July 30, 2014

Anti-Gay Discrimination Is Flourishing In America

A handwritten sign that says discrimination is a crime.

By Roy Steele

I’m a gay man who has experienced discrimination in the workplace in the past, and I’ve seen other gay co-workers castigated too, because of their sexual orientation. Maybe you’ve witnessed anti-gay discrimination.

Discrimination on every level is wrong, and until our political leaders make the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) a priority, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people will continue to be victims of discrimination.

Discriminating against "queers" is ingrained in our culture. That’s why ineffective leaders like Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), don’t believe that anti-gay discrimination is a problem that requires legislative action.

On July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama signed the amendments to Executive Order 11478, Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government, and Executive Order 11246. This policy change extends employment protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, federal workers, because it prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Equal opportunity for all is an American value that we all embrace, and yet the reality is that there are millions of LGBT people experiencing discrimination.

When there are segments of our society that’s being discriminated against, our entire nation suffers for it. Our nation can never realize her full economic potential when large groups are disenfranchised, and their basic civil rights are being abridged.

President Barack Obama signs the Executive order that bans discrimination in the federal workplace, based on sexual orientation and gender identity, surrounded by LGBT activists and politicians.

If you want a real world example of anti-gay discrimination, just look at one of our feel-good stories of the year.

The Southeastern Football Conference (SEC) is one of the premier Division 1 college football conferences in the country, and some might argue that it’s the best (go Big Ten). When the 2013 SEC season concluded, Missouri defensive end Michael Sam was named the conference co-defensive player of the year, and he was a Consensus All-American.

Fast forward a few months, when Michael Sam was eligible to play in the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. I yelled and cheered and cried when Michael was drafted. The news footage of his elation, kissing his partner, and getting that call from the Rams was historic. At the same time, there were dark discriminatory forces at play in the NFL. Michael Sam was one of the top 5 defensive players in the draft, and because he bravely told the world that he’s gay, his draft stock dropped precipitously.

Any birdbrain can look at the following list, and see that Michael Sam was discriminated against. Every other SEC defensive player of the year for the past five years has been a first round draft pick, and received contracts worth millions of dollars. A seventh round draft pick doesn’t get millions.

Southeastern Conference Defensive Players of the Year NFL Draft Results 
2013 C.J. Mosley, Alabama, First Round Draft Pick - Baltimore
2013 Michael Sam, Missouri, Seventh Round Draft Pick - St. Louis 
2012 Jarvis Jones, Georgia, First Round Draft Pick - Pittsburgh
2011 Morris Claiborne, LSU, First Round Draft Pick - Dallas
2010 Patrick Peterson, LSU, First Round Draft Pick - Arizona

Just this week ThinkProgress  writer Zack Ford wrote about Casey Stegall, who was fired from his job at the Children’s Home in Lubbock, Texas, because he’s gay. The firing was completely legal, as this Christian run shelter for kids is under no obligation to comply with any non-discrimination law or ordinance on the state or federal level.

I abhor discrimination in any form, and equality is a value that’s allegedly embodied in our Constitution, under the equal protection clause. Even though the courts are starting to affirm that we have that right, we aren’t seeing that on the ground in our day to day lives. We have to remember that equality is not a fundamental right extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, in spite of all the marriage equality victories.

I believe in academia, I like to read academic studies, and I think most of our academic institutions are fantastic. I also believe in science, and most importantly, I believe in facts. I want to make clear that a fact is defined as something that is “indisputably the case.” I think facts are important, and believe that hyperbole and lies are not.

I mention facts because there’s a very well regarded think tank that’s a part of UCLA Law School called the Williams Institute. On the think tank’s website, they describe themselves as an organization “dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. The Williams Institute produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public.”

