An Open Letter to the NCAA

(A recent Facebook post by our current mayor, Maher Maso prompted me to write my letter today.)

Let me start by saying, that my adopted home of Frisco is one of the best cities to live in (not just by my standards, but by organizations that analyze these types of claims). While this letter may appear to be critical in some ways, it does not take away from the fact that I have continued to call Frisco home since 1999, and am proud of all that our city has accomplished since I’ve been a resident.

In 1999 our small city had a population of just over 22,000, and now we have a thriving population of over 150,000. In that time, a lot has changed, and a lot hasn’t. It is one of these things that has not changed which brings me to write this letter.

The NCAA has fast become a progressive organization that recognizes the importance of diversity among its student athletes. For many years, the NCAA has been in the forefront of social issues like race, gender equality and now sexual orientation. While many other organizations share these qualities, the NCAA has been a leader, and this is something to be applauded.

As a core value, the NCAA believes in and is committed to diversity, inclusion and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches and administrators (borrowed from your website). But these words became actions, when earlier this year, the NCAA announced changes to its selection requirements for host cities or bidding cities of their championship games. In April 2016, the NCAA Board of Governors adopted a new requirement for sites hosting or bidding on NCAA events in all divisions “to demonstrate how they will provide an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination, plus safeguards the dignity of everyone involved in the event.”

Looking at the rationale behind this new requirement, the board was clear that this change followed recent actions of legislatures in several states that actively passed laws allowing residents to refuse to provide services to some people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. While Frisco has not – to date – actively passed laws to discriminate against the LGBT community, we are in Texas, and many of our local elected state representatives, and our very own Attorney-General (formerly our local elected state senator) think differently. In the Texas legislature, there are already bills being introduced that would override local ordinances where progressive cities like Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso and Plano have enacted to protect their citizens. Our Attorney-General advocates discrimination against the LGBT community regularly (it seems) as it relates to bathrooms, education, religious freedom, marriage and healthcare through his continued actions and statements. He is not the only elected official that thinks like this.

Historically, the City of Frisco was asked to amend its discrimination statement as early as 2002, which at the time the City declined to do. The city has been asked multiple times since then, and each time the issue of extending protections to the staff and citizens of Frisco has gone unanswered, or unacted on. Among our own elected city council, not one has acted to bring this forward (requests have been made), or publicly stated that they support changing our local ordinances. Even among our current mayoral candidates (for next year’s election) there has been resounding silence on this issue. After nearly 15 years of this failure to offer these protections to the LGBT citizens and employees of Frisco, many within the LGBT community have succumbed to not disturbing the waters, or trying to push this issue due to the lack of support from our elected officials and senior city staff.

As recently as 2007, my (now) husband ran for elected office within the city, and while many believe he was the most qualified person for the office, the bigotry of our community – especially amongst many of the city’s faith community – ensured that “the gay guy” didn’t get elected. This was less than ten years ago, and while much has changed in our society, that deeply held conviction that the LGBT community should not have the same rights as others, or be able to live equally among our city without prejudice, still exists today. I think the recent national presidential election re-ignited much of those feelings among many within our city, and perhaps – in part – that is what inspired me to write this letter.

A number of years ago, our city manager once told some of our LGBT community that the City didn’t discriminate, so there was no need to change the law. Ironically, while the city is required to make accommodations relating to all marriages (including same-sex) for its staff (pending AG Paxton’s attempt to overturn this law), it still can fire a person for being gay. Just because it hasn’t, doesn’t mean it won’t. This does not “safeguard the dignity of everyone involved in the event” if those that live and work within our own city – who are impacted by the event every year – can’t live with the freedom or protections enjoyed by other citizens when the NCAA is not in town.

