A Manhattan real estate agent inadvertently exposed more than the beautiful brickwork inside a $2000 Upper West Side apartment he listed Friday, when he uploaded a photograph of a large* penis alongside shots of a sunny living room and renovated kitchen as part of an online listing.
When contacted by Gawker, the agent said he was not aware a photo of a penis had been posted with one of his apartment listings. He politely denied the penis was his and speculated that his account had been hacked. (ATTENTION HACKERS: Stop hacking into real estate agents’ work emails and posting pictures of a random penis on one of their apartment listings. Rude.)
According to the listing, the penis apartment boasts high ceilings, stainless steel appliances, and a decorative fireplace. The dignified building which houses the penis apartment was erected in 1899. No pets are allowed in the penis apartment.
The photograph of the penis has since been removed from the penis apartment photo album.
*Gawker’s in-house penis expert maintains that the there is not enough penis on display in the photo to confidently characterize the member as “large,” but allows for the possibility that it is.
Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category
A Manhattan real estate agent inadvertently exposed more than the beautiful brickwork inside a $2000 Upper West Side apartment he listed Friday, when he uploaded a photograph of a large* penis alongside shots of a sunny living room and renovated kitchen as part of an online listing.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – San Leandro Police conspire to lure men into stalls in public restroom to bust them for seeking consensual sex, two men claim in a civil rights class action.
Lead plaintiffs Steven Mengel and Michael Woody sued San Leandro, its Police Department and Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli, and four officers, in Federal Court.
The class “consists of all men who have been falsely arrested for soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct by San Leandro Police acting as decoys, because they are perceived to be interested in meeting in public, men interested in non-monetary intimate association with other men,” according to the complaint.
Mengel claims he was arrested in 2012 after agreeing to perform a sexual act on undercover defendants Officer Matthew Barajas and Det. Morgan.
“On June 12, 2012, plaintiff Mengel, in his 60s with white hair, was parked on the street near … a restroom with a reputation as being a place where men meet other men for intimate sexual conduct,” the complaint states.
“He was approached by defendant Matthew Barajas, in his late 20s or early 30s, in plain clothes, in an unmarked vehicle, acting as a decoy, pretending to be a person interested in intimate sexual conduct.
“He asked defendant Mengel if Mengel was ‘looking for anything.’ This is a code expression to indicate an interest in intimate conduct.
“Mengel replied, ‘Not right now.’
“Barajas then said he was new at this and asked if Mengel was ‘looking for anything later’ to which Mengel replied: ‘Possibly.’
“Barajas then suggested noon of the following day to which Mengel said: ‘That’s fine.’”
Mengel claims Barajas, accompanied by Morgan, met him in the same place the next day.
“After a brief conversation, Mengel agreed to give Barajas and Morgan a ‘hand job’ which is a code word for manually stimulating Barajas’ penis,” the complaint states.
“The three entered the restroom with Morgan acting as a ‘lookout’ to prevent others from entering the restroom, possibly observing the conduct, and thereby being offended. At all times Mengel reasonably believed that his conduct would not offend anyone present.
“Mengel and Barajas entered a toilet stall which did not contain a door. Mengel then reached for Barajas’ zipper but Barajas pushed his hand away.
“Barajas then said: ‘You’re sure you don’t want any money for this?’
“At this point defendant Morgan accompanied by [defendant] Sgt. Anthony, and [defendant] detective Clifford entered the restroom and arrested Mengel, charging him with a violation of Penal Code section 647(d) loitering around a toilet.”
Mengel claims it was a false arrest: that he did not “loiter with the specific intent to engage in any sort of lewd conduct, nor did he solicit any act intending to perform it in a public place where he knew or should have known that there were persons present who were likely to be offended.”
He claims that San Leandro Police do not use women decoy officers to arrest men for similar conduct, nor do male decoys arrest women for it.
Criminal charges against Mengel were dismissed pursuant to a demurrer.
Nonetheless, Mengel says he “has become mentally upset, distressed and aggravated, and suffered great humiliation, embarrassment, and mental anguish.”
He claims the city police policy violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
Woody was arrested after a plainclothes officer approached him in a separate restroom, then “followed him aggressively urging him to stay,” the complaint states.
While waiting for a stall, the unnamed defendant officer (Doe I) “was very friendly, asking plaintiff Woody if he had ever visited the restroom before. Plaintiff said, ‘Yes.’
“A few minutes later, the occupants of the restroom left. Plaintiff then entered intending to use a stall for elimination. However, when he observed that Doe I had followed him into the bathroom, plaintiff changed his mind and left.
“Doe I followed him aggressively urging him to stay. Plaintiff said he might return later. Doe I said he only had 20 minutes.
“Plaintiff started his car as if to drive off. At this point Doe I showed plaintiff a police badge and stated he was under arrest for a violation of Penal Code section 647(a), lewd conduct,” the complaint states.
Woody claims that no charges were ever filed against him, but Police Chief Spagnoli issued a press release stating that he had been arrested for “loitering with intent.”
Woody suffered distress, humiliation and embarrassment.
The plaintiffs estimate that “hundreds” of men have been falsely arrested on charges of “soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct.”
“The membership of the defined class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impractical,” the 16-page lawsuit states. “(T)here are hundreds of men who have been illegally arrested for violations of California law by the SLPD because they were perceived to be interested in meeting in public, men interested in non-monetary intimate association with other men.”
San Leandro, pop. 85,000, is on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay, between Oakland and Hayward.
The plaintiffs seek costs and damages for conspiracy to violate civil rights, and want the defendants enjoined from targeting, harassing or arresting men who are perceived to be interested in meeting in public other men interested in “nonmonetary intimate association.”
They are represented by Bruce Nickerson, of San Carlos.
from Courthouse News
UTAH – Boy Scouts and adult volunteers wore their uniforms Sunday as they marched in Utah’s gay pride parade — defying a leader of the youth organization who had said they couldn’t do so under the organization’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions.
