Joe Mirabella

Sorry, Alabama, You Just Lost an Amazing Employee

Filed By Joe Mirabella | February 28, 2011 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Alabama, ENDA, workers' rights

I just wrote the following e-mail to a head-hunter who wanted me to take a job that would have been a significant pay raise and promotion:

Thank you again for reaching out to me. Unfortunately, I do not feel comfortable considering a position in Alabama at this time. Alabama has a constitutional amendment that would nullify my legal domestic partnership. It is also legal in Alabama to fire someone based on their sexual orientation (or perceived sexual orientation). I have not had to be in the closet at work for over 10 years and I would not want to have to do that again to protect my career. There are certain comforts money just can't buy. Being yourself is one of them.

Thank you again,

Joe Mirabella

It will be nice when my career's path is not impeded by ridiculous state laws. Fortunately, I love my current job, and live in a state that protects my relationship, makes it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the work place and in housing.

States like Alabama are going to continue to lose out on valuable workers and business owners until they update their laws.

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You should send that to the Indiana Senate. They are about to vote on a Marriage Discrimination Amendment. Sadly, I don't think they'd care, but still.

Wish you were coming Joe. The TLGB community in Alabama could use the help fighting against the repression we are subjected to on a daily basis. A lot of us are not able to afford to move "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", so living elsewhere is not an option. A lot of us are People of Color and we sure could use some help connecting the dots between our struggles for equal rights now to past struggles that are not nearly completed yet. Maybe you could have helped us start some businesses that would ONLY hire people from our community. We could use some help pointing out how inequality degrades everyone's lives.
We absolutely could use some help reminding the larger 'community of consonants' in this country that we do exist. Here on the Gulf Coast of Alabama, it is Mardi Gras. Mobile, Alabama gave y'all that queer event. You think Alabama is bad, read Louisiana's Laws, or Google Doe v Jindal.
We definitely need help educating that larger community that one of the fastest growing populations of new AIDS infections are MSMs in the DEEP SOUTH and that it is getting more difficult for people to gain access to treatment. Maybe you could help us out when AIDSAlabama has to struggle to make that case to a bunch of lawmakers from California, New York, and areas where AIDS was epidemic *Twenty Five Years Ago*. They seem determined to hang on to every penny of funding at our expense, despite the grim reality of Southern Corpses. Those come in a spectrum of colors, and national origins, too, BTW.
There are people on the ground here in Alabama and throughout the South working hard to change Laws, Perceptions, and the Realities for Trans, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer people. The task is Herculean but sadly we are not demigods. We could really use a little less snide snarkiness and a lot more help, period.

Thank you so much for the comment. I am
sorry that this small post came across as snide. I simply wanted make a broad stoke statement about the kind of places many of us choose to work when we have a choice. There is so much that goes into making decisions about where to live, and for me Seattle fills nearly all those requirements. That's why my partner and I left Iowa with a little bit of cash and a lot of hope we would find work. The gamble has paid off, but I certainly realize why some simply can't risk it all. I hope this small post helps illustrate one of the many
problems with bad legal structure in this country.


Personally, I didn't find it snide, and I live in an anti-gay/anti-trans state, Indiana. In, fact, I would love to tell every gay or trans person to stay the hell out of Indiana. I feel your approach is the right one--if it starts to hurt businesses, they will put pressure on their Republican lackeys (most of the anti states have Repub govs and now, legislatures) and perhaps things will change.

Perhaps if every single gay and tran person in the US moved to each anti state, one at a time, there would be enough of us to impact elections, and in 50 years we would have rights. A better approach is to have the ppl who are kinda homophobic but care about money decide that gays and trans ppl perhaps arent so bad after all, if they help them make money.

Who knows, if it hurt enough, perhaps even some of the folks who say, "Good, we dont want your kind here anyway" will change their minds, too. Even if they dont, the gay ppl who dont move here dont have to deal with them.

I would so love to have a "Fuck you! Fuck you very much!" moment myself, but I dont have anyone chasing me like you do. :)

Hi Seana,

I just moved to Alabama for school and hear you loud and clear. I want to get connected to the folks who are connecting the dots between our struggles. The visibility is so low compared to other places, yet I know plenty of us are here. I'm glad to know that someone else in the state thinks about it as well.

Right on. Indiana has managed to keep most of my high school friends from returning after college. Now with this ridiculous state constitutional amendment, they're about to lose a non-starving artist and an ER nurse. Guess the state is too full up of competent, well-paid professionals.

