Jordan Krueger’s score on CEI: Uninformed, Unbalanced, Unfair

Master Chief!

Master Chief!

Jordan Krueger’s “analysis” against the HRC Corporate Equality Index is uninformed and scores the index on what he thinks it’s purpose should be rather than the reality of what it is.

Jordan should start his own Equality index that pursues his own goals.

The most obvious illumnation of his lack of knowledge is

A strange list of qualifications–including meaningless gestures like having an “employee group or diversity council,” whatever that means–is used to score companies on the CEI.

Seriously? He openly states that he doesnt know what an Employee Resource Group or Diversity Council is, but dismisses it as meaningless.

Jordan, there’s a whole world going on out there which you clearly haven’t bothered to get informed about.

Pro Tip: Wikipedia can give you a helpful answer without much effort:

Employee resource groups (also known as ERGs, affinity groups, or business network groups) are groups of employees who join together in their workplace based on shared characteristics or life experiences.[1] ERG’s are generally based on providing support, enhancing career development, and contributing to personal development in the work environment

They do much more than provide superficial social club functions.

[Employee Resource Groups] began as race-based employee forums that were created in response to racial tension in the 1960s. ERGs got their start when Joseph Wilson, the CEO of the Xerox Corporation took action after the violent race riots in Rochester, New York in 1964. He and his black employees formed the first caucus group in order to address the issue of discrimination and to help create a fair corporate environment.

That seems pretty meaningful to me.

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are one of the major sources of positive changes in how a company treats its employees. Corporations typically have a number of ERGs, including ones for Women, People of Color, as well as LGBT.

I can tell you this because I’ve actually been there. I started an LGBT ERG at one company and also served on the board of Microsoft’s ERG, Gay and Lesbian Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) for a few years.

I personally witnessed the group making positive change in numerous ways.

  • We caused the company to increase the health care cap for Transgender employees. The previous cap and rules didn’t cover the essentials for surgery.
  • We influenced the company to add gender identity to the company’s non-discrimination policy.
  • We helped the Xbox live team evolve their criteria for stopping homophobia online as well as reduce mistakenly blocked gay oriented activity.

Others notable efforts that have happened in the groups history are:

  • * Members of the list successfully campaigned for sexual orientation to be added to Microsoft’s anti-discrimination policy in 1989
  • * Successfully lobbied for Microsoft to offer insurance and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners.
  • * Significantly influenced the correction of corporate missteps related to support for Washington State Laws regarding LGBT people

ERG leadership is just like the activists

Leadership Boards of ERGs are as active as grassroots activists. Just like activists attending conferences like Netroots Nation or Creating Change, they go to Out and Equal. Much like the activist conferences, there are sessions on many of the same topics, but from the perspective of how lessons can be context and domain relevant sessions.

In addition to topic-specific sessions, there are training sessions of starting and managing an ERG, best practices for working with management to create change. These skills are definitely used to good effect.

Like any group in a business they have their yearly plans and goals, budgets, and major goals to accomplish.  They are the internal allies for external activists, bloggers and the like.

Based on my experience and meeting other ERG leaders at Out and Equal, GLEAM is not unique in making change.  Many companies have active ERGs making positive change.

ERGs also do some of the ‘fun stuff’ like organizing the company’s Pride Parade contingent, making sure there’s executive participation, getting the float together.  That’s not always easy, but GLEAM has had some really cool stuff.

Xbox Halo Warthog

Xbox Halo Warthog

Furthermore, having now spent some time in the activism workplace, it’s quite clear that you are safer from abuse (bullying, sexual abuse, discrimination, etc) in a corporate environment than as an independent activist.

Veering Off Course

While you’re reading, keep in mind that the only way to get on this list of “best places to work” for LGBT people is to earn a perfect score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

Which, of course, is exactly the point of the CEI. The CEI is very clear in it’s goals:

Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 2015 Corporate Equality Index is the national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

It’s focused on workplace protections, it’s not an overall scoring of any corporate endeavor and how it relates to gay rights

Not only is he veering off course from the CEI’s stated goals, the critiques are unbalanced.

