Ending employment discrimination based
on sexual orientation and gender identity
Background, cultural implications,
Caution: The webmaster is editorializing here, & probably offending everyone.
The bill has exposed a fundamental division among the American public. Many
adults fall into one of two solitudes:
Those who consider LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) topics as
behaviors that people do, that are intrinsically disordered, immoral,
chosen and readily changed. They consider homophobia and transphobia
(discrimination against sexual minorities) as noble acts, and part of their
system of traditional values, inspired by revelation from God.
Those who consider LGBT topics as orientations and identities that people
feel. All are healthy, normal, and natural for a minority of adults,
morally neutral, unchosen, and always -- or essentially always -- fixed. It is
homophobia and transphobia that they view as profoundly immoral. They largely
base their beliefs on the findings of human sexuality research, and personal
experience learned from LGBT persons, or from being a LGBT person.
It is difficult to conceive of two positions that are so diametrically
opposed. At least one of the two solitudes is dead wrong about the nature of
sexual orientation and gender identity.
Essentially no discussion or debate is occurring between the two sides. Deep
dialogue between does occur, but is generally limited to private exchanges between two
individuals. Positions otherwise are quite hardened, largely because the two
groups' foundational beliefs about the nature of truth, sexual orientation, and
identity are in total conflict, and non-negotiable.
In an ideal world, constructive dialogue between the two solitudes could
result in a cooperative research program that would study the true nature of
sexual orientation and identity. Ideally, much of the conflict would evaporate,
as the two solitudes harmonized their differences. Unfortunately, this is not an
ideal world. Any resolution would require at least one side to fundamentally
modify its understanding of reality and truth. That is probably too much to hope
for. Most people's allowable rate of change on ethical, moral, and particularly
sexual matters is extremely limited.
Forgive me, but in moments of weakness, I sometimes wonder whether both
solitudes prefer that the conflict not be resolved, and are trying to
prolong it. It certainly generates revenue in large quantities.
Forty years ago, ... it was entirely possible for an employer in any state to legally fire workers
because of their sexual orientation ... that remains true today in 30 states. Bob Packwood, Miami Herald,
"The fact remains -- in 38 states, you can be fired from your job because
you are transgender." Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF). 2
"KBHC is committed to fostering an environment that daily affirms the
professional, personal, and spiritual development of our staff. That
environment includes a safe work place, an appreciation of multicultural
backgrounds, and a commitment to ethical integrity." Excerpt from
The Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children's mission statement. They
fired an employee because she is a
"The single most important thing [gay and lesbian] people can do is to come
out, and one of the obstacles to coming out is the fear that you're gonna lose your
job." Representative Barney Frank (D-MA)
Over the past two centuries, a series of moral and ethical battles have been
fought in North America to end discrimination and oppression of of people on the basis of
their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
The conflicts included oppression of people
on the basis of their:
Religion, including long-term genocidal attacks on Native
Americans, mass murder of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (The Mormons), and oppression of Roman Catholics,
Jehovah's Witnesses, Wiccans,
other Neo-Pagans, and others.
Race, including the ending of human slavery, internment of Japanese
during World War II, a more recent lessening of racial segregation and discrimination, and
an end to state bans of inter-racial marriage.
Gender, including permitting women to enter various professions, allowing them to vote and run for office,
giving them access to
contraception, access to abortion, and expose them
of official sexism, except among some conservative religious denominations
where they are often prohibited from ordination.
In 1969, the Stonewall Riots in New York City's Greenwich
Village, triggered a major drive for equal rights for lesbians and gays. Later,
equality for bisexuals, was added. This introduced a fourth conflict over:
Finally, in the early 21st century, growing attention has been given to a
Gender identity, including the recognition of gender reassignment
surgery for transsexuals, and protection from hate crimes
for persons of all sexual identities: cisgendered persons, transgender
persons, and transsexuals.
The latest move is the creation of a bill in Congress to end employment
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Although some states have passed
this type of legislation, they
remain in a minority.
