As I sat at my desk this morning, reading over the stacks of paper required of new employees and signing off on countless agreements, guidelines, handbooks, and policies, I was struck with something I wasn't expecting to find at 11:00am, thirty-two stories above New York City: marriage equality really matters.
After I read through the distinctions between part-time and full-time employees and the amount of paid vacation alloted per year, I got to the section on bereavement leave:
The policy covers the death of the employee's spouse, child(ren), parents, parents-in-law, brothers, sisters, and grandparents.If I were to have a husband someday soon (and I hope to have one!), under existing laws he wouldn't legally be considered my husband. Would I have to work those days or worry about losing my job?
But full equality goes beyond creating and enforcing laws, what really matters is creating a society that honors and respects all its citizens. When I got to the sections describing how hiring and promotion decisions are based solely on merit and not prejudicial characteristics, I felt a pit in my stomach as I read over the non-discrimination policy:
race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or any otherI gave a sigh of relief to know that in New York state, sexual orientation is protected in employment non-discrimination (and gender identity too!), but not only did I feel as if the company was only including me because they were compelled by law to do so, I also realize realize that my work has offices and stations around the country in places that don't have protective legislation. What about those people?
characterstic protected by law.
I'm sure that today will be only one of many days when I will come face-to-face with the very real differences between my rights and responsiblities and those of my straight American counterparts. I look forward to the day when such occurences are memories of the distant past, but they won't become a part of the past unless we work in the present to change things.
As a queer person, I can only do so much. Which is why I'm excited by Soulforce's latest campaign, Seven Straight Nights For Equal Rights, which empowers and emboldens straight Americans to take up the banner of LGBT equality, knowing that freedom and equality must mean freedom and equality for all. So far, activities are being planned in 11 states and you can volunteer to plan one in your state!
It will only be one night and is as easy as standing vigil outside a state capital building or attending a public gathering. It's a way that you can stand up and say, my gay and transgender friends matter to me and I want them to be honored and respected. You can use the Get Involved form to sign up or you can email me and I'll make sure someone contacts you (or you can do both!). And of coures, as Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights is a Soulforce and Atticus Circle campaign, any contributions to this grassroots non-profit organizing effort go a long way (You can make a general donation or sponsor a state).
But seriously, why donate when you can stand up yourself ... it's so easy.
I'm excited for you to stand with me!