Equality For All Americans

FACT: The survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout most of Florida, it is legal to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

But it’s not just Florida.  In 32 states across the country, hardworking Americans can be fired from their jobs or denied housing simply because of who they are or who they love.  While in many places it is illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap or marital status, the LGBT community is currently left out of nationwide and many statewide non-discrimination protections.

At the federal level, the Equality Act would establish explicit, permanent protections against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity in matters of employment, housing, access to public places, federal funding, credit, education and jury service. In addition, it would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federal funding and access to public places.  The Equality Act is supported by over 70% of all Americans as well as major corporations like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Facebook, and others.

But we also need to lay the groundwork in the 33 states that don’t have clear, fully inclusive non-discrimination laws for all LGBT Americans.

We can no longer wait.  The time has come for us to speak out, stand up, and act up.  We can do this.  LGBT and straight – you can help!

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Contact your US Senator and Congressperson and tell them to support the Equality Act.  Even if they already support the Equality Act, it never hurts to remind them of why we need their support! Simply click the link here (contactingthecongress.org) to find out who represents you in Congress.  Type in your address; you’ll be given the phone number and web contact page for both of your senators and your representative in the House.  Below are some sample scripts that you can use when you email or call these men and women.  Make sure to ask for a response!
  2. If you live in one of the states below, contact your state legislators and urge them to support legislation extending full non-discrimination protections to the ENTIRE LGBT community where you live.  Find your state below and follow the links (some states have separate links for House and Senate; for other states you will need to find your legislative district first).  Alternatively, you can use OpenStates.org to find your state legislators.  Some states have automatic forms you can fill out while others will only provide a phone number or email address.  Below are additional sample scripts you can use when you call or email these men and women.  Once again, make sure to ask for a response!
  3. Support organizations like Lambda Legal (find them on Facebook & Twitter) or Freedom for All Americans (Pledge your support, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter).  And yes, if you feel so inclined – donate money.  While our voices were necessary to win marriage equality, it also took a lot of cold hard cash.  Remember, every little bit counts.
  4. Share this with your friends and family!

Here’s a form letter for emailing/writing your US Senators and Representative:

Dear ________________,

FACT: The survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Throughout most of the United States, it is legal to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).  This problem comes up over and over again in the 33 states that don’t have clear, fully inclusive LGBT non-discrimination laws.

Therefore, I am writing to urge you to support the Equality Act to extend clear and fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans.  The current patchwork of local and state laws leaves millions of Americans subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

The Equality Act is supported by over 70% of all Americans as well as major corporations like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Facebook, and others.

It’s time to end discrimination in our country. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state] and the United States.

Thank you,
[Your Name]

Want to call your Senators or Representative?  Great! Try this sample message!

Hello, my name is __________, and I’m calling today from __(city)__ to urge Senator/Representative __________ to support the Equality Act to extend clear and fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans.  The current patchwork of local and state laws leaves millions of Americans subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

The Equality Act is supported by over 70% of all Americans as well as major corporations like Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Kellogg, Monsanto, and others.

It’s time to end discrimination in our country. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state] and the United States.

Is your state on the list?

Alabama; Alaska – Click here to find your legislative district and your legislator, then click here to find contact information, ; Arizona – Click here to locate your legislative district and then click here to find your Senate and House legislators; Arkansas; Florida – click here for the House and click here for the Senate; Georgia; Idaho – Click here to locate your legislative district then click here to find contact information; Indiana; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Michigan – Click here for the House and click here for the Senate; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; New Hampshire – Click here for the House and click here for the Senate; New York – Click here for the State Assembly and click here for the Senate; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio – first look up your full zip code; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming.

Try out this sample letter for contacting your state legislators.

Dear ________________,

Did you know that the survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?  It is currently legal in Florida to fire someone or deny them access to housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

This can happen in our state as well.  The laws in our state do not currently contain clear, fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, leaving thousands of Americans in our state subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

Therefore, I am writing to urge you to support legislation that would extend non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans in [your state].

It’s time to end discrimination in our state. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state].

Thank you,
[Your Name]

Or if you would rather call, try out this sample message for contacting your state legislators.