The Utah Pride Festival Parade came a little more than a week after national delegates of the Boy Scouts of America approved allowing gay youth to join, ending controversial membership guidelines that had in recent years dogged one of the nation’s most popular organizations for children and teens.
“It just feels like the right thing to do,” Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout and high school senior still active with his troop, said before leaving for the parade in Salt Lake City in his uniform.
“It’s kind of a way of saying we want you here,” added Mikesell, who marched with Mormons Building Bridges and whose troop is chartered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Scouting has been a very positive influence in my life, and I’d like to see more people take advantage of it now that the ban has been lifted.”
Peter Brownstein, a Scoutmaster in Salt Lake City who helped organize the Boy Scouts participation in the march, said a few adults and youth marched at the front of the parade in uniform, including a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout and his stepdad, an Eagle Scout, who borrowed a uniform to wear, and an Asst. Scoutmaster.
But a local leader of the Boy Scouts had said Friday that they were prohibited from doing so.
“We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this,” said Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, which consists of more than 75,000 youth. “We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We’re neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they’re welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform.
“That’s our official position. It always has been, there’s nothing new here,” he added. “We just don’t want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions.”
It wasn’t clear what the consequences of wearing their uniforms would be.
In a statement, Deron Smith, a spokesman for the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America, said it was up to the local council to determine any punishment.
“These individuals stated a personal opinion and do not represent Scouting,” said Smith. “Scouting teaches young people that often in life one finds rules they don’t agree with, but a Scout is to be obedient. To simply disobey a rule because you disagree with it is not an example to set for youth. It is up to each council to determine how best to hold their leaders to the standards of Scouting. We will support the Greater Salt Lake Area Council as they determine the appropriate response.”
Barnes said Sunday he had nothing to add to the statement from Smith. On Friday, he said he expected the group to comply, citing the part of the Scout Oath that says a Scout is trustworthy.
Mikesell said he wasn’t worried about any consequences. But Brownstein did not wear his uniform and instead opted for a T-shirt that carried the message of inclusive Scouting, with a rainbow square knot on it. His son, an Eagle Scout, and another Scout wore shirts promoting allowing gays in Scouting (LGBT adults are not allowed to join the program).
Brownstein, 53, said it was a disappointment that he couldn’t wear his uniform.
“We’re just trying to demonstrate that Scouts can be a part of all parts of society, all parts of life,” he said before the parade. “While I am not wearing my uniform, other people will be. And this is not about me, this is about getting the message out to America” of “inclusiveness in Scouting, the need for equality.”
After the march, he noted: “It felt awesome to proudly represent an organization that is making progress towards change and acceptance … and slowly making progress on opening their organization to many more people who can benefit from the wonderful program.”
“And the progress forward will continue,” he added.
Scouts for Equality, a group that campaigns for the LGBT community to be welcomed in Scouting, had said that members of the Boy Scouts have previously marched in pride parades elsewhere. But they called for youth and adults in the Utah Scouting program to abide by Barnes’ call and not wear their formal uniforms in the parade.
from NBC News
Boy Scouts Can’t Wear Uniforms At Gay Pride Parade
UTAH – Boy Scouts and adult volunteers planning to wear their uniforms in Utah’s upcoming LGBT pride parade aren’t allowed to do so under the organization’s guidelines prohibiting advocating political or social positions, a leader with the program said Friday.
Rick Barnes, chief scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, said he learned of the plans for Sunday’s parade from a Scoutmaster, Peter Brownstein, organizing for Scouts and adults working with the Boy Scouts of America.
“We as a Scouting movement do not advocate any social or political position, so I reminded Mr. Brownstein that we do not wear uniforms at an event like this,” Barnes said. “We do not, as Boy Scouts, show support for any social or political position. We’re neutral. If he wants to attend the parade and others do that are Scouts or Scouters, they’re welcome to do so as private citizens wearing whatever they want except their uniform.”
“That’s our official position. It always has been, there’s nothing new here,” he added. “We just don’t want people to use the Boy Scouts to advocate their positions.”
Brownstein, 53, and a machinery appraiser in Salt Lake City, was just starting to organize for the Utah Pride Parade to be held in Salt Lake City after last week’s historic vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay youth to join the program. He was organizing under the banner of Scouts for Equality, a group that campaigns for the LGBT community to be welcomed in Scouting.
“I am asking everyone to wear their Scout uniforms,” Brownstein, whose son recently earned the BSA’s highest honor — the Eagle rank — said before receiving the notice from the scout executive. “The message we want to send is that Scouting should be open to everyone and it’s a wonderful program and everyone deserves to be included and have the benefits of the program.”
After learning of the uniform decision, he said: “I have some real good soul-searching to do … but we’re going to figure this out.” He added that he was leaning toward wearing his uniform.
At this stage, Brownstein believes the numbers of participants is small. One of them, Kenji Mikesell, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout in Salt Lake City, said he was also inclined to wear his uniform.
“If at all possible I want to wear my uniform,” he said, saying that though he could go either way on wearing it, he felt it would be a “welcoming” for “gay kids getting involved in Scouting. Kind of like ‘we want you here’ type of thing. And also as sort of a sense of pride. I’m glad the ban was lifted. I wish it was lifted for leaders but this is a first step in the right direction.”
When asked about the consequences of wearing the uniform, Barnes, the Scout executive, said: “The first point of the Scout law is a Scout is trustworthy. Once they’ve been told our policy, we expect them to be a good Scout and be trustworthy.”
Mikesell said he will wear his uniform despite what Barnes said.
from NBC News
LOS ANGELES – A passenger spent “long periods” of a six-hour flight “masturbating and exposing his penis,” and United Airlines didn’t stop him, a teenage girl claims in court.
Monica Amestoy sued United Airlines and United Continental Holdings in Superior Court, alleging negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.
Amestoy, 18, claims she complained to flight staff, but to “her horror” they neither spoke to the unidentified passenger, nor offered to move her to another seat – “forcing her to sit adjacent to a revolting and lewd display of sexual conduct.”
