Monday, November 18, 2013
Lowballing the workplace used to be the unwelcome antidote to discrimination; it was about what "you don't do"
Looking back over the years, one of the most significant aspects of anti-gay “discrimination” as I experienced it, in my own unusual path, seems to be that it was predicated more on what I didn’t do than on what I did.
Many adverse impacts resulted from the fact that I did not or would not perform acts (sexual intercourse with women) normally expected to produce children. As an only child, I would not provide my parents, married for 45 years, a lineage into the future.
That means I would, throughout the decades when privacy and being left alone were the issues (as well as public health), long before equality became the buzzword of today, experience some symptoms of second-class status, even though I often didn’t notice them. Being single meant paying higher car insurance premiums, for example.
But being single also usually meant more discretionary income, and lower expenses, despite higher tax rates (the most obvious penalty for heterosexual “virginity”). True, I paid real estate taxes to support schools for kids I did not have – but I didn’t object; education was important, and eventually the school systems would become an employer. I paid health insurance premiums for maternity care I could not use (a preview of today’s debate over aspects of mandatory insurance under Obamacare) but employers paid most of the premium so I didn’t notice it. Family coverage was much more expensive out-of-pocket that single coverage in most employer group plans.
Where I did notice it toward the end of my career was sometimes doing other people’s work (on salary, without more compensation), especially on call, when they were out for family reasons. There may be social benefits to mandatory paid maternity and paternity leave (in addition to vacation) as is common in Europe, but that penalizes those who don’t marry and have children – indeed penalizes them for “inaction”.
Then, there was the issue of eldercare. “Family responsibility” wasn’t always predicated on having children.
So while there is a great deal of attention to equal treatment of same-sex spouses (and of the children of same-sex couples), “equality” really has always owned a much bigger context than that. It’s not a nice feeling to be viewed as someone else’s insurance policy, or to “work for a discount” – although it also means being less likely to be laid off. Lowballing was the underside of fighting discrimination in the old days.
One other note: ENDA is said to have passed the Senate with a bigger margin than did the repeal of DADT, with more GOP support. But the House seems unlikely to move. Boehner is not known for courage in being willing to break the Hastert Rule (which isn't even legally binding anyway).