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I’m a Texan and a Republican, and That Is Exactly Why I’m Urging the Supreme Court to Protect LGBTQ Americans | Opinion

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month on three employment discrimination cases—cases in which the plaintiffs were fired not because of job performance but simply for being gay or transgender. As a lifelong Republican, I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to work and the freedom to go about their daily lives…

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I’m a Texan and a Republican, and That Is Exactly Why I’m Urging the Supreme Court to Protect LGBTQ Americans | Opinion

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments last month on three employment discrimination cases—cases in which the plaintiffs were fired not because of job performance but simply for being gay or transgender. As a lifelong Republican, I believe all Americans should have the opportunity to work and the freedom to go about their daily lives without the fear of discrimination. Some of the most prominent Republican-appointed federal judges in the country have already recognized that existing federal civil rights laws extend to gay and transgender Americans. The Supreme Court should likewise reaffirm these protections for our LGBTQ neighbors, who deserve the same opportunity as everyone else to be judged on their merits, and to work, earn a living and contribute to their communities.

This may not be a common public position for a Texas Republican politician, but it reflects majority opinion in the state, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, and people of every race and every major faith tradition.

As speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 2009-19, I tried to be a listener and a consensus-builder focused on improving people’s daily lives, rather than on extreme polarization. Over the years, I have watched Texans grow and learn and change on LGBTQ rights. I’ve gone through that learning and growth myself, especially in recent years, when we forged a diverse coalition—from the business community to faith leaders to law enforcement—to push back against wrongheaded efforts to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

When a so-called “bathroom bill” targeting transgender Texans became a top priority for some of our state’s elected officials in 2017, I immediately understood the economic risks such legislation carried. In 2016, a similar bill wreaked havoc in North Carolina. Texas faced similar or greater damage in the form of lost tourism events, corporate investments and talented workers. As the debate in Austin raged on, we lost $66 million in canceled conventions. In my hometown of San Antonio, the NCAA Men’s Final Four was slated to be held in 2018, but the pointless obsession with bathrooms jeopardized this lucrative event. We heard—and still hear—from major employers and small business owners that discriminatory rhetoric and laws are bad for businesses and contradict their values.

Even more than the potential economic fallout, I worried about the human cost of discrimination. During this fight, I got to know many LGBTQ Texans, and especially transgender people, and their families. That summer, as some in the state repeatedly demonized transgender people, we learned that calls to an LGBTQ youth crisis hotline hit unprecedented levels. I met children struggling in school because they weren’t allowed to use the bathroom, and I watched as parents gave impassioned testimony at late-night committee hearings while holding sleeping children in their arms. It became clear that, to many families, this was about something much greater than the economic impact.

LGBTQ Rights Supreme Court
Demonstrators in favor of LGBTQ rights rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., October 8, as the court holds oral arguments in three cases dealing with workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty

The cases now before the Supreme Court deal specifically with discrimination in the workplace, where the economic impacts are clear: Discrimination can shatter morale, harm productivity and contribute to higher employee turnover. But the human cost is real, too: Discrimination can strip people of their pride and rob them of the opportunity to do good work and earn a living for their families. In these cases, respect for our common humanity and for the dignity of every individual should prevail.

These cases are important because, as many people are surprised to learn, there are no federal laws explicitly protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace. Almost 30 states—including Texas—also lack specific statewide protections. The Supreme Court now has the chance to make explicit what is already implicit—and to do so consistent with the text of the law, with its own precedents, and with rulings by a rising number of lower federal courts. Some 206 major businesses have signed a “friend of the court” brief urging the court to recognize that discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is illegal. This reinforces what I have heard in my travels throughout Texas and the country: It is pro-business to be anti-discrimination.

LGBTQ people deserve protection from discrimination. No matter how the Supreme Court decides on these cases, there is still work to do to ensure the freedom for our LGBTQ neighbors and friends to live, work and contribute to their communities. Respecting human dignity, striving for mutual respect and ensuring equal opportunity are nonpartisan values. They are goals we can all work toward together.

Joe Straus, a Republican from San Antonio, served as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives from 2009 to 2019.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

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Fans Celebrate #HOV50 and Share Favorite Jay Z Lyrics on Music Mogul’s 50th Birthday

In honor of Jay-Z’s 50th birthday, fans all across the globe flooded social media with warm messages of love and support.The hashtag #HOV50 began to trend early in the morning on Twitter on Wednesday as a result of the many well wishes from the longtime rappers’ fans.Fans opened up on some of their most memorable…

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Fans Celebrate #HOV50 and Share Favorite Jay Z Lyrics on Music Mogul’s 50th Birthday

In honor of Jay-Z’s 50th birthday, fans all across the globe flooded social media with warm messages of love and support.

The hashtag #HOV50 began to trend early in the morning on Twitter on Wednesday as a result of the many well wishes from the longtime rappers’ fans.

Fans opened up on some of their most memorable moments involving the music mogul—whose birth name is Shawn Carter but is commonly referred to by fans as Hov, short for Hova. They also posted messages of the many ways Jay-Z has inspired them, including with hundreds of photos, gifs and video clips of him in action.

Many people used the Brooklyn native’s birthday to reflect on his work over the last three decades, listing their favorite albums, songs and guest features from the rapper.

Fans Celebrate #HOV50 With Song Lyrics on Jay-Z's 50th Birthday
Jay-Z performs on stage during the ‘On the Run II’ tour at MetLife Stadium on August 2, 2018, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The music mogul celebrated his 50th birthday on December 4, 2019.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Album rankings weren’t the only way fans recognized Jay-Z on his 50th birthday. Several people took to Twitter to commemorate the award-winning lyricist by sharing their favorite verses ever rapped by him. Classic Jay-Z lines from chart-toppers like “Hard Knock Life,” “Song Cry,” “Say Hello,” and his guest feature on Kanye West’s “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” were spotted on Twitter timelines.

Meanwhile, some fans said they’d celebrate Jay-Z’s birthday by listening to his lengthy discography all day long.

Jay-Z made listening to his catalog a whole lot easier for some of his fans when he re-released his entire catalog of music again on Spotify.

“God forgive me for my brash delivery

But I remember vividly

What these streets did to me

So picture me

Letting these clowns nit pick at me” #HOV50

— Syds_Kinda_Vicious (@KindaSyds) December 4, 2019

The Roc Nation founder removed much of his work from the platform in April 2017 to the dismay of many loyal listeners just ahead of the release of his latest album, 4:44.

At the time the move seemed like a ploy to get fans to subscribe to TIDAL, the music streaming service he owns and operates. Now, Spotify users will get to listen to all of Jay-Z’s albums and songs ranging from his 1996 debut Reasonable Doubt and so-called career retirement project The Black Album in 2003, his 2011 Watch the Throne collaboration album with West and several other staples.

Since he first emerged on the rap scene in the 1990s, fans have admired and praised Jay-Z for his many punchlines, thought-provoking lyrics and masterful storytelling. A natural wordsmith, he has kept listeners fascinated and moved with his ability to flow over a beat with grace and pizzaz—not to mention the fact that he creates hit after hit without writing his lyrics down.

It’s a long-known fact Jay-Z doesn’t write his albums but rather hits the studio with a few words already in mind before he jumps on a track. That habit sparked a number of younger singers and rappers following in his footsteps by not pre-writing lyrics to their songs.

“It just felt better [the way I do it now],” he said during a 2007 interview with MTV News. “In my mind, I said, ‘OK, I’m gonna sit down and I’m [going to] just write it and really do this thing a certain way.’ But your natural process is your process. It’s difficult to go back to what you was doing when you was 15, 16 years old. My process is different now. It sounds great on paper, like ‘I’m [going to] sit down, I’m going to write the entire album like I did before.’ But once you get back in the studio and you’ve been doing this process for years and years now, so it just felt natural to do it the way I’ve been doing it: no paper, no pen, just listen to the music.”

See more of how fans are celebrating Jay-Z’s birthday below.

“As a youth explosively, clappin’ off the roof

Shootin’ guard like Kobe, raised up slay smears and bo’e

Back then, Gil was my co-d, Spanish Jose

Showed me how to get the money niggas owed me

Fast forward, no kids, six cars and three Rolies

Two cribs, trips to Cuba” #HOV50 https://t.co/XVxvEnc7C7

— 💧DRIP DADDY💧 (@_kingdavid) December 4, 2019

Happy Birthday to the best to ever do it!

“I arrived on the day Fred Hampton died, real niggas just multiply!” #HOV50

— Mary O (@LuckeeLefty11) December 4, 2019

“Came through the bushes smelling like roses.” Its been a year OG but you still holding it down. Looking forward to the vision you bring forth this year. Happy birthday #HOV50 pic.twitter.com/mKO7KAQYuw

— Jael R. Bakari (@thegoofysufi) December 4, 2019

“…I used to think rapping at 38 was ill… but last year alone I grossed 38 mill… I know I ain’t quite 38 but still…the flow so special it got a .38 feel…. the real is back! *Hov Laugh*” #1TakeHov #Hov50

— #StayBlack (@JZFan) December 4, 2019



















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Retired Colonel Warns That North Korea Firing Missiles on Thanksgiving Is ‘No Coincidence,’ Criticizes Trump Rhetoric

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs warned that North Korea’s reported firing of two missiles on Thanksgiving was “no coincidence,” while criticizing President Donald Trump’s claims that the Asian nation will give up its nuclear weapons.South Korea’s military reported that two “short-range” projectiles were fired from what was believed to be “a super-large multiple rocket…

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Retired Colonel Warns That North Korea Firing Missiles on Thanksgiving Is ‘No Coincidence,’ Criticizes Trump Rhetoric

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs warned that North Korea’s reported firing of two missiles on Thanksgiving was “no coincidence,” while criticizing President Donald Trump’s claims that the Asian nation will give up its nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s military reported that two “short-range” projectiles were fired from what was believed to be “a super-large multiple rocket launcher” on Thursday. The missile test would mark the 13th such action by North Korea since May, despite repeated claims by Trump that the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, plans to cooperate with the international community and denuclearize.

Asked during an interview with MSNBC if it was a coincidence that North Korea carried out the test on Thanksgiving, Jacobs argued that was definitely not the case.

“No, there’s no coincidence,” the retired colonel, who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Vietnam War, said. “Symbolism is very big for Kim. Look, it’s business as usual in North Korea. North Korea’s a continuing criminal enterprise. It’s not going to give up its nuclear weapons, it’s not going to [dis]continue testing delivery systems despite rhetoric, particularly what came from the White House during this administration,” he added.

Kim Jong Un
This picture taken on July 4, 2017 and released by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 5, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un celebrating the successful test-fire of the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 at an undisclosed location
STR/AFP/Getty

“They’re going to continue doing what they’re doing and nothing is going to change. North Korea is not interested in giving up its nuclear weapons,” Jacobs asserted.

Trump, as Jacobs noted, has repeatedly insisted that North Korea will curb its nuclear program and alter its provocative behavior, despite the disagreement of leading foreign policy experts and the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies. The president has met with Kim directly on multiple occasions, becoming the first sitting U.S. head of state to do so. Trump also became the first sitting American president to step foot into North Korea earlier this year in late June.

Nonetheless, North Korea has failed to take any serious steps to denuclearize and has steadily increased missile tests over the past few months. In a controversial tweet on November 17, Trump responded to North Korea calling Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden a “rabid dog.”

“Mr. Chairman, Joe Biden may be Sleepy and Very Slow, but he is not a ‘rabid dog.’ He is actually somewhat better than that, but I am the only one who can get you where you have to be,” Trump tweeted, directing the post at Kim. “You should act quickly, get the deal done. See you soon!”

But North Korean Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan dismissed the president’s remarks the next day, saying that the Asian nation was no longer interested in discussions regarding its nuclear program.

Trump and Kim Jong Un
A handout photo provided by Dong-A Ilbo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the South and North Korea on June 30, 2019 in Panmunjom, South Korea
Handout/Dong-A Ilbo/Getty

“I interpreted President Trump’s tweet on the 17th to signify a new DPRK-US summit” but “we are no longer interested in these meetings that are useless to us,” Kim said in a statement published by North Korea’s state news agency.

“We will no longer give the U.S. president something to boast about for nothing in return, and we must receive from the U.S. what is corresponding to the results that President Trump is already boasting as his achievements,” the adviser added.

North Korea has previously launched missiles to coincide with an American holiday. In 2017, the Asian nation conducted its first successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on the 4th of July. At the time, state media referred to the test as a “package of gifts” for “American bastards.”

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Business Have Been Practicing Social Responsibility For Decades, But Is That Really A Good Thing?

The jury is out on whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs will one day make the world a better place. But this much is pretty clear: They’re already benefiting the companies that have implemented them. And in some unexpected ways.Specifically, CSR has become the weapon of choice for what is known as, in corporate speak,…

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Business Have Been Practicing Social Responsibility For Decades, But Is That Really A Good Thing?

The jury is out on whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs will one day make the world a better place. But this much is pretty clear: They’re already benefiting the companies that have implemented them. And in some unexpected ways.

Specifically, CSR has become the weapon of choice for what is known as, in corporate speak, the three R’s: Investor Relations, Human Resources, and Public Relations.

But before we dive into details, a CSR mini-lesson is in order. First off, CSR isn’t an overnight sensation. Over the past couple of decades, companies have been embracing the idea that they need to do more than just make a profit for shareholders. Do-good efforts slowly evolved from passive and limited corporate philanthropy programs—giving to the United Way, for example—to broader and more active CSR programs. Those would take on major social issues like Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women program, which in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (World Bank) has delivered $1.45 billion in loans to women-owned businesses in developing countries.

Now, they have evolved even more. Many companies are now incorporating impact-on-society considerations into core business activities. For example, Starbucks only uses “ethically-sourced coffee.” Programs like these are often focused on “sustainability.” In August, 181 CEOs of the country’s largest corporations signed a Business Roundtable statement committing to managing their companies not just for shareholders, but also for customers, employees, suppliers, and communities.

NW_12/06-13_cov
Photo Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh for Newsweek; Getty 9; Buzz Courtesy of General Mills, Cesars Courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

The idea behind all of these efforts is the well-worn slogan “doing well by doing good,” which means that being a positive force in the community will enhance a company’s reputation, which in theory will pay off in more sales, lower costs and over the long term, more money for shareholders.

Can you even measure something like this? Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief reputation officer of the Reputation Institute in Boston, says you can. He reels off a string of statistics, like “40% of the reputation of a company is related to corporate responsibility” and says his organization’s research proves that reputation is a leading indicator of stock market capitalization, or the total value of a company’s shares. In other words, he adds, “CSR has a multiplier effect” when it comes to a company’s value. But CSR can be risky. And take a little guts.

According to analysts, CVS’s 2014 decision to stop selling tobacco products cost it $2 billion a year in sales and caused the stock price to drop. (Investors took a $1.43 billion hit that year according to Martin Anderson of UNC Greensboro.) In 2010, Campbell Soup announced it was reducing the salt levels in many of its soups, a decision they reversed the following year when sales fell by 32%.

Meanwhile, in 2018, Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault rifles. On a panel at this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival, CEO Ed Stack said that decision cost them customers and employees. He notes that many of the customers who applauded the decision at the time seem to have forgotten, but those who were in opposition have not. “Love is fleeting,” he says. “But hate is forever.”

But many companies feel the do-gooder dividend outweighs the risks, both in relations with consumers and in day-to-day operations.

Brad McLane, who recruits high-level positions at RSR Partners, says, “Companies aren’t doing it just to say they have it. My clients are incorporating it into how they do business—what ingredients they use, where they source, how they design products.” Megan Kashner, clinical professor at the Kellogg School of Management’s Public-Private Interface agrees. She’s says that we’ve moved from “greenwashing programs that mimic CSR” to an era of “authentic CSR.” Greenwashing is the practice of making misleading claims that make a company appear more environmentally or socially conscious than it is, for example, when BP began touting itself as being environmentally conscious through a $200 million public relations campaign, only to have a string of environmental disasters—some of which, according to a government report, were caused by corporate cost-cutting to boost profits.

FE_CSR_08_1150880664
BP is the subject of protests by Greenpeace activists over oil drilling in the North Sea.
Christian Charisius/picture alliance/Getty

Simon Lowden, Pepsico chief sustainability officer, says, “It’s woven into how we operate as a business. For instance, we need to maintain our license to operate in water-stressed regions, so we’d better focus on being responsible stewards of water. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s important to our business.”

CSR is particularly useful in human resources. Rebecca M. Henderson, holds the John and Natty McArthur Chair at Harvard and is finishing a book on this topic, Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire. She says: “CSR has a tremendous impact on the morale of employees. Authentic purpose, which may mean occasionally sacrificing profits, accesses a whole range of emotions difficult to get at otherwise, like trust and engagement.”

In other words, it gets through. And that is a good thing. It leads to higher levels of productivity and employee retention.

CSR can also be a big factor in recruiting, particularly for younger employees, says Eric Johnson, executive director of graduate career services at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He says, “Social impact is a big piece of the recruiting process. Probably 50 percent of that initial conversation is about what the company is doing to make the world better.”

“Beer companies used to talk about fun and sports. Now they talk about their programs to save water in the world. Social impact can tip the scales. Is a student going to choose an $85,000-a-year job over a $125,000 job because of social impact? I doubt it. But my observation is that jobs heavy in social impact often pay up to 10 percent less than comparable jobs that don’t.”

Professor Kashner adds, “These newly minted MBAs care and they care about the type of work they’re going to be doing. Maybe previous generations drew a line between work and personal life and values, but those boundaries no longer exist.” Korn Ferry, the giant executive recruiting firm, recently surveyed the professionals in its network. “Company mission and values” was the No. 1 reason (33 percent ) they’d choose to work for one company over another.

CSR is increasingly part of the conversation with individual shareholders and investors, like the world’s largest investment firm, BlackRock, which manages $6.5 trillion dollars for its clients. In his last two annual letters, CEO Larry Fink has called on companies to do more and said that BlackRock will evaluate companies on more than just financial numbers. His 2018 letter said, “As divisions continue to deepen, companies must demonstrate their commitment to the countries, regions, and communities where they operate, particularly on issues central to the world’s future prosperity.” Many investment firms now have someone in charge of building portfolios around companies based on their performance on Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG. (Measuring which companies are woke is an industry in and of itself.)

One aggregator of ESG ratings, CSRhub.com, lists 634 data sources. They range from the very broad (for example, Alex’s Guide to Compassionate Shopping) to the very specific (for example, the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety).

For public relations, CSR is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. CSR can be used to pre-empt the conversation in areas where companies have been criticized. Procter & Gamble’s “Ambition 2030 program is heavy on recycling and biodegradability.

FE_CSR_05_454550142
A 50-foot cigarette is “snuffed out” by CVS in New York City.
Andrew Burton/Getty

But CSR can also be a useful defense. It not only builds up a stock of goodwill with the media and the public, but it generates good news that crowds out the bad. Large corporations are going to get a certain amount of press and awkward questions each day—better that press and those questions be about CSR than, say, worker safety or GMOs. For example, in 2018 when Johnson & Johnson was accused of knowingly selling baby powder with harmful levels of asbestos, Harvard professor Bill George wrote a stirring defense of the company, focusing not on the merits of the claim, but on J&J’s “Our Credo,” a commitment to integrity and customers written in 1943 (and likely the first CSR document ever produced.)

Still, not everyone is convinced. There are many who adhere to the late economist Milton Friedman’s argument that the sole purpose of the corporation is to make more money for shareholders, who can then choose for themselves whether or not they want to save the world.

Judith Samuelson, vice president of Aspen Institute and founder of their Business and Society Program, who’s worked with many of the companies currently leading the way in CSR, says, “The shareholder primacy viewpoint hasn’t gone away. And even if attitudes have changed, measures haven’t. Many executives, including CEO’s, are still paid in stock, and those who manage portfolios for institutional investors are still bonused on the value of those portfolios.”

Samuelson worries that “Companies may think these (current) programs are enough and not make fundamental change.” Kashner is more optimistic. She cites work that says large public companies are increasingly incorporating CSR metrics into executive compensation contracts.

Those who oppose CSR programs argue that trying to do two things at once, like making a profit and serving society, will destroy the effectiveness of companies.

Samuelson scoffs at this. “Of course companies can do more than one thing. Public companies have to manage multiple objectives all the time. No public company in the world would last a week if the only people they cared about were shareholders. What about customers? Employees?”

She believes that CSR really boils down to responsible decision making, doing what it takes for companies to succeed in the long term. Whatever, CSR is here to stay. It’s become part of the fabric of investing, company operations, and business school curricula.

It’s now being tracked and measured, and in business, what gets measured gets done.

→ Sam Hill, a Newsweek contributor, is an author and former C-suiter.

Business Have Been Practicing Social Responsibility For Decades, But Is That Really A Good Thing?

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