Amestoy, then 17, was returning to Los Angeles from a high school debate tournament in New York in October last year.
She claims she was in an aisle seat, and the male masturbator was separated from her “only by the width of the aisle.”
“After the plane took off, the plaintiff saw to her horror that the male passenger directly across the aisle from her had exposed his penis and was masturbating. That passenger had stationed his airline blanket in a way that concealed his activities from other passengers on one side of him. His conduct was very visible to the plaintiff, however,” the complaint states.
Amestoy says the passenger “suspended his offensive behavior” after she complained to a flight attendant. But the attendant did nothing but stand “in the vicinity of the offending passenger,” Amestoy claims.
“The United flight attendant soon decided to attend to other duties. When she did so, the perpetrator exposed his penis and started to masturbate again,” the complaint states.
Even though the flight crew knew of the criminal conduct, Amestoy says, no one talked to the man, or monitored his behavior.
“Later during the flight, the plaintiff got up to use the restroom. On the way to the restroom, the plaintiff passed by the same flight attendant to whom she had complained, and the flight attendant asked if the perpetrator was still exposing himself. The plaintiff said that he was. The flight attendant then stated that the perpetrator’s conduct was ‘disgusting,’ but took no other action. In particular, the flight attendant and/or crew took no action to relocate the plaintiff, to prevent the perpetrator from exposing himself or masturbating, or to report the offensive conduct to the flight deck,” the complaint states.
Amestoy adds: “She feared, among other things, that the perpetrator might ejaculate, and cause her to come into offensive contact with his sperm. United’s conduct toward the plaintiff was outrageous, and went beyond the scope of normal aircraft operations.”
United never contacted authorities, Amestoy claims. She says it was left to her father to report the incident to the police. The man was investigated, charged, and pleaded guilty to the alleged crimes, the complaint states.
Amestoy seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
United Airlines spokeswoman Karen May told Courthouse News in an email that the airline would review the complaint when it received it.
“The comfort and security of our customers is our top priority,” May wrote.
Amestoy is represented by Gloria Allred with Allred, Maroko & Goldberg.
from Courthouse News
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers supporting a bipartisan bill in the Senate to overhaul the immigration system faced a surge of outrage last week from gay rights advocates after a provision those groups supported was left off the legislation in committee at the last minute.
Advocates focused their fury on several Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, which considered more than 300 amendments to the bill, after the senators warned the chairman, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, that they would not vote for an amendment he wanted to introduce. The measure by Mr. Leahy, also a Democrat, would have allowed American citizens to seek permanent resident status — a document known as a green card — for a foreign same-sex partners.
But as the bill now moves to the Senate floor, the political damage from the episode for the Democrats — including senators who have been firm allies of gay causes like Mr. Leahy, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois — may not be as severe as it first appeared. Gay rights advocates, stepping back from the loss, said the overhaul still contained many measures that could benefit gay immigrants, most of which came through the committee gantlet unscathed.
Other provisions that the committee agreed to add to the bill, dealing with asylum and immigration detention, had been the subject of vigorous lobbying by gay organizations.
The committee outcome was a relief for Republicans in the bipartisan group of eight senators that wrote the bill, who had said the same-sex amendment would cripple the entire measure. By fending it off, Republicans held on to crucial support from evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics.
To try to redefine marriage within the immigration bill would mean the bill would fall apart,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a Republican, told Mr. Leahy in the moments of high suspense last Tuesday evening before the Vermont senator announced his decision. Mr. Graham said support from conservative evangelical churches, which have put on an ambitious campaign to pass the overhaul, “made it possible for a guy like me to survive the emotional nature of this debate.”
One activist who had intensely mixed feelings about the committee’s results was Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, co-director of Get Equal, an organization that seeks legal equality for gay people.
“I can’t deny my outrage when I felt betrayed,” said Mr. Sousa-Rodriguez, who said he had delivered thousands of petitions to Mr. Schumer’s Washington office just a week earlier.
But he said he was ready to push for the bill on the Senate floor, where lawmakers expect to take it up the week of June 10. “Many of my friends will benefit from the overall legislation,” he said.
Like many gay advocates, Mr. Sousa-Rodriguez, who was born in Brazil, sees the legislation from several angles. He is one of as many as 1.7 million young immigrants who were brought here illegally as children. Those immigrants would be eligible under the Senate bill for an accelerated five-year path to citizenship. They include a vocal contingent of youths who are gay.
But Mr. Sousa-Rodriguez is also legally married to an immigrant from Colombia, Juan, who is about to become an American citizen. If the same-sex amendment were to become law, Mr. Sousa-Rodriguez’s husband could seek a green card for him immediately, without waiting five years. In the Judiciary Committee debate, Mr. Leahy kept everyone, including his own staff, wondering until the final hour whether he would formally introduce the same-sex amendment. He had sponsored similar legislation many times in the Senate, and he left no doubt in his opening statement about his strong support for the provision.
But then he turned to the other senators on the committee, asking them for their views. In agonized comments the Democrats, also including Dianne Feinstein of California and Al Franken of Minnesota, replayed the Republican warnings that the measure would be a deal breaker.
According to several Senate aides, the Democrats were surprised and miffed that Mr. Leahy shifted the burden to them to nix the amendment.
“He did it in a way that made others walk the plank and kept his hands clean,” one Democratic aide said, “and that was not appreciated.”
In the end Mr. Leahy withheld his amendment, leaving open the option of introducing it later. The committee sent the bill to the Senate floor on a strong bipartisan vote.
President Obama had also urged the senators not to allow the same-sex measure to torpedo the bill, which he strongly supports. But he had worked behind the scenes, so he largely avoided the advocates’ ire.
Mr. Schumer, one of the senators in the so-called Gang of Eight who wrote the legislation, took to the phones to reassure gay advocates, pledging to build support among Republicans so the amendment could be added during the floor debate.
The advocates told Mr. Schumer and other lawmakers they were still committed to passing the legislation.
