Will Gay Marriage Change The American Workplace?

Gay Marriage's effect on local economy and jobs

One of the most striking results of Election 2012 was that gay marriage initiatives were passed by popular vote in three states (Maine, Maryland and Washington).

And voters in a fourth state, Minnesota, rejected a constitutional ban on same sex marriage. At the same time, the first openly gay senator was elected to the U.S. Senate, Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin.

But many hurdles remain, beyond the 41 states in which same-sex marriage still isn't allowed. As far as gay workers are concerned, the issue can be even more fundamental than government recognition of relationships -- it's legal in 29 states to fire a worker for being gay.

Significantly, not all movement on gay-related issues is toward the expansion of new rights, as several localities throughout the country are moving to roll back progress that gays have made. So it's in fact a matter of two steps forward, one back. "These results speak to a nationwide urgency to do more," Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Commission, said after the election.

Steps Backward

Several local votes have recently sent the gay rights movement backward.

In two Kansas cities, Salina and Hutchinson, voters nixed anti-discrimination ordinances that were already on the books. Both ordinances would have outlawed discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. Both votes passed by comfortable majorities. In the case of Salina, the issue cannot be brought up again before the city commission for another decade. Kansas state law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public employment, but there are no statewide anti-discrimination laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender workers.

And just weeks before the election, the city of Boca Raton, Fla., was revealed to have opted out of Palm Beach County's equal employment provisions back in January 2011. Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel insisted that the move was a way to protect home rule, because the town indeed does "follow state and federal law." But Assistant City Manager Mike Woika compared LGBT rights to pet lovers' rights. "What's to keep other groups from wanting to be protected?" he said, according to South Florida Gay News. "How about me? I'm a pet lover.... Someone who has dogs should not be discriminated against either."

The decision to opt out, which was initially presented to residents as a "housekeeping item," only came to light when the city lost out on a $250,000 contract to handle hazardous waste, as the county will not do business with any party that doesn't adhere to to its anti-discrimination policy. To secure the contract, the city ultimately signed an agreement saying it will not discriminate against LGBT employees. But according to South Florida Gay News, it's unclear whether the final agreement results in any actual legal precedent protecting gay workers in Boca Raton.

Toward Equality In The Workplace

Near the top of the national agenda for gay rights advocates: To convince President Barack Obama to sign an executive order banning employment discrimination against LGBT workers employed by the federal government and government contractors. He passed on doing so earlier this year ahead of the November vote.

More: 5 Industries Still Hostile To Gay Workers

Another top priority is the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would be a safeguard for gays in the 29 states where they can still be fired for their identity. (ENDA would also make it illegal to discriminate against transgender Americans, who can still be fired for their identity in 34 states.) ENDA has been proposed every year in Congress since 1974, with the exception of 1994, to no avail.

For activists, equality at the altar, which Obama came out in favor of in May, is simply not enough. "Obama should demonstrate conviction and make it clear routinely that LGBT people deserve full equality in every aspect of American life," Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD), told the Huffington Post

The National Mood

But whatever does happen to laws affecting gay rights in the workplace, gay marriage continues to be the true bellwether for the gay rights revolution. And since the last national election cycle, support for gay marriage throughout the nation has grown nine percentage points, according to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center. In 2008, 39 percent of America supported making gay marriage legal. The figure now stands at 48 percent.

Support for gay marriage, which is on the verge of becoming a majority viewpoint in the country, is at odds with the legal framework in many states in the nation. Over the past 15 years, 30 states have prohibited gay marriage by popular vote. Views vary widely by region; 62 percent support gay marriage in New England, while the figure stands at 35 percent in the "central South," which includes the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Love, Marriage And The Labor Market

The legalization of gay marriage also has proven to have a positive impact on the labor market, beyond even short-term economic gains for states that now have more weddings on their hands. (New York City's economy saw a boost of $260 million in the year after after the state legalized gay marriage back in 2011.)

In reacting to same-sex marriage in Maryland, Ronald J. Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins University, the state's largest employer, told The Baltimore Sun that in his previous job as the provost of the University of Pennsylvania, he saw that the school was able to attract talent from the state of Wisconsin when that state voted down the extension of health care benefits for same-sex domestic partners in 2005.

And so for him, the Maryland law provides "a strong economic benefit for the state in having a progressive, humane and just legal environment so we can attract people, talent and creativity to Maryland and keep them within the state."

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It has already changed the work force and the military drastically

January 23 2013 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gays do not have to worry about the future .They will get all the rights they want because it will get more votes for the democrats.I know a lot of gays, never a problem. One of my best friends took his life before he fully changed over to a woman.I believe there has been a lot of genetic problems that has caused this which have been caused by the polluted earth.I just take it as a alteration of a not so perfect world.

January 22 2013 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All I want is my union to be legal, i don't want a church wedding. I just want my parner as well as I k, given the same LEGAL rights as anyone else.

