing, Budget stole money from my account, and caused me major financial problems.
Recently, I have discovered disturbing information about the way credit cards payment procedures are done at any bank, and how companies like Budget get their money.
I was told by a bank manager that BANKS NEVER CHECK the credit card receipts. BANKS NEVER CHECK FOR SIGNATURES or TOTALS. Banks put through the AMOUNT vendors (in this case Budget) claim to be. This amount can be different from what I (or anyone) agreed to pay. Why banks trust their vendors and what make them believe their vendors will be honest? We all need to answers for that question.
WITH CLEAR KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING and FULL CONSCIOUS, Budget Rent A Car submitted false information to my bank. They LIED about everything: the amounts, dates, and took advantage of these procedures and loop holes. Budget did all of that thinking they can get away with it. But I advise Budget to think again, THIS IS ILLEGAL! I will make sure Budget will pay for their unconstitutional action.
Budget messed up my financials, caused me problems, and made me loose valuable hours of working time. I still deal with unnecessary stress, anxiety, migraines, and restless sleepless nights. I have been penalized for overdraft and for non-available funds in the total amount of $127. To date, a total of $1860.43 was taken illegally from my account by Budget Rent A Car and Chase bank who allowed this to happen.
BUDGET MUST COME UP WITH MY APPROVAL AND SIGNED RECEIPTS !
I ONLY allowed Budget to hole a total of $310.68 and not a penny more until the day I would return their car back. I have a copy of this agreement, and it has my signature on it. I never approved or agreed to pay any other amount, definitely not $1733.34. I never got any explanation how Budget got this total.
Just to proof my position I visited Budget's website on August 27, 2012. This are the quotes on 5 different rental cars.
1. The cost for economy 2 or 4 door is only $596.69 per month.
2. The cost for compact 2 or 4 door is only $614.69 per month.
3. The cost for intermediate 2 or 4 door is only $629.99 per month.
4. The cost for standard 2 or 4 door is only $659.69 per month.
5. The cost for a full size 2 or 4 door is only $685.79 per month.
None of these prices add up to $1733.34 isn't that strange?...
Budget did this because most people DON'T KNOW THEIR RIGHTS, and that it is illegal to do this. Also, most people will not fight back, and Budget always counts on that.
WE THE PEOPLE, WE MUST STOP THIS FROM HAPPENING TO ANYONE EVER AGAIN!
I want everyone to know what Budget is really is all about. DON'T EVER RENT A CAR FROM BUDGET, and STOP BANKING CHASE ––they don't stand by their service or by their words!
I'm not afraid, and will not hesitate to file a law suit against Budget and Chase Bank, demanding to be compensated for the trouble and stress they caused me! I demand an apology in writing, and immediate release of my money for violating my rights and banking security laws that are supposed to protect us.
I will use all my media connections, my friends, family, colleagues, my huge email blast lists, my website, and social media tools TO HELP ME fight Budget and Chase. Please help me share my story with as many people as possible all around the globe.
I want my message to be Strong, Loud and Clear, and I want Budget and others to know that they can NEVER do this to any person ever again!
I will not give up until JUSTICE will prevail, SO HELP ME GOD!
P.S. I found a similar horror story like mine on Budget's Corporate Office Comments website.
My first impression on 07/06/2012 was A+ for Budget. The Customer Service Reps were on pointe. Was told everything I thought I needed to know, and thought I provided the same.
Reserved a truck based on the availability of continious rental. Told what I needed to do to maintain that agreement.
Well, on 08/07/2012 I get a call from Ryan saying the truck needed to be returned. The truck was out. I explained what my original agreement was. Told it didn't matter, he is over the truck department.
Then told the truck needed to be back 08/08/2012 am because it was pass due after 08/06/2012 and was paid up to that date.
Rick, Ryan's manager calls and now threatens if we don't bring it now or 6pm we will never rent a truck anywhere. I told him the truck was out of town just to get off the phone. I don't go into battle I provide Customer Service. The conversation had become unprofessional.
Apparently we both had started to lie. Not Good! I am up to date, I paid 3wks 1685 on 07/27/2012, which was $715deposit, 07/13,$451, 07/20 $519. Told they collect the full 3wks which ended on 07/27. Had drafts $197,$98,$98. which disappeared. Then on 08/06/2012 $519 withdrawn.
We have done nothing but be a great customers and referals. We said what we needed, CS provided and now I am dealing with what only God will fix. Please get this email to the area manager Francis Williams. Thanks I AM THAT I AM INC patricia. I have total respect for the name I represent. 678-823-3272
I AM THAT I AM INC 8/8/12 1:36PM
To all our readers,
At the end of June this year, I received an email from Mike Claffey at The Illinois Office of Communication and Information. Mike was hoping to see his email ––a joint letter from HUD and IDHR published.