“There are many provisions in this bill that our community cares about deeply, not the least of which is a baseline path to citizenship,” said Rea Carey, the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “I am deeply disappointed that binational couples were not included, and we will continue to push for that. But we will remain in this fight.”
As many as 267,000 illegal immigrants are gay, activists said, citing an estimate by the Williams Institute at the law school of the University of California, Los Angeles. Under the overhaul bill, those immigrants would be eligible for provisional legal status and eventually American citizenship.
The bill would also eliminate a one-year deadline for filing asylum claims, which gay advocates have long challenged, saying it effectively excludes many foreigners fleeing persecution because of sexual orientation.
In the committee, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, a Democrat, added several amendments gay groups had sought, to limit solitary confinement and ban discrimination in immigration detention.
Democrats are hoping the larger issues addressed by Mr. Leahy’s amendment will be resolved by the Supreme Court, when it issues a ruling this month on a federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Evangelical Christian and Catholic leaders said they would continue to resist any inclusion of same-sex issues in the immigration overhaul.
“It was really remarkable that we saw the Gang of Eight come together to oppose any poison pill amendments that would derail passage of the bill,” said Galen Carey, vice president for government relations of the National Association of Evangelicals. “There are other forums where these very basic issues can be debated. This is not the time for that debate.”
from The New York Times
GRAPEVINE, TEXAS — In a highly anticipated vote Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay youth starting next year, the latest sign of a shift in American attitudes toward gays and lesbians.
The resolution was adopted with more than 60% of the vote.
The vote to allow gay youth in Scouting — but not gay adult leaders — was held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central time during the group’s annual meeting in the Dallas suburb of Grapevine.
After about 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts national council voted by secret ballot, their votes were tallied by an outside balloting firm, Washington, D.C.-based True Ballot, and delivered to Boy Scouts President Wayne Perry, who announced the results to the gathering shortly after 5 p.m. Central time, according Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith.
The new policy takes effect Jan. 1, Smith said. Gay advocates called the vote a step in the right direction for the 103-year-old group, among the nation’s largest youth organizations with 2.6 million youth members.
“Today’s vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,” said Zach Wahls, 21, an Iowa Eagle Scout raised by lesbian mothers who founded Scouts for Equality, which advocates for gays in Scouting, and traveled to Texas for the vote.
He called it “a tremendous victory toward the fight for equality in America. … We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members and are committed to continuing our work until that occurs.”Some local Scouting officials who participated in the vote said they wished the group could have gone further.
“We are disappointed that it doesn’t include everybody,” said Alan Snyder, chairman of the board of the Western Los Angeles County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, who voted for the proposal. “Inclusive should be all-inclusive.”
Opponents vowed to fight the new policy, which they warned would damage flagging membership and funding.
Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, issued a statement: “We are deeply saddened that the voting delegates of the Boy Scouts of America overturned their constitutionally protected expressive message that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. … Our sadness for the Scouting organization as a whole cannot be overstated.”
Jonathan Saenz, president of the Austin-based conservative advocacy group Texas Values, which organized a protest outside the annual meeting, called the vote a “tragic decision” that showed the Boy Scouts had “chosen to place sex and politics above its timeless principles.”
from The Los Angeles Times
One after another, major U.S. corporations have updated anti-discrimination policies to protect gay, lesbian and transgender workers, drawing plaudits from gay-rights groups. There’s one prominent exception: Exxon Mobil Corp.
In the latest rankings of such corporate policies by the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay-rights group, many of Exxon’s Fortune 500 counterparts got scores of 80 or higher on a scale of 100. Exxon, the nation’s largest oil and gas company, became the first firm to get a score below zero.
On Wednesday, in the latest attempt to pressure the company into change, a gay-rights group called Freedom to Work teamed with a high-powered Washington law firm to file what they described as a groundbreaking discrimination complaint against Exxon in Illinois.
The complaint, filed with the state’s Department of Human Rights, says Exxon was sent two nearly identical resumes for a job opening at its office in Patoka, Ill. The only substantive differences were that one of the fictional applicants was clearly depicted as a gay-rights activist, and had higher college and high-school grades than the other applicant.
According to the complaint, Exxon’s human resources office at its home base in Texas confirmed receipt of both applications, then made several efforts to contact the applicant with the lower grades to set up an interview. The applicant who indicated she was gay received no such follow-ups.
“Exxon has repeatedly claimed they do not discriminate,” said Freedom to Work’s president, Tico Almeida. “We are bringing forward proof they’ve broken the law, and we’re hopeful this compelling case will move them over the tipping point.”
An Exxon Mobil spokesman, Charles Engelmann, said the company was reviewing the complaint, and had no immediate comment on its allegations.
“Exxon Mobil’s global policies and processes prohibit all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in any company workplace, anywhere in the world,” Engelmann said in an e-mail. “In fact, our policies go well beyond the law and prohibit any form of discrimination.”
The Washington-based law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which often works with advocacy groups on workplace discrimination cases, has provided two of its attorneys to handle the Freedom to Work complaint. One of them, Peter Romer-Friedman, contended that Exxon’s handling of the two job applications was a clear violation of Illinois’ anti-discrimination law.
Illinois is one of 21 states that prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Texas has no such law, and Congress has not passed a nationwide ban.
Romer-Friedman said the tactic of submitting fictional, nearly identical applications is a time-tested, legally accepted technique that has been successful in the past in uncovering bias against blacks and women in hiring and fair-housing cases. The Exxon case marks the first time the tactic has been used to allege anti-gay bias, he said.
The next step, Romer-Friedman said, would be for the Illinois Human Rights Department to investigate the complaint – a process which could take a year. At that stage, Freedom to Work could seek a hearing before the state’s Human Rights Commission or take the case to court.
However, the attorney said it’s likely that Illinois human rights officials would invite Freedom to Work and Exxon to negotiate a settlement before the investigation ends. For Freedom to Work, the goal is to get Exxon to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories in its equal employment opportunity policy, and to implement training programs on how to prevent any such bias.
