Alex Blaze

Anti-discrimination statements aren't enough

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 14, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics

One of the many reasons that assuming an employer is LGBT-friendly based on their official statements will make an ass out of everyone is that employers lie. And saying that they're a lot better people than they actually are is a fairly common lie.

Benedictine_University_at_Springfield1.jpgFor example, here's the Catholic Benedictine University's anti-discrimination statement:

It is the university's policy to provide equal employment opportunity to all persons without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, handicap, veteran status, marital status, sexual orientation or any basis protected by law.

And here's what they just did to make the queer news:

The wedding announcement, which included Tadlock's position at Benedictine, a Catholic-sponsored university, appeared in the newspaper July 11.

In a Sept. 30 letter to Tadlock's attorney, Benedictine President William Carroll wrote, "... By publicizing the marriage ceremony in which she participated in Iowa she has significantly disregarded and flouted core religious beliefs which, as a Catholic institution, it is our mission to uphold."

Tadlock was offered early retirement Aug. 27. Tadlock met that day with Carroll and Mike Bromberg, dean of academic affairs.

Tadlock said Carroll told her he had consulted three Catholic bishops about the situation, including Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield diocese.

At least one person, Catholic activist Steve Brady of Petersburg, said he complained to Paprocki. He also wrote and sent e-mails to other church officials condemning Tadlock and Benedictine following the announcement's publication. Paprocki had been installed as bishop only a couple of weeks before that.

I suppose that there is a distinction there between being a lesbian and announcing a lesbian wedding, but it's weak and saying that it's OK for someone to be gay as long as they don't tell anyone is the same as saying it's not OK to be gay.

Unless they fire straight staff when they announce their weddings, the problem they had was fundamentally about sexual orientation. And the school seems to understand that what they did wasn't 100% kosher with their rules:

According to documents Tadlock furnished to the newspaper, the university offered her an early retirement deal Aug. 27 under which she would have been paid one year's salary, two-thirds of her salary the second year and one-third the third year. The offer also included a confidentiality clause prohibiting Tadlock from talking publicly about what had happened, as well as a waiver prohibiting her from filing suit against Benedictine.

It's nice that more and more employers are implementing anti-discrimination clauses that include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and marital status. It means something in some abstract sense.

But unless the government is willing and able to step in and enforce actual laws against employment discrimination, then those statements are just words.

An employer can actually write a letter to an employee saying that she's fired because she's a lesbian and have an anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation at the same time. There have to be other safeguards.

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I know someone who got married, got fired nearly the same day after about 3 years, then had to grab a much lower paying job, (say hello to the economy for me), then due to the ensuing financial strife (water turned and heat turned off due to piling bills), had to get divorced. Oh, and now the blame is not being placed on the firing institution for this. It's the couple's fault. Oh yah, that couple is me.