Here are two typical examples of Jordan’s critique

Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb: A pharmaceutical company which was sued for overcharging the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The first question to ask is what was the result of the lawsuit. I couldn’t find it after searching.

This type of litigation seems typical for that industry sector.

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb will pay Arizona $900,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by state Attorney General Terry Goddard over inflated prescription drug prices, as reported in the Phoenix Business Journal on Wednesday.
  • In 2005, Goddard sued 42 drugmakers over allegations that they inflated drug prices and were part of deceptive trade practices.
  • Eleven drug companies settled with the state for $930,000 in June over the same lawsuit.
  • In 2006 GlaxoSmithKline settled with Arizona for $140,000, the news source stated.

So yeah, there are certainly problems like this and others with big pharma. There’s no denying it. But if you want to be a biomedical engineer or in that field, this is what you’re going to get.

It also paid out over $150 million in fines when it was discovered the company fraudulently inflated its sales and earnings in order to create the false appearance that it had met Wall Street analysts’ earnings estimates.

Not to say this is a good thing, but fudging the numbers to meet expectations is not a particularly rare. Sometimes the rules get broken and in this case at least, they paid the fine.  Again, what does this have to do with workplace protections?

Another example: HP

HP: The computer company run by gay-hating Meg Whitman, who–while running for governor–said she would defend Proposition 8, but has since flip-flopped to support marriage equality. Still a Republican, though!

So, she evolved, isn’t that what we want? Or are we going to forever condemn people for positions they once held.

How many LGBT activist held transphobic views at some point in the past. Are they permanently damaged goods?

Hp is a company that has produced a great number of technical innovations that have improved people’s lives.  Products aside, it has many progressive bonafides in corporate responsibility.

  • HP took the top spot on Corporate Responsibility Magazine ’​s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2010.[90] The list is cited by PR Week as one of America’s most important business rankings. HP beat out other Russell 1000 Index companies because of its leadership in seven categories including environment, climate changes and corporate philanthropy. In 2009, HP was ranked fifth.[91]
  • HP is listed in Greenpeace’s Guide to Greener Electronics that ranks electronics manufacturers according to their policies on sustainability, energy and climate and green products. In November 2011, HP secured the 1st place (out of 15) in this ranking (climbing up 3 places) with an increased score of 5.9 (up from 5.5). It scored most points on the new Sustainable Operations criteria, having the best program for measuring and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from its suppliers and scoring maximum points for its thorough paper procurement policy.

Purist Views

The next group of companies analyzed by Jordan really goes way off course. It’s basically more of an anti-corporate critique than anything having to do with LGBT.

Any large company is going to have tentacles across the planet in different cultures. The company itself is its own society. In anything that large, there’s going to be misbehavior. Usually that misbehavior gets corrected.

It would seem that Jordan expects a company to be perfect in every regard that simply isn’t a practical measuring stick. With such purist views, it’s hard to imagine many companies meeting Jordan’s bar.

The CEI is not without criticism

The HRC CEI as evolved over time to calibrate what it scores related to the well-being of the LGBT community.  There have been times when the ERGs have pushed HRC to improve the CEI so they have leverage to push management to improve workplace benefits.

Look Elsewhere

Jordan’s analysis is uninformed about critical assets that drive better workplace protections. His criticisms of LGBT related failures is unbalanced as well as focused on past mistakes rather than subsequent fixes and improvement. The latter is what our mission is. Finally, he’s judging the CEI based on criteria well outside its stated goals.

Jordan should go create his own ‘Corporate Evil Index’ instead of complaining because the CEI’s goals aren’t what he thinks they should be.

Anyone looking for a balanced analysis of the CEI should look elsewhere.


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Why does a state with marriage equality still press FELONY charges for sodomy?

If you haven’t heard, Terry Bean, co-founder of HRC and democratic party mucky-muck, has been arrested.

Note the headlines:

From Willamette Week:

Terry Bean Arrested on Charges of Sex Abuse of a Minor

Bean will be charged with two counts of sodomy in the third degree, a felony, and sex abuse in the third degree, a misdemeanor

Oregon recently legalized same sex marriage.  Sodomy is probably the most likely way to consummate that marriage.  Why is Oregon still pressing charges for it?

