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Op-Ed: Real workplace protections needed

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The Bay Area Reporter
|
January 31, 2013

"Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law." Those words, spoken by President Barack Obama during his 2013 Inaugural Address last week, give me great hope that we will soon see an executive order prohibiting all federal contractors, regardless of size, from discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace. The order would extend basic workplace protections to between 11 and 16 million people in the United States, according to a report by the Williams Institute. Now that marriage equality has made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, it is time to address the real need for workplace protections. In 29 states, anyone can be fired simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This means that a person married to a same-sex partner in Maryland, a state that has workplace protections, and working in Virginia could be fired just for being gay, with no recourse, unless they are a state employee (thanks to the non-discrimination bill that passed the Virginia state Senate last week). This situation restricts where people can work, and is not conducive for a functioning economy. It is also blatantly unfair for LGBT people. The president clearly stated his support for the LGBT community during his Inaugural Address. An executive order would take his words one step further and build the momentum for 2013 to be the year for significant workplace advances for LGBT people.