Hello, my name is __________, and I’m calling today from __(city)__ to urge Senator/Representative __________ to support legislation extending clear and fully-inclusive non-discrimination protections to all LGBT Americans in [your state].

Did you know that the survivors of the Orlando shooting could be fired from their job or kicked out of their apartment simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?  This could happen in our state as well.  The laws in [your state] do not currently contain clear and fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for all LGBT Americans, leaving thousands of Americans in our state subject to uncertainty and potential discrimination that impacts their safety, their family, and their livelihood.

It’s time to end discrimination in our state. Thank you for doing what is right for the people of [your state].

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TripAdvisor – for your hospital?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been toying with the idea of providing a “star rating” for hospital quality for some time now.  Apparently, that time has come.

The Obama administration recently stated that it will soon publish star ratings summing up the quality of care at over 3500 hospitals.  Nearly half of the hospitals will be rated as average, according to government figures.

The rationale for the star ratings?  CMS says that the ratings will be more useful to patients than the current plethora of individual metrics – of which there are more than 100.  The individual metrics also encompass technical matters that may not be particularly important or comprehensible to the average consumer.  The star system – awarding a hospital anywhere between one and five stars – will be based on 64 of the individual measures that are already publicly available on the government’s Hospital Compare website, including metrics like mortality rate, rates of readmission, and infection rates.

Using the current data, 102 hospitals would receive the top rating of five stars, 934 would receive a four star rating, 1770 would receive three stars, 723 would be awarded two stars, and 144 would get only one star.  CMS is hoping the simplified approach will be similar to other healthcare rating websites like Nursing Home Compare.

It’s important to note that the mix of patients at a hospital is factored into the ratings – meaning hospitals with a high proportion of sicker patients are not supposed to rate lower than hospitals seeing less ill patients.

The results are somewhat of a mixed bag though.  Interestingly, there seemed to be little difference between hospitals of different sizes.  Critical access hospitals – mostly small, rural facilities – performed slightly better overall.  22% of safety net hospitals performed above average, which was roughly on par with the overall rate.  Teaching hospitals also received lower scores on average.

Obviously, the hospital industry is concerned, fearing that the ratings may be misleading and too simple.  After all, we’ve all looked at a TripAdvisor or Yelp rating and wondered if someone’s five-star rating is someone else’s four or three stars.  The hospital industry also points to the fact that so many prestigious hospitals fared poorly as an indicator that the methods may be flawed.

Ultimately, the real question is whether the results will be meaningful to both hospitals and consumers.  If the ratings do not spur any change on the part of hospitals to improve quality of care, then they may not ultimately be that helpful.  And consumers may not want to or be able to change their habits.  For example, an increasing number of insurance plans are placing certain hospitals out of network, therefore making patients unable to transfer their care elsewhere without accumulating dramatic costs.  Furthermore, transferring care to another hospital may require traveling prohibitively large distances.

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Wicked scorchah?

Let’s just call a spade a spade – it’s friggin hot out there… pretty much everywhere.

hot-summer-weather-sweating-work-gym-funny-ecard-mNN

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Out of office?

Yup… I know this one all too well

i-need-an-outofoffice-reply-for-when-coworkers-talk-to-me-in-person-Qav

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Wicked Scorchah!

It’s friggin hot down here in New Orleans.  Or as we used to say in New England – it’s a wicked scorchah!

im-afraid-to-use-my-phone-in-the-summer-because-my-sweat-will-cause-water-damage-d5l

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Happy Independence Day!

Hopefully you’re all enjoying a day off in honor of Independence Day.  AKA the original Brexit.

this-4th-of-july-lets-celebrate-the-anniversary-of-the-original-brexit-66c3c

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Know your status

An estimated 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, including 156,300 people who do not know they are infected. Each year, nearly 45,000 people are diagnosed with HIV, and 30% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who are living with undiagnosed HIV.

The US Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. A general rule for any one with risk factors is to get tested annually. Additionally, sexually active men who have sex with men gay may benefit from getting an HIV test more often, perhaps every 3 to 6 months.

Today is National HIV Testing Day.  Do you know your status?

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don’t cry for me…

Happy Monday folks!

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