Why is it a FELONY?

Terry Bean is being charged with both sodomy as well as sexual abuse with a minor.  I think most people can see the harm that can come from sexual abuse with a minor and any sane analysis would correctly attribute that kind of offense as the more serious of the two.

Yet despite this, the sodomy charges are FELONIES while the sexual abuse with a minor are only MISDEMEANORS.  What harm does sodomy cause?

Our legal system and criminal code still has work to do to catch up with the public’s approval of same sex relationships.

This is just an example of how discrimination is still embedded in the system.

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Interview: Digital Radio Politics: Tech cultural and engineering challenges in campaigns

Last week, after Campaign Tech West, I joined Karen Jagoda, President of the E-Voting institute and host of Digital Politics Radio (Podcast) for a interview. If you tend to be more oral and aural, this is better than a blog post :)

The interview has two ~10min segments. Check them out here:
Or go directly to the audio file @ Digital Politics Radio site


We discussed many of the cultural and engineering challenges campaigns and non-profits face when applying technical assets and resources to their goals. In the interview, you’ll hear me run my mouth about:

  • What does “Tech” mean? What’s the difference between Digital and Tech?
  • What is the current tech, or engineering talent landscape look like?
  • As technical resources and assets have rapidly shifted from ancillary to strategic, what challenges exist within campaigns and their internal departments that limit us and what an approach to overcoming them can look like.
  • What engineering and integration problems are limiting us and what is an approach to overcoming them?
  • What’s the history and cause of the formation of the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI)?
  •  The cleanliness state of multiple siloed datasets in organizations.
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More necessary theater from Obama on Gay Marriage

More necessary theater to get where we need to go.

I just came back from the SOTU speech after the 2014 mid terms in the time machine:

“During my childhood and upbringing I had accepted the common societal social morals including the view that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. However, over the past few years I have been exposed to the lives of a great many people. As President, I have met more people over a wider spectrum of the population and as a result gained a more informed and deeper understanding of the perspective of those people.

Over the last few years, I have learned a great deal about the lives of Gay and Lesbian Americans. From meeting these wonderful people and getting to know their families, children and friends, I have seen for myself the true love and deep commitment that gay and lesbian couples share in their relationships. I have found that the children in these families share the ups and downs, pleasures and disappointments, and loving care from their parents and are blessed to have such great families.

I am grateful to these Americans for sharing this knowledge with me which has taught me many lessons. The fundamental truth that cannot be denied is that these couples and families deserve the same recognition and those of a man and a woman. Through the heartfelt conversations I have had with new friends, staffers, my own family, and especially my wife Michelle, who has helped me see my own sense of compassion and the parallels to previous civil rights issues, I have evolved my view of this issue to a higher level.

Based on these experiences, I can no longer view marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman. Gay and Lesbian couples and families deserve the same recognition, rights, and benefits as any other. I support the recognition of same sex couples across the nation and the repeal of DOMA.

I implore our elected representatives to look deep inside themselves and explore the issue as I have, and to move forward to take the appropriate steps to see that these relationships are recognized equally, to those of a man and a woman.

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Beyond Bullying: Suicide of a Friend

Some of you are probably wondering why I ended my life, some of you are probably angry at me, and some of you probably don’t care. I think it’s pretentious to write a suicide note, but it seems to be the thing to do.

— Ryan, ; September 2005

NOTE: ; This has been cross posted at Pam’s House Blend. ; There are comments there which you may find interesting.


I first met Ryan in 2001. We went on a few dates and then settled into a friendship. As fellow geeks, we had many common interests. We’d hang out, showing off our newest gadgets (remember the Nokia N-Gage?), debating the religious arguments like vi vs. Emacs, and tabs vs. spaces and watching Star Trek over Ezell’s Fried Chicken. We saw each other every so often, and we always had fun together. Ryan was sweet, smart, handsome, well read. Professionally, he was successful, having worked at prominent technology companies. ; He owned his own condo, had a very Seattle eco-friendly car. He was well liked by a lot of people.


