GSBA Vision & Mission

MISSION: To combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT Community and those who support equality for all.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rachael Recommends - February Finds

by Rachael Brister, GSBA Vice President, Tourism & Marketing

Scouring the digital marketing blogosphere….so you don’t have to.

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and newsfeeds from experts in various aspects of the digital marketing field.  This is my roundup of articles, tips, how-to’s and best practices for social media, apps, marketing, pr and some technology thrown in for good measure. If there is a particular subject or social media platform you want to learn more about, please let me knowCheck out my comments before the links. Now onto this month’s roundup…short, just like the month, but no less important.

Hashtags seem to be firmly rooted in our digital vocabulary, but I have noticed many still ask about them or don’t fully understand their usage. This article does a great job at demystifying hashtags and how they should be used on different social media platforms:

Short Form Video
Video is a versatile, easy and fun way to market your product, promote your brand or show your audience how to do something. And now it is even easier to integrate short videos into many social media platforms. You probably have noticed the growing number of videos that show up in your facebook newsfeed. But Instagram and Twitter also make it very easy to share video via their platforms. The article below has some great ideas on how to use short form video and includes 10 handy tools to create and edit those videos.

General Social Media
This article is a great refresher course for those who have been doing the “social media thing” for a while and also answers some newbie questions.

Hearing the Concerns of Small Business

Senator Patty Murray's staff recently visited three GSBA small businesses to hear about their successes and concerns. Richard de Sam Lazaro, Senator Murray's Seattle Metropolitan Director, and Scott Cheney, Policy Director of Workforce & Economic Development in the Senate's HELP Committee, reached out to GSBA to make the connection.

During the day they visited Repair Revolution in SoDo, SugarPill on Capitol Hill, and Hilliard's Beer in Ballard to hear about the diverse situations faced by each of these businesses.

Karyn Schwartz of SugarPill talked about the big changes occuring in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the particular impact on small independent businesses which are too often being squeezed out by rent increases, loss of small retail and commercial space, and the everyday disruptions of rampant construction in every direction. She asked that small businesses like SugarPill receive an even playing field - that elected officials pay just as much attention to the majority of establishments that dominate our city's streetscape as they do to a small number of very large corporations and special interests. All levels of government should be actively supporting  "We shouldn't have to be bigger, places that are human sized should be celebrated."

At Hilliard's Beer, Ryan Hilliard and Adam Merkl talked about a very different set of issues - the West Coast port slowdown over a labor dispute. Hilliard's has begun distribution in Sweden and their shipments have been delayed.

GSBA is regularly contacted by our elected representatives asking to meet with some of our members and hear their concerns. If you would ever be interested in connecting with local, state and national policymakers, contact Matt Landers, our Public Policy & Communications Manager.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Freeze the Fertility Clock

By Jesse C Warner
The belief that you will someday have a baby and become a parent is a common dream shared by a lot of people. The question for most is not usually if they will have a child but rather when it will happen. This can happen naturally for many, but for others, personal circumstances or medical conditions can become barriers to ever achieving parenthood. Anyone who is interested in continuing their education, wanting to travel, maybe still looking for their life partner, military deployment or cancer diagnosis are now able to freeze their fertility clock and start a family when they are ready. By making the choice to freeze eggs or sperm today, a person can lock in their fertility potential for future use when the circumstances and timing are right for them.
For men this is a great option if they are in the military, wanting to travel, continuing education or have been diagnosed with cancer and are going to have chemotherapy treatment. The steps are simple. It includes a discussion with their physician and a referral to a fertility clinic that is able to cryopreserve sperm. It will be stored in a cryopreservation bank for as long as requested. Some insurances companies have included this as a covered service and, if not, the process is still affordable.

A woman’s fertility is largely dependent on the quality of her eggs. As a woman ages her fertility potential or egg quality decreases as does the chances of conception. Additionally, some medical conditions such as premature menopause accelerate the aging of eggs while other conditions, cancer or lupus for example require treatments that often have an adverse effect on fertility. Whatever the cause, diminished egg quality significantly impacts one's ability to conceive. For women the process requires more involvement but can be completed in a few weeks. Whether a women wants to freeze her eggs for person reasons or before chemotherapy treatment begins she would need an appointment with a fertility treatment center. At that appointment the process of how eggs are retrieved is explained from start to finish.
Jesse C Warner is the Clinic & Egg Donor Coordinator and Marketing Director at Overlake Reproductive Heath

You Don’t Bring Me Flowers: Anti-Discrimination and Consumer Protection Laws Upheld for Washington State’s LGBT Community

By Michael R. Scott

On February 18, 2015, in a historically significant ruling, a Benton County Superior Court judge found that Arlene’s Flowers, who refused to provide flowers to Curt Freed and Robert Ingersoll for their wedding, had violated state anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws (State of Washington v Arlene’s Flowers). I had the honor of working with several of my colleagues to represent the plaintiffs in this action, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the ruling and the precedent it sets on behalf of the LGBT community.