In July 2011, they published a study entitled Williams Institute: “Widespread Discrimination” Against LGBT Employees Continues. According to the executive summary of this report, UCLA’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy published these facts:

LGBT people and their non-LGBT co-workers consistently report having experienced or witnessed discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace.
  • As recently as 2008, the GSS, a national probability survey representative of the U.S. population, found that of LGB respondents, 27% had experienced at least one form of sexual orientation-based discrimination during the five years prior to the survey. More specifically, 27% had experienced workplace harassment and 7% had lost a job.
  • The GSS found that among LGB people who are open about their sexual orientation in the workplace, an even larger proportion, 38%, experienced at least one form of discrimination during the five years prior to the survey.
  • Not surprisingly, more than one-third of LGB respondents to the GSS reported that they were not out to anyone at work, and only 25% were out to all of their co-workers.
Consistent with the findings from the GSS, several other national probability surveys and local and national non-probability surveys of LGBT employees and their non-LGBT coworkers indicate widespread and persistent employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

When surveyed separately, transgender respondents report even higher rates of employment discrimination and harassment than LGB people.
  • As recently as 2011, 78% of respondents to the largest survey of transgender people to date reported experiencing at least one form of harassment or mistreatment at work because of their gender identity; more specifically, 47% had been discriminated against in hiring, promotion, or job retention.
  • Consistently, 70% of transgender respondents to a 2009 California survey and 67% of transgender respondents to a 2010 Utah survey reported experiencing employment discrimination because of their gender identity.
Widespread and continuing employment discrimination against LGBT people has been documented in court cases, state and local administrative complaints, complaints to community-based organizations, academic journals, newspapers, books, and other media.

Federal, state, and local administrative agencies and legislative bodies have acknowledged that LGBT people have faced widespread discrimination in employment.

Discrimination and fear of discrimination can have negative effects on LGBT employees in terms of wages, job opportunities, mental and physical health, productivity, and job satisfaction.
  • Studies consistently show that gay men earn significantly less than their heterosexual counterparts.
  • Census data analyses confirm that in nearly every state, men in same-sex couples earn less than men in heterosexual marriages.
  • Several studies show that large percentages of the transgender population are unemployed or have incomes far below the national average.
  • Other studies show that discrimination, fear of discrimination, and concealing one’s LGBT identity can negatively impact the well-being of LGBT employees, including their mental and physical health, productivity in the workplace, and job satisfaction.
Despite these facts, there are organizations that are hell bent on fighting against equality, and they use lies and scare tactics in order to influence public opinion. These dirty tricks largely don’t work, and the American people reject them out of hand.

One right-wing extremist website characterized the Executive Order like this:
“Barack Obama is 100% in favor of the LGBT Movement, and he doesn’t care what you think about it. He doesn’t care what your religious objections are, and with a stroke of his pen today made it a crime to not hire a lesbian, homosexual, pedophile, transgendered or a cross-dresser because of your faith and religious convictions. One more freedom taken away. 
The mask is coming off of the homosexual movement’s agenda. They really do not believe in religious liberty. They want forced affirmation of homosexual and transgender conduct to trump every other consideration in the workplace – including religious liberty.”
The Family Besmirch Council’s Peter Sprigg, released a statement filled with lies, after President Obama signed the Executive Order. The gay hating little man said:
“President Obama has ordered employers to put aside their principles, and practices in the name of political correctness. This level of coercion is nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior. This order gives activists a license to challenge their employers and, expose those employers to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts. 
People with deeply held convictions regarding the morality of certain types of sexual behavior should not be bound by the dictates of President Obama’s agenda. 
President Obama is legislating without Congress. Now, the American people will be left to sort out the costs to religious and constitutional liberties resulting from this rule by decree,” concluded Sprigg.
Dingbat’s like that right-wing extremist website and Peter Sprigg feel that the gay community should have no constitutional liberties at all. I think if a bigot like Sprigg would just come out of the closet, he’d be fired by his hate group immediately, and he would change his discordant tune pretty fast.

In the meantime, we still have a lot of work to do. The most valuable weapon we have are facts and the truth, and it’s the truth that will set us free.

straight talk in a queer world.            jiveinthe415.com

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