Because of my hectic work schedule during Gay Pride and the pressure of putting together the Market Days issue, I forgot to honor Mike's request. As I came across his email again an hour ago I have decided to publish late, rather than not at all.
P.S. The Market Days Issue will be out next week on Thursday, August 9, 2012, but you can enjoy reading the articles, here on on PINKmag.com. Happy (rest of the) Summer!
From Mike Claffey:
When President Obama proclaimed June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, he “call[ed] upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.” On a daily basis, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Human Rights under Governor Quinn’s administration work as partners to make those aspirations the reality in Illinois by working to eliminate housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
We have made progress as a society, but there is still discrimination. In 2011, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality publicized the results of a survey of 6,450 transgender individuals. A staggering 19 percent of respondents reported being refused a home or apartment because of gender identity and 11 percent reported eviction because of gender identity. An alarming nineteen percent of the transgender respondents reported experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives and, when trying to access homeless shelters, over half reported outright denials, harassment, or sexual assault in the shelter context. Similarly, findings of a 2007 Michigan study indicate that same sex couples face high rates of bias and discriminatory treatment based on sexual orientation when trying to access rental housing. And we know that up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT.
In a nation founded on the principles of justice and equality for all, this is unacceptable. Recently, HUD and the Illinois Department of Human Rights have taken important steps to ensure that LGBT persons have equal access to housing.
HUD now utilizes its authority under the federal Fair Housing Act’s prohibition of sex discrimination to pursue complaints of gender identity housing discrimination. In February, HUD also leveraged its rule-making authority by publishing “Equal Access to Housing”, a regulation that prohibits HUD-funded and HUD-insured housing providers as well as FHA-approved lenders from basing eligibility determinations on actual or perceived gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status. HUD has already received complaints that this rule has been violated and is pursuing enforcement actions against alleged violators. Additionally, HUD no longer sends its funds to entities that violate state and local laws, such as the Illinois Human Rights Act, that specifically prohibit sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status housing discrimination. In addition to these important policy changes, last year, the Obama Administration hosted the first-ever forum to discuss issues facing transgender and gender non-conforming populations and, as a follow-up, HUD co-sponsored the first summit about the pressing and growing need of housing services for elderly persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). Finally, HUD’s “Live Free” campaign puts a face to the law and builds public recognition of Fair Housing principles.
Because the State of Illinois has its own fair housing law that is substantially equivalent to federal law, HUD and the Illinois Department of Human Rights are able to work closely and support each other’s work in a meaningful way. To ensure LGBT discrimination does not occur, the Illinois Human Rights Act was amended in 2005 to specifically prohibit sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination. Unlawful housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity occurs when access to housing is denied or when people are treated differently in housing based on their LGBT status. Similar to the federal Fair Housing Act, the Illinois law prohibits unlawful discrimination in the sale and rental of real property and in the terms and conditions of a real estate transaction. The law also prohibits unlawful discrimination in brokering or appraising real property, mortgage lending and in advertising. It is also illegal to coerce someone to discriminate or to intimidate someone to the extent that it interferes with their legal right to enjoy their housing. Since 2006, the Illinois Department of Human Rights has investigated numerous cases of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and has sought and obtained remedies for victims of discrimination. Some examples of complaints:
Assistant Secretary Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity,
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Rocco Claps, Director,
Illinois Department of Human Rights
Audrie Hepburn once said “I believe in PINK. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles,” and just like Ms Hepburn, I will always believe in PINK.
Over twenty years ago I had an idea, and I believed in its potential. In 1990 in NYC, I began publishing The Lesbian and Gay PINK PAGES, a telephone directory featuring gay and gay-friendly businesses. In 1995 PRIDE Magazine, a full color glossy became an instead success, and after 9/11 the PINK PAGES Directories and the PRIDE Magazine merged into one publication PINK. PINK and PINK PAGES still serving the LGBT community in major cities all across the United States.
I continued to believe in PINK and now it has a new look and ever-expanding features. With our new look and new features our informative website PINKmag.com, is sure to be the spot you will want to visit again and again. PINKmag.com is quickly becoming the reader’s place for one stop shopping.
MarryMePINK is our new section on our website is about Same-Sex Gay Weddings and Civil Unions. MarryMePINK will have all the important information you need to know before saying, “I do.” It will have information ranging from how to organize your big event to information on gay and gay-friendly businesses that can help make your wedding a fabulous, stress-free, and memorable day!
The online PINKStore will offer a wide variety of products for purchase, many of which have been featured in our editorial. Products include skin care items, cosmetics, designer underwear, prestigious European teas, baked goods, books, DVD’s, jewelry, and more. You will also be able to make airline and hotel reservations, rent a car, and even purchase tickets to shows and concerts directly from our site.
