by Ralph A. Kellogg, Omaha
I am gay and I have been the subject of discrimination in the workplace. I was outed by my manager in the early 2000s. And I am asking you to contact your state senator in support of LB627, a bill to provide workplace nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ employees and applicants statewide at https://action.aclu.org/send-message/ne-enda.
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 many people in our state have never experienced a situation such as mine; or one in which blatant discrimination such as this has been encountered.
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's of science degree in business and an MBA. I also had strong performance reviews and scores of company accolades.
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.
I am lucky to work for an organization that not only allows me to be "open" about who I am, but willingly accepts my husband. The senior leadership team at Centris Federal Credit Union values the work that individuals produce, and does not subject employees criticism, retaliation, or alienation due sexual orientation or gender identity. My life and career have changed substantially since the above mentioned event. My husband of 26 years and I married, I secured a job as the Vice President of Human Resources at Centris Federal Credit Union where I have been employed for 10 years, I teach, and I am active in my community.
I cannot express how much it means to me that I can go to work and not be afraid of losing my job simply because I am gay. Unless members of the committee have experienced discrimination due to gender, color, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or gender identity, then it is impossible to fathom the degree of relief and gratitude I feel.
I am richly blessed, and all people deserve to have the opportunity to work, live and love without fear of termination, eviction, alienation or violence.
I support LB627 because it is just, moral, and compassionate.
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 when inequality exists for some of us, it exists for all of us.