Well today, I’m am writing to you to try to once again bring this issue to the forefront for our city’s leaders and our community. Frisco’s city motto is “Progress in Motion” and while we have seen a good deal of progress in bringing championship football games (NCAA Division I, NCAA Division I Football Championship), training centers and headquarters for major football franchises, and multiple professional sports franchises within the city’s boundaries, we are still a city that does not value all of its citizens and employees enough to be progressive enough to legally protect its LGBT citizens. This has to change.

So I ask both the NCAA and the Southland Conference, how does Frisco comply with these new requirements. How does a city which has actively ignored the requests from its LGBT citizens for over a decade meet a requirement to safeguard “the dignity of everyone involved in the event?”  How does a city which hides behind “federal laws being enough protection” meet the requirement to provide “an environment that is safe, healthy, and free of discrimination?”

I applaud the NCAA’s commitment to diversity and the actions (not just words) that the NCAA has taken to create an inclusive environment for your students, and now I’m asking how you can help our citizens of Frisco advance to that level of commitment. How do you help us move this forward so that when the NCAA comes to town in January, we are not just progressive on this one issue for a few days, but everyday?

As I said when I started, Frisco is my home. I love this city, and while I believe I and my husband have contributed to the change in some people’s minds and hearts about us and the LGBT community, we still have a long way to go. We can’t do it alone, and we need your help.

Sincerely,
James Nunn
Frisco, Texas

What Next for Marriage Equality?

Last year, I posted my submission to the Senate Inquiry to determine if a non-binding marriage plebiscite should be held to determine if marriage equality should be allowed in Australia. The Australian Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee reviewed all the submissions and made its report available in September 2015. While the report contained a number of observations, it also made a recommendation to the parliament of Australia:

The committee recommends that a bill to amend the definition of marriage in the Marriage Act 1961 to allow for the marriage between two people regardless of their sex is introduced into the Parliament as a matter of urgency, with all parliamentarians being allowed a conscience vote.

The Coalition-led Government declined to follow the recommendation of the Committee, and decided that a plebiscite would move forward at an estimate cost of $170 million. This is because the Prime Minister, Malcom Turnbull – who previously fully supported marriage equality – now is beholden to his more conservative members of his party room to retain his position as leader of the government. Turnbull worked too hard to get that job for him to consider any chance of losing his title. Turnbull played a long-shot in his recent double-dissolution of parliament and lost, and now we have a Senate that is proving to be more challenging for the Government to deal with, and with the recent announcement of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) that they will oppose the bill allowing the plebiscite, it appears this particular issue is being laid to rest.

You know it’s upsetting to some coalition members, when the Attorney-General, George Brandis, is quoted as saying:

This morning the Labor party has driven a stake through the heart of marriage equality … [r]ather than working with the government to see this matter settled, Bill Shorten and Labor have chosen to play politics with the lives of gay people. Their cynical decision this morning will ensure this debate will continue for years to come.

It brings little joy to know that Brandis is championing the “rights of gay people” in his statement which is a position that has very little foundation to it given his history. Of course, as many of us who live in the USA know, this childish activity is common-place among politicians (or wanna-be politicians) who don’t get there way. It’s like the neighborhood kid who takes his bat and ball home because he didn’t like the outcome of the game: spiteful and childish.

Of course, I applaud the ALP for joining with other non-coalition Senators in taking this stance to oppose the plebiscite. While it may delay the outcome of marriage equality, it will also save the Australian people millions of dollars, and the trauma of what would be a very divisive debate that would impact the lives of so many people unnecessarily.

Learn more marriage equality in Australian here.

Clarifying The “Empire”

So it seems my recent post about launching True Blue Strategy got some people asking, “so what happened with your Rodan+Fields business?” The answer is that it is still there, and growing!

Rodan+Fields – like any business – is taking time to gets its feet on the ground and I am currently working a 2-4 year plan for that to become profitable. Well let me correct that, it is profitable now thanks to my wonderful customers and partners, but I mean really profitable.

