While the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in favor of gay marriage will help many Americans enjoy the benefits of a legal recognition of their unions, there is risk too. In Texas, one of many states that do not bar discrimination in employment and housing, gay marriage may make gays more vulnerable.
For instance, in Texas, a gay man could head to city hall for a marriage license, take his vows with his partner, and his boss could then fire him and his landlord could begin eviction proceedings based on his sexual orientation, and it would be legal.
“At the very moment that same-sex couples in the majority of states in this country partake in that new right that they have, to marry to person that they love, that wedding happens at 10 a.m. They can be fired by noon and evicted from their homes by 2 p.m.,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, told TIME in an interview.
More than 206 million Americans live in states where employers can fire someone for being gay, and only 18 states and the District of Columbia prohibit housing discrimination based on a tenant’s sexuality.
Gay rights activists – in addition to pushing for more state and local safeguards – are campaigning for a broad federal shield that would give sexual orientation protected status under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The goal is to establish overlapping local, state and federal laws, which has proved effective in curbing other kinds of discrimination.
Federal orders and court decisions, particularly with employment, are offering more safeguards. Last year President Obama barred discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity by federal agencies and federal contractors. Also, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined that discrimination against gays amounts to illegal discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Although federal and state sexual orientation discrimination laws are still evolving, no employee should have to tolerate discrimination or harassment at work. Contact Dallas employment lawyer Dan A. Atkerson to learn how to stop and prevent sexual orientation discrimination.
Atkerson Law – Dallas Employment Law Attorney