Last year my last high school friend left indiana (one stayed after college). Perhaps they hadn't heard about Lucas Oil Stadium! That's what the kids want, a stadium! Fuck living among decent people.

Feel your pain on that. I live in Texas. It's home, and I and others across the state are fighting to roll back the conservaignorance and bring it back to its progressive roots.

Sadly, I'm from Mobile and ...I just don't see me going back other than to visit my mom's grave.

I'm in Conneticutt now, with a good job and workplace protections that you can not find in Alabama. Also a huge community of trans people I can hang out with.

The only thing there for me is my mom's grave. Why go back?

I understand why you left Gina. I left too, and came back just in time to watch as the Gulf Coast got ravaged by all kinds of disasters, natural and human made; all of those events horribly amped up by corruption, greed, incompetence, and a body politic ate up by the cancer of inequality and tumors of irrational hatred. I too am trans, and it has been rough as resources have disappeared and the culture solidified hatred of trans people in particular, and the subculture seemed to want us erased.
Recent events have not changed the fact that TLGBQ are still here; clinging to survival despite...well, everything. A lot of us can't leave for a myriad of reasons. Until and unless the community from elsewhere in the country sends in transport planes and buses and some resettlement help for every last one of us; some of us are willing to fight to make life here a shade better than dreadful. We are a vital part of this culture and we have started to piece things back together; and this time we mean to build our community structures to withstand hurricanes, oil spills, and blasts of hatred.
The one thing that could help destroy this community is smug neglect. Southern enemies of equality thrive on the belief that self-satisfied denizens of other regions would never lift a finger to assist us in the struggle for equal rights. With the South picking up ever more representation in Congress, what those enemies do in Alabama begins to matter in Connecticut; and Washington state; and Indiana.
I would not ask anyone to come back here. We have a lot of challenges that would make that problematic. But it would not hurt to give us a hand now and then. AIDSAlabama has to fight for every penny as do other testing and treatment orgs throughout the South. It is past time to reexamine how and where money could best be spent. There are LGBT Community Centers in many Southern cities; including a brand new one in Mobile. There are new organizations dedicated to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-gender approach to our issues. There are new Trans groups organizing to help reduce homelessness, and substance abuse amongst us. The idea is that we help ourselves by helping each other. So... no I would not ask anyone to move back here, or even to relocate here... but I do ask that y'all don't dismiss us as a lost cause, unworthy of your attention or time either. Regionalistic prejudice is just as pernicious as any other kind and is not helpful to any of us. We are fighting in the same campaign as all of you; and it is not our fault that the foe is particularly viscous and well entrenched where we live.

Kathy Padilla | March 1, 2011 9:00 AM

To me - Alabama is the same as Madsachusetts, New York, Delaware or Maryland.

Kathy Padilla | March 1, 2011 9:01 AM

Pardon sp - typing on phone

Well, apparently there is an opening for a good job there! Maybe you should ask Joe for the contact info.

I kind of expect, though, that trans-specifc laws aside, you would find a much different environment in Alabama versus those other places? I do say this not having lived in any of them, so perhaps you have more direct experience than I do...if so, I defer to that, and apologize for being a smart ass... :)

I'd do the same thing, Joe. After finally escaping Indiana, I can't imagine going back to anything similar.

Traveling to either coast from the center of the Midwest is a form of time travel. If you drive from San Francisco to Indiana, you literally pass dinosaurs somewhere around Denver.

Great statement. It also shows how lucky you are that you are in a position to turn down a job opportunity, instead of needing to take it even though the state law is oppressive.

Good for you, Joe, for sending such a letter!

But I would suggest you send a copy to the Governor of Alabama, and the Alabamam state House Speaker and the leader in their Alabama Senate, whatever they call him/her.

Their reaction would likely be, "Great! Kept another one out!"

Most likely that would be the response from most people in Alabama.

I live in Alabama, but luckily work for a company I don't have to worry about losing my job for being trans or gay.

I've certainly had a conversation with partners that if we ever wanted to start a family or be together in a more permanent sense, that I wouldn't do it in Alabama. I'm pretty much going to leave my job and this state when I become involved in a serious relationship. That sucks for the employer & the employee.

Our new governor in Alabama, Pitchfork McJesus, made headlines not long ago for saying non-Christians weren't his brothers and sisters, and we had a lily white Republican sweep of the legislature, and the gov. is talking cut, cut, cut. Any other Alabamians want somebody to get mad with, drop me a line. This state is now back in the fifties again.