Op-ed: There's No Excuse for Discrimination at Work

Rep. Jared Polis is taking the helm in a long fight for an overdue law to keep LGBT Americans rightfully employed in every single state.

BY Jared Polis

May 09 2013 3:00 AM ET

Even universities, which are considered centers of “liberal thought” in otherwise conservative communities, have fired individuals for revealing their identity as a member of the LGBT community. Kathleen in Iowa was fired when her department administrator at the University of Iowa told her that because she was transgender and would be transitioning from male to female, she was no longer needed in the lab.

Members of the LGBT community should feel welcome and know their rights are protected regardless of what state they reside in. That is why it is critical for Congress to pass a federal law that will protect every American worker from facing discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Having to censor yourself — whether it’s lying at the water cooler about how you spent your weekend, scrubbing your Facebook page of any revealing facts, or pretending to be with someone you aren’t — is the antithesis of our foundation as a nation based on freedom of expression and association.

Unfortunately, many Americans fail to realize what you and I may be keenly aware of: In the majority of states in this country it is still perfectly legal to be fired, denied a promotion or be otherwise harassed because of who you are or who you love. That’s why I am asking for your help. Take the time to educate your friends and family, your coworkers, and your peers. Tell them how this issue impacts you.  Each and every member of the LGBT community who has come out to their family and friends has played a critical role in changing public opinion when it comes to protecting the rights of the LGBT community. It's simply contrary to our values as Americans that a boss should be able to get into the personal business of their employees and fire them because of perfectly legal things they do on their own time.

Take the time to contact your representatives and make sure they are cosponsors of ENDA. Ask those who care about equality and those who care about you to do the same. Before long, I hope we will be signing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act into law and celebrating another important milestone in the march toward full equality by making workplace discrimination illegal.

 

JARED POLIS is a congressman from Colorado.

Tags: Commentary

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