Thursday, December 11, 2008

'Day without a gay' protest fizzles

Activists had billed Wednesday as "a day without a gay," when gays and lesbians across the country would call in sick, boycott shopping and show the impact of their absence from everyday life. Designed to be a protest against the Nov. 4 passage of Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, the day's events drew only scattered support in the Bay Area, the heart of the gay rights movement, and also criticism.

San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Several gay and lesbian people said they couldn't afford to take the day off, particularly in a tightening economy where many are concerned about their jobs.

And in the Castro district, business owners were livid that people were encouraged to not shop during the holidays, a peak time for retailers. "Our rights have been taken away as much as anyone else's," said Rich Boutell, who runs Whatever comics on Castro Street and whose marriage was thrown into limbo with the Nov. 4 election. He and his husband, Cougar Andrews, kept their store open and wished the "day without a gay" organizers had encouraged gay-allied individuals to patronize gay-owned businesses. "The whole purpose should be to support your own, not to boycott. If you're going to have a protest, it should be a positive thing. The gay dollar is powerful."

The day's events prompted a mixed response, which might indicate that the gay rights movement is still finding its voice. Gay and lesbian people are included in ways never imagined decades ago, such as domestic partnership rights in states across the nation and being included by a presidential candidate in his election-night victory speech. But there are also dramatic challenges. Thirty states, including California, explicitly ban same-sex marriage, and Arkansas voters recently passed a ballot measure to ban unmarried couples from adopting children, an initiative directly aimed at thwarting gay and lesbian parenthood. READ MORE

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    'Call in gay' in Utah? You could be fired!

    Utah lesbians and gays who join a national movement and skip work today by "calling in gay" are risking their jobs. Besides missing a shift in a slumping economy during the holiday season, employees can be fired in the Beehive State simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

    Equality Utah, as part of its Common Ground Initiative, is hoping the Legislature changes that in 2009 by making it illegal -- in a bill sponsored by Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City -- to dismiss workers because of their sexual orientation. "There certainly is that risk" of being fired for calling in gay to work, said Mike Thompson, executive director of Equality Utah.