Since I’ve been throwing the word “equality” around a lot this week in my coverage of the Prop 8 ruling, here’s another issue worthy of your attention:
More than 3 million lesbian, gay, and transgender adults in the U.S. live in states where workplace discrimination against them is still legal.
This week Piper Perabo, Whoopi Goldberg, and Brad Goreski are starring in a new PSA (see below) on workplace discrimination, this month’s featured issue at Cyndi Lauper’s WeGiveADamn.org.
Perabo’s the star of the USA Network’s new series Covert Affairs, from the producers of The Bourne Trilogy movies. Goldberg is a host on ABC’s The View, plays God in a new movie called Earthbound, and has a role in Tyler Perry’s upcoming film adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. Goreski is the style director on Bravo’s The Rachel Zoe Project.
Partners in the Give a Damn campaign include Centerlink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Freedom to Marry, Gay & Lesbian Medical Association (GLMA), Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Netword (GLSEN), Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality, SAGE services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders, Service Members Legal Defense Network, and The Trevor Project. In April, actress Anna Paquin gave the campaign a big boost when she announced, for the first time, “I’m Anna Paquin, I’m bisexual, and I give a damn.”
Here’s more on the workplace discrimination issue, via WeGiveADamn.org:
Imagine having to brace yourself every day for insults and abuse from your co-workers. Or having to decide which is more important: keeping your job or staying home to take care of your loved one, who’s seriously ill.
Imagine being denied a promotion—or even getting fired—just because of who you are.
And imagine there was nothing you could do about any of it, because it was all completely legal.
Would you give a damn?
Despite the strides we have made in this country to try to ensure equal opportunities, equal treatment and equal pay for all, “all” doesn’t necessarily include someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. We have laws to protect against workplace discrimination—but not on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. In 29 states, you can get fired just for being gay. In 38 states, you can get fired just for being transgender.
And while the federal government helps working Americans take care of their families—like being able to take leave from work to care for an ill spouse and being able to cover loved ones through the health insurance and retirement benefits from work—gay or transgender employees don’t get that same kind of help.
It turns out that only 21 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Of those, only 12 also protect employees from discrimination based on gender identity.
And more than 3 million hardworking gay and transgender adults live in states that offer no protection from any kind of workplace discrimination.
Corporate America is starting to make progress on the issue. More Fortune 500 businesses are now offering protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity than ever before, and a little over half offer domestic partner benefits.
But we still have more work to do.
Because, a decade into the 21st century, only the largest of American businesses protect all employees from being fired capriciously. Three out of every 5 American citizens live in jurisdictions that offer no such protections.
Because the nation’s biggest employer—the federal government—still doesn’t consistently offer the same level of workplace protections or benefits for its gay and transgender employees as it does for its straight workers.
And because people are still being fired for who they are.
It’s time for things to change.
It’s time to end workplace discrimination and give everyone the opportunity to work hard, earn a living and provide their families.
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