November 26 2012 at 6:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am truly amazed at how this nation is on the virge of becoming Anti-Christ. Few seem to realize that our bodies come with an instruction manual-----The Holy Scriptures. This book was written by the Hand of God and is for the benefit of mankind. You see, without this instruction manual, our bodies will self-destruct, just as a new automobile in the hands of an irresponsible owner. Unfortunately, there are individuals who refuse to be bound by any law, whether scriptural or natural and have decided that no one, man or God, will dictate ever how they live. The results of their ungodly behavior will eventually affect and surely devastate all of us. These laws in the scriptures, were put there for the purpose of protecting us from ourselves, from all wickedness and from the Judgements that are a result of mankind's disobedience. I've noticed that most of the citizens of this country have never read the scriptures in it's entirety even once in their lives. In order for one to understand the mind of God--- his cares, his reasoning, his mercies, his provisions and his judgements, it is imperative that one reads the scriptures from cover to cover at least once in their lives to understand that a true Christian is not a "homophobe", but he fears the righteous Judgements of the Lord upon the land. One should understand that if we open the door for one group of perversion (and indeed we already have), we MUST eventually open the door for EVERY group of perversion. Simply put and as far-fetched as it may seem, at some point, the pedophiles will come calling, demanding their rights. How low will we go? How low are you willing to go? Will you stand for Jesus, despite the rage of the anti-christs? I fully expect many of them to blaspheme this post with their unholy vitriol, even the ones who attempt to put in their "intellegently educated" twists. Far too many people are confused about the righteous way. Even many "churches" have added to the confusion by "watering down" the scriptures. The only way that you will know for sure, is to read the entire Holy Bible from cover to cover for yourselves, then the Holy Spirit help you to discern between the quick and the dead and save yourselves from this untoward generation. It is my prayer, that all who read this post will read and heed the word of God. That way, you will become fully aware of God's opinion and therefore debunk "popular opinion".

November 26 2012 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am truly amazed at how this nation is

November 26 2012 at 12:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am hetrosexual , I could care less who is gay , bi, lesbian , married or not . I dont know if its herditary, in the genes , or just and act of preference . What I do know is they are PEOPLE , If they choose to marry ,then why not . Inter-racial marriages are still frowned upon and will be for years to come , my own father dis owned his daughter for marrying a spanish guy . The bottom line is we all live , we all die , we all bleed read and we are all human . I wonder how many people on here that are so against gays ,what they would do if they found out one of their siblings or children were still IN THE CLOSET . As for Obama , he switched horses in mid stream on his beliefs , i would rather him say no contest than to suddenly change his position . Dont judge lest you want to be judged .

November 26 2012 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I must say thank you to all the mouth breathing bigots out there that don't realize our benefits (your tax dollars) pay our military retirement. I'm retired army & my husband of 23 yrs is retired navy. It means so much that you care to keep sending us monthly payments for the last 20 or so years & now want to complain about civil marriage? (which happens to be a CIVIL right). We served proudly even to protect your right to bitch & moan about things you don't have a clue about. You can stop shoving your antiquated religion down our throats, & we promise to not make you suddenly have sex with the same gender. Keep the CIVIL in CIVIL MARRIAGE. Even a church wedding has to have the state's permission to wed. But, do us all a favor & be on the right side of history for a change. We are not heterophobic, but admit we hate it when you get away with acting that way in public & denying us the right to do so too. Like old racists you too will die out soon & the world will be a better place with out you. Just ask your children & grand kids. Your heterosexual privilige is showing & it's not pretty. If I were you, I'd get back to worrying why you have over 50% divorce rates? Certainly you can do better.

November 26 2012 at 10:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Just a thought...why should gays pay tax's if they cannot enjoy the benefits of them in some cases? Is that being 'equal?

November 26 2012 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Keith Cumbie

I would type in the usual references to 99% of all medical professionals say that GAY is a part of normal society and has been around for tens of thousands of years. I would also usually mention that Religion has nothing to do with secular law and society. Religion is a choice. If you choose to be a bigot that is between you and your deity...but
I won't bring those things up. The ignorant theocrats won't bother to try and comprehend them and the bigots have already decided to ignore them. To those people all I have to say is this. You are a dying breed of knuckle dragging hypocrites. As you die out the population of thinking, tolerant and loving people will grow. It can't happen soon enough for me.

November 26 2012 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Keith Cumbie's comment

After that nasty tirade do you consider yourself one of the "tolerant and loving people"/

November 26 2012 at 9:22 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to MikeH22020's comment
Keith Cumbie

I consider myself educated on the topic and on societies viewpoints. If you wish to make fact a tirade then so be it. I have never stopped anyone from going to church or having inbred bigotry. If you wish to be in the category of the latter that is your perogative but i won't support it and i won't wash it clean for you. Personally I think discrimination is vile.

November 26 2012 at 9:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
Keith Cumbie

Most certainly I am tolerant and loving. I have never stopped anyone from getting married, holding up hate sign at soldier's funerals or from having gainful employment with the same benefits as anyone else. Pointing out bigotry and the hypocrisy of religion simply makes me truthful.

November 26 2012 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

To all the duped dopes who continue to use the old, tired and stupid lines about how marriage is one man, one woman, or biblical law says this or that: we are not defined by your silly, ridiculous religious beliefs. That is YOUR thing. And, if you want biblical marriage, which kind? Multiple marriage? Arranged marriage? Do you also believe, as the bible says it is okay to own slaves? Stop using the book of Jewish fairytales as a guide to thinking people living our lives.

November 26 2012 at 8:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to manmi1's comment

It's not the book of Jewish fairy tales, (as Bill Mahr put it), it's the Christian Bible whose majority of readers adhere to and believe word for word. Most Jews are pro gay. (Any one who is orthodox or fundamentalist in any religion is not...this is a problem) My father was responsible for allowing the first gay synagogue 40 years ago to open. I believe the anti-gay people are those that believe in Christ, which is the "bible" they adhere to.....the one that they made after they killed the jews and had them fleeing and dispersed for 2000 years, by the Romans, who were openly gay. It's one crazy world. Pointing fingers doesn't help.
not the "Jewish book of fairy tales". Jews have been the main focus of bigotry from time immemorial, and still are. I hardly think they ae the ones guiding people's decisions.

April 19 2013 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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