The City Council of Austin, Texas is taking greater steps to promote equality by considering a resolution to favor those companies that support workplace equality!
From the Austin Business Journal:
The Austin City Council may take up a resolution this week that would ratchet up protections for gay, lesbian and transgendered employees of companies that contract with the city and give added consideration to businesses seeking loans or incentives from the city that offer domestic partner benefits.
The resolution under consideration adds to an ordinance the city passed in 1992 prohibiting all city contractors from discriminating against prospective and existing employees based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The new measure would mandate that all contractors with the city provide an actual copy of their employment non-discrimination agreement. Noncompliance would result in the termination of the contract and could hinder the company’s ability to secure future work with the city, a draft of the resolution states.
The resolution also calls for the city manager to amend all economic loan programs and incentives, including the city’s Business Retention and Enhancement Program and others, encouraging companies seeking incentives to provide domestic partner benefits and have non-discrimination policies.
The measure is being sponsored by Council members Laura Morrison and Bill Spelman.
In a letter to council members, Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce President Chad Peevy encouraged approval of the measure. “The passing of this resolution will send a clear message to the greater community that Austin is a supportive and inclusive environment for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender,” he wrote.
Though legislation known as the Employee Non-Discrimination Act is being pushed in Congress, there are currently no laws at the federal or state level protecting employees from workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The city of Austin already offers domestic partner benefits to all of its employees. Austin voters approved that measure, which required a change to the city charter, in 2006.
From President Obama’s address to the NAACP’s Centennial Convention:
“The first thing we need to do is make real the words of your charter and eradicate prejudice, bigotry, and discrimination among citizens of the United States. I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today. But make no mistake: the pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights. On the 45th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, discrimination must not stand. Not on account of color or gender; how you worship or who you love. Prejudice has no place in the United States of America.”
“A gay couple says they were detained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints security guards after one man kissed another on the cheek Thursday on Main Street Plaza.
‘They targeted us,’ said Matt Aune, 28.
‘We weren’t doing anything inappropriate or illegal, or anything most people would consider inappropriate for any other couple.'”
Just like all civil rights struggles, the more progress we make, the more our foes will push back. The Mormons targeted this couple because they were gay…
Homophobia, as with any other prejudice, is mere ignorance.
The term second class citizen is often used to describe a person who is systematically discriminated gainst within a state, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there, and instead of being protected by the law, the law disregards a second-class citizen.
In America, LGBT citizens are treated as second class citizens. There are 1138 rights that heterosexual Americans enjoy that are denied to homosexuals. There are no federal hate crime laws or protections from discrimination for gay citizens. They are not allowed to serve openly in the military. There is a federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. They cannot file joint tax returns. And in most states they may be denied seeing their sick/dying partner in the hospital, participating in their partner’s medical decisions, or adopting children.
There is no place in America for inequalities under the law, especially in 2009. If history has taught us anything, it’s that all human beings deserve equal rights and protection under the law. History has shamed America before, and it will shame America again. We are witnessing history in the making right now, and we are a part of the change and a part of the progress.
One day your grandkids will read in their history book of the gay rights struggle and they will ask you, did people really believe gay people didn’t deserve equal rights? What was wrong with those people?ß