Societal attitudes seem to be changing regarding sexual orientation discrimination. For example, the recent defeat of the proposed state marriage amendment confirmed that a majority of Minnesota voters do not believe that a prohibition against same-sex marriage should be codified as a state constitutional amendment.
However, many civil rights advocates might agree that more action is required. Certainly, voting down discriminatory laws is a first step. However, additional affirmative actions might be needed to counter the systemic or institutional challenges that many sexual minorities still encounter.
An increasing number of Minnesotans believe that lawmakers and employers should take additional steps to protect Minnesotans subjected to unfair treatment because of their sexual orientation. Others are simply leading by example, as in the case of former Minnesota Timberwolves player Jason Collins. The NBA center recently became a pioneer by announcing in a press statement that he is gay.
Media commentators believe it is the first coming out statement by any active athlete in a professional sports league. What makes the event even more notable, however, is the overwhelming positive response that Collins reports receiving from friends, family, teammates, his employer — and even President Obama, who called the player to express his support.
In the workplace, many employment lawyers might know of workers who were subjected to a hostile work environment because of their sexual orientation. Such workplace discrimination can take many forms, including abusive language, exclusion from promotion or training opportunities, and even wrongful termination. Such treatment may give rise to a discrimination lawsuit, since Minnesota law includes sexual orientation as a protected class.
Source: twincities.com, “Charley Walters: Jason Collins told ex-Timberwolves teammate Mark Madsen, ‘I’m coming out,’” Charley Walters, April 29, 2013.