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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

One nation divided by marriage equality

     This week's closure vote in the Senate for a bill that would ban discrimination of gays in the workplace is one more indication of our country's move to end discrimination against gays in our Country.  This progress will probably run into opposition in the House that is controlled by Republicans.  Republican opposition is just another sign that the Party is on the wrong side of the history of ending discrimination.
    The legislation now in Congress is indicative of the fact that our County is divided on the issues of marriage equality and discrimination against gays.  This division may have an economic impact that could pay out to the disadvantage of those states that reject marriage equality.  In a recent Bloomberg post this economic impact is explained in this way:
   "The Supreme Court ruling (striking down the Defense of Marriage Act) will force some states to examine whether it’s worth losing out on talent and businesses that are attracted to areas that allow same-sex marriages, said Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. Acceptance of gay communities signals cultural openness and attracts highly educated people and innovators, Florida “States that recognize the rights of gay and lesbian households, they provide a signal to other people that those are the kind of places that they want to be in,” Florida said. 'For many highly skilled, highly educated people, this is a nontrivial factor in