How Speaker Boehner Is Making Life Harder for Potential NFL Player Michael Sam

In February, University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam became the first openly gay player to be considered for the NFL draft. If he is drafted, he will make history by becoming the first openly gay player in the National Football League.

Luckily for Sam, the NFL has a company-wide policy banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Unfortunately, however, the country as a whole has no such law: in 29 states you can be fired for being gay (or perceived as gay) and in 33 states you can be fired for being transgender.

If Michael Sam is drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, or Carolina Panthers, he will work in a state where most LGBT people have no workplace protections (13 other teams operate in cities that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, but where there are no such statewide laws).

Statewide LGBT employment protections currently:

Bloomberg’s Joshua Green laid out Michael Sam’s predicament in a February 12 Boston Globe op-ed:

Sam essentially has no say in where he’ll work, since whichever team drafts him will have exclusive rights to his services. No federal law prevents employers from discriminating against him on the basis of his sexuality. So he’s uniquely exposed to the vagaries of state laws — or, in many cases, the lack of one. If Sam winds up with, say, the New England Patriots, he’ll be protected by the laws that prohibit workplace discrimination in Massachusetts and 20 other states. But if he’s drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, he won’t be, since Georgia does not ban discrimination.

The lack of coherence in the law Green points out could be solved, at almost any point in time, by Speaker John Boehner.

In November 2013, the U.S. Senate passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) with a huge bipartisan majority of 64-votes. ENDA would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation nationwide, solving the “vagaries of state laws” problem Michael Sam and millions of other LGBT Americans face daily.

Unfortunately, Speaker Bohener has yet to introduce it in the House. “The speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs,” said Boehner’s spokesperson.

On this issue, Boehner is on the wrong side of public opinion. 70 percent of Americans believe LGBT people face “a lot” or “some” discrimination at work, and 73 percent favor laws that would protect LGBT from discrimination at the workplace.

With any luck, Sam will be drafted by a team in a city where he would be protected as a football player, a schoolteacher, or a fast food worker equally. But chances are that he will remain exposed to legal discrimination, as will LGBT players who come after him, unless Boehner is convinced that the issue is not as “frivolous” as he thinks it is.

Photo by @BuzzFeed on Twitter

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10 Jobs You Probably Didn’t Know Were Union Jobs

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

When most people think about union members, they probably picture blue-collar workers in factories. Maybe teachers, police, firefighters and other government employees come to mind.

But workers in many more fields come together in unions to have a voice on the job to improve their lives and the lives of their families—from rocket scientists at NASA (members of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers [IFPTE]) to actors like Alec Baldwin (a member of SAG-AFTRA) and all across the spectrum of work that goes on in the United States.

Here are 10 jobs that you probably didn’t know were held by union members:

1. Fox News camera operator: At local Fox News stations in cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Detroit, the camera operators and other technicians that keep the network running are members of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians (NABET-CWA).

2. Urban park ranger: Managing our city parks and playgrounds are AFSCME members like Danielle Clemons, who works at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Recreation Center in New York.

3. Golf Channel audio mixer: From audio mixers to video controllers, many of the people who work behind the scenes to put the Golf Channel on the air are members of the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).

4. Vehicle service mechanicBob Pritchard of the Postal Workers (APWU) is about to retire after working for the U.S. Postal Service since 1980 as a mechanic fixing the massive fleet of postal vehicles.

5. Symphony conductor: Musical Artists (AGMA) member James Levine hasn’t let spinal problems and multiple surgeries dethrone him as the leader of the Metropolitan Opera and, as the New York Times called him, one of the greatest living American conductors.

6. Comedian: Groundbreaking comedian and actress Phyllis Diller, who passed away in August, was the honorary president of the Variety Artists (AGVA) since 1996.

7. BakerDaniel Wood helped lead bakers at the West Main Street Panera Bread franchise in Kalamazoo, Mich., in becoming the first of the company’s locations to unionize, joining the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM).

8. Saxophone player: Many professional musicians, like Grammy-award-winning jazz saxophone player David Sanborn, are members of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM).

9. Social workerAFT members like Grace Decker, who works at the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, investigate alleged abuses of vulnerable adults such as senior citizens or adults who have mental or physical disabilities.

10. Super Bowl champion: Outspoken marriage equality advocate and star player for the 2013 Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens Brendon Ayanbadejo is a proud member of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).

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