Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Mark of Fairness: With ENDA Stalled in Congress, a Straight Couple Has Stepped Up to Help Stop Antigay Discrimination in the Workplace

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Mark of Fairness: With ENDA Stalled in Congress, a Straight Couple Has Stepped Up to Help Stop Antigay Discrimination in the Workplace

Article excerpt

In 1979, when Yale economist and author Ian Ayres was an undergrad, he went home for a visit with his girlfriend. As expected, he was told she would sleep in the guest room. Then, Ayres says, "my dad said, 'Your sister is coming to visit next month--with her girlfriend. And your mom and I are thinking we will let them stay in the same room.'

"I was so surprised," recalls Ayres, with a tinge of lingering adolescent pique. His father explained, "You have the right to marry whenever you want. Society doesn't give your sister that option. And it's not fair to never let her stay in the same room with the person that she loves."

It's a political coming-of-age story that provides a context for the work that Ayres--along with his wife and colleague, Jennifer Gerarda Brown--has been promoting all summer. In addition to plugging their new book, Straightforward: How to Mobilize Heterosexual Support for Gay Rights, the pair are spearheading a campaign to offer a nondiscrimination trademark to every corporation that promises fair treatment to gay and lesbian employees. It's their response to Congress's inability to pass the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would outlaw antigay discrimination on the job.

To earn the "Fair Employment Mark"--the letters FE within a circle, not unlike a copyright or registered trademark symbol--a corporation would have to sign a legally binding contract promising not to discriminate against gays and lesbians. …

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