While Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese may call President names and attack the Administration’s policies, a recent report from his very organization shows that things continue to improve for gay Americans in the five-and-one-half years since George W. Bush took office. In a release last week, HRC heralded the publication of its “The State of the Workplace for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Americans 2005-2006,” a report which finds (among other things) that, “The American workplace has reached a milestone this year with the majority of Fortune 500 companies offering domestic partner health insurance benefits.”
Since 2001, the year Bush took office, “10 times the number of Fortune companies cover gender identity.” Currently, “Eighty-six percent of Fortune 500 companies also include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy” You can download the report here.
In announcing this report, Solmonese says a lot of things I agree with, notably:
While protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are stalled in Congress, corporate America continues to surge ahead. This isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue. It’s an issue of basic fairness and good business.
It is good business to treat gay employees fairly. By doing so, companies both offer incentives to gay people to work for them and create a better work environment for existing employees, increasing worker productivity.
While I am frequently critical of HRC, I do believe their Workplace Program is (on the whole) a good model for what gay groups should be doing to make things better for our community. Instead of trying to politicize our concerns, they work with private companies, helping them implement “fair and equal policies.“
I believe that the best way to improve conditions for gay people in America is to work with private institutions. That HRC is doing that is a credit to the organization. And that these improvements have taken place during the Bush Administration shows that things are not as bad for gay people as the organization’s overheated press releases might suggest.
One reason that the most extreme social conservatives have issued similarly overheated statements (on gay issues) of late is that they have become powerless to stop the increasing openness of Americans to gay people. Americans may not yet be ready for gay marriage, but they are increasingly tolerant of and respectful to their openly gay fellow citizens. Even in an era where the more conservative political party is ascendant.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com