We were approached by Sarah Dunne, Legal Director for the ACLU Foundation of Washington, and asked to take on the case pro bono. Although representing a significant investment for the firm (hundreds of hours in donated attorney time), my partners immediately recognized the case’s significance as a civil rights issue, and wholeheartedly approved our involvement.

We prevailed in the ruling because of two key arguments:

  1. Violation of the State Civil Rights Act: The Washington State Civil Rights Act, known as the Washington Law Against Discrimination, prohibits discrimination because of sexual orientation.  RCW 49.60.030.  The right to be free from discrimination includes the right to “full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement. . . .”  Id.  The statute defines “any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement” to include any place “for the sale of goods, merchandise [or] services. . . .”  Id.  This definition clearly includes businesses such as Arlene’s Flowers, and prohibits Arlene’s Flowers and other similar businesses from refusing to sell goods, merchandise, and services to any person because of their sexual orientation.
  2. Religious Beliefs No Defense: Arlene’s Flowers refused to provide flowers to our clients for their wedding citing religious beliefs.  While they have the right of religious freedom, we live in a diverse country, and religious beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, may not be used to justify discrimination in the public spheres of commerce and governance.  Instances of institutions and individuals claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion are not new.  Religious beliefs have been invoked to justify denying women the right to vote; to prohibit men and women of different races from getting married; and to support segregation in schools, businesses, and other public places.  Just as courts have held that those forms of discrimination are not permitted, even on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs, so is discrimination based on sexual orientation unlawful.

In its ruling the court said, “Defendants’ refusal to ‘do the flowers’ for Ingersoll and Freed’s wedding based on her religious opposition to same sex marriage is, as a matter of law, a refusal based on Ingersoll and Freed’s sexual orientation in violation of the WLAD.”

Further, the court stated, “No Court has ever held that religiously motivated conduct, expressive or otherwise, trumps state discrimination law in public accommodations.  The Defendants have provided no legal authority why it should.”

As thrilled as we are by this ruling, we believe Arlene’s Flowers will appeal it, potentially all the way to the Washington Supreme Court. My colleagues and I, with full support of the firm, are committed to continuing the fight all the way on a pro bono basis. We are confident that the ruling will be upheld, and will keep GSBA members updated on new developments.

Mike Scott is a GSBA member and Chair of the Litigation Group at Seattle’s Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson P.S. His practice focuses on litigation involving a wide variety of commercial disputes in state and federal trial and appellate courts, and in arbitration and mediation forums.  

Creating Change: Ruben

GSBA Scholars Attend Creating Change
For 25 years, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has invested in LGBTQ and allied students through financial scholarships. We know that our scholars are the future leaders of our community. In order to create a strong, well-prepared and skilled workforce, we understand our students need support beyond tuition.

This year we are excited to share that GSBA was able to sponsor two students to attend the 27th National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Denver. Along with our Scholarship Manager Jessica Wootten, current scholars Angela Tang and Ruben Zecena attended the weeklong conference earlier this month. In their own way, Angela and Ruben each share their experiences at Creating Change. Click here to read Angela's reflections.

From Ruben Zecena
Attending Creating Change was refreshing for my activism, as well as being able to go to a fabulous drag queen show! My first impression of the conference was walking into the main lobby and finding an altar for Jesse Hernandez. She was a queer Latina who was brutally shot a few days prior to the conference. Many workshops began with a minute of silence for Jesse, and I was glad to be in a space that valued queer lives of color. Angela and I were also able to exchange ideas on events that we had taken part of. Both of us were amazed at the amount of queer people of color at the conference. I went to some workshops that were mainly in Spanish, which I had never experienced in activist settings. 

One of my favorite workshops was one created by Make the Road New York. This workshop gave information about the organization’s mission and the communities that they work for. Not only were the organization’s leaders present at the workshop, but also allowed some of their members to speak at the workshop. These speakers were trans Latina immigrants who spoke about their living conditions in New York. They spoke about employment discrimination as well as being harassed by the police. A piece of information that I was shocked by is that police in New York who find trans women carrying condoms use that as a reason to detain these women on charges of prostitution. I also learned about undocumented Latinas who are then taken to detention centers with the danger of being deported to countries where their lives are at danger. This workshop had speakers that had also participated in the protest that arose at creating change. I appreciated the radical conversations that arose throughout the conference and am grateful to have attended creating change.

