There are approximately one million LGBT public servants employed by state, local or municipal governments but a report published by the Center for American Progress reveals that a majority of them can get fired based on gender and identity discrimination, and they also have little to no legal recourse when discrimination does occur.
According to the report, gay and transgender employees suffer comparable rates of discrimination as other protected minorities but lack comparable legal protections. LGBT workers also have less access to workplace benefits, including employer-sponsored healthcare:
Only 43 percent of state employees work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only 31 percent work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. This means that the majority of Americans working for state governments still do not have statutory protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When it comes to benefits, a majority of state employees do not work for a state that offers equal partner health insurance. Only 47 percent of state employees with same-sex partners have access to equal workplace benefits, compared to 53 percent who do not.
The report suggests that this discrimination is economically harmful to the LGBT public employee and their families as well as to the governments themselves:
Discrimination forces out the best and the brightest employees, minimizes productivity, introduces turnover-related costs, and exposes governments to potentially costly litigation. At a time when states are facing severe budget shortfalls, discrimination simply does not make financial sense.
What’s worse, these costs come at the direct expense of the taxpayer. Americans deserve an efficient and effective government that acts as a responsible administrator of taxpayer funds. In allowing discrimination to go unchecked, the public sector fails to meet that responsibility. Simply put, it is financially irresponsible to evaluate workers based on any characteristics that are not directly relevant to job performance, especially at a time when state and local budgets are in the red.
In order to provide fair and equal treatment to LGBT workers in both the public and private sectors, the report urges Congress to pass the Employee Non-Discrimination Act and states to continue enacting non-discrimination laws and extending benefits to same-sex partners.
The full report can be read here.