Now that the institution of marriage -- though perhaps problematic in its own right -- has been successfully challenged on the basis of part of its exclusivity, perhaps now we can move on to issues that materially affect the queer community irrespective of their assimilation into heteromonogamous modes of romance and kinship. The next battles for queer rights will likely be against housing discrimination, healthcare access, and public services for homeless and low income folks. A while back I wrote about the perennial battle against job discrimination:
Even with their libertarian bent, mainstream economists have failed to pick up on studies showing that LGBT discrimination costs the US economy $64 billion each year in turnover costs. Additionally, skilled LGBT workers are being needlessly kept out of jobs that they would otherwise be highly qualified for. Economists refer to this as “opportunity cost.”
But they aren’t referring to it.
They aren’t referring to it despite the fact that the labor market is generally considered the economist’s domain. They aren’t referring to it despite the fact that LGBT workers make up about 8 million of the estimated 130 million US workers. They aren’t referring to it despite the fact that the President has made countless nods to the need to pass this piece of legislation. They aren’t referring to it, despite legal scholars asserting that the protections in place for sex discrimination are insufficient to protect LGBT workers.
Certainly, some commentators on the bill believe that it is once again destined to die in committee. There are certainly others who believe that the right to dignified employment free from harassment and bigotry is merely ideological. Further there are others who are concerned that ENDA will fail to protect those least likely to be given employment protection in the first place: those working for the military, religious institutions, and small businesses. Historically, landmark civil rights legislation has been anything but comprehensive or easy.
Regardless, there is absolutely no excuse for the failure of professional economists to say anything about what may be the first national labor rights victory for the trans* community in the United States.