What an interesting day it has been for someone who considers herself pro-business and pro-gay. For someone who opposed Obamacare because it is a mandate but also because of its unsustainable long term cost, not just to business, but to the Federal government.
How do you reconcile being a pro-gay Republican on a day when historic legislation is winding its way through Congress outlawing discrimination, not just against gays but also bi-sexuals and transgenders? Federal law already bans discrimination based on race and sex. But what about sexuality? This is as bedroom as bedroom politics gets. It’s also a great test of whether social issues are still clouding our judgement when it comes to issues that are ultimately economic.
Speaker John Boehner has announced he cannot support The Employment Non Discriminaton Act because it will lead to frivolous lawsuits. The United States Chamber of Commerce has taken a neutral position, which to the LGBT community, is tantamount to a victory. Do we need federal laws to ban workplace discrimination against the LGBT community when 90% of companies already have discrimination policies in place? Yes, we do. It’s a question of doing the right thing. And as far as arguments that it could lead to more charges of workplace discrimination, it might be useful to consider that there were only 100,000 charges of workplace discrimination based on gender or racial bias brought before the EEOC last year.
I say this is a case, once again, of business trumping politics and a reason that we need more business minded candidates to run for office. Businesses are looking for quality employees to help grow our economy. And protections like these are designed to make employees comfortable. This law is akin to hanging a welcome sign on the front of your house. The law would essentially say, “Yes, LGBT employees, it is safe to work here.” Remember we’re talking about WORKING.
One interesting eventuality of this law’s passage is that it will force people to consider the laws in their own states. Because while polls overwhelmingly show a majority of Americans support this kind of legal protection, 29 states including Missouri, have avoided writing workplace protections in to their state statutes. According to FreedomtoWork.com, nearly three-quarters of American voters support protecting people from workplace discrimination. It might not surprise you that 81 percent of Democrats support ENDA but it could surprise you that 66 percent of Republican voters polled, did too.
I’ve blogged in the past about the fact that I think the question of equal pay for equal work is a no-brainer. But, the fact is Phyllis Schlafly was right about whether it falls under the scope of federal legislation. It falls squarely inside the realm of a negotiable item between an individual employee and her employer. Because the fact is many modern women would rather trade time with children or ailing relatives for equal pay.
This law is different, though. This law is simply asking for protection from being fired because you are something other than straight. And that seems pretty straightforward to me.