For Danielle Morantez, working at the Salvation Army was part of her life’s dream to help people in need. Having grown up in a low-income single-parent home, Morantez was familiar with the Salvation Army and the impact it had for people in need. Moreover, when she and her partner Adam moved to Burlington Vt. to escape the “cultural conservatism of northeast Wisconsin” they too turned to the Salvation Army for help until they got on their feet. After meeting the staff and informing them of her long history with the Salvation Army, Morantez was offered a job. And despite her improving the efficiency of the agency she was fired simply for being bisexual.
An excerpt from her guest post at The Bilerico Project.com:
Coming Out to the Army
In the following days, however, I became anxious, feeling that I had betrayed my principles. After all, we moved halfway across the continent in order to live in a place where we could fully be our authentic selves. If I had to crawl back into the closet every day at work, how could I honestly say I was being true to myself and living with integrity?
After a great deal of soul-searching, I realized that I couldn't, so I decided to take the next step in discussing my concerns with my supervisor in accordance with employee handbook's "conflict resolution" section: last Friday afternoon I handed Captain Stephanie a letter. In it, I came out as a bisexual woman, expressed my concerns about the aforementioned passages in the employee handbook, and attached copies of the same.
My letter, the full text of which can be found here, read in part:
I believe I can be an incredible asset to this team... I am just not willing to do that if it means I have to hide who I am, or if I have to constantly wonder if I will get fired for my belief system. I think my sexual identity, life outside of work, and religious views are irrelevant to the social services I provide -- I am not any less qualified for my job today than I was yesterday when you believed I was a heterosexual Christian. I have been having daily anxiety attacks about feeling like I have to pretend to be someone I am not. It is not good for my health as a person, and I am not willing to do that... I want to stay here -- I want to do this job -- but I want to know that when I walk through this door every morning, you know who I am and I want to know that I am here because I am qualified and good at what I do, not because you have a false impression of who I am, or what I believe.
A meeting was set for 10:00 on Monday morning.
Forced to Fire Me
The conversation was interrupted by Captain Bill, who summoned Stephanie into his office. They both returned at about 4pm, their eyes brimming with tears. We returned to the office, where they told me that they had just been informed that their decision to keep me had been overruled. Captains Bill and Stephanie were being forced to fire me. Their superiors told them that they were not allowed to even discuss it with me - I was to sign an exit interview sheet and they were to immediately escort me from the property.
Feeling shocked and deeply betrayed, I asked if I could at least show them my system for reorganizing files, so that they could more efficiently help the clients in my absence. They agreed. Stephanie was heartbroken. She cried the entire time we went through the paperwork, continuously apologizing to me and saying that firing me was "the worst thing [she's] ever had to do." Captain Bill said that he was only allowed to say what the Salvation Army told him to and that since he was forbidden from revealing his own personal opinion, he would not say another word.
And for the rest of the time, he didn't. He just sat there with tears in his eyes.
I said that I greatly respected them both and that I had enjoyed working for them. I told them how much I appreciated the fact that they saw me as the person I am, and how grateful I was for their understanding that my sexual orientation in no way changed, diminished, or devalued, or impacted the great work I did for them in any way. They promised that they would recommend me highly to future employers and would help me and my family however they could.
Morantez is just one of the countless LGBT individual who everday worry about putting food on their tables and being honest with their employers about their families and lives outside of work. Her story is yet another painful reminder that despite these tough economic times, people can still be fired from their job and their livelihood put on the line. To read her full story visit The Bilerico Project.