Legal Protection for Minorities
Do you think that special interest groups such as homosexuals, women, and other minorities need special constitutional amendments to protect them from discrimination? Explain. Whenever this subject is brought up it usually brings a lot of controversy with it. I am one of many I am sure who is torn when it comes to discussing the rights of minority groups. Although I don’t feel that any specific group deserves special protection over another group; I do feel that all groups of people deserve equal protection under the law regardless of race, nationality, religion, political views, gender, disability, or sexual orientation.
Most all of these “minority groups” are protected under the law but one that isn’t are gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. Employment discrimination is the most common complaint received by the American Civil Liberties Union from gays and lesbians. As of mid-1996, Americans can be legally fired from their jobs simply because of their sexual orientation in 41 states. That number is still the same to this very day. A study showed that gays earned from 11 to 17% less and lesbians earn 5 to 14% less than the national average.
The American Civil Liberties Union claims that “the only thing close to a representative survey suggests that lesbians and gay men generally earn less than their heterosexual counterparts. ” But even if the average homosexual earned more than the average heterosexual, there would still be many gays and lesbians discriminated against in employment, and in need of legal protection of some sort. When the first civil rights bill to follow the US civil war was debated in Congress, it was criticized for granting “special rights” to Afro-Americans.
When the Civil Rights Act was debated in 1964, it was criticized because it would attack individual freedom of choice in hiring. But it passed. It guaranteed protection against discrimination in employment on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, and disability. But the Civil rights Act gave no protection for people on the basis of sexual orientation. As of October 1998, only 12 states in the US had passed civil rights legislation protecting homosexual worker.
This means that in 80% of the states, an employer is perfectly within their rights to fire (or refuse to hire, or refuse to promote) an employee solely because of their sexual orientation. This puts heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals all at risk of being fired. A bill was introduced in the mid 1970’s which would do for gays and lesbians what it had done for Afro-Americans, and women and others. It went nowhere. Another version of the bill was presented to congress in 1994. It was called the Employment Non-Discrimination Act or ENDA. It was supported by President.
Clinton, and reintroduced in September of 1996 with the backing of the House and Senate Democratic minority leaders. The bill was characterized by conservative Republicans as controversial, immoral, and un-American. Although it made it to the Senate it was not passed, and would not have had a chance at all in the house. Homosexuality, though not supported by many Americans, is a way of life; and no reason for someone to be legally discriminated against under United States law. America is supposed to be a land of “equal opportunity”; not a land of equal opportunity for everyone except those who lead lifestyles different than ours.