“Our goal is to settle as quickly as possible, so Exxon will let everyone know they’re going to get a fair shot, no matter who they are or who they love,” Almeida said.
Exxon has been criticized over workplace policies in an era where the vast majority of other large U.S. corporations, including rival oil companies, have adopted policies that earn high scores from the Human Rights Campaign. Most, for example, voluntarily offer health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners; Exxon does not do so.
“We’ve seen public opinion on every issue move toward equality, including in corporate America,” said HRC spokesman Paul Guequierre. “To see one company stick out like this is surprising and frustrating.”
Exxon insists its policies toward gay and lesbian employees are fair and supportive, and rejects the HRC scorecard.
Finance firms can move fast when it benefits the bottom line. That’s why Wall Street, despite its rigid alpha-male reputation, has been remarkably progressive on the issue of gay rights. From the breadth of domestic partner benefits to Goldman Sachs (GS) Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein’s commercials in support of same-sex marriage, banks and brokerages have embraced this area of equality. Maybe that’s because of the industry’s war for talent, the spending power of gay clients, or Blankfein’s thesis that the market only cares about results.
Whatever the reason, the finance sector’s rapid adoption of gay-friendly practices presents an interesting challenge for Todd Sears. He founded Out on the Street, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) group that’s grown from six member companies to 15 over the past three years. “It’s an exciting time,” says Sears, a former investment banker and ex-Merrill Lynch (BAC) financial adviser. “We’re at a transformative moment.”
The challenge now is to build the business case. With Rhode Island set to become the 10th state to legalize gay marriage, thanks to Republicans who are shifting their views to echo public sentiment, the danger is that many will assume the battle is won and move on. In any case, the moral argument for diversity doesn’t play to the same fist-pumping instincts in financiers as figuring out new ways to make money.
So “return on equality” became the theme of the group’s third annual summit today at Goldman Sachs headquarters in downtown Manhattan. The invitation-only event, which brought together some 300 director-level executives to talk about LGBT issues and opportunities, drew an all-star lineup of supporters. Along with Blankfein, speakers included HSBC Holdings’ (HBC) U.S. chief Irene Dorner, Ernst & Young CEO Jim Turley, Vestart Capital Partners founder Dan O’Connell, KPMG CEO John Veihmeyer, and Bob McKillip of Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). Their focus: how greater acceptance for gay employees is now extending to external initiatives and recruitment, emerging leaders, and the business cost of policies that impede the immigration of LBGT families.
Among other things, Sears is looking to extend the Out on the Street franchise to a broader swath of the industry. “I’d like us to do more with mutual fund groups and asset managers,” he says, noting that he’s talked to asset manager BlackRock (BLK). Sears is also looking to move into other industries, like law, as well as other regions such as Hong Kong.
To be sure, a number of challenges loom large, not least of which is the U.S. Supreme Court decision expected in June that could promote sweeping marriage equality or set it back. While France recently became the largest of 14 countries worldwide to mandate equal marriage rights, sexual orientation remains a touchy and politically charged topic. Take the Boy Scouts of America, for example. Faced with blistering criticism for its ban on gay members, the organization will soon have its members vote on a compromise proposal that would extend membership to openly gay youth but not gay adults. That has invoked yet more criticism and put board members like E&Y’s Turley, a vocal advocate of gay rights, in a bind.
When asked on April 29 about the issue, and the response it evoked, Turley said he saw the proposal as “a step in an ongoing process and not the end of the debate.”
from Business Week
It may be a man’s world, as the saying goes, but lesbians seem to have an easier time living in it than gay men do.
High-profile lesbian athletes have come out while still playing their sports, but not a single gay male athlete in major U.S. professional sports has done the same. While television’s most prominent same-sex parents are the two fictional dads on “Modern Family,” surveys show that society is actually more comfortable with the idea of lesbians parenting children.
And then there is the ongoing debate over the Boy Scouts of America proposal to ease their ban on gay leaders and scouts.
Reaction to the proposal, which the BSA’s National Council will take up next month, has been swift, and often harsh. Yet amid the discussions, the Girl Scouts of USA reiterated their policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other things. That announcement has gone largely unnoticed.
Certainly, the difference in the public’s reaction to the scouting organizations can be attributed, in part, to their varied histories, including the Boy Scouts’ longstanding religious ties and a base that has become less urban over the years, compared with the Girl Scouts’.
But there’s also an undercurrent here, one that’s often present in debates related to homosexuality, whether over the military’s now-defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy or even same-sex marriage. Even as society has become more accepting of homosexuality overall, longstanding research has shown more societal tolerance for lesbians than gay men, and that gay men are significantly more likely to be targets of violence.
That research also has found that it’s often straight men who have the most difficult time with homosexuality – and particularly gay men – says researcher Gregory Herek.
“Men are raised to think they have to prove their masculinity, and one big part about being masculine is being heterosexual. So we see that harassment, jokes, negative statements and violence are often ways that even younger men try to prove their heterosexuality,” says Herek, a psychologist at the University of California, Davis, who has, for years, studied this phenomenon and how it plays out in the gay community.
That is not, of course, to downplay the harassment lesbians face. It can be just as ugly.
But it’s not as frequent, Herek and others have found, especially in adulthood. It’s also not uncommon for lesbians to encounter straight men who have a fascination with them.
“The men hit on me. The women hit on me. But I never feel like I’m in any immediate danger,” says Sarah Toce, the 29-year-old editor of The Seattle Lesbian and managing editor of The Contributor, both online news magazines. “If I were a gay man, I might – and if it’s like this in Seattle, can you imagine what it is like in less-accepting parts of middle America?”
One of Herek’s studies found that, overall, 38 percent of gay men said that, in adulthood, they’d been victims of vandalism, theft or violence – hit, beaten or sexually assaulted – because they were perceived as gay. About 13 percent of lesbians said the same.
A separate study of young people in England also found that, in their teens, gay boys and lesbians were almost twice as likely to be bullied as their straight peers. By young adulthood, it was about the same for lesbians and straight girls. But in this study, published recently in the journal Pediatrics, gay young men were almost four times more likely than their straight peers to be bullied.
