Source: OMG! Magazine
Since I can remember, there has been a huge emphasis on the media about “the fight for gay marriage as an equal right.” Â For some politicians, it’s a decider in the outcome of their campaigns; for others it’s a distraction, for better or worse, from the real issues at hand. With all the attention, it never crossed my mind that gay marriage was hardly the biggest legal issue facing LGBT right this century.
I was at work when a Â fellow employee asked me, “Did you hear about our manager? Â Apparently the reason he lost his previous employment is because he’s gay.”
While the question of my manager’s sexuality has been a reoccurring topic between employees, this particular instance reminded me of the time I was forced to part with a company based on my sexuality.
Back in 2006 when I was employed by a Starbucks in Wisconsin, my manager refused to transfer me because according to her, “Gay is not the image Starbucks is going for. Â It gives a bad name and can lose customers…”
She said that if I put the transfer in, she would tell them I partook in illegal activities and that I was no longer welcome at her store. I threatened to go as far as the Supreme Court with the situation but was informed of something devastating that would change my perspective on equality forever. Â in the United States of America, LGBT people are not a federally protected class. In over half the nation, you can be fired for your sexuality or gender identity.
Currently, 20 states outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Â Twelve states outlaw discrimination based on gender identity. Â What does this mean? Â While I lost my job on the basis that I loved another male, compare it to my manager who was among the population in 29 states (9 more than LGBT protected states) safe under the smoker protection laws.
While I don’t have anything against smokers, I’m sure you can understand my frustration that a lifestyle/health choice receives more protection under our government than my ability to love.
While I understand that my situation may be minimal compared to other LGBT people fired based on sexuality, it puts something into perspective: Â Before fighting to make gay marriage legal, we should consider protecting the people entering those marriages and their families first. Â Remember that anti-discrimination laws go beyond the work environment; it applies to children of gay families as well for example.
I am proud to see the initiative we are taking as a country. Â Iam proud of the progress. Â I am proud of my community. Â We have a long way to go in this battle for equal rights, and I encourage you to get informed on the variety of issues we face on the most primal level.
Please contact your elected leaders and let themÂ know how important it is that sexuality be federally protected against discrimination.
We’re not: “the land of opportunity excluding gays and lesbians.”