Boycott Arkansas

The Arkansas state legislature passed an Indiana-style religious freedom bill which essentially authorizes discrimination. The bill is known as HB1228 or RFRA, is likely to go into effect within the week in Arkansas.

I am not a lawyer therefore I am not well versed in legalese, however HB1128 makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that discrimination is acceptable when its wrapped as religious piety:

Exercise of religion” means the practice or observance of religion including without limitation the ability to act or refuse to act in a manner substantially motivated by a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief

The bottom line is – I am cool with religion + religious people. I truly believe that each person has the right to believe whatever they choose. When one goes to their place of worship – they are allowed and even expected to be insular. What I have an issue with is when religious people own a for-profit business and expect their religious beliefs to have legal authority. I simply cannot and will not live in a world where people are legally allowed to discriminate simply because they ‘believe’ their-magic-man-in-the-sky (aka God) would want them to do so.

I ask all you Christians out there – What would Jesus do? I am pretty fucking sure he wouldn’t condone RFRA and the hate it propagates.

 

 

The Backlash is Real, Indiana!

It makes me very happy to see people + corporations uniting together to boycott Indiana due to the new Religious Freedom Restoration Act RFRA. The law basically says discrimination is ‘okay’ (as in legal) if its packaged as religious freedom. Read my recent blog post if you need to get up-to-speed on the hate-law and the bigoted clowns that created it.

It also makes me happy to see that Parks and Rec star Nick Offerman canceled his comedy tour in Indiana due to the RFRA hate-law. He put the cancelation on blast by tweeting this:

tweet screen shot

 

I encourage everyone (at the very least) tweet at Gov. Pence and let him know that we not longer live in a world where people small-minded fools run things. Bigotry – hatred – inequality will not fly with this generation and we must stand united to make it known! #boycottindiana

RFRA = Hate Packaged as Religious Freedom

Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, recently signed into law the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) that allows businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian people based on religious liberty. This law is another blaring example of the way in which so many republicans dress up their hate as a religious belief that needs special protection under the law. When in reality they seek to erode the very progress we’ve made to promote inclusion and anti-discrimination in this country. More importantly, this law prevents legal action to be taken against businesses that discriminate and refuse services to people because of a so-called religious belief. Gov. Pence’s vague explanation of the law is no different than the arguments people made back in the day when ‘religious liberty’ justified racism and segregation.

George Stephanopoulos grilled Gov. Pence this weekend and tried in vein to get the Gov. to answer the simple question if RFRA allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT’s, and if so, will those businesses be exempt from legal punishment when they discriminate?  Watch Gov. Pence trying to hide his bigotry all the while dodging the yes or no question IF businesses are legally allowed to discriminate under RFRA:

 

The point here is simple: once cannot pick and choose which laws to follow – that would gravely undermine our entire legal system. Equal Protection under the law affords an individual to be treated in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. Period. There is no room for exceptions here, not even for all you holy rollers out there #sorrynotsorry.  According to Cornell University Law School “The equal protection clause is not intended to provide “equality” among individuals or classes but only “equal application” of the laws. The result, therefore, of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application. By denying states the ability to discriminate, the equal protection clause of the Constitution is crucial to the protection of Civil Rights.”

Discrimination is discrimination – no matter how you slice it – and it cannot be tolerated! Major corporations seems to agree – many companies have been vocal about not conducting business in Indiana until RFRA is repealed. The backlash is real, Gov Pence! Take a look at the long list of companies that Boycott Indiana!

Disenfranchised New Yorker’s Failed by Established Nonprofit

The New York Times recently reported that the Federation Employment & Guidance Service  or better know as FEGS, ‘discovered’ they had a budget shortfall of nearly 20 million dollars. FEGS is a New York City based non-profit organization that was created over 80 years in ago to assist returning veterans, individuals with disabilities, older adults, and other disenfranchised in New Yorker’s to find employment and fight workplace discrimination. As the New York Times reports:
“FEGS, the city’s biggest provider of job placement services to the impoverished and disabled” and the FEGS budget shortfall leaves “city and state officials scrambling to find new providers of job placement, housing, mental health care and other services for tens of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers.”
FEGS maintains that “no fraud or malfeasance has been identified” so far by a forensic audit that is currently underway.”

Let’s just believe for a moment that top management didn’t commit overt acts of fraud. Even with that said, how, in good conscious can the FEGS board of directors approve a CEO salary of almost $700,000? In fiscal year 2012, Gail Magaliff, the previous chief executive officer, earned a base salary of $482,436, plus additional compensation of $156,444, for a package of $638,880, the tax return shows.

Having worked in the fiscal department of a handful of New York City nonprofits, I understand that in order to provide valuable services, an organization must invest in staff and administrative costs. I am not saying that top leadership shouldn’t be paid well, but what I am saying is that when the signs indicate that there is a major budget shortfall, the money needs to be reallocated. This report sickens me because the signs of a major budget shortfall were certainly present and according to the New York Times, “FEGS reported operating losses two years in a row, according to the agency’s tax returns from fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the most recent returns publicly available.”

I personally don’t understand how a CEO can accept a salary that large knowing that the place is essentially going down in flames. Maybe its harsh for me to say this, but  just don’t buy it that the organization and the city had, and I quote: “never even a hint that the organization was about to go into a financial tailspin, or perhaps was already in one”
I’m sorry, I just don’t buy it.

It goes without saying that it truly angers me that a nonprofit organization would be run into the ground and knowingly fail the very people that need them the most. FEGS former CEO said at the organizations benefit gala at Cipriani 42nd Street that “she was inspired to see so many people gathered to celebrate our shared commitment to serving people who face barriers to economic and personal independence.”

Yeah, right. Sounds like she is more interested in rubbing elbows at one of the city’s upscale venues. Its obvious to me that she certainly wasn’t thinking about the vulnerable New Yorkers that FEGS claim they serve when she signed the check to pay the hefty Cipriani bill. I believe the organization as a whole and top-leadership should face the consequences for swindling donors out of money and then misappropriating that money.

If you’re reading, former FEGS CEO Gail Magaliff, please answer the following for me: At what point did you first start putting your personal needs above those you claim you serve? How did you live with yourself when the signs were clear that the organization was in real trouble? What are some concrete examples of how you tried to save the organization?