Connect with us

National

New Post owner gave $2.5 million for marriage initiative

Amazon CEO says paper’s current leadership team to stay

Published

on

Jeff_Bezos_Washington_Post_gay_marriage_insert_c_Steve_Jurvetson_via_wikimedia

Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeffrey Bezos this week purchased the Washington Post; he and his wife are prominent supporters of same-sex marriage.

The Washington Post’s new owner, Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeffrey Bezos, gave $2.5 million last year in support of a ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington State.

The contribution made jointly by Bezos and his wife, which is believed to be the highest ever single contribution for the cause of marriage equality, was viewed with interest this week by LGBT activists following the surprise announcement on Monday that Bezos is buying the Post for $250 million.

Most political and media observers are predicting the type of news coverage the Post has provided under the leadership of the Katherine Graham family and its liberal-progressive leaning editorial positions will continue under Bezos – at least for the near future.

The Post in recent years has expanded its news coverage of LGBT issues and has expressed strong support for LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage, on its editorial page.

In separate statements, the Post and Bezos made it clear that the Seattle-based Amazon Company won’t play any role in the purchase or operation of the Post.

“Bezos himself will buy the news organization and become its sole owner when the sale is completed, probably within 60 days,” the Post reported. “The Post Co. will get a new, still-undecided name and continue as a publicly traded company without the Post,” according to the Post story.

Records from the U.S. Federal Election Commission show that Bezos has given only $83,000 to federal candidates running for public office since 2001. Most of his contributions have been to progressive Democrats, such as his two current home state senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both Democrats; Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

However, FEC records show he has also contributed money to the campaigns of a few moderate Republicans, including former Sen. Slade Gordon (R-Wash.) and former Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.).

During his tenure as CEO of Amazon.com, the Human Rights Campaign has given Amazon overall high marks in the LGBT rights group’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates Fortune 500 U.S. corporations on their policies related to LGBT employees. In its recently released corporate index for 2012, HRC gave Amazon a rating of 90 out of a possible score of 100.

According to HRC’s write-up accompanying Amazon’s rating, the company includes sexual orientation and gender identity in its employee non-discrimination policy and provides health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners. Amazon also includes the topics of sexual orientation and gender identity in its diversity training program for employees and managers.

Rod Hearne, a board member of the statewide LGBT advocacy group Equal Rights Washington, said that while Amazon is well known as an LGBT-friendly employer, the company and Bezos have taken a low profile on controversial political issues. Bezos made an exception to that posture a few years ago, Hearne said, when he made a large donation to the campaign opposing a ballot measure to put in place a state income tax for large businesses.

Hearn said Bezos and his wife’s mega donation to the marriage equality initiative last year came in response to a request from an out lesbian who was a retired employee and who had worked with Bezos shortly after Amazon’s founding.

“She had sent Bezos a short, heartfelt email asking for a donation in the $100,000 range,” Hearn told the Blade. “He responded quickly with a short note saying that he’d discussed it with his wife, that the issue was important to them, and they were in for $2.5 million,” said Hearn. “Everyone was blown away because they had never taken such a bold, public stance on an issue like marriage equality.”

Hearn, who says he’s friends with several LGBT Amazon employees, doubts that Bezos will exert “heavy-handed editorial control” over the Post.

“I don’t think Bezos is buying it out of charity, but he’s perfectly comfortable sustaining short-term operating losses while building out a broad customer base for a long-term payoff,” Hearn said. “While I doubt Bezos will be pushing a particular editorial agenda, I think the editors will not get any pushback at all from their new publisher when it comes to support for LGBT civil rights and marriage equality.”

Democratic National Committee Treasurer Andrew Tobias, who’s gay, said the FEC records show that Bezos has not been a very large contributor to candidates running for public office.

“But his marriage contribution seems to tell us all we need to know on this topic,” Tobias said.

Like many of the nation’s large daily newspapers, the Post has struggled in recent years as the circulation of its print edition has declined. Information released by the Post on Monday showed that the Post pulled in $582 million in revenue last year but incurred an operating loss of $53.7 million.

Bezos, whose personal net worth is said to be about $25.2 billion, can afford to own a paper that loses money, but he is likely to take steps to make the Post profitable, industry analysts said this week.

“The values of the Post do not need changing,” Bezos said in a statement published on the Post website Monday afternoon. “There will, of course, be change at The Post over the coming years,” he said in his statement. “That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership.”

He added that he will remain in Seattle as Amazon’s CEO and won’t be running the Post on a day-to-day basis.

“Besides that, the Post already has an excellent leadership team that knows much more about the news business than I do, and I’m extremely grateful to them for agreeing to stay on.”

Curtis Tate, president of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association’s Washington, D.C. chapter, said many of NLGJA’s friends and members work at the Post.

