A version of this blog originally appeared as a letter to the editor in the Omaha World Herald on March 31, 2016.
I was disappointed by comments made by Senator Bill Kintner regarding the workplace protections measure that was recently debated in the legislature. Kintner stated that if LGBTQ citizens and their supporters were upset by the defeat of the bill that they could "move outside the Cornhusker state so they could be more comfortable."
I found his comments to not only be offensive but glib. It is easy for someone to tell a group of marginalized individuals to accept the status quo when one has likely never suffered from discrimination.
I am gay and I have been the subject of discrimination in the workplace. I was outed by my manager in the early 2000s when protections for LGBTQ people did not exist in Omaha.
I was not fired after being outed, but something more insidious occurred. A career that was full of promise suddenly stalled out. Assignments were taken from me, I was overlooked for projects for which I was qualified, and I was all but told that my career would not advance.
I approached the Human Resources Department for support, only to be told there was nothing they could do. I am guessing Senator Kintner has never experienced a situation such as mine, or one in which he has suffered any form of discrimination.
In this particular instance my comfort, career and livelihood was not taken into consideration. One might say that my career stalled because I was not capable or qualified for additional responsibility. At the time I was forced to come out to my manager, I had a Bachelor of Science degree in business and an MBA. I also had strong performance reviews and scores of company accolades.
My experience at my current job, Centris a Federal Credit Union, has been personally and professionally rewarding. I have had the opportunity to work with fantastic people, receive challenging assignments, and advance into the role as Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Training.
Being gay has never been an issue at Centris. Everyone with whom I work embraces and accepts me for who I am and the contributions I make to the organization. Moreover, when my husband attends corporate functions with me he is welcomed and treated with respect by my coworkers, senior leaders, and the CEO. I am proud to work for Centris and appreciative and grateful that I am treated with dignity, fairness, and respect.
What many fail to understand is that being gay is part of who I am; being gay is not all that I am. I do not want special treatment, but I do want to be treated fairly. I want to compete without the deck being stacked against me, and I do not want to leave my home, friends and family to have that opportunity.
As the population continues to shift and more Americans retire from the workforce a strong, competent faction of employees will need to take their place. Are some state leaders so arrogant to think that a palatable sense of discrimination can exist and not drive talent to neighboring states that will readily embrace their intellectual capital and their tax dollars?
As Martin Luther King Jr., stated "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." I will fight for justice and equality until my last breath because–Senator Kintner—that is what makes me comfortable.