Why My Straight Mormon Friends and Their Families Should Support ENDA
Gender, race, and religion are currently protected in the workplace but being LGBT is not
by Michael Amesquita
Coming out as gay to my family was hard, but coming out to my “Mormon family” might have been even harder. Why? My conversion (thank you Elders Burdette and Sellers) was deeply spiritual; I did not want to risk the chance of losing the Church or my amazing Mormon friends in Las Vegas by coming out. For years I was the little orphan Michael from Illinois that always had a place in Vegas for Thanksgiving, Christmas, General Conference, Easter, and sometimes I had double or triple bookings because all my “second” sets of parents were always making sure I had a place to go. These were the same friends that even surprised me with a date auction to raise money for my mission!
Maybe you can imagine that after 15 years of friendships, I feared the worst. Thankfully, every single one of those friends had pretty much the same reply: “Mike, all I care about is you and that you are happy. I love you no matter if you are gay or straight.” It is my Mormon friends and their families that I write to. If you still care about my being happy and if you still love me, please ask your House Representative to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).
You might worry that supporting ENDA might conflict with the LDS Church’s position on same-sex marriage. It does not. It means you want to ensure that I cannot be discriminated against in the workplace or when applying for a job based on my sexual orientation or gender identity. Two Mormon Senators even helped pass ENDA in the Senate this week, including Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-UT. He does not support marriage equality but understands that no American should be fired because of who they are. And even the LDS Church supported a similar city ordinance in Salt Lake in 2009.
I am one of the 8.2 million Americans who identify as gay or lesbian and am only protected in the workplace in 21 states. I cannot get fired for being Mormon, but I am fortunate my religion is now protected. As we know, it wasn’t always that way.
Gender, race, and religion are currently protected in the workplace but being LGBT is not. To my Mormon friends and their families – please contact your local House Representative and tell them you have friends who are happy being who they are and do not want them discriminated against in the workplace. Tell your Representative to support ENDA.