In September 2005, I was driving home from work, just about ; to get onto the 520 bridge to Seattle, when my phone rang. I answered it without looking. ; A woman’s voice asked is this Josh Cohen? Yes, I replied. Not recognizing the number I figured she was some telemarketer, a call I should have just ignored.

This is Ryan’s mother. Ryan took his life last night…

It hit me like a ton of bricks. I honestly couldn’t tell you the exact words she said after that, but it seemed like she was reading from a script. Roughly, she said that Ryan had put my name on a list of people to call to let them know and to give information about services, as well as a site and letter he had left to be published on the internet. Always the geek.

Can you imagine being a parent who must go through a list of people, a list I suspect was not short, and call each one to tell them this grim news about your child? It had to be unbearable. ;

I hung up the phone. I couldn’t believe it. Ryan? Really? WTF?

Continue reading

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Video From the Cutting Room Floor: "Dan Savage: Protect Your Sex Life: Decline2sign71"

Here’s a little humor to get the new year started…

In 2009, Washington State voters faced Referendum 71, an attempt to repeal the state’s Domestic Partnership Equality law.  The attempt ultimately failed as the campaign, under the brilliant stewardship of campaign manager Josh Friedes with his assistant, Anne, won the day.   In Washington State, wherever the state law says “spouse”, “domestic partner” is legally equivalent.

In order to get Referendum 71’s on the ballot, its supporters needed to gather the required number of signatures on petitions.  To combat this, a “decline to sign” campaign was in place.  Regrettably, the referendum did qualify for the ballot, though the repeal attempt ultimately failed.   One of the challenges in this campaign was the fact that prior to being on the ballot, our position was in the negative “decline to sign” petitions while once on the ballot our position was in the affirmative “Approve 71.”

Our goal was to have people decline to sign the petitions so that Ref71 would not make the ballot.  Had it not made the ballot, the Domestic Partnership rights would have remained in effect without the need for a popular vote.

This ad was recently found on the cutting room floor.  Unfortunately Dan Savage couldn’t get the message right.  Despite being off-message, one must wonder if the decline2sign71 campaign might have been successful had it been released. Smile

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Dear President Obama: THANK YOU! Guys in the Coffee Shop: Get Off Your Asses

… and thank you to the activists, legislators and lobbyists who took action to make this happen. 

I recently moved to Manhattan in the Chelsea neighborhood.  Tonight I went out to a coffee shop to do some work.  The repeat of DADT has lifted my spirits in the struggle.  However,  I can’t help but overhear the conversation going on at the next table and it’s making my blood boil.  Two gay guys are discussing why they don’t go to rallies or other activist events.  They are explaining to each other why they don’t. 

“I don’t go because I just don’t run into discrimination or other problems.  I don’t get kicked out of places or called names…”

The two of them went on about it and how some of their friends go, but they don’t.  I couldn’t stand it. 

“You don’t run into it because you live in Chelsea, a gay Mecca situated in a very gay friendly metro area!” I thought to myself.

“I’ve even been to Georgetown DC, and I don’t even run into trouble there…”

“Georgetown DC?  That’s your example of a conservative place?  Try going to Provo UT and holding a guy’s hand.  See what kind of looks you get there, dickhead.”  I rambled to myself.

I just could. not. stand. it. 

I stood up and went over to their table.  I told this guy that the reason he doesn’t run into these issues is because he lives in a gay mecca, but more importantly because others who came before you stood up and marched so your life could be better. You need to start doing the same! 

This so infuriates me how many gay people aren’t taking action to help the cause.  They aren’t working hard to make sure that the future generation of gay folk will have it better than we do.  It’s like parents and the refrain of “Making a better world for our children”

Why aren’t we paying them back by doing so?

Well, I’ll tell you someone who is.  It’s that “Do Nothing Obama.”  The repeal of DADT was not singlehandedly won by him.  There were other legislators and many many tireless activists who helped make this happen.