True Blue Strategy will be the business that I work full-time (or as full-time as I can), and I will continue to spend the 10-15 hours each week working Rodan+Fields. I continue to be excited about the R+F launch in Australia later this year, and already have some amazing folks who are set to partner with me on day one. So in addition to the updates and follow-ups that I do weekly with R+F, most of my energy has been working to connect with Aussie folks and start building their teams for when we launch. #InstantSuccess

This has been one of the reasons why I didn’t launch True Blue Strategy prior to my travels to Australia. I knew where the focus needed to be (well the first trip at least), but now that I’m back home in the US, I knew it was time. Besides, R+F has helped me with my launch of True Blue Strategy by providing part of the start-up costs so that I could be open for business today.

The great thing about both of these businesses, is that they work well with each other. Each provides a very clear pathway to travel in their success, with some crossover but very little opportunity for conflict.

So whether you are looking for a partner to help with your strategic initiatives, or open to starting your very own part-time skincare company with the 2nd Largest Premium Skincare company in the USA, you know where to look.

Introducing My New Business

open-for-businessWelcome!

Now that I have returned and recovered from my extended travels to Australia, I am excited to announce that I’m launching my new consulting business – True Blue Strategy. We are now open for business.

What is True Blue Strategy and why am I telling you about it? Great questions!

The official “what is” response is:

True Blue Strategy is a full-service consulting firm that exists to help individuals, causes and organizations achieve measurable success, locally and globally. We aim to do this by providing strategic advice, practical support and focused expertise.

Our values will drive our success, and we aim to do this with an ethical and honest focus and a realistic presence.

Of course, you and I both know that this is far more than just that. True Blue Strategy has grown from a passion that has driven me since moving to Frisco in 1999, and continues to excites me today. Politics, civic/community engagement, and public affairs have always been in my blood, and while the drive has always been there, the opportunity has only recently surfaced. I am excited to turn one of my passions into a career choice, and I am thankful that I have someone like you to share this exciting news with.

I want to invite to learn more about True Blue Strategy by visiting our website (more content coming soon). Take a moment to learn about what services we offer, or find out the why and the who (not the band), or if you want to jump right in, learn how you can partner with us.

While you are clicking on links, please take another moment to like our Facebook page, and follow us on twitter and Instagram. Our social media presence is growing, and you can help with three simple clicks. So click away…

Thank you for allowing me to share this exciting news with you, and invading your inbox for a brief moment to do so. You may have questions or would like more information on this step in my life, and I welcome those (just hit reply). Also, thank you for sharing my news with your friends, family and colleagues; or forwarding this to members of your church, organizations that you belong to or your circles of influence. You are very much appreciated.

With appreciation,

James Nunn

Basket of hate

“You know, just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. They’re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people – now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of these folks, they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America. But the other basket–and I know this because I see friends from all over America here–I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas–as well as, you know, New York and California–but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

This is what Hillary Clinton said.

Could she have used a better descriptive word, most likely; does it take away from the truth of her statement, not one word.

I’m fortunate to know many other folks in that “other basket” and they do have their concerns about the direction of the GOP this election cycle, and they do have their issues with the language of politics – on both sides. I share most of that same thinking. It concerns me, and it bothers me.

Today, more than any day, as we remind people to #NeverForget, try to remember what happens when you blindly follow charismatic people who promote hate (however thinly veiled), and persecute a group of people based on their sexuality, religion or their gender. We end up with wars, we end up with planes being flowing into buildings and killing thousands of people and we end up repeating history … the bad version of history. Just because an American says it, doesn’t make it more right or more true, than if someone from Germany, Cambodia, Afghanistan or Iran said the same thing. Hate is hate, and right now, there is one group, one big basket of people who enthusiastically stand behind one voice that is – in my own thinking – deplorable.

I’m tried of this, and I’m tired of people not thinking for themselves, regurgitating hate, and hiding behind it because it’s politics. We are better than that.

(X-posted: Facebook)