Following its arrival earlier this month in Nebraska and Arkansas, the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) ‘Equality is Our Business’ program was launched in Alabama this week.
Within the US, Alabama has a comparatively poor record in relation to LGBT rights.
It does not have laws prohibiting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, does not allow same-sex couples to adopt, and has no specific hate crime laws relating to gay or transgender people.
Although a ban on same-sex marriage has been ruled unconstitutional, one probate judge, Mobile County’s Judge Don Davis, continues to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The aim of HRC’s ‘Equality is Out Business’ scheme is to support and celebrate workplace diversity and inclusion. The program has set a target of recruiting 10,000 US business and organizations to stand up for diversity.
Businesses are invited to sign a pledge via the HRC website. After doing so, they are encouraged to place stickers at their front door or cash register, and participate in a series of social networking and educational programs designed to highlight why equality is good for business.
‘Equality makes good business sense and this pledge is another reminder to our legislators that Alabama business owners support and embrace the LGBT community,’ said HRC Alabama director R. Ashley Jackson.
‘Regardless of our backgrounds, we can all agree that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.’
One of those to pledge their support for the program is Johnathan F. Austin, President of Birmingham City Council. In a statement, he said, ‘It is important to hear from our business community. We want to change the perception of Alabama by welcoming LGBT Alabamians. We have to say loud and clear that Birmingham is an inclusive place for everyone, and we are open for business.’
Speaking at a press conference to announce the program on Monday held at the pledge-supporting Continental Bakery in Birmingham, Austin said, ‘People want to work in this state, and they shouldn’t have to hide who they are when they go to work. God loves all people.’
At the time of writing, over 100 businesses had signed the pledge.