Another barrier to full workplace equality falls

September 20, 2011—“Today began with another barrier to full equality in the workplace falling,” said Executive Director Selisse Berry, of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates. “Discrimination doesn’t have the last word in this country—equality is what matters—and we saw that very powerfully today with the end of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.”

At 12:01 a.m., the policy that banned openly gay and lesbian servicemembers ended. On July 22, President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, all certified that the military was ready to accept the open service of lesbian and gay servicemembers. All three leaders had to sign off on the certification, according to the requirements of the bill that repealed the policy 60 days after the certification.

The majority of the public stands behind the repeal process with 69% supporting the service of openly gay and lesbian people in a CNN Opinion Research poll in February; in the same month, the Washington Post found that 75% supported open service, with only 24% of their respondents rejecting the idea.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates stands for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace. Berry continued, “Every person has the right to pursue the jobs they love, without fear of discrimination. Hiring and retention of employees should never be based on who you are, but rather on the job that you do.”

While today’s victory is very important, Out & Equal also calls upon the military to continue their work towards full equality for LGBT servicemembers. The military’s policies still discriminate on the basis of gender identity, denying transgender people’s right to serve. In addition, servicemembers in same-sex marriages will still not be granted benefits that are equal to their heterosexual counterparts.

We thank all of those within the LGBT advocacy community for their dedicated work to make this day a reality.