“Changes in ownership can create a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty, as journalists across the country know all too well,” he said. “However, we hope that the new ownership will allow the paper’s great journalism traditions to continue. Our Post colleagues should be proud of what they have accomplished, and we wish them nothing but the best.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Texas

Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott signs anti-Trans youth sports bill

“Despite the powerful testimony of trans kids & adults- the emails to the Governor to veto this harmful piece of legislation it is now law”

Published

on

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott (Blade file screenshot)

AUSTIN – Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Monday H.B. 25, an anti-Transgender youth sports bill banning Trans K-12 student-athletes from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. 

H.B. 25 is the 9th statewide bill signed into law this year banning transgender youth from participating in school sports and the 10th in the country. This bill also comes during a year when Texas lawmakers have proposed nearly 70 anti-LGBTQ bills, including more than 40 bills that specifically target transgender and nonbinary youth — far more than any other state.

“We are devastated at the passage of this bill. Despite the powerful testimony of trans kids and adults, families and advocates, and the many emails and calls our community placed to the Governor’s office to veto this harmful piece of legislation it is now law,” Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, said.

“Most immediately, our focus is our community and integrating concepts of healing justice to provide advocates who have already been harmed by this bill with spaces to refill their cup and unpack the acute trauma caused by these legislative sessions. Our organizations will also begin to shift focus to electing pro-equality lawmakers who understand our issues and prioritize representing the vast majority of Texans who firmly believe that discrimination against trans and LGB+ people is wrong,” he added.

Earlier this month, the Texas state government was criticized for removing web pages with resources for LGBTQ youth, including information about The Trevor Project’s crisis services. The Trevor Project the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people.

“Transgender and nonbinary youth are already at higher risk for poor mental health and suicide because of bullying, discrimination, and rejection. This misguided legislation will only make matters worse,” Amit Paley, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

To every trans Texan who may be feeling hurt and attacked by this legislation and months of ugly political debate — please know that you are valid, and you are deserving of equal opportunity, dignity and respect. The Trevor Project is here for you 24/7 if you ever need support, and we will continue fighting alongside a broad coalition of advocates to challenge this law,” Paley said.

********************

Additional resources:

Research consistently demonstrates that transgender and nonbinary youth face unique mental health challenges and an elevated risk for bullying and suicide risk compared to their peers.  

  • The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health found that more than half (52%) of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, and 1 in 5 attempted suicide. 94% of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health. 
  • A newly published research brief on “Bullying and Suicide Risk among LGBTQ Youth,” found that 61% of transgender and nonbinary (TGNB) students reported being bullied either in-person or electronically in the past year, compared to 45% of cisgender LGBQ students. TGNB students who were bullied in the past year reported more than twice the rate of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who were not. And TGNB students who said their school was LGBTQ-affirming reported significantly lower rates of being bullied (55%) compared to those in schools that weren’t LGBTQ-affirming (65%).
  • A 2020 peer-reviewed study found that transgender and nonbinary youth who report experiencing discrimination based on their gender identity had more than double the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not experience discrimination based on their gender identity.
  • Trevor’s research has also found that a majority of LGBTQ young people (68%) had never participated in sports for a school or community league or club — with many citing fear of bullying and discrimination as a key factor for not participating.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

Continue Reading

National

Ohio high school cancels play with Gay character after Pastor complains

The School’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was scheduled to open in less than one month until the play was canceled

Published

on

Hillsboro High School (Screenshot via Cincinnati ABC affiliate WCPO-TV)

HILLSBORO, Oh. — A Southwest Ohio high school’s play was abruptly canceled after Jeff Lyle, a local pastor from Good News Gathering, complained of a gay character. 

Hillsboro High School’s fall production of “She Kills Monsters” was scheduled to open in less than one month, until students learned the play would be canceled last week, reports Cincinnati’s ABC affiliate WCPO

The story follows a high school senior as she learns about her late sister’s life. It is implied throughout the play that her sister is gay, according to the news station.

The play’s cancellation comes a week after Lyle, a long-time voice of the anti-LGBTQ+ religious-right in Ohio, and a group of parents confronted the production’s directors at a meeting, according to Cincinnati CBS affiliate Local 12. Lyle denies pressuring school officials, but tells WCPO he supports the decision.

“From a Biblical worldview this play is inappropriate for a number of reasons, e.g. sexual innuendo, implied sexual activity between unmarried persons, repeated use of foul language including taking the Lord’s name in vain,” Lyle said. 

Some families say they believe Lyle did influence the school’s decision. 

“I think that’s wrong,” Jon Polstra, a father of one of the actors, told WCPO. “All they would have had to do if they objected to something in the play was not go to the play.”

In a statement to Local 12, Hillsboro City Schools Superintendent Tim Davis said the play was canceled because it “was not appropriate for our K-12 audience.”

