Friday, December 01, 2006

Free Markets, Free Gay People: Part II

As we look over the comical landscape of "liberals" defending the perpetuation of anti-gay policies in the military that are opposed by 80% of the population, citing "controversy," and Democratic leaders introducing a whole host of new anti-gay laws (after campaigning against homophobic Republicans as the "non-homophobic" party), it's instructive to see how gays are advancing in the private sector.

Fortune delivers the latest look at gays in the private sector:

Last June the gay rights movement quietly achieved a milestone: For the first time, more than half of Fortune 500 companies - 263, to be precise - offered health benefits for domestic partners, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Ten years ago only 28 did.

Along with health benefits for their families, many workers also get bereavement leave when their same-sex partner dies, adoption assistance or paid leave if they have children and relocation assistance for their partners if they are transferred. Put another way, gay marriage - an idea that has been banned by all but one of 27 states that have voted on it - has become a fact of life inside many big companies.

"Corporate America is far ahead of America generally when it comes to the question of equality for GLBT people," says Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Solmonese is right. The nation's Roman Catholic bishops last month advised gays to be celibate because the church considers their sexuality "disordered." Prominent evangelical minister Ted Haggard stepped down from his church after he was accused of having an affair with a gay man. Social conservatives flock to the polls to oppose gay marriage.

Business is different. "It's not a faith-based community," says Ed Offshack, a chemical engineer and gay activist at Procter & Gamble (Charts). "It's a logic-based community." The changes in attitudes toward gays and lesbians have been swift, deep, and altogether remarkable. People who once were shunned and then merely tolerated are today being embraced by corporate America. Yes, embraced.

The article is definitely worth a read. And while big-government sorts in the old parties express shock and amazement that free market enterprise is light years ahead of big, centrally-planned government programs run by politicians, we Libertarians just grin, nod, and wink.

As always, free markets equal free people.