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    He makes friends easy / He’s not like me

    With all the bad news about how the deeply unwise push for gay marriage now is faring, it’s nice to see evidence of the slow, steady, organic progress that means real gay equality. I’m not sure that I trust the HRC’s criteria for how nice companies are to gay employees to be those I’d use, but I can only imagine they’re pretty exacting:

    The number of companies receiving the top grade rose to 56 in 2004, from 28 in 2003 and just 13 in 2002.

    Ford previously scored 85 percent, but by adding gender identity to its non discrimination policy, which already included gays and lesbians, the score took a considerable jump.

    I do think, however, that I need this explained to me:

    Ford [the CEO of Ford Motor Co.] pointed to the need for the automotive industry to help nurture minorities, especially minority owned suppliers.

    “In order to keep Michigan competitive in a global economy, we must continue to focus on the importance diversity plays in growing our economy,” Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. “Promoting diversity makes good business sense and will help position Michigan as an economic powerhouse in the 21st century.”

    It’s that part about “nurturing,” in connection with the adults who are responsible for making car parts that won’t fail when I swerve to avoid a deer, that worries me. If “promoting diversity” means reminding automakers that blacks are just as capable as whites of making top-quality windshield wiper blades, great. If it means persuading a skittish foreman that someone he’s pretty sure is gay can do assembly line work, also great. But the point should be to give people the tools they need to evaluate performance without letting superfluous personal characteristics get in the way, and to let all employees and suppliers know they’ll be on equal footing. I’m not sure where the nurturing comes in.


    Speaking of queers and cars, Atsushi and I spent several hours driving around Kyushu in his new ride this weekend. It’s kitted out with an electronic map and GPS navigation–I assume most new cars in the States are, too? Very sophisticated, very useful, and very annoying.

    I got over the fact that our whereabouts were being tracked by satellite pretty quickly–it’s not as if the government had implanted a secret chip somewhere in the thing. But of course, every three seconds, that soothingly impersonal female voice was saying, “You will continue without turning for at least the next five miles” and “You are now entering Miyazaki Prefecture” and “You will make a left turn in approximately 700 meters…You will make a left turn in approximately 300 meters…You will make a left turn here.”


    Atsushi twinkled with easy-going amusement as always: “Darling, would you rather have me shoving a map at you and asking whether we’re near the turnoff yet? Or pulling over every twenty kilometers? If the CD’s started repeating, why don’t you put in something else you’d like to listen to.” Yeah, okay, you’re right. I’m calm, really. Court and Spark. Gorges full of rocks and grass. The occasional spiraling bird. We’re good. In fact, once we got into the mountains, I settled into watching the digital map twist around as we took each hairpin turn–and ended up making myself good and carsick. But it was a good weekend.

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