The Lexington Herald Leader reports that the school planned to perform a version intended for audiences as young as 11 years old. 

Students were “devastated” and “blindsided” by the news, according to WCPO. 

“It felt like we had just been told, ‘Screw off and your lives don’t matter,'” Christopher Cronan, a Hillsboro High student, said. “I am openly bisexual in that school and I have faced a lot of homophobia there, but I never expected them to cancel a play for a fictional character.”

Cronan’s father, Ryan, also voiced his frustration. 

“They want to say the town is just not ready, but how are you not ready? It’s 2021,” Ryan Cronan said.

Students have started a GoFundMe in hopes of putting on the production at a community theater in 2022.

“If we do raise enough money, I am going to be genuinely happy for a very long time, because that means people do care,” Cronan told WCPO.

Continue Reading

Utah

VIDEO: Utah deal promoted as national model for LGBTQ rights, religious liberty

Data finds state has 2nd highest support for LGBTQ rights

Published

on

(Screen capture via YouTube)

A new video from the premier LGBTQ group in Utah, challenging the idea LGBTQ rights must be at odds with religious liberty, promotes an agreement reached in the state as a potential model to achieve a long sought-after update to civil rights law at the federal level.

The video, published Friday by Equality Utah, focuses on a 2015 agreement in Utah between the supporters of LGBTQ rights and the Mormon Church to enact a compromise acceptable to both sides. The agreement by those two sides led to an LGBTQ civil rights law in the state, which has Republican control of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Troy Williams, executive director of Equality Utah, says in the video dialogue is key to achieving meaningful success, whether its among the people of Utah, a state legislature or lawmakers in Congress.

“When you are working with LGBT rights in a state like Utah, and you want to advance legal equality, you can’t do it without working with Republicans, with conservative, with people of faith,” Williams says.

Williams, speaking with the Washington Blade over a Zoom call, said the main audience for the video is people on “the center right and the center left” willing to listen to other side when it comes to LGBTQ rights and religious liberty.

“People that have the courage to reach out to each other, and sit down across from each other and say, ‘Hey look, let’s hammer this out,” Williams said. “That’s who my audience is.”

Not only did Utah enact non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, but the state under a Republican governor administratively banned widely discredited conversion therapy for youth. When lawmakers proposed legislation that would ban transgender youth from competing in school sports, the proposal was scuttled when Gov. Spencer Cox (whom Williams called a “super Mormon”) said he’d veto it after it came to his desk.

Marina Gomberg, a former board for Equality Utah, is another voice in the video seeking dispel the narrative religious liberty and LGBTQ rights are in conflict.

“in order to protect LGBTQ people, we don have to deny religious liberty, and in order to provide protections for religious liberties, we don’t have to deny LGBTQ people,” Gomberg says. “The idea that we do is a fallacy that Utah has dismantled.”

In July, new polling demonstrated the surprisingly the Utah, despite being a conservative state, has the second highest percentage of state population in support for non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. The data Public Religion Research Institute from 77 percent of Utah residents support LGBTQ people, which is just behind New Hampshire at 81 percent.

Tyler Deaton, senior adviser for the pro-LGBTQ American Unity Fund, said the Utah agreement demonstrates the possibility of reaching an agreement at the federal level once “second order” issues are put into perspective.

“The first order question has to be how are we winning the culture,” Deaton said. “Do people even want to pass the bill? And if they do, you then figure out the details.”

The American Unity Fund has helped promote as a path forward for LGBTQ non-discrimination at the federal level the Fairness for For All Act, legislation seeking to reach a middle ground on LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Polling earlier this year found 57 percent of the American public back a bipartisan solution in Congress to advance LGBTQ civil rights.

Supporters of the Equality Act, the more established vehicle for LGBTQ rights before Congress, say the Fairness for For All Act would give too many carve-out for LGBTQ rights in the name of religious freedom. The Equality Act, however, is all but dead in Congress and has shown no movement in the U.S. Senate.

Skeptics of the Utah law would point out the law doesn’t address public accommodations, one of the more challenging aspects in the fight for LGBTQ rights and one or remaining gaps in civil rights protections for LGBTQ people in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bostock v. Clayton County. As a result, it’s perfectly legal in Utah for a business owner to discriminate against LGBTQ coming as patrons.

Williams, however, shrugged off the idea the lack of public accommodations protections in Utah make the agreement in the state makes it any less of a model, making the case the spirit behind the deal is what matters.

“I think copying and pasting Utah’s law doesn’t work for lots of reasons,” Wililams said. “What’s most important is a model of collaboration because when you are sitting around the table with each other — Democrats and Republicans, LGBTQ people and people of faith — that’s when the transformation happens. That is when the mutual respect is really forged.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular