Target: Rep. James Lankford
Goal: Protest the view that employers should be allowed to fire employees based on sexual orientation.
Earlier this week, Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford said he thought it was acceptable for a person to be fired from their job for their sexual orientation because it’s “a choice issue.” While it is a common argument by many conservatives that people choose to be gay, essentially legalizing discrimination against them is another issue entirely.
When asked if he would support a law that says an employer cannot fire someone for their sexual orientation, similar to race or gender, Lankford said, “Well, you’re now dealing with behavior and I’m trying to figure out exactly what you’re trying to mean by that. Because you’re dealing with — race and sexual preferences are two different things. One is a behavior-related and preference-related and one is something inherently…” In a later interview, he further explained his position on the issue, adding, “I just don’t think you [should] have special protections based on behavior.”
The LGBTQ community and its allies know full well that sexual orientation is not a choice. However, it is clear that lawmakers like Lankford are not against special protections based on behavior, but are simply for discriminating against identities they don’t agree with. For example, being religious is a choice. And yet, freedom of religion is protected under most anti-discrimination laws. Things like race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability face systemic oppression every day, and that’s why it is so important to make sure they are legally protected.
Even though virtually every accredited medical organization believes that being gay is not a choice, lawmakers are still finding ways to allow discrimination based on sexuality. These statements are not about preventing special treatment for individuals based on their choices, because there are actual choices that are protected by law. This is about finding a way to justify policies that don’t protect the gay community.
In a time where bullying, hate crimes, and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals are rampant, legislators should be searching for ways to better protect them. Unfortunately, politicians’ personal viewpoints often become the outlines for our laws. This is why it’s essential to let representatives know that you don’t support discrimination in our workplaces or in our legislation.
Dear Rep. James Lankford,
Every day, millions of people face discrimination at school, work, home, or on their own street, simply because of their sexual orientation. Hate crimes and bullying are more prevalent than ever, a reality that is frightening and unacceptable. Allowing employers to fire employees based on their sexual orientation says that it’s okay to discriminate against someone because of their identity. If we do not promote respect and acceptance in the workplace, how can we expect it elsewhere?
Virtually every accredited medical organization agrees that being gay is not a choice, but this is about creating legislation that protects an already marginalized population. No one should lose their job because of their sexual orientation. In creating and supporting the bills that will become our nation’s laws, please promote acceptance and justice for everyone.
[Your Name Here]