Homosexuals Made Huge Gains in 90's Workplace, Report Says
Washington (BP) -Homosexuals have made stunning workplace gains in the 1990s in winning benefits for their partners, and the city of San Francisco has played a major role, according to a new report.
While the news reflects a trend of accomplishments by homosexual activists, the cultural struggle of which it is a part has yet to be decided, said the head of the Southern Baptist Convention's ethics agency.
The number of employers providing health coverage for domestic partners of homosexual workers has grown from fewer than two dozen at the start of the decade to more than 2,800, reported Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest homosexual political organization.
Much of that rapid increase has occurred since San Francisco adopted its equal benefits ordinance in 1997. The law is directly responsible for 2,168 of the 2,855 employers offering domestic partner benefits, according to the HRC.
The ordinance requires any company transacting business with the city or county of San Francisco to offer the same benefits to the domestic partners of its employees as it does to the spouses of its workers.
"A steadily increasing number of American workplaces had been adding domestic partner insurance coverage to their benefit packages through the second half of the decade," said Kim Mills, HRC's education director and primary author of the report, in a written release. "Even without the San Francisco law, we were seeing an average of two employers a week instituting domestic partner coverage, up from one a week in the first half of the 1990s. The San Francisco law has led to a rapid acceleration of this trend and a domino effect across market sectors and industries."
The airline and oil industries are two of those impacted by the San Francisco ordinance
In late July, United Airlines announced it would offer domestic partner benefits to comply with the law. Within 10 days, American and U.S. Airways followed suit. Earlier, Chevron, which is based in San Francisco, began offering such benefits. Shortly thereafter, Shell, BP, Amoco and Mobil did the same.
Other industries where the provision of domestic partner benefits is widespread include computer-related companies and motion picture studios.
"There's no question that up to this point in time the radical homosexual agenda is winning most of the battles" in a struggle over defining what is an appropriate sexual lifestyle, said Richard Land, president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
"Clearly, defenders of traditional values and the traditional family should be forewarned that the radical homosexual rights movement will continue to attack and take ground in this culture until it is stopped and rolled back," Land said. "The good news is that [homosexual activists] have not won the war, and the most difficult and strategic battles that will determine who is the victor in this war over what will be considered normal, healthy and affirmable for our young people have yet to be fought or won."
Same-sex marriage and the Boy Scouts of America are two areas where homosexuality has yet to prevail ultimately, Land said. In August, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled against the Boy Scouts' policy banning homosexuals from membership, but the case is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The report was depressing, admitted Peter LaBarbera, who tracks the homosexual rights movement as a policy analyst for Family Research Council and president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.
"I think we're getting to the point where it's hard for Christians and other people who care about morality" to find corporations they can support financially, LaBarbera said.
"It used to be the left wing that complained about corporate America. Now it's religious conservatives" who do so, he said.
"It's going to be harder and harder for Christian-owned companies who want to take a stand to live by their own moral beliefs, because they're going to get sued.
"The mom-and-pop companies are going to be the next ones [the homosexual activists] go after. If they get all the major corporations, then they're going to go after the small companies."
LaBarbera predicted churches will face the same pressures if the current business and legal trends continue.
"If the churches think they're safe from this, they're living in a different country than I am," he said. "Right now it's not happening, but 10 years from now ... . Christians are disillusioned if they think these exemptions are going to stand."
Among the companies that offer domestic partner benefits, according to HRC, are American Express, AT&T, Avon, Clorox, Eastman Kodak, Gap, General Mills, Levi Strauss, Mattel, Nike, Pillsbury, Proctor and Gamble, Reebok and Starbucks Coffee.
Seventy-one Fortune 500 companies provide such benefits, according to the report, which was released Sept. 7.
More than two-thirds of employers with domestic partner benefits provide them not only to homosexuals but to unmarried heterosexual couples as well, according to the report. Companies that provide them to same-sex couples only include American Express, Apple Computer, AT&T, Disney, Gap, IBM, Time Warner and Viacom, which recently purchased CBS.
The report found 73 state and local governments provide domestic partner benefits. Six states do. In 1998 and '99, among the 16 municipal governments to begin offering such benefits, according to HRC, were the state of Oregon; the cities of New York; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Eugene, Ore.; Key West, Fla.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Tempe, Ariz.; and Vancouver, Wash.; and the following counties: Broward, Fla.; Cook, Ill., and Westchester, N.Y.
According to the report, 99 colleges and universities provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.
The report also found 1,558 employers include "sexual orientation" in their nondiscrimination policies. Among these are 261 Fortune 500 companies, 200 state or local governments, and 279 colleges and universities.
"Sexual orientation" is a category that can encompass homosexual, bisexual and transgendered workers. Transgendered status includes people who have undergone a sex-change operation as well as those who have not but live at least part of their lives as if they were of the opposite sex.
The ERLC, FRC and other religious and conservative organizations oppose the inclusion of "sexual orientation" in employment policies because such a practice equates homosexuality with legally protected traits such as race, ethnicity, gender and religion.
A proposed congressional measure, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, would add "sexual orientation" to the classifications now receiving protection in the workplace. President Clinton has endorsed ENDA.
In 1998, Clinton issued a barrier-breaking executive order adding "sexual orientation" to the list of categories already protected against discrimination in the federal civilian workforce. Messengers to that year's SBC meeting passed a resolution opposing his order and all other attempts to grant homosexuality civil rights status.
Printed with permission from Baptist Press