Antigay Bias in Role-Model Occupations

By E. Gary Spitko | Go to book overview

Preface

In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court held in Obergefell v. Hodges that the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment preclude a state from denying marriage recognition to same-sex couples.1 Unquestionably, Obergefell was a monumental advance for gay civil rights. The arrival of marriage equality, however, does not signify that the struggle for gay equality has been won. Thus, a certain peril arises from the view that marriage recognition for same-sex couples is an apotheosis. Indeed, the prioritization of marriage equality by gay civil rights groups and the intense focus of popular media on the fight for marriage equality in recent years have tended to obscure from public attention the significant obstacles to gay equality that continue to exist.2

Equal employment opportunity for gay people remains a vital but unrealized goal. Numerous empirical studies conducted over the last four decades suggest that sexual orientation discrimination is a persistent and pervasive phenomenon in American labor markets.3 Despite such evidence, concerted efforts to enact legislation that would protect workers from sexual orientation discrimination have met with only limited success. No federal statute expressly proscribes such discrimination. Moreover, only twentytwo states as well as the District of Columbia prohibit private employers from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.4

Aside from the issue of the extent to which sexual orientation discrimination is common in American labor markets is the question of why employers might discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of their sexual orientation. That question is the focus of this book. In many cases, no doubt, mere animus toward gay people motivates the employer’s discrimination: some people find gay people repugnant and do not wish to associate with them. In other cases, the employer’s belief in a stereotype—

-xi-

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