By Ana Lamb, Community Activist:
Members of all faiths can agree that hardworking people should have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families, and that who you are shouldn’t keep you from being treated fairly and equally. This important value is part of who we are as a nation, and is reflected in vital anti-discrimination laws.
Most people know that you can’t be fired just because of your race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability. But most people are surprised to learn that in many states, including Florida, you can be fired just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT)—explicit protections for the LGBT community do not exist.
As a third generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) I was taught both the value of work in one’s life and that we are all children of God. No matter your religion, race, nationality or sexual orientation you should be able to live your life and earn a living with dignity and pride. Unfortunately this is not the reality for many in the LGBT community, who can be fired from or denied a job simply because of who they are.
While I don’t identify as LGBT, I have friends and family members who do, and as community activist, my priority is the people. If people are afraid to be themselves in the workplace, in our churches, and in our communities, it creates a stressful and unhealthy environment. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can legally lose their means of supporting themselves for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance.
For too long, many in the religious community have backed away from voicing support for our LGBT brothers and sisters, but that is beginning to change. I am proud to be a part of the growing chorus of voices saying that tolerating discrimination is not a value we share.
People of faith are increasingly stepping forward and recognizing that standing up for fairness and equality is an excellent way to live out a value shared by all faiths – to love your neighbor. In the last few months, after the LDS announced a “fairness for all” approach, I was warmed by the positive responses of my congregation who encouraged me to continue advocating for causes like these that diversify and benefit our community.
One way for people of faith to demonstrate our love for our LGBT neighbors is to support anti-discrimination protections. While many cities and counties in Florida are adding protections for LGBT people into local laws – and implementing those laws without any negative consequences – but many Floridians still have no legal recourse for discrimination. It’s time to change that.
I hope that I can continue to promote education and acceptance of LGBT rights throughout the LDS community and that people of all faiths can come to make legal discrimination a thing of the past in our state.
Ana Lamb is a community activist and third generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She lives in Tampa, Fl.