At least one historian says it wasn’t always that way for either men or women, whose “expressions of love” with friends of the same gender were seen as a norm – even idealized – in the 19th century.
“These relationships offered ample opportunity for those who would have wanted to act on it physically, even if most did not,” says Thomas Foster, associate professor and head of the history department at DePaul University in Chicago.
Today’s “code of male gendered behavior,” he says, often rejects these kinds of expressions between men.
We joke about the “bro-mance” – a term used to describe close friendships between straight men. But in some sense, the humor stems from the insinuation that those relationships could be romantic, though everyone assumes they aren’t.
Call those friends “gay,” a word that’s still commonly used as an insult, and that’s quite another thing. Consider the furor over Rutgers University men’s basketball coach Mike Rice, who was recently fired for mistreating his players and mocking them with gay slurs.
If two women dance together at a club or walk arm-in-arm down the street, people are usually less likely to question it – though some wonder if that has more to do with a lack of awareness than acceptance.
“Lesbians are so invisible in our society. And so I think the hatred is more invisible,” says Laura Grimes, a licensed clinical social worker in Chicago whose counseling practice caters to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender clients.
Grimes says she also frequently hears from lesbians who are harassed for “looking like dykes,” meaning that people are less accepting if they look more masculine.
Still, Ian O’Brien, a gay man in Washington, D.C., sees more room for women “to transcend what femininity looks like, or at least negotiate that space a little bit more.”
O’Brien, who’s 23, recently wrote an opinion piece tied to the Boy Scout debate and his own experience in the Scouts when he was growing up in the San Diego area.
“To put it simply: Being a boy is supposed to look one way, and you get punished when it doesn’t,” O’Brien wrote in the piece, which appeared in The Advocate, a national magazine for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Joey Carrillo, a gay student at Elmhurst College in suburban Chicago, remembers trying to be as masculine as possible in high school. He hid the fact that he was gay, particularly around other athletes. As a wrestler, he says he never wanted to hear someone say, “Oh, THAT’S why he wrestles.”
In fact, though more gay and lesbian athletes are coming out in college, gay male professional athletes in major sports have waited to do so until they have left their sport, one of the more recent being Robbie Rogers, an American soccer player who played professionally in England. There have been reports that gay male athletes who are currently playing may be on the verge of going public.
But women have already done so with little backlash.
U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, for instance, came out right before she played in last year’s Olympics. WNBA star Seimone Augustus and the league’s No. 1 draft pick, Brittney Griner, are some of the more recent female athletes to follow suit.
Frustrated at being left out of an immigration overhaul, gay rights groups are pushing to adjust a bipartisan Senate bill to include gay couples. But Democrats are treading carefully, wary of adding another divisive issue that could lose Republican support and jeopardize the entire bill.
Both parties want the bill to succeed. Merely getting to agreement on the basic framework for the immigration overhaul, which would create a long and costly path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally, was no small feat for senators. And getting it through a divided Congress is still far from a done deal.
Even so, gay rights groups, their lobbyists and grass-roots supporters are insisting the deal shouldn’t exclude bi-national, same-sex couples – about 28,500 of them, according to a 2011 study from the Williams Institute at UCLA Law. They’re ramping up a campaign to change the bill to allow gay Americans to sponsor their partners for green cards, the same way straight Americans can. Supporters trekked to the Capitol to make their case at senators’ offices on Wednesday.
“Opponents will be proposing amendments that, if passed, could collapse this very fragile coalition that we’ve been able to achieve,” Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said last week at the unveiling of the bill. He said the eight senators from both parties who crafted the legislation are committed to voting against changes that could kill it.
For Democrats, it’s a precarious position to be in. Democratic senators overwhelmingly support gay marriage – all but three are now on the record voicing their support – and two dozen of them this year backed a separate bill called the Uniting American Families Act to let gays sponsor their partners independent of a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
But the party’s senators are still bruised from an agonizing defeat on gun control this month. And few seem eager to inject divisive issues that might sink their best prospects for a major legislative victory this year and a potential keystone of President Barack Obama’s legacy.
“Any amendment which might sink the immigration bill, I would worry about,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in a brief interview, adding that he had yet to decide whether an amendment for gays and lesbians would meet that yardstick.
Support from both Hispanics and gays was critical to Obama’s re-election, and his overwhelming advantage among Hispanics was a major factor prompting Republicans to warm to immigration overhaul almost immediately after. But now, one community’s gain on the immigration front could be to the other’s detriment.
“As you continue to add other issues to the immigration discussion, it’s going to make it more challenging,” said Sen. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican.
Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has committed to offering an amendment to the bill to allow gay citizens to sponsor their partners, said Ty Cobb, an attorney and lobbyist with the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. Another Democratic senator, Al Franken of Minnesota, pledged in a Judiciary hearing on the bill Monday to do “everything we can” to adjust the bill.
But even if the amendment makes it through the Senate, it faces a tougher path if and when the bill moves to the Republican-controlled House. GOP leaders there have been defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, though Obama has said it is unconstitutional. And while Obama supports same-sex marriage, his administration has shown little appetite for forcing the issue while the immigration overhaul’s prospects are still shaky.
“No one will get everything they want from it, including the president. That’s the nature of compromise. But the bill is largely consistent with the principles he has laid out repeatedly,” Obama spokesman Jay Carney said last week. A White House spokesman declined to answer further questions about the issue.
Some Democrats argue privately that with the Supreme Court poised to rule on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits the government from giving federal marriage benefits to gay couples, the issue could soon be moot. Still, even if the high court strikes the law down, it would only bring partial relief; only couples married in the nine states that recognize gay marriages would probably be eligible.
The issue has generated an intense advocacy campaign, with gay rights organizations and Hispanic groups such as the National Council of La Raza squaring off with religious interests such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which sent a letter to Obama telling him including the provision could jeopardize the whole bill.
At the Human Rights Campaign, four of its seven federal lobbyists are engaged in pushing lawmakers to back such an amendment. Immigration Equality, another group supporting the provision, said it was bringing more than 60 families from 24 states to the Capitol on Wednesday to ask lawmakers to offer their support.
And Log Cabin Republicans, a gay conservative group, is making a pro-business pitch with potential GOP supporters, arguing that including gay couples would allow U.S. companies to retain the best talent instead of forcing good workers to leave the U.S. to be with their partners.
Such may be the case for Paul Coyle, a 45-year-old partner in a Chicago law firm, who has spent the past 10 years in a long-distance relationship with his partner in Toronto. At first, the two men would take turns flying back and forth, he said, until immigration officials cracked down, making it harder for his partner to enter the U.S. Now Coyle flies to Canada every other week, wondering each time whether it would be cheaper and more rewarding to pack up his law practice and move to Canada.
“It’s emotionally draining. It’s financially draining, and every time he comes to the U.S., there’s the risk he won’t get let back in,” Coyle said. “But when you’re in love, you just take the risk, because it’s worth it.”
from The Associated Press
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which discriminates against gay scouts, atheists, and families who want to put their sons and daughters in the same scouting program, has seen its membership plummet in the last decade. Many former scouts have left scouting altogether. But a number of families fed up with BSA policies have found Navigators USA—a small organization that “welcomes all people…no matter what gender, race, lifestyle, ability, religious or lack of religious belief” and has seen its chapters (comparable to Boy Scout troops) double in the last year.
“We knew the Boy Scouts excluded gays when we started, but we thought that was one of the old, outdated rules on its way off the books,” says Bryan Freed, whose family switched from the Boy Scouts to a Navigators chapter in Los Altos, California, after the Boy Scouts publicly reaffirmed their ban on gay Scouts and Scoutmasters in July 2012. “We told our 8-year-old son Nathan what we thought of the official BSA rule on excluding gays, and we let him decide.”
The Navigators originated from BSA Troop 103 in East Harlem, which was also the first troop in America that was started in a shelter serving homeless families. After the Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Boy Scouts could bar gay troop leaders in June, 2000, Navigators founder Robin Bossert, who was leading the Harlem troop at the time, said he stayed in the organization for three more years, “while I tried to see if it was going to be possible to change their policy from within.” When he realized this wasn’t going to happen, he pulled out of BSA and Troop 103 became Navigator Chapter 1.
In March, 2012, the Navigators had 19 chapters, but today, there are about 45 chapters across 21 states, according to Tony Porterfield, a chapter leader in Los Altos. Bossert adds that they are growing at a rate of about 2 chapters per month, with each chapter having an average of 8-12 children, so he estimates that there are up to 600 boys and girls enrolled in the program. For the most part, Navigators participate in the same kinds of activities that Boy Scouts do: Camping, organic farming, hiking, tie dying, excursions to museums, and community service. Freed says the only event his son misses from the Boy Scouts is the Pinewood Derby, where scouts build and race model cars (Freed points out that “as a parent doing much of the work on it, I do not miss it.”)
But there is one big difference: The Navigators’ Moral Compass (left), which expresses the group’s philosophy that members shouldn’t be discriminated against over gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation. Bossert says the organization has openly gay chapter leaders, as well as board leaders and co-members.
“We wanted our two sons to take part in scouting [and] we wanted to do that within an organization that reflects our family’s values,” says Porterfield. “Inclusiveness and respect for others is part of the Navigators program and something we discuss directly with our children.”
Porterfield, who was a cub scout as a boy, notes that in the Navigators, LGBT issues are covered in age-appropriate language, with the conversation focusing on the importance of treating everyone with respect. When Freed asked his son which organization he wanted to join, he says he phrased the question like this: “Gay people are men who want to marry men, or women who want to marry women. Most families have one Mommy and one Daddy, but that is not always the case. And the Boy Scouts do not let gay people join their group.”
There are other alternative organizations to the Boy Scouts, both faith-based and secular, but the Navigators are among the biggest. They nonetheless still have a long way to go before catching up with the Boy Scouts numbers: Deron Smith, spokesman for the Boy Scouts, tells Mother Jones that there are about 2.6 million members (there were 2.7 million members in 2012, and 2.8 million in 2011.) Since 1999, membership to the Boy Scouts has declined by about a third. In the last year, the Boy Scouts have also faced dropped funders, angry pop stars, and most recently, a California bill that would make the organization ineligible for tax breaks because of its discriminatory policy against gay members. The organization will vote on whether to overturn its ban on gay members in May, but even if the ban is overturned, individual troops will still be able to discriminate.
“We can’t discuss other organizations,” Deron says, in response to a question about whether participants unhappy with the ban should choose the Navigators over the Boy Scouts. But he adds that BSA aims to “create an environment where people who may disagree on a variety of topics can still work together to achieve life-changing benefits to youth through its program.”
“I’m skeptical that any other organization can replace the century of tradition and refinement that the BSA has enjoyed,” adds Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian mothers, and founder of Scouts for Equality, which is advocating for the Boy Scouts to lift its gay ban. “We’d prefer that the BSA return to its core values of mutual respect and religious freedom, but fully understand that other folks don’t want to wait.”
from Mother Jones
CHICAGO – A Chicago cop demanded, and got, sexual services in jail from a gay man arrested on prostitution charges, the man claims in court.
Charles Norwood sued Chicago and police Officer Nelson Stewart in Federal Court.
Norwood, a gay African American, was arrested five times in 2010 and 2011 on charges of prostitution and soliciting rides on the public way, according to the complaint.
At the police station, “he was placed in a cell in an isolated area of the lockup area. This cell was not located near the other cells in the lock up area that generally contained other men who were incarcerated,” the complaint states.
“Upon information and belief, plaintiff was placed in this isolated cell because he was gay and/or gender non-conforming and the Chicago Police Department had no written policies, procedures or training materials that instructed officers on how to properly identify and detain gay, transgender and/or gender non-conforming individuals who had been arrested.
“While being held at the 11th District, plaintiff first encountered defendant Stewart.