Definitions of sexual orientation:
The vast majority of religious liberals and
mainliners, therapists, human sexuality researchers, etc. define sexual
orientation by the gender of persons to whom an individual is sexually
Bisexuals are attracted to both men and women, although not
necessarily to the same degree.
Homosexuals are attracted only to the same gender.
Heterosexuals are attracted only to the opposite gender.
However, many social and religious conservatives define sexual orientation in
terms of of behavior. It is what people do, not what they are. It is
something that one chooses, not discovers. Conservatives often ignore
bisexuality, and classify people as either homosexual or heterosexual depending
upon their recent sexual activity.
A few fundamentalist Christian groups define sexual orientation in a unique way.
||The three generally acknowledged sexual orientations;
||The two sexual identities;
About two dozen or more paraphilias -- "a family of persistent,
intense fantasies, aberrant urges, or behaviors ..." involving human
sexuality and including bestiality, necrophilia, pedophilia, hebephilia, ephebophilia, etc.
A few additional behaviors like incest and prostitution.
3 More details
Needlessly to say, debate, discussion and dialog are essentially impossible if:
Most people recognize three sexual orientations in terms of feelings, while
A minority recognizes two orientations based on behavior, and
||A few groups recognize over 30 orientations.
The result is mass confusion over the bases over which individuals are
protected by hate crimes and employment discrimination laws.
Definition of gender identity:
For the vast majority of adults, the gender that they sense themselves as being match their genetic gender. A
person who regards themselves as a woman will have a female genetic gender; a
person who identifies as a male will have a male genetic gender. This is
called being "cis-gendered."
However, for transgender persons, who
form a very small minority, a mismatch occurs. Some describe their feelings as
being a woman trapped in a man's body, or vice versa. The internal conflict
that most transgender persons feel is unbelievably intense. Many end their
pain by committing
suicide before they are 30 years of age. Therapy, prayer, and other methods of
harmonizing their feelings with their genetic gender have a zero or
essentially zero success rate.
Some transgender persons, often called transsexuals, enter
into gender reassignment surgery and medication programs to change their appearance to match their
perceived gender. If carefully managed, this has a very high success rate.
Again, there is a difference between many religious and
social conservatives and the rest of the population. Take the case of a male to
female transsexual (MTF). This is a person with a male genetic gender and a
female gender identity. Many conservatives consider the person to have remain a
male even after gender reassignment surgery, hormone medication, and years of
living as a woman. Almost everyone else regards the individual as a female. This
conflict produces obvious problems:
Re: marriage: Is a MTF transsexual who marries a
man entering into a same-sex marriage or an
opposite-sex marriage? Conservatives would consider it a same-sex marriage;
others would view it as an opposite-sex marriage.
Re: sexual orientation: Is a MTF transsexual who is sexually
attracted to a male to be regarded as a gay or heterosexual? Conservatives
would consider both the person's genetic gender and behavior, and call him gay
if he acted on the attraction, and a heterosexual if he did not. Others would
consider her to be a heterosexual.
Many Americans assume that persons of different sexual orientations, whether
heterosexual, bisexual, gay or lesbian, are protected against job discrimination.
Not so. There are state laws against employment discrimination on the basis of gender, race,
and other grounds. But most states do not have a law protecting the jobs of gays,
lesbians, bisexuals, and heterosexuals, based on their sexual orientation. Even
fewer protect cis-gendered persons, transgender persons and transsexuals on
the basis of their gender identity.
Various unsuccessful bills have been introduced at the federal level since 1994 to safeguard the jobs of
persons of all sexual orientations. The 2007 version originally added protection on the
basis of gender identity. However this provision was later deleted in an
unsuccessful attempt to obtain its passage under a Republican administration.
protection was restored to the 2009 version.
So far, none of the bills have become law. However, the 2009 version may
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
Bob Packwood, "Include gays, lesbians in anti-bias act," Miami Herald,
"Inclusive ENDA Introduced! Urge Your Senators to Support Crucial
Legislation," Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, 2009- AUG, at:
"Paraphilia," Wikipedia, downloaded 2007-APR-18, at:
Copyright © 2009 to 2011 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-AUG-07
Latest update: 2011-SEP-20
Author: B.A. Robinson