By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 08 2013 4:31 PM ET
A gay bank employee in Texas is suing his local branch after years of unequal treatment and eventually being fired based on his sexual orientation.
Marty Edwards, an assistant vice president at First National Bank of Granbury, stated that he asked the bank's executive vice president and the human resources director why he had been passed over for promotions in the past, despite a strong 11-year track record at the bank. They replied that the other workers who had received the promotions were "a better fit for the image we are looking for."
Edwards was hired right out of college, according to the Dallas Voice. He had been groomed to move up the ladder at the bank until he came out five years ago. Edwards also said he experienced a hostile work environment at the bank after coming out.
When Edwards asked whether his sexual orientation was the main reason he had been denied chances to move up, executive vice president James G. Hodges demanded his resignation. When Edwards refused, Hodges fired him.
"Unfortunately, Texas is one of 29 states that does not have an employment non-discrimination law covering sexual orientation...," Edwards wrote in a Change.org petition. "Which means that in 29 U.S. states, people like me can legally be fired just for being the way God made us."
Hopkins told the Dallas Voice that Edwards was "fired for legitimate reasons."
Texas state representative Mike Villarreal has submitted another bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (34 states have no protections against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression). Equality Texas executive director Chuck Smith said the bill is among his organization's top priorities.
"It's a civil rights issue for us, but a broader and more appealing discussion point," Smith said, "is hiring and firing decisions should be based on ability to perform the job."