Is Workplace Equality Good for Business ?
It’s a simple question as presented by Apple CEO Tim Cook in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed and he provides the answer :
So long as the law remains silent on the workplace rights of gay and lesbian Americans, we as a nation are effectively consenting to discrimination against them.
In short, by inference, anti-discrimination laws that exclude sexual orientation and gender identity legitimize that these forms of discrimination are permissible.
Today, the US Senate took a step to address this by beginning the process of debate on S.815 – the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Nothing moves in the Senate without a “cloture” vote … where 60 votes are needed to move a bill forward for debate. In this instance, seven Republican senators joined 52 Democrats and two independents to move forward on the bill: Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, Susan Collins, R-ME, Dean Heller, R-NV, Mark Kirk, R-IL, Orrin Hatch, R-UT, Rob Portman R-OH and Pat Toomey R-PA.
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) cited a couple of examples of people where this legislation could help, such as :
West Virginia coal miner Sam Hall was terrorized by his coworkers for seven years because he was gay. Mr. Hall just wanted to make a living. But supervisors told him he would have to endure the persecution if he wanted to keep his job. West Virginia is one of 33 states with no protections against this type of oppression.
But it isn’t just in the coal mines, that employees can be harassed … the sports world is buzzing about Miami Dolphins starting offensive tackle Jonathan Martin who walked off the team due to constant teasing by teammates. Mr. Martin, the son of Harvard educated lawyers, is athletically talented and educated at Stanford. While the team avoided questions about the abusive relationship between Martin and some of his teammates, other team sources reveal Martin left because he is gay and his teammates don’t like him.
So we know the problem exists … even though some might want to ignore it.
And the political world is buzzing over Maine gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud Op-Ed:
Yes, I am gay. ‘But why should it matter?’
I wasn’t surprised to learn about the whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about my personal life. They want people to question whether I am gay.
Allow me to save them the trouble with a simple, honest answer: “Yes, I am. But why should it matter?”
That may seem like a big announcement to some people. For me, it’s just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation millworker or a lifelong Mainer.
I don’t plan to make my personal life or my opponents’ personal lives an issue in this campaign. We’ve had enough negativity in our politics and too many personal attacks over the last few years. We owe it to the people of Maine to focus on how we get our state back on track.
We need to create an economy that works for everyone; expand access to affordable health care; invest in our infrastructure to help Maine’s businesses, farms and fisheries expand to new markets; and ensure that all children — regardless of where they live — have access to a world-class public education.
We need to remind people here and across the globe that Maine is a wonderful place to live, go to school, raise a family, start a business and retire.
Now more than ever, we need a leader with the experience and temperament to bring people of different ideologies — Democrats, Republicans, independents and Greens; CEOs and labor leaders; sportsmen and conservationists — together. That’s something I’ve spent my entire career in public service doing, and it’s what I will continue to do if elected by the people of Maine to be your next governor.
Mike Michaud currently represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District in Congress and was elected in the same year as John Kline (R-MN-02).
While Representative Michaud is running to be Maine’s next governor, John Kline told a group of reporters in April that he’s focused on keeping his house seat.
“I’m not running for Senate, and I’m not running for governor,” Kline said.
Represenative Michaud stepped up … he could have stayed in Congress but he felt he would serve the people of Maine better leading state government … whereas Representative Kline recognized that even if he voted against cloture, it still would have been approved … so his best chance to
obstruct … err “represent” his vision, would be as a part of the Republican House leadership.
Well, if Representative Kline is focused on being a Congressman, then he needs to address the Employment Non-Discrimination legislation.
As previously mentioned, the House has a companion bill … H.R.1755 – Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 which has 193 co-sponsors — Republicans and Democrats (note the number has increased since the previous Roundtable entry as two Republicans and five Democrats have signed on.)
Chairman Kline knows that this legislation could have been enacted years ago, but it fell one vote short in the Senate … even though it was approved by the House (with the support of 35 Republicans.) John Kline was one of the NO votes … today, as Chairman of the Committee, he can just obstruct.
Yes, H.R. 1755 legislation is sitting … waiting … for a committee hearing … and its fate rests at the hands of Chairman John Kline. Obstruction is not why voters elect representatives … if it is a bad bill, vote it down … if the proposal needs to be tweaked … do it. That is what the Senate is doing … but Chairman Kline just lets it sit … hoping that if he ignores the issue, the voters will also.
Contrast John Kline’s obstruction with the words of Mike Michaud: Now more than ever, we need a leader with the experience and temperament to bring people of different ideologies — Democrats, Republicans, independents and Greens; CEOs and labor leaders; sportsmen and conservationists — together.
The idea of working together is something that we heard about in the last election … from Mike Obermueller.
“The passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate would be a historic step towards eliminating discrimination in our country,” Mike Obermueller recently said. “Congressman Kline is part of the problem in Washington – he’s choosing inaction over action and he’s looking past the overwhelming support of the people. We need leaders that can come together to eliminate discrimination and ensure a fair, safe workplace for all Americans.”
Mike is trying to move Chairman Kline into action … encouraging people to sign a petition … here’s the cover letter :
What if your boss could demand to know your sexual orientation, and if he or she didn’t like the answer, you could be fired on the spot?
There are countless states where this appalling discrimination is still permitted.
The Senate is about to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would protect every person against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
By signing this petition, you are acknowledging that every American deserves the opportunity to work free of discrimination.
Now is the time to get this done.
Mike’s right … it is time to get it done … sign the petition … we know the problem exists … even though some might want to ignore it … let’s not allow John Kline to ignore it.