Hard work is not enough for LGBT employees to get ahead

By Kimberly Lord - 06.07.2013

As June rolls around this year, we have much to be excited about with regard to advances for LGBT individuals across the U.S.  In light of these advances, it’s also important to look at the hurdles and inequities that continue in our workplaces.

A coalition of leading LGBT organizations, policy experts and business advocates have released a report documenting these challenges: A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits and More Taxes for LGBT Workers

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates reminds us of five key areas where American businesses need to create equity and the need for federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBT workers.

HOW IS THE BASIC AMERICAN BARGAIN BROKEN FOR LGBT WORKERS?

  • Lack of nondiscrimination protections. No federal law and only a minority of states provide explicit protections for LGBT workers, even though protections exist for other workers based on factors such as race, national origin, religion, ethnicity, and disability. Progress has perhaps been impeded by the fact that 89% of Americans mistakenly believe that it is already illegal under federal law to fire someone simply for being LGBT.
  • Family and medical leave. LGBT workers are denied equal access to unpaid leave to provide care for a same-sex spouse or partner. Transgender workers are often denied medical leave for transition-related medical care.
  • Family health benefits. An employer that extends family health benefits to married opposite-sex couples can legally deny that same coverage to married and unmarried same-sex couples. When LGBT workers do receive these benefits, middle-income families pay an estimated $3,200 in extra taxes on them, although heterosexual workers get the same benefits tax-free.
  • Spousal retirement benefits. LGBT workers are systematically denied Social Security spousal benefits designed to protect workers’ families during their retirement years. This costs retired same-sex couples up to $14,484 per year, and a surviving same-sex widow or widower up to $28,968 per year. Same-sex partners also may also be denied pension survivor benefits.
  • Death and disability benefits. If an LGBT worker dies or becomes disabled, the worker’s same-sex spouse-and in some cases, his or her children-will be denied Social Security disability and survivor benefits, costing a surviving spouse with two children as much as $29,520 in annual benefits.


 

No Questions Asked

By Sue Hoye - 05.16.2011

I’m on the wedding circuit these days, or maybe I should say I’m on the commitment ceremony circuit. For whatever reason, many of my LGBT friends have decide to publicly declare their unions this spring, despite the fact that most of the states they live in do not recognize same-sex marriage.

For the latest ceremony in late April I drove 12 hours south of DC to Atlanta, a city I lived in for 10 years and still consider one of my homes. I took my two sons, 12 and 8, on the long drive. We had hours and hours to fill and we managed just fine. We talked about their love of the Chicago Bulls and their adoration of the #1 Derrick Rose.

They peppered me with so many basketball facts I could call a game myself now. But the NBA wasn’t the only topic. We talked about school, the Waffle House (they love a place with waffle in the name), why they can sell fireworks in South Carolina (they love the idea of blowing things up), and a million other random subjects. The one thing we never discussed was the commitment ceremony they were about to attend. I can’t say why, it just never came up.

It is important to know here that while I’ve been attending these events, this was a first for my offspring. There we were sitting in a beautiful backyard in Atlanta on a warm spring afternoon, flowers surrounding us, old friends greeting me and marveling at how much the children had grown. We sat down, the music started, the flower girls entered and then it hit me. I hadn’t told the boys that two women were getting married. What would their reaction be? Could I quietly prepare them now in this confined space, surrounded by people? The answer was no, and I had to wait to see what would happen. Read more »