A week after this conference I spoke at a rally put on by an organization that I am part of, Queer People of Color and Allies, and was able to honor the lives of queer and trans people of color. I learned some of the information I talked about at Creating Change and was inspired to continue to be part of queer activist organizations.

Creating Change: Angela

GSBA Scholars Attend Creating Change
For 25 years, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has invested in LGBTQ and allied students through financial scholarships. We know that our scholars are the future leaders of our community. In order to create a strong, well-prepared and skilled workforce, we understand our students need support beyond tuition.

This year we are excited to share that GSBA was able to sponsor two students to attend the 27th National Conference on LGBT Equality:Creating Change in Denver. Along with our Scholarship Manager Jessica Wootten, current scholars Angela Tang and Ruben Zecena attended the weeklong conference earlier this month. In their own way, Angela and Ruben each share their experiences at Creating Change. Click here to read Ruben's reflections.

From Angela Tang

My name is Angela Tang. I’m a student at Whitman College and have been a GSBA Scholar for the past two years. Through this, I got the opportunity to attend the national LGBTQ Task Force, Creating Change Conference 2015. The conference was hosted in Denver Colorado with beautiful and consistent 70F weather which I enjoyed from Friday 2/6 to Sunday 2/8.

Each day was composed of four sets of 1.5hour workshops with a lunch break and plenary session in between, in addition to a caucus at the end of the day. I attended 12 different events and I will share with you my experience from three.

One of the first workshops I attended was titled “Art of the Schmooze,” hosted by networking expert Robbie Samuels. This workshop was designed to teach participants how to make the most of their time at Creating Change. As someone who had only been to one previous conference, I was eager to learn about how I could get the most out of Creating Change so that I could apply the knowledge and connections gained, back to Seattle and Whitman College. Robbie Samuels shared an abundance of information that ranged from an eight-step game plan all the way to the smallest details such as which is the best position to stand in for optimal accessibility and how to get out of a(n awkward) conversation. For example, one of the best networking opportunities is not only to stay after an event to greet and meet the speakers, but also to make conversation with those who also are in line to meet the speaker. The implication is that those in line may share common interest with you and are also eager to make the most of their experience. I was able to use these skills throughout the rest of the conference, and will continue to use my cultivated skills through College and beyond.

At The Table Making Changes: LGBTQ Leadership,” featured a panel of four elected officials. Which included Mayor of Somerset, Maryland Jeffrey Slavin; former Colorado Speaker of House Mark Ferrandino; and was moderated by Victory Fund Fund Institute Speaker Jaan Williams. With a panel of four successful LGBTQ elected officials, I was able to gain valuable insight to what the process of what being an LGBTQ official meant. A common consensus among the officials was that they chose not to sponsor any case related to LGBTQ issues during their first few years to avoid being known as the LGBTQ official. Curious to the reasoning, I posed the question of “Why did ya’ll choose to not sponsor LGBTQ cases during their first few years when those were issues ya’ll cared about, and as a LGBTQ elected official would actually have power to create the change for?” The answer to this was unanimous. If you were elected, you wouldn’t be elected only based on your LGBTQ identity likewise, there wouldn’t be enough pull to lose solely based upon being LGBTQ. Therefore, there would be a lot more other things that you would care about. By sponsoring issues not relating to LGBTQ issues at first, you gain power through establishing allies in supporting other’s endeavors and avoid marginalizing certain people who could help you win LGBTQ cases. Very cool!

One of my goals for this conference was to establish my network of Queer Asian Pacific Islanders. I attended “Mapping Power: LGTQ AAPI Organizing for Change,” as well as the Asian/South Asian/Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Caucus. Through these sessions, I was able to make meaningful connections with other Queer AAPI folks, who were undergoing similar issues as I was in regards to assimilation, internalized racism, difficulty connecting with the LGBTQ community while simultaneously being ostracized from the API community for being LGBTQ. It felt very validating to be in that space where we explored a brief history of Queer API Americans and shared our struggles. Additionally, we spoke about API involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement, something I have been questioning for a while now.

In addition to these great sessions, I enjoyed some incredible food, great company by Jessica Wootten and Ruben Zecena, the Drag Show on Friday night, and the 50+ Allies dance on Saturday.

I’d like to thank the GBSA for continually supporting my endeavors and needs. Their financial support, emotional support, and professional development opportunities continue to enrich my life. I will take from this conference an understanding that creating change for the LGBTQ community in particular, takes a lot of consideration of intersectional identities, and a lot of collaboration. Additionally, I learned that no one who is working on creating change is doing so alone.

Lastly, thanks to Jessica Wootten for coordinating the logistics of this excursion exquisitely and for being there always for support.

All my best,

Angela Tang