Equality has its price, and so does denying it
I have to take the opportunity to be thankful this week. The Senate managed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDS) earlier this month. With a vote of 64-32, the legislation made it through the Senate with 10 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure. Now, I know optimism is a wonderful thing but sadly, I must report that South Carolina’s own Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Tim Scott were not among the impressive progressives. Go figure. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them.
I think we have to look at this as the best deal going at the moment. In a Congress that is arguably the least productive when it comes to legislating since around 1940, the Senate is stepping up to tackle the budget, immigration and now ENDA. It is worthy of note that this legislation was originally conceived by Ted Kennedy and Gerry Studds, both Democrats from Massachusetts, in 1994. Nineteen years isn’t so bad when you’re dealing with a group of people who are about as dysfunctional as any group of people from reality television. I know I’m right about this because just as I typed those words, the Kardashians popped up on my television screen.
The thing we’re talking about here is non-discrimination. That’s pretty simple. Hell, it’s even in the title. It’s not as if they confused people by labeling it the Universal Acceptance of Rainbow Workers United Act. The bill prohibits any sort discrimination in the hiring and employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Many people are surprised this sort of workplace bias is not already illegal, but the reality is that it is not a national law. LGBTQ folks are vulnerable in 29 states that have not passed similar local legislation. Guess where South Carolina fits into that mix?
Being out at work is certainly a very personal decision and it can be approached on many different levels. I am one of those HRC-bumper -sticker, SC-Equality-license-plate-types. I support the cause but I don’t really approach it as the leading qualifier to every conversation I have. Still, I have dealt with the negative impact of people who are hopelessly lost in the culture of not acknowledging such matters. Working for a company in both its West Coast and East Coast divisions, I have been able to observe varied approaches to diversity in the workplace. Company policy is one thing. People being on board with it is completely different.
A brief survey of employment lawyers in both South Carolina and North Carolina will provide you with the same results. Of the many reasons that you can pursue a wrongful termination case against an employer, sexuality and gender identity are not protected. That’s called being powerless and it should never happen to anyone in this country.
As thankful as I am that the Senate has given us this gift of a place in the national spotlight, we have a problem. The House of Representatives, led by Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is pretty much promising to deal the death blow to the measure as soon as it arrives. Somehow, I don’t remember this type of bullshit being a part of those Schoolhouse Rock commercials on Saturday morning television when I was a kid. Somehow then the process seemed to be much more honorable. Of course, then I was still watching “The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Hour” so my depth of understanding political issues may have been less astute.
Boehner’s official cop out on why he won’t support this important legislation is that it will lead to frivolous lawsuits. Imagine that. Giving people the power to fight back when they are targeted for direct discrimination must seem terribly frightening for an elitist of Boehner’s breeding. I don’t know why he just doesn’t man up for once and own his staunch anti-gay sentiments. I mean, surely he has brief moments of lucidity when he’s not drunk on power or Wild Turkey.
The late, great Sen. Moynihan of New York said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts. I find it appalling that Speaker Boehner, who is entrusted by the people to make laws, is so fundamentally mistaken about what is currently on the books. The Speaker is completely wrong on the facts and the law and he is completely disingenuous in his public representation of these facts. To be a bit more succinct, Boehner is a lying tool.
However, as Thanksgiving approaches, I will keep with the theme of my original message and even give thanks for the seemingly endless diatribe of negativity and mistrust that the LGBTQ community receives from Boehner and those who mirror him in both the House and the Senate. I welcome his misstatements and I look forward to hearing more from him. For me, this season means 2013 is coming to a close and 2014 is an election year for a group of people with a nine percent approval rating. The new year will be the perfect opportunity to clean House of a group of bullies whose best tactics have been obstructionism, defaults and shutdowns. Equality has its price and so does denying it.
OUT & ABOUT
Saturday, Nov. 23 – Dancing with the Horry County Stars will hold its fundraising event, which benefits Early College High School, at the Grand Dunes Marina Inn in Myrtle Beach The event begins at 8 p.m. For information, go to www.horrydancing.com.
Sunday, Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day will be observed by CareTeam with a flashlight vigil in Plyler Park in front of the Skywheel on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach from 6-7 p.m. Starbucks will hand out free hot chocolate at the event. For additional updates, visit www.facebook.com/careteam.
Friday, Dec. 6 – First Friday Happy Hour/Takeover Grand Strand will celebrate its annual holiday event at the Dunes Village Resort located at 5200 North Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach. This event includes a cocktail hour with appetizers, drink specials and dinner menu. For additional information, visit www.firstfridayhappyhour.org.
Thursday, Dec. 19 – The Rainbow House Bar & Grill will host its annual Christmas Party for the Children of Horry County DSS at 6 p.m.. This is an opportunity to make the holidays better for children in need. Gift tags for children will be available at Rainbow House Bar & Grill starting Friday ( Nov. 22). For more information, go to www.facebook.com/pages/Rainbow-House-Bar-Grill.
Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal.