31 states were without such protection.
Since early 2007, laws in three states became effective; all prohibit discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. A broadened Iowa law took effect on 2007-JUL-01. 5 A similar law in Colorado took effect on AUG-08, and another took effect in Oregon on 2008-JAN-01. 6
Currently (2009-AUG-08), 12 states and the District of Columbia prohibit workplace discrimination based on either sexual orientation or gender identity. Eight additional states have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 8
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force maintains a map of the U.S. indicating states that have legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and on both sexual orientation and gender identity. 7
Employment discrimination is the most common complaint received by the American Civil Liberties Union from sexual minorities.
Do gays and lesbians need employment protection?
A number of surveys promoted by conservative Christian organizations claim that gays and lesbians have higher incomes than heterosexuals, and thus have no need of civil rights protection in employment.
Perhaps the most famous survey is the one conducted by the Simmons Market Research Bureau in 1988-OCT. It is commonly promoted by the American Family Association, Focus on the Family, Freedom Heritage Forum and other conservative Christian groups. The conclusions were reported in The Wall Street Journal in 1991-JUL. The raw data looks impressive:
The problem with the data is that the values quoted for "homosexuals" are in no way representative of the average gay and lesbian. the survey was taken among homosexuals who subscribe to one of 8 leading gay newspapers; they thus belong to a select group within the les/gay community.
A study by Dr. Lee Badgett of the University of Maryland showed that gays earn from 11 to 27% less and lesbians earn 5 to 14% less than the national average. Dr. Kenneth Sherril of Hunter College in New York City conducted a study which showed that the economic penalty of homosexuals was less. The American Civil Liberties Union claims that "the only thing close to a representative survey suggests that lesbians and gay men generally earn less than their heterosexual counterparts."
But even if the average homosexual earned more than the average heterosexual, there would be still be many gays and lesbians discriminated against in employment, and in need of legal protection.
Policies of leading companies:
On 2003-JUL-1 "Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest private employer, [announced that it] has expanded its antidiscrimination policy to protect gay and lesbian employees..." This change is apparently in response to an effort by Pride Foundation -- a Seattle gay rights group -- which had invested in Wal-Mart during 2001 and then had lobbied the company to change its policies.
Mona Williams, Wal-Mart's vice president for communications, said
The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group in Washington, D.C.,
that monitors discrimination policies and laws, reported that nine of the
ten largest Fortune 500 companies now have rules barring discrimination
against gay employees. The exception is the
When the first civil rights bill after the US civil war was debated in Congress, it was criticized for granting "special rights" to African-Americans.
When the Civil Rights Act was debated in 1964, it was criticized because it would destroy the economic viability of companies and attack individual freedom of choice in hiring. The bill became law.
Title VII guaranteed protection against discrimination in employment on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, and disability. This applies to all companies with more than 15 employees. Non-profit religious organizations and the military demanded and received exemption from this law; they insisted that they be allowed to continue to discriminate. But the Civil Rights Act gave no protection for people on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and many other grounds.
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Consultants on Religious Tolerance
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