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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Yes, You Can Still Get Fired for Being Gay in 2013

Posted By on Wed, Nov 6, 2013 at 7:00 AM


Did you know that in the Year of Our Lord Lady Gaga 2013, you can still be fired for your sexual orientation? LGBT folks have no federal protections against employment discrimination, so if you happen to live in one of the 29 states without workplace protections in place, then so long, Sally. Ride that rainbow right on outta here!  

We here in the People's Gay Public of Drugifornia are lucky, of course. California is one of 21 states (plus D.C.) that has laws in place to protect people against discrimination based on orientation (and one of 16 states to do so for gender identity), but that doesn't mean we are without our problems, as this week's depressing study about LGBT police officers shows.

According to a new study from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, LGBT people in law enforcement face pervasive discrimination, harassment, and even physical violence  because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Even worse is that such treatment doesn't just affect LGBT people, but also those perceived to be gay, and those who associate themselves with gay officers or community members. 

The discrimination encountered didn't simply involve being fired or demoted, though that would be bad enough, but also included: "severe verbal harassment and sexual harassment, including a death threat, discriminatory slurs, indecent exposure, and inappropriate touching." Not to mention physical assault, including reports on officers "being slammed into a concrete wall, attacked with a chair, and repeated reports of officers being refused back-up, placing their personal safety in danger."

Other key findings note that over two-thirds of LGBT law enforcement officers in a 2009 study reported "hearing homophobic comments on the job" and more than half reported being "treated like an outsider by their colleagues." Thus dashing our dreams that Kima, the lesbian character from The Wire, was an accurate representation of how LGBT cops fared (hey-oh/sob).

And that's not all: Over 90 percent of trans officers reported negative experiences with their departments, including termination, threats, and verbal and physical assaults. High rates of discriminatory attitudes by non-LGBT cops were also pervasive, as we could have surmised from the other depressing study we told you about a few weeks ago.

"This research demonstrates that even the people who protect us from harm everyday disproportionately suffer from discrimination at work," said study co-author, Christy Mallory, former Reid Rasmussen Fellow of Law and Policy. The Employee Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) would help right these wrongs, Mallory continues. "ENDA would bring the nationwide legal consistency needed to protect and provide legal recourse to LGBT law enforcement and corrections personnel who are treated differently because of their sexual orientation and gender identity."

The White House-backed bill is on its way to enda-ing gay discrimination in the workforce (it's likely to pass the Senate this week), but we're pessimistic that the wackpots in the House will vote on it since it doesn't restrict abortion rights or benefit old white businessmen. A spokesman for House Speaker Boehner said in a statement that: "The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs."

Frivolous lawsuits, you say? We'll let Sen. Harry Reid field this one:

Follow @annapulley on Twitter. She'll tweet you right.

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Anna Pulley


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