by Selisse Berry | As I was watching the State of the Union address this evening, I was so moved to know that the White House had reached out and included two lesbians to sit with the First Lady tonight. It is particularly noteworthy that both women have made an important contribution to workplace equality. When Lorelei Kilker encountered discrimination at her workplace, she took a stand for herself and other women, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated sexism by her employer. Col. Ginger Wallace is one of those breaking new ground as an openly lesbian member of the Armed Forces. Their presence makes all of us proud.
Tonight, the President continued his focus on jobs and the economy, issues that are vital to all Americans. These are also very much issues of concern to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. We know that in difficult economic times, people who face discrimination in the workplace have an even tougher time. Prejudice makes jobs harder to get and harder to keep. That is why it is so important that we continue to work for federal legislation that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We must make sure that all people are included in our economic recovery.
On Thursday, several Out & Equal staff members and constituents will be participating in the Creating Change Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, speaking directly to members of Congress and their staffs about why we need protection from discrimination. They will be sharing our important message that diversity is good for business, a fact that the majority of the world’s largest businesses know and celebrate.
We can all take steps to make workplace equality a reality in our country and around the world. Whether we are taking action on legislation, making change in our individual workplaces as Lorelei Kilker and Ginger Wallace have done, educating co-workers about our LGBT lives, or making changes in our workplace policies, all of us can play a role.
As President Obama said tonight, “We’ve come too far to turn back now.”