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The Harsh Reality of Gay Rights

By Amy Zaiter (azaite2@uic.edu), copy editor for the chicago bloc[k]

Coming from a diverse place like Chicago, segregated though it may be, and especially from such a diverse campus like UIC, it seems unreal that people’s jobs and lives can be so quickly and easily destroyed simply because of how they identify sexually.

Coming from a diverse place like Chicago, segregated though it may be, and especially from such a diverse campus like UIC, it seems unreal that people’s jobs and lives can be so quickly and easily destroyed simply because of how they identify sexually.

John D. Sutter, a human rights and social justice columnist for CNN Opinion, wrote a piece on Andre Cooley, a 27-year-old juvenile corrections officer in the state of Mississippi, who was fired three summers ago when his boss found out that he is gay.

A domestic dispute between Cooley and his partner led Cooley to call the police. When a coworker answered the call it set off the domino effect that would end his employment.

When Cooley’s boss discovered his sexual orientation, he was fired just three days later. It seems almost unimaginable to hear about people being fired for their sexual orientation when the media is so consumed and focused on same-sex marriages and other LGBTQ rights.

Just three years ago, in this very nation that is supposed to represent freedom and “all men created equal,” Cooley was terminated because he is gay.

It is easy to forget about laws protecting from termination for things like race, gender and sexual orientation when in a state that legally cannot discriminate based on such things. However, imagine coming to work everyday trying to conceal your true sexual orientation, constantly being on edge, making sure words do not come out wrong.

A lot of people would argue that at least progress is being made in some aspect of LGBTQ rights. However, should there be concern that the progress seems sporadic? Shouldn’t everyone in the U.S. be able to go to work everyday without worry before they can even consider marriage issues?

The bigger question seems why do separate laws need to be made for different sexual orientations in the first place? Why is it that our laws are not sufficient or explicit enough to cover all people? Would it be any worse if a straight man were fired for being straight? It should not be.

Cooley took his case to court and was eventually offered his job back. The county in Mississippi where he works now bans employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity along with sex, race, religion, national origin, age and disability.

CNN LBGT Rights Calculator (Lets you know which state matches your views on certain LGBT rights):

http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/03/opinion/lgbt-rights/

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