The online PINKCoupon program offers savings for restaurants, massage therapists, home improvement professionals, new vehicles, insurance services, and more. Visit our website, print the coupons, and start saving while you having fun!
The PINKSpot, our weekly e-blast will bring you information on the products PINK is promoting, as well as the current editorial content added to PINKmag.com.
I would also like to take this opportunity to give a huge thanks to all of our advertisers, vendors, and readers who have helped us to become the success we are today! As I have always believed, tomorrow is another day, I believed in the power of PINK, the power that leads me into bringing you the best daily!
We would like to hear your comments and thoughts. Let us know what you would like to read, and what products you would like to see in our PINKStore.
Visit our website PINKmag.com, sign for our weekly blasts, the PINKSpot, check out our weekly coverage, ‘Like Us’ on Facebook, and ‘Follow Us’ on Twitter. Be like Audrey Hepburn - believe in PINK!
To view more photographs, go to our Facebook page www.Facebook.com/PINKSocial
photos: Alex is on L, and Cheri is on the R.
by David Cohen
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is one of the most meaningful line ever said about love in any blockbuster movie. In the1970 film Love Story, Ali MacGraw made us wonder what it all means, but to Cheri Giacomi and her partner Alex Ivelic, it means twenty-two years of affection, kindness, compassion and emotions they share with each other over the years.
Now in their late 40′s, their love is just as young as it was on the first day they met. Still passionate and in lust, the two don’t hide their desire for intimacy. You wonder what is the secret to their continuous love and affection?
For Cheri the ability to laugh together with Alex every single day is a necessity for their love to stay young and strong. To Alex the simple little things you do everyday with your partner, are just as important as laughter. “There’s not a week that goes by that we don’t give each other a card, or tell each other I love you, you’re the one for me.” Every person in any relationship should declare their love to each other every single day. The words “I love you” should be used more often and not only on Valentine’s Day. For Alex and Cheri Valentine’s Day is celebrated every single day of the year.
Twenty-two years ago in a gay club at Melrose Park in Illinois, Alex at 104 pound wearing tight Spandex outfit noticed Cheri’s long brown hair, her white cowboy booths, white jeans and the white shirt with an open back. All she knew, there was a beautiful girl dancing on the dance floor. Alex was determined to get this girl to dance with her before the night is over. At the end it was Cheri the twenty-two year old woman, who lured Alex into the dancing floor and captured her hart forever.
With the approval and legalization of Civil Union in Illinois, Alex and Cheri decided to get married for the second time. On June 17, 2011, they announced their love and commitment to each other at Chicago’s City Hall. After the wedding ceremony, Alex and Cheri were heading to Mexico for their honeymoon. They knew how special and meaningful this trip was. They went back to the Riviera Maya Hotel, the place where they tied the knot for the first time in 2009. Although getting married in Mexico didn’t mean anything legally, it meant a lot to the emotional Cheri. She is the one who always believed in the institution of marriage regardless of what the sexual orientation is.
Alex the back bone in this relationship managed to surprise Cheri, and give her the best gift she ever gotten–a marriage. With the help of Cherie’s mother, Alex was able to hide the wedding ring she bough in Chicago for Cherie. She was planning a special vacation to Mexico, where the couple were to be wed for the first time.
With Cheri’s mom approval and blessing, Alex planned this trip to be a surprised wedding celebration. Cherie did not have a clue until the moment Alex got on her knees, and asked for her hand in marriage. At two o’clock in the morning, in their hotel room at the Riviera Maya, Alex finally proposed. Astonished, surprised and chocked, Cherie couldn’t believe her own eyes. It took her about twenty-seconds to realize what was going on, and finally she said the words “I DO.” Touched by the idea of marrying her beloved woman, her best friend, lover and partner, Cherie couldn’t stop crying for days. She was crying out of happiness, she was crying for the unconditional love she had for the woman she loves. Although the non stoping crying became annoying, Alex never said a word. Theses days taught them the full meaning of love. They have learn to except each other the way they are, they learned what unconditional love means. They finally realized and understood the true meaning of what “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is all about.
Last year on Friday, September 16, 2011, PINK named Cheri Giacomi and her partner Alex Ivelic as the lucky couple to win the title “PINK’s Favorite Couple” in the “Marry Me PINK” contest for 2011. This contest took place on August 13-14, 2011, during the North Halsted Market Days Street Festival in Chicago. The lucky couple won a two night get-away, to the upscale Belvedere Inn in Saugatuck Michigan, courtesy of owners Sean and Peter.
As a gay man I believe that we should support our own especially in the courtroom. Gay candidate Brad Trowbridge is running for a judge in Cook County in the 8th judicial sub-circuit and he needs your vote and support. The real reason you should help and vote for Brad is because of who he is as a person, and for what he stands for, his qualifications and experience. I hope you will support Brad and vote for him on Tuesday, March 20, 2012.
