Did you know that in 29 states you can be fired for being gay/LGBT? If your answer was no, then you probably didn’t know that in the same 29 states an LGBT couple could be refused services for all aspects of their wedding planning. Here enters chaos and confusion. Some cities, towns and counties in the aforementioned 29 states have their own laws which actually protect LGBT people against discrimination. For example, in the state of Florida it is technically against the law to fire someone for being gay, but not so in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville. The map below shows which counties have this protection:
Map of Florida counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment Sexual orientation in public employment Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment
Are you following along? I know it's awfully confusing, but do try. Over the last five or six months, we have seen a rapid acceleration in marriage equality. However, we have also seen some very conservative states try to block those little LGBT protection laws from going into effect. Just last week in the state of Arkansas a law was passed which prohibited cities towns and counties from protecting LGBT people against discrimination. A similar law is about to pass in South Carolina and also in West Virginia. This prevents the patchwork of LGBT protection laws within those 29 states as in the map above.
Although we're seeing more progress with marriage equality, there are also some pretty significant steps backwards happening at the same time. Marriage equality has made huge progress. When someone can get married at noon and be fired for being gay at 5 PM there is still is a lot of work to do. Just don't forget that your same-sex clients might not always have an easy time when planning their wedding and it's our role in the wedding industry to be advocates for all of our clients so they never have to experience discrimination from those in the wedding industry who don't support marriage equality.