However, President Obama stood up, addressed the country and the government and put a stake in the ground, pushing them to repeal DADT.  It happened.  It happened sooner than I thought it would.  This is HUGE.

There are many people with power, money and influence who did NOT want to see this happen.  Obama stood up to them.  He stood up to those who say:

“[The House of Representatives approval of a “hate crimes” provision within the defense authorization bill] also sets us on a slippery slope toward serious infringements of the freedom of speech and freedom of religion. ‘Hate crime’ legislation will lay the legal foundation and framework for investigating, prosecuting and persecuting pastors, business owners, and anyone else whose actions reflect their faith.”
~Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council

• “[F]reedoms are being lost.”
~Pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California

• “As has proved to be true in both Europe and Canada, this Orwellian piece of legislation is the direct precursor to freedom killing and speech chilling ‘hate speech’ laws.

“It represents a thinly veiled effort to ultimately silence – under penalty of law – morally, medically and biblically based opposition to the homosexual lifestyle.”
~Matt Barber of the Liberty Counsel

• “This new federal law promotes two Orwellian concepts. It creates a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior. And it creates ‘thought crimes’ by criminalizing certain ideas, beliefs, and opinions, and the involvement of such ideas, beliefs, and opinions in a crime will make it deserving of federal prosecution.  

“Consequently, government officials are claiming the power to decide which thoughts are criminal under federal law and which are not.”
~Robert Muise, Senior Trial Counsel for the Thomas More Law Center

• “There are no ‘love crimes’ when it comes to violence. The reality is that so-called ‘hate crime’ laws are designed to punish people for what they think, feel, or believe.

“Violent crimes should be punished regardless of the characteristics of the victim. ‘Hate crime’ laws are an effort to enforce the orthodoxy of political correctness and to curtail freedom of speech.”
~Glen Lavy, Senior Counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund

• “But ‘hate crime’ laws are unnecessary. Criminal acts are already illegal. What’s more, ‘hate crime’ laws violate the constitutional right to equal protection, create the un-American offense of “thought crime,” and abridge the freedoms of speech, religion and association.”
~Robert Knight and Lindsey Douthit for the Concerned Women For America

There are lots of people who agree with these crazy statements.  Obama has made himself a target of these people.  I sure hope we have his back when he runs for reelection.

Furthermore, as far as the implementation of DADT Repeal, let’s not jump all over the administration for working out training and readiness schedules.  There are plenty of serving men and women who agree with Col. Bill Spencer and his wacky worries about repeal. 

Let’s not forget that there are more than a handful of homophobes running around with guns, grenades and other weapons.  I want to make sure that those people are identified, educated, or weeded out.  I want to make sure that our own people are educated on how to deal with homophobia in a way that does not escalate into a gunfight.  I don’t want to see LGBT men and women coming home in body bags due to homophobic fragging incidents.

There is a difference between “serving among gay people” as they have been and serving around out and proud gay people who will not be shy about who they are (and good for them!).  If there wasn’t then why was repeal so important?

Everyone needs to continue to do their part on our various battles.  This shit doesn’t happen by itself.  It happens because people like activists, legislators and presidents stand up and lead; they take action not just for themselves but for others.

Obama has kept his word.  Surely he has earned some trust on this issue, no?  I suggest we have some patience and let him continue to lead rather than jumping all over him because the law doesn’t go into effect when he signs the law.

Read up on the desegregation timeline and the fiction of “stroke of a pen”…

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NCIS: “As straight as they come” ummm. no.

I’m a huge fan of NCIS, which is a lot like CSI, but with the twist that the law enforcement organization is the Naval Criminal Investigation Service rather than civilian as in CSI.

You get all the gory autopsies, deep forensics, a light touch of military and “cutesy” interplay between the characters.

In this episode, the team is, as usual, investigating the death of a Naval officer.  The investigation uncovers the fact that the dead guy was impersonating another Naval officer who was impersonating him.  (They switched identities).  Siva David (pronounced [ˈziva daˈvid]), an Isreali Mossad agent on temporary assignment to NCIS, is talking to the (non-dead-guy who is a young menial supply clerk) to figure out why they were doing this.  Siva is true to her history in form, a gruff, tough girl, mangling American slang, cultural references, and colloquialisms

What caught my attention was a funny portrayal of the “Obviously gay guy in denial” situation.  The best part of it is Siva’s knowing looks and subdued giggles. 

