When I first moved to Pennsylvania, I worked with at-risk youth. While working with a group of teens, one of the teenagers asked me if I had a girlfriend. When I refused to answer such a personal question, the teens began spreading stories around that I was gay. I had to worry about whether my employer would fire me because a few teenagers perceived me to be gay.
Unfortunately, in 29 states including Pennsylvania, it is legal to be fired because of your sexual orientation. Later this fall, the United States Senate will debate the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which is similar to laws that already ban discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender and nationality. Religious institutions would not be required to hire people they feel live against their principles and small businesses with 15 or fewer employees are exempt from this bill.
Over 80 percent of Americans support banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In a country where we embrace diversity, and promote opportunity, employers should judge individuals based on their abilities and merit, not their sexual orientation.