Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Carly Fiorina on Same-Sex Marriage

Today at my company, Carly Fiorina came in to speak in an open forum to our employees.
She spoke about her personal experiences, and how she received great opportunities from others to pursue leadership, which led to her career in leading HP, and perhaps later in government and politics too as she is running for U.S. Senator vs. Barbara Boxer.

During the Q&A section, I asked her about people's rights, specifically the same-sex marriage issue which has become a heated debate on state, federal, and international levels. I asked what she would consider to be an appropriate process for deciding such a controversial topic and policy.

She said that our country exists for the people, to be ruled by the people, and since marriage is closely related to religion for many people, she would recommend to put it up to popular vote (general election) to decide marriage laws in each state.

Although I applaud her for giving a clear answer vs. skirting the issue, for the purpose of supporting equal rights, I am somewhat disappointed in her answer. I understand the position of letting the general public vote and deciding things, but sometimes our country (and general population) unwisely decides on directions that take us backwards a step, away from the goal of freedom and equality which this country was chartered for.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Google vs. China

This week Google announced the possibility of leaving China as cyberattacks from China into GMail accounts demonstrated Google's and China's strongly different positions on censorship.

Today's update from China shows that China remains firm on their position of censorship.

This dilemma poses an important question for all other businesses and most countries in this world - Capitalism (commercial growth) vs. Principle (human rights).

China seems to have a clear and firm position on their own beliefs - what works for their country, even though it may not work for others. As China becomes stronger and stronger, heading toward the largest economy in the world and possibly the most powerful business partner worldwide, and the most influential government agency, their policies may force the rest of us to seriously think - to grow financially, will we need to do business with China (and follow their rules), perhaps/likely at the expense of some fundamental principles of the U.S., like freedom of speech and information.

This debate will have some dramatic ramifications affecting all our lives and redefining business, basic principles, and even fundamental definitions of what exists and what doesn't, e.g any laws or facts defined by principles or government-defined documents.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

CA Prop 8 Trial

We're in Day 3 of the CA Prop 8 Trials in San Francisco in federal court. Lots of news press around this activity.

These 1-2 weeks will be an interesting series of discussions and debates to test the constitutionality of CA's Prop 8 last year banning same-sex marriage. Not only will a decision impact California, but it will also be influential to the rest of U.S. and the world.

It would be interesting to see how the courts interpret and apply the laws of our state and country, and how much it stands up for due process and helping protect people's rights, vs. popular opinion.

However, there is growing talk about a trend toward taking religious beliefs to courts too, that religious beliefs are being discriminated against when equality laws are passed. That's another related area worth debating too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gender Virtualization at the 2009 Out & Equal Summit

This morning I presented my workshop - Gender Virtualization - A Discussion on Values, Principles, and Policies for the Transgender Community - at the 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Orlando. We had a great discussion among the HR/Diversity professionals of Fortune 500 companies, ERG leaders, and members of the transgender community about improving policies for transgender support.

One main issue about gender transitions at the workplace is always about restroom usage. It was great to see more companies now adopting the policy of usage according to gender identity and expression, vs. segregation by biological gender which is difficult to enforce without discrimination, breach of privacy, or disrespecting the individual.

One statistic reported that only 3% of marriages survive when one spouse goes through a gender transition. It's very rough on the spouse and family. Key to surviving is having a deep common understanding and communication between the spouses, and respecting each other for the person inside, not just the physical partner.

My workshop presentation will be posted at the Summit website shortly.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama's brief for DOMA support, and Same-Sex benefits for Federal employees

This week has already been quite controversial with the Obama administration.
First, hundreds of news stories on the net showed criticism for Obama's Justice Department's brief supporting DOMA - the Defense of Marriage Act that defines a marriage to be only between a man and a woman.

Many LGBT advocate groups, as well as local governments and mayors, consider this move to be a big step backwards for equal rights.

Also this week, the Obama administration is also starting to extend benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees. This tactic is probably in line with Obama's intent to gradually provide same or similar benefits to same-sex couples, even though there may be marriage parity.

With the fight on marriage equality continuing, getting equal benefits is just a piece of the overall equality pie. Marriage comes with over 1000 legal rights automatically granted to the couple - the right to inherit a partner's savings and estate upon death, the right to make medical decisions for a partner in critical situations, the right to take care and custody of their children when the partner is not available, etc. This is on top of the fiscal $4000-$6000 tax deduction difference of a Married taxpayer vs. Single taxpayer (Married same-sex couples are recognized as Single by the IRS, even for states that legally grant same-sex marriage.) All these basic human rights do not exist for same-sex partners even though they also strive to have a prosperous family, sometimes even if legally married from a state.

It's these basic rights that the public, and our federal government, is still missing out on, as the majority (as determined by votes) is still trying to preserve traditional marriage defined by the image of a man and a woman. It seems that the image is still more important to the public vs. the real persons underneath.

What if we defined laws based on perceived or expected images of people???

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Hampshire Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

Yesterday the big news was around New Hampshire being the sixth state to legalize same-sex, marriage, after the legislature passed the bill, and Governor John Lynch signed.   However, careful language was inserted to give religious institutions the right to not perform same-sex marriages if they did not want to.   I think that is OK, to give people and organizations the right to act according to their own beliefs.   People can always change their religious faiths if they choose to do so too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine approves Same-sex Marriage!

More news today, as Maine's governor signed a bill approving same-sex marriage.
Maine is now the 5th state to allow same-sex marriage.

Great quote by Governor John Baldacci - "In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions," Baldacci said in a statement read in his office. "I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage."

Even more discussion now in D.C. and in the Obama administration about what to do next as more states are supporting the same-sex marriage movement...