At the National Partnership, we have been working for more than 40 years to make the country’s workplaces more fair and family friendly. That’s why we were proud to partner with a strong coalition of policy experts, business advocates and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organizations today to release A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits and More Taxes for LGBT Workers. The groundbreaking report takes a close look at how discrimination and a lack of access to basic benefits and family friendly policies harm LGBT workers and their families.
As the report explains, LGBT workers are critical to the financial security of families and our nation. There are an estimated 5.4 million LGBT workers in this country, and more than one-third of LGBT adults have a child. Yet no federal law provides protections to LGBT people in the workplace, and LGBT workers are routinely denied family health, spousal retirement and death and disability benefits.
In other words, across the country, LGBT workers are putting in the same hours on the job and making the same contributions toward health and other benefits. Yet they, their spouses, their partners and their children are routinely denied the protections their co-workers take for granted. This is blatant discrimination, and it plagues too many of our nation’s workplaces.
LGBT workers also do not qualify for unpaid, job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The law provides critical time off when serious personal or family medical needs arise, but more than 40 percent of working people in this country do not have access to its protections. The National Partnership has long advocated for an expansion of the law to cover more workers — including LGBT families — who need leave for more reasons. This new report shows just how important that is.
A Broken Bargain makes a powerful case that there is much more to be done to ensure that all people can provide for their families without suffering discrimination, unequal treatment or inadequate workplace support. The nation has come a long way in providing greater workplace protections against discrimination based on sex, national origin, religion, ethnicity and disability, but we still need to update and strengthen anti-discrimination laws. Ensuring protections based on sexual orientation is essential.
As this new report shows and millions of families know firsthand, we cannot talk about our path to a truly family friendly America without including LGBT workers and their families. Every employer and member of Congress should take a close look at this report, ask if they are part of the problem, and commit to being part of the solution.