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As I’ve been preparing for my presentation tonight to LA’s Westside Republicans, I’ve been reviewing statistics on corporate policies toward gay employees and have been impressed to discover how quickly these private enterprises have responded to the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in American society. And the pace at which they offered benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees did not slacken during the supposed dark days of the George W. Bush Era.
Indeed, the bellyaching of the gay left notwithstanding, the Bush Era was a Golden one for Gay Americans, thanks in large part to the greatness of the federal structure our framers designed–and to the freedom inherent in the American “experiment.” It has become increasingly easy to live openly as a gay person in the United States. Private organizations–and even some government ones–have made greater efforts to accommodate gay employees.
In 2000, only 255 corporations in the Fortune 500 had adopted non-discrimination policies including sexual orientation. When Bush left office, that number was up to 472. Last February, just a few weeks after that much anticipated (in gay political circles) departure, HRC (yes, that HRC) reported that its ”2007-2008 [State of the Workplace] report revealed rapid expansion of protections for LGBT workers in the private sector over the past decade.” A decade in which Republicans dominated Congress and where for eight years George W. Bush had been in the White House.
In 2000, only 102 Fortune 500 companies offered benefits to same-sex partners of their employees In 2008, 286 did. Two years previously, before Democrats had recaptured Congress, Amy Joyce reported in the Washington Post that the “number of Fortune 500 companies that include domestic partner benefits has more than doubled since 2000.” More than doubled under W’s watch? Interesting. Very interesting.
No, I don’t credit George W. Bush personally with this improvement. I don’t look to politicians to make things better for gay people. I just expect them to get out of the way so that private institutions can respond to changing social circumstances. It is politicians’ job to protect our freedom, not to make us feel good about ourselves.
All that said, all these improvements took place while George W. Bush’s was in the White House, with many occurring while Republicans held a majority in Congress. As gay leaders regularly demonized that good man, with HRC’s 2004 President Cheryl Jacques making “George W. Bush, you’re fired” the defining slogan of her short time at the helm of that left-wing organization, things were steadily improving for gay Americans. Mean-spirited, gay-baiting man that W supposedly was (in the eyes of Jacques et al.), he didn’t stop that progress.
The first decade of this century was a golden one for gay Americans. And as long as government stays out of our way and does not impede our social progress so too will the next one be. And the one after that.
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