Since I’ve been thinking so much about DADT lately, this tickled my funny bone.  It also made me wonder if this is in good humor or perhaps offensive.


What do you think?

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DADT Repeal vs Desegregation Timeline

With the new proposed amendment regarding DADT Repeal, many folks are unhappy because it is Not Enough, Not Soon Enough.  However, it’s worth comparing the path forward, since Obama put the country on a course toward repeal, to the timeline for desegregation in the military.  From the first initial forward step in September 1945, it took over 8 years.  From the executive order signed by Truman, it was 5 years until desegregation was actually finished.  I say “finished” meaning 95% of all African Americans serving in integrated units.

The lesson I got from this is that the military will manage itself.  Implementing changes to it’s system takes time, whether the constraints are physical ones or “soft” people issues.  Perhaps by letting the military study group determine the plan for adopting repeal first, they will be more eager to follow “their own” plan.  By contrast, with segregation, Truman acted first with a specific executive order, demanded implementation plans from the military and then fought with them over the details.  Obama and others will still have to sign off, but letting the military take ownership is smart management.

While I have listed selected milestones in the process below, there’s much more in the full timeline.

September 1945: Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson appoints a board of three general officers to investigate the Army’s policy with respect to African-Americans and to prepare a new policy that would provide for the efficient use of African-Americans in the Army. This board is called the Gillem Board, after its chairman, General Alvan C. Gillem, Jr.

January 1948: President Truman decides to end segregation in the armed forces and the civil service through administrative action (executive order) rather than through legislation

July 26, 1948: President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." The order also establishes the President’s Committee on Equality of Treatment and opportunity in the Armed Services.

July 6, 1950: President Truman informs the Fahy Committee that, against the wishes of most of its members, it is being discontinued. "The necessary programs [to integrate the armed forces] having been adopted," Truman wrote the committee, "I feel that the Armed Services should now have an opportunity to work out in detail the procedures which will complete the steps so carefully initiated by the Committee."

October 1953: The Army announces that 95% of African-American soldiers are serving in integrated units..

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Family Guy #fail on Transgender episode

Check out the recent Family Guy episode "Quagmire’s Dad". You can watch the episode here:

In it, Quagmire’s dad, who’s a decorated war hero, get’s a sex change.

image image

I was expecting the usual funny episode:  a bunch of funny moments that push the limit, followed by an ending which teaches the right lesson.  The setup of Quagmire’s dad, of all people was great.   I watched this episode and was surprised.  I’m a fan of family guy.  I am usually pretty flexible in appreciating their humor even when some of the jokes (if taken by themselves) are homophobic, racist or otherwise discriminatory.  Often they are funny representations of how people react in the real world to these situations.  However, what was different about this episode is that it was missing the usual part where they come around on the issue and show those responses to be unenlightened.  Instead the episode ends on a negative note, with Brian frantically washing himself in the shower to "wipe off" his experience of having sex with the transgendered person (Quagmire’s dad is now Ida).  The closing scene is him getting his ass kicked by Quagmire. 

Brian is usually the character most likely to see through phobia and see people and accept them for who they are.  That he didn’t makes me wonder where the heads of the creators of Family Guy.  I had to rewind and re-watch the end to check that there was no finale that I missed or at least a "to be continued".

The Other Side of the Rainbow writes:

I am making a complaint and setting up a facebook page to boycott Family Guy. The series used to be ok but over the last year or so has been getting more and more intolerant of all marginalized people.

The creators of Family Guy should be called on the carpet to be address this.  The boycott is our natural response to these kinds of offenses.  However, I hope that we can add some demands that can turn this into a positive experience.  Perhaps have the petition demand that the creators do something that helps the community.  Pulling the episode is one option.  Making a follow up episode where Brian comes around is another.  At the least, they should publicly help educate people in transgender issues, assuming they are teachable. 

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