It's the Right Time for Gay Employment Rights

Taking advantage of a friendly Congress, President-elect Obama should move quickly to get a bill making it illegal to discriminate against homosexuals in hiring and firing decisions.

Here are some of the arguments against the bill, and some thoughts on each argument.

Their argument: There are already similar laws protecting gay employment rights in many areas, and this is sufficient. My thoughts: If you oppose employment discrimination based on sexual orientation against American workers, it should be prohibited everywhere.

Their argument: It will hurt religious people. My thoughts: The bill could exempt religious institutions.

Their argument: Workplace protections for gays would ban employers with religious beliefs from making employment decisions based on those cherished principles.” My thoughts: This is true — and that’s a good thing. It’s just like under current law: if your beliefs are that everyone who’s not this religion or that religion is going to hell — fine. Just don’t make employment decisions based on that belief.

Their argument: The legislation could “apply to daycare centers.” My thoughts: Gays can be around children.

Their argument: Though it’s tough to change your skin color, a poor performer could easily and quickly be perceived as gay by participating in gay rallies and such to try to appear gay, and then sue if they’re fired. My thoughts: The law should put the burden of proof on the employee, not the employer, to prove they were fired for being gay.

Their argument: Gay workplace rights would chip away at our society and its tradition of man-woman marriage by having the government say it’s OK to be gay. My thoughts: The government doesn’t approve of or advocate for every religion the world; it merely prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of religion. This is similar.

Their argument: Obama should avoid the string of early missteps President Clinton made that caused Clinton to seem like a liberal elitist out of touch with mainstream America. My thoughts: Sure, the leftist media (NY and LA Times, MSNBC, AP, the weekly newsmagazines, and so on) that slobbered all over Obama during the campaign, largely avoided criticial coverage of him, and have all but convinced their readers that George Bush invented polio and kills kittens, sometimes portray religious people as hateful nuts who are against gays. They’re not. Some social conservatives are against gay marriage as a government-sanctioned institution. Some people are nervous about changing military rules during a war. This is different from gay employment rights. Some very socially conservative groups oppose workplace protections for gays, but by and large I believe that mainstream moderate/conservative Americans (where most Americans fall) do not.

Their argument: Over-regulated, over-taxed, over-sued employers don’t need any more laws and regulations telling them what they can and can’t do, and discrimination laws end up hurting the very people they’re designed to help. My thoughts: Employers may feel that a minority is harder to fire, or a pregnant woman is harder to fire, a feeling that makes employers less likely to hire them in the first place. And that the same would then go for homosexuals. This argument — I buy it. It’s a problem. But it’s an argument for a very loosely regulated workplace, with few discrimination laws at all. We’re already on a different path, and as far as I’m concerned, if the law of the land is that you have to make hiring and firing decisions based on business, not racial, ethnic, religious, and other reasons — well, that should include sexual orientation, too.