Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The nation's largest political lobby for homosexuals said Friday that state and local governments, as well as major corporations, are doing more to prohibit discrimination against their employees who choose to engage in homosexual behavior or dress and behave as members of the opposite sex.
But advocates for traditional family values warn that homosexuals are trying to use coercion to force public acceptance of their lifestyles.
Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), complained that homosexuals are the victims of widespread persecution in the workplace.
"For the country's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, something as simple and basic as going to work each day is fraught with complications and discrimination," Birch claimed.
Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Family Institute of Concerned Women for America, questioned the premise of Birch's claim.
"The evidence is very flimsy that people who have homosexual desires are not faring well in the workplace," Knight said. "If anybody's not faring well, it's people with traditional values who are undergoing 'diversity' training [and] gay and lesbian 'affirmation training,' and they're having their values challenged every day."
Local governments adopt pro-homosexual ordinances
According to a report by the HRC entitled "The State of the Workplace," 15 local jurisdictions added those who engage in homosexuality and bisexuality to the lists of groups that receive special protections in the workplace. New York was the only state to pass a law banning workplace discrimination against those who engage in homosexual or bisexual activities.
An additional 16 cities or counties passed measures giving special protections to so-called "transgendered" employees. HRC uses the term to identify "anyone expressing characteristics that don't correspond with those traditionally ascribed to that person's birth sex or presumed sex."
"The legislative battle continues to loom," Birch noted. "In 36 states, it is still perfectly legal to fire someone based solely on sexual orientation, and in 47 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone based on gender identity."
Again, Knight challenged the premise of Birch's complaint.
"It's also perfectly legal in 50 states to fire somebody for being left-handed, but you don't see a left-handed movement out there demanding special rights in the workplace," he responded. "Homosexuals as a group are doing well economically. They cannot demonstrate a widespread pattern of discrimination; far from it.
"And for them to claim the same sort of victim status as black people," Knight continued, "is an insult to the struggles that black people have had in this country."
Pro-homosexual laws passed 'in the heartland of America'
But Kim Mills, education director for HRC, attached significance to the municipalities "in the heartland of America" that have passed pro-homosexual ordinances.
"We believe this is a clear indication that Americans of all stripes in all parts of the country believe that it's wrong to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people at work," Mills argued.
Knight doubts that the jurisdictions that have passed such measures realize the potential for conflicts they have created.
"If homosexuals want to act in a sexual manner in the workplace and then claim that's part of their 'orientation,' what's an employer to do about it?" he asked. "Provisions like these guarantee that employees can exhibit any bizarre sexual behavior they want and claim discrimination if an employer objects."
Such laws, which Knight said should be called "gay lawyer employment bills," also interfere with employers' efforts to protect their other workers from sexual harassment.
"We have had reports of homosexual employees flaunting their sexuality and discussing their sexual behavior on the job, and then claiming discrimination against co-workers who complained and didn't want to hear it," he recalled. "When you put these kinds of laws on the books, you are guaranteeing coercion against employers by unscrupulous lawyers who can exploit the new rules."
Homosexual lobby also pushing for corporate policies
Mike Haley, manager of the gender issues department at Focus on the Family, believes homosexual activists can be equally as coercive in their efforts to force corporate America to embrace their lifestyle.
"Again, we see the gay and lesbian community pushing and pushing and pushing until they find that every organization in our country puts a stamp of approval on their behavior," he said. "While they believe that this is good for businesses, we're not seeing that."
Haley noted that the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force recently began reconsidering whether it would offer so-called "domestic partner benefits" to its employees because of cost and administrative concerns.
Daryl Herrschaft, associate director of HRC's "WorkNet" project and the chief author of the report, believes companies are enacting policies offering special treatment to homosexuals for three reasons:
"Gay employees asking for and, in many cases, helping to implement these policies; employers wanting to remain competitive and diverse; and consumer sentiment toward 'progressive' corporate practices," Herrschaft claimed.
Knight conceded that Herrschaft is probably correct about the first two factors but disputed the third.
"Gay activists within companies are pushing hard for these things. I think companies in certain areas are claiming they have to do this to remain competitive, [though] I don't think they have to," he said.
With regard to Herrschaft's claim that consumers are pressing for companies to enact such policies, Knight said: "That's utter nonsense.
"Consumer America is not demanding that companies accommodate every bizarre form of sexual behavior there is," Knight declared. "That's just a fantasy."
A poll conducted by the Gallup organization between May 5 and May 7 asked 1,005 adults this question: "In general, do you think homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities?" With a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, Gallup found that 88 percent said yes, while 9 percent said no.
Respondents were more equally split on whether or not they believed homosexuals should be able to enter into so-called civil unions or legally adopt children, or whether homosexuality is "an acceptable alternative lifestyle."
The poll did not ask whether employers should be able to fire or otherwise discipline homosexual employees for injecting their sexual behavior or preferences into the workplace.
Research cited by a coalition of homosexual lobbying groups in recent court documents indicates that approximately six million homosexuals live in the United States. According to the National Health and Social Life Survey, 2.8 percent of the adult male population and 1.4 percent of the adult female population acknowledge engaging in homosexual or bisexual behavior.
Approve of homosexuality - or else
The HRC claims in its report that 15 Fortune 500 companies added non-discrimination policies covering "transgendered" workers in 2002, while 20 of the 500 implemented "domestic partner benefits" - insurance and other perks normally available only to spouses of married workers. Sixty-one percent of the Fortune 500 also reportedly now include homosexuals and bisexuals among the groups protected by their anti-discrimination policies.
"Homosexual activists like to point out that more and more companies and jurisdictions are adopting these kinds of policies, but what they don't tell you is that, at a certain point, these policies won't be voluntary," Knight predicted. "Companies that want to maintain traditional values will find that they can't get government contracts, they won't be able to supply larger companies that have bought into this radical sexual agenda.
"Companies that honor marriage and family will find themselves very pressed to compete in the marketplace, and that's what the gay activists are aiming for," he warned. "They are aiming for coercion to force everyone to approve of homosexuality - or else."
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