Having two jobs one as a social worker, and the second as an attorney Brad is used to working hard. For many years Brad worked with disadvantaged people from all walks of life: minority teen mothers, people with HIV/AIDS, and seniors living in poverty, he made many visits to places like Cabrini-Green and the Lathrop Homes. "I believe my experience makes me uniquely qualified to sit on the bench. My life and professional experiences are far broader than just within the legal system."
As an attorney, in the last 11 years Brad focused on helping victims of domestic violence. He also help their children to escape abusive situations. He spent thousands of hours at the courtroom and gained experience as he represented over 500 victims of domestic violence in obtaining orders of protection, dissolution of marriage, child support and custody of their children.
"I am running for judge because I believe we need more judges who understand the complexities of life and human relationships," said Brad in a recent interview with PINK. He wants to help people because "people are not treated fairly or with respect in the judicial system," and that's why we should vote for Brad who wants to change the bad experiences many people have at the courthouse.
PINK: Where were you born and when did you come out?
Brad: I was born in central Illinois...Jacksonville, IL....a town of 19,000, and I'm the only child. I came out to my first friend when I was 22. I didn't come out to my family until much later. I was scared to death. I thought my friends and family would disown me. It was the mid-80s, a very different time for gay people. We were also dealing with the AIDS epidemic and the homophobia that was connected to that.
Why did you choose to go to law school?
Brad: I worked for Horizons Community Services (now Center on Halsted) as an AIDS/HIV counselor from 1988-91. I counseled gay men who had just tested positive. It was a very demanding job because back then there was limited treatment available and many of my clients died within a few months of finding their test results or diagnosis. I was offered a job at Northwestern University's Counseling and Psychological Services office as a counselor for all undergraduate students, but particularly LGBT students. There had been two student suicides on campus, one by a known gay student and one suspected gay student. The school administration felt they needed an "out" gay counselor to send the message to the student population that they viewed gays in a positive manner and that LGBT students had a resource available to them. Many of my clients were either abused as children or were "coming out" and dealing with the a lot of self-loathing and hostility from their families, churches, and society in general. After almost 5 years, I decided I wanted to be more of an advocate. I wanted to fight for things like equal rights for LGBT people and holding bullies and abusers accountable. That's not the role of a counselor. So I went to law school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. It was a great law school but not very progressive at the time regarding LGBT issues. I became the president of the gay law student group because no one else would do it. I was in my mid-thirties at that point. I didn't really want to be the "student" president of anything. But I did it because I knew if I didn't, we were going to be even more isolated as a community. I made sure we brought in speakers about same-sex marriage and a representative from a transgender advocacy group speak to the whole law school. We were attacked by a conservative school newspaper for doing it but it educated a lot of future lawyers.
PINK: Is being gay makes it more difficult for you to win this election as a judge?
Brad: No. The 8th sub-circuit encompasses Andersonville, Boystown, Lakeview and Lincoln Park. Gay candidates tend to do better in this sub-circuit than in county-wide races.
PINK: Would it make a difference if a gay person sitting on the bench and how?
Brad: Under the law, no. The law is sexual-orientation neutral for the most part. But I have seen and heard homophobic judges. Most of the time a judge's opinion about gays is often irrelevant, homophobia in family law cases can be devastating. A few years ago, in a well-publicized case, a Cook County judge denied a lesbian couple the right to adopt and appointed an anti-gay group to represent the minor child. That judge is still on the bench.
PINK: What are you going to do for the gay voters?
As a judicial candidate I can't state how I would rule on a case or issue. I can tell you that I have been a gay rights advocate for many years and wrote a book chapter on civil unions and legal issues facing same-sex couples. That should give gay voters some idea about my issues I am personally passionate about.
PINK: Can you change anything to benefit the gay community and how?
Brad: As a judge, I can do several things to help the gay community. First, if elected I would be only the fifth openly gay male judge out of 420 in Cook County. We need more visibility and representation. And judges talk to each other. Gay judges can educate their colleagues on issues informally. With my professional and life experience I think I would be a good resource for other judges about sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Second, the bulk of my experience is in family law. With the passage of the Civil Unions Act, there are going to be many same-sex couples coming to court to dissolve those relationships at some point (ie, get divorced) and litigate custody of their children. There currently are no openly gay male judges who hear those cases. We have to have judges who will do what is fair and in the best interest of children and not be guided by homophobia or their notions of gender stereotypes in deciding cases. I think having more gay judges in those courtrooms will be very important to our community.
I hope you will support Brad and vote for him on Tuesday, March 20, 2012. To learn more about Brad visit his website www.bradforjudge.com.