Over the past few weeks, you'd have to be living under a rock to have not heard about the plight of Brendan Eich, the Mozilla CEO who resigned following an uproar over his $1000 donation to support California's Proposition 8.
Prop 8 took the right to marry away from California's gay and lesbian citizens, and it also ignited a new wave of LGBT activism in the United States and abroad. Since then, as history goes, Prop 8 was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States and once again gay and lesbian couples can again enjoy the rights of marriage in that state.
The attention given the story of Mr. Eich is astounding -- every newspaper, television show, blog, or website I can think of has covered the story in some fashion. Even Bill Maher blamed the "gay mafia" for the "whacking" of Eich. The narrative (as happened with Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson) has turned to "He was fired for his beliefs!" and "He's being persecuted over the way he voted!" Firstly, neither is true -- Eich resigned and the uproar was over his funding of a law that stripped civil rights from a group of human beings. Finally, it was not the "gay mafia" that did the "whacking," it was employees, board members and customers of Mozilla that spoke out -- not a single LGBT org that I saw, ever spoke out about the issue.
What astounds me the most however, is the insane amount of coverage of this story. One straight Mormon guy decides to quit his job because the free market demands it and there is widespread news. Whereas people get fired for being LGBT in this country on a regular basis and there's hardly a peep; oh yeah -- and it's legal in most states.
Take the story of Kenneth Bencomo, an arts teacher at St. Lucy's Priory High School in Glendora, CA. His wedding to his now-husband was announced in a local paper (with no mention of his employer). He returned to work only to find he'd been fired for getting married to someone of the same sex.
Or how about Mike McMahon, president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington Virginia for three decades? He had served as music director and like Bencomo, was fired following his marriage to his husband.
Then there's Laura Jane Klug, a fifth grade substitute teacher in Texas who was just suspended this week due to her being transgender.
Last year Carla Hale, a gym teacher at a Catholic high school in Columbus, OH was fired when someone read her mothers obituary. The obituary listed Carla's partner among survivors of her late mother.
Burke Wallace, varsity football coach at Livermore Valley Charter Prep High School in Livermore, CA was fired from his coaching position after casually mentioning to a colleague that he was married to a man.
There are hundreds of stories like this every year and hundreds more that people are ashamed to tell due to rampant hatred and homophobia in communities across the country. And unless you read LGBT blogs or see a story occasionally pop up on your Twitter or Facebook feed, you won't hear about these folks. People that can get fired for putting a photo of their spouse on their desk at work. People that have to hide in the closet if they want to keep their job. There are a thousand of these stories for every Brendan Eich, but we never hear about it.
These are people who've done nothing to harm another person. There only crime was loving a person of the same gender and yet they were punished, with governmental support in many cases. Maybe it's time to start sharing these stories instead of defending bigots.
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