“Defendant Stewart told plaintiff that if he engaged in sexual acts with him and/or performed various sexual acts for defendant Steward to observe, defendant Steward would get plaintiff bonded out and released earlier than expected.
“Plaintiff did not want to engage in any sexual acts with or for defendant Stewart, but he felt powerless, vulnerable and coerced into doing so in order to avoid any retributive acts by defendant Stewart and with the hope of getting released. Plaintiff was sexually abused by defendant Stewart,” the complaint states.
Norwood claims that “during the course of these non-consensual and coercive sexual encounters, plaintiff was forced to expose and touch his genitalia and other body parts for defendant Stewart’s arousal. Defendant Stewart also forced plaintiff to touch Stewart’s exposed penis.
“Plaintiff was not the only gay and/or gender non-conforming individual who was targeted and sexually abused by defendant Stewart. There were other individuals locked up at the 11th District who were subjected to the same and similar forms of gross and egregious misconduct,” he says.
Norwood seeks punitive damages for excessive force, illegal search, and violation of equal protection.
from Courthouse News Service
CALIFORNIA – California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender or atheist members – a move intended to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scouts and troop leaders.
Some cities have withdrawn free rent and other subsidies from the Boy Scouts over the years, but legislation introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would make California the first state to target the Scouts for its anti-gay policy.
The Long Beach Democrat’s bill, SB 323, is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday.
“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,” Lara said. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups.”
The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed the Texas-based organization’s ban on openly gay members last summer then announced in January that it was revisiting the decision.
In February, the group said it would submit a resolution on rescinding the policy to the 1,400 members of Scouting’s National Council in May.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the organization was aware of Lara’s bill and would provide feedback on it to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee before Wednesday’s hearing.
“Beyond that, and our previous statements on membership standards, we don’t have anything to add at this time,” Smith said.
The legislation, also known as the Youth Equality Act, would deny tax-exempt status to nonprofit youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.
As a result, it would require those organizations to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and other sources of income, and to obtain sellers permits and pay sales taxes on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers. Because all tax returns are private in California, supporters do not know how big a tax hit the Boy Scouts would take if the proposal passes.
Churches that sponsor Boy Scouts troops would not lose their underlying tax-exempt status, but an array of nonprofits, ranging from the Young Men’s Christian Association and Pop Warner football to the American Youth Soccer Association and 4-H clubs would have their tax returns and membership policies scrutinized by the state Franchise Tax Board, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.
As a tax measure, the bill requires a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority from both houses of the Legislature and the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown to become law.
“We would consider all legal options, including litigation, should SB 323 be enacted, but right now we are focusing on the legislative front,” Pacific Justice Institute staff attorney Matthew McReynolds said. “We’re not convinced that moderates will support, or the governor will sign, a tax increase that targets organizations based on ideology. ”
The institute and other legal aid groups that represent religious conservatives have cautioned lawmakers that the measure conflicts with a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of private groups such as the Boy Scouts to exclude gays and lesbians from serving as adult leaders.
“SB 323′s primary purpose is to penalize BSA based on its constitutionally protected membership policy and the values that underlie it,” lawyers for the Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom wrote in a letter to lawmakers last week. “This type of targeted punishment of a group based on how it exercises its associational and free speech rights violates the First Amendment.”
The Legislative Analyst’s Office, however, has assured the Legislature it has authority to decide which organizations qualify for tax breaks.
An analysis of the bill points to a 2006 ruling in which the California Supreme Court said the city of Berkeley could end its half-century-old practice of giving a nautical-themed offshoot of the Boy Scouts free rent at the city marina because of its gay ban.
The California Association of Nonprofits also has expressed concerns about the bill but is not taking an official position opposing it, Public Policy Director Kris Lev-Twombly said.
“In general, we think the place for ruling on discrimination should be in the courts rather than through the tax code,” Lev-Twombly said.
from The Associated Press
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Officials have ordered the removal of a rainbow pedestrian crossing painted on a street in Sydney’s main gay district, setting off fierce debate in a city known for its annual Mardi Gras gay pride event, one of Australia’s main tourist draws.
Controversy over the crossing, painted in February to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the annual gay festival, is pitting those proud of Sydney’s reputation for tolerance, such as gay former tennis star Martina Navratilova, against government officials who say it is a safety hazard.
The colourful stripes on Oxford Street were originally intended to remain for a month after the Mardi Gras in March, but the crossing has become something of a magnet for tourists, prompting calls to maintain it as a celebration of gay pride.
“Sydney will always be a gay-friendly, welcoming and tolerant place,” said Alex Greenwich, a member of New South Wales (NSW) state parliament who leads a petition drive to make the crossing permanent.
“Local businesses have said it’s good for business and tourists have considered it a great attraction. I think removing the crossing does send the wrong message.”
Two rainbow crossings were painted in Los Angeles last June for Pride Month, but were made permanent in October as a way to market the city as a prime gay tourist destination.
But government officials say the Sydney crossing is a danger since people have been lying on the road to take photographs.
“Our position has not changed, nor has our responsibility to protect pedestrians and road users,” said NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay in a statement.
“I am happy to work with (the) council on an alternative and permanent rainbow attraction that is not on a road.”
The Sydney crossing will cost A$30,000 ($31,200) to remove since it was created with a special nonslip paint and the road must be torn up. The removal is set for April 10.
Greenwich said an independent safety audit has confirmed that there have been no traffic incidents or injuries as a result of the rainbow crossing and that increased monitoring of the crossing would be enough to maintain safety.
He has collected 15,000 signatures on a petition calling for keeping the rainbow crossing and gained the support of gay celebrities such as Navratilova and Matthew Mitcham, an Australian Olympic diving champion.
Pedestrians at the crossing were divided. Some lauded it as street art that should be removed and refreshed every year.
Financial services employee Nic Lochner, 22, said officials were ignoring community interests. “The rainbow crossing is a celebration of Sydney’s diversity,” he said. ($1 = 0.9609 Australian dollars)