Our Gay “Problem” In The Workplace
I read an article in the Washington Post last week about an Alabama Supreme Court Justice who issued a letter to the numerous probate judges in his state advising them to ignore a federal court ruling that essentially made same-sex marriages legal in that state. Somehow I don’t believe that his directive is going to stand, and it won’t be the first time Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has run afoul of following orders issued by federal courts. In November of 2003, Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from his office of Chief Justice then because he had defied a federal court order to remove a monument to the ten commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building. Let me say this about Roy Moore…while his views are completely opposite and contrary to mine, I can respect a man who has the courage to accept the consequences of his convictions, regardless of how ill-conceived those convictions are.
In a separate article, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R), repealed a previous executive order by former governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) (note the party denomination on each side of the issue) under the pretext that extending protection from employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to state workers (President Obama recently enacted a similar executive order for federal government workers and contractors) created an unfair advantage over other Kansas workers and also created a new civil rights class that in his opinion should be done through the legislative process and not unilaterally through executive order. Governor Brownback must be oblivious to the fact that the issue is actually being spearheaded through the judicial system, as many politicians in the executive and legislative branches seem to be missing the ball on this critically important issue. Governor Brownback takes the cake for being one of the most asinine politicians this week.
It’s sad to say that this continues to be a conservative issue and efforts to hamper progressive movement forward for gay rights is more often than not – Republican led. Keep that in mind come 2016.
If you haven’t noticed, we are in the process of a social evolution, and expansion of long overdue civil rights to members of the LGBT community, and while many conservatives are against the change, they’re being dragged into modern times kicking and screaming. President Obama recently predicted that the SCOTUS is likely to find bans on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, later this year.
What does that mean for us as employers? Well if you haven’t already, then you should be working to build diversity awareness among your employees. Have your managers been trained in avoiding biases during their interviewing and hiring process? Is there a culture of inclusion amongst your staff that is free of the many social biases (i.e. race, religion, sexual orientation) that many of us carry?
We can no longer afford to allow the actions spurred on by bigotry to continue in our workplaces, hiring discrimination, bullying, harassment and other issues need to be dealt with head on. In addition to the moral imperative that is present when dealing with discrimination in the workplace, there is a building legal imperative as the court system begins to dismantle the anti-gay prejudices that linger in our society. This will be one of the defining causes of our generation, needless to say; our members of our LGBT community deserve better.
Unfortunately, for the time being, there will always be the divide where bigots hide behind the protection of law – but even that landscape is getting smaller and smaller, state by state.