Smithsonian in National Latino Musuem controversy

The Smithsonian Institution is considering building a National Museum of the American Latino in Washington, DC, but is facing controversy over the idea.

The museum is planned for the National Mall, shown here in this image courtesy Andrew Bossi, and would complete a set of museums that include the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The latter museum is due to open in 2015. While a museum to the contributions of Latinos to American history and culture makes sense, it’s meeting opposition in Congress over funding and the concept itself.

Jim Moran (D-VA) says he doesn’t want each minority group going to their own museum and skipping the others. This reasoning would hold water if the other museums hadn’t been established already, but it seems a bit late in the day to be bringing forth this argument now.

The current financial crisis is a more persuasive argument against a new museum. The National Museum of African American History and Culture sported a $500 million price tag. Half of that was paid for with Federal dollars, something that’s not going to go over well in the current Congress. There’s also talk of a national woman’s museum, but that’s likely to face the same hurdles as the Latino Museum.

Latinos are the largest minority group in the United States and have been here since well before the country was founded. Many modern states, such as Florida, Arizona, even Missouri, were Spanish colonies before they became U.S. states.

Do you think there should be a National Museum of the American Latino? Should it be paid for with tax dollars? Tell us what you think in the comments section!

Lesbian couple sues hotel after being denied double room

A lesbian couple is suing a hotel in England after being refused a double room.

Rebecca Nash and Hope Stubbings say they tried to check into the Brunswick Square Hotel in Brighton but were refused a room because the hotel only gives rooms to couples.

This is surprising for a number of reasons. First, it’s illegal in the UK for hotels to refuse rooms to gay and lesbian couples. Second, Brighton is England’s most popular gay and lesbian seaside town and surely the Brunswick Square Hotel has had to deal with gay guests before. And third, a court fined a bed and breakfast for refusing a room to a gay couple earlier this year.

In the earlier case, the hotel owners were defiant, saying homosexuality was against their Christian principles. In the Brighton case, it’s a matter of “he said, she said.” The manager says the couple hadn’t made a booking. The lesbian couple said the manager got angry and told them “no two boys, no two girls” in the rooms before kicking them out.

[Lesbian flag image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Court fines hotel owners for refusing gay couple a room

A court in England has fined hotel owners Peter and Hazelmary Bull for refusing a gay couple a double room, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy tried to get a room at the Chymorvah Hotel, near Penzance , in 2008, but were turned away. The judge ruled that this was discrimination and awarded the couple £1800 ($2,863) each in damages.

The Bulls are Christian and say they object to giving any unmarried couple a room. The judge ruled that since Hall and Preddy are civil partners they have the same rights as married couples. The BBC has filmed a statement by Hall and Preddy.

[Image courtesy Ludovic Bertron]

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Flight attendants are a part of the history for work equality

When the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed this week, there were echoes of women in the past who have worked for equitable pay and fair work practices. Flight attendants have a long history of pushing for such fairness.

One of the first flight attendants, one might say, was Katharine Wright a suffragette, and the Wright brother’s sister. She was the second woman to ever fly when she accompanied Wilbur on a flight in Pau, France to show that flying was safe for everyone. If it wasn’t for her, their success may not have been as great as it was. As women cast their eye upwards, they became part of the fabric of social and economic justice.

Here’s a timeline of flight attendants breaking the glass ceiling of the sky:

1945– First labor union of flight attendants in the U.S. was formed. The Air Line Stewardess Association (ALSA) worked for pay raises, duty limits and the right to see personal records among other things.

1957– Mohawk Airlines hired the first African American stewardess. Ruth Carol Taylor was the first African American stewardess, paving the way for others. TWA was the first major airlines to hire a black stewardess after Mohawk Airlines’ action.

1960s– Fought against airlines’ policies that flight attendants retire at age 30 to 35, but without success. Made some headway with the passing of Title VII, The Civil Rights Act. One part of the act forbade discrimination in the work place based n sex. By the late 60s, airlines dropped the age discrimination policy and the policy that said flight attendants couldn’t be married.

1972– A group of flight attendants formed Stewardesses for Women’s Rights and began to protest sexist treatment of stewardesses. Airline campaigns like “Fly Me,” (National’s) were seen as deeming and the sexy images of stewardesses being pushed to sell flying were seen as a way to keep women from being treated as equal to men and affected their ability to do their job effectively. What was their main job? Assure passenger safety.

1974 – Association of Flight Attendants formed in a separate union from Transport Workers Union which was male dominated. Union began to challenge airlines policies on maternity and weight restrictions.

Also in the 1970s, continued their long battle to be seen as recognition as safety professionals. There was a continued push for flight attendants to have some sort of certification program to prove their qualifications as having specialized skills.

2003– After September 11, 2001, proof that flight attendants were indeed safety professionals was evident. Congress mandated a licensing program for flight attendants.

So, now we know why Gadling’s own Heather Poole can save our lives, and have a child, and be married, and not have to worry about losing her job as she gets older–just because she’s getting older or gains a few pounds. Not too shabby.

[Facts found in Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants, page on “Flight Attendants & Labor History.”]