Culture, Labor, Law

I was reading Noy Thrupkaew’s discussion of recent Gay-themed TV shows in The American Prospect, when this caught my eye [my emphasis]:

Indeed, the presence of a straight man seems to offer an excuse for heterosexual viewers to test out their gaydar,” their ability to discern queer from straight. The producers flatter themselves in the show’s intro by touting Boy as an edifying show that creates a world where gay is the norm and straight men must stay in the closet. . . . Will boundaries be crossed? Can stereotypes be shattered?” As if the show’s contrivances can undo power dynamics and norms in an instant, or become anything more than a crass guessing game — one that trivializes what gays and lesbians are forced to go through every day,” one of my friends recently remarked. In 36 states in this country,” he added, it’s legal to fire someone based on his or her sexual orientation. On this show, role-playing is done for fun’ or for a cash prize — the opposite of what a community has to do to even survive, to avoid the risk of being fired or even gay bashed.”

Could that be, I thought? A Google search showed it to indeed be true. I think it is slightly more accurate to state that in 36 states it is not illegal” since what he really means is that only 14 states have laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.” But that is just nitpicking, it is still quite shocking.

While very few states have such laws, 280 cities and municipalities have enacted their own nondiscrimination laws. So while Texas doesn’t have such a law, Dallas does. Hopefully the cost of keeping track of every local law will encourage larger corporations to have nondiscrimination policies (322 Fortune 500 companies have such policies). Still, we have a long way to go as a society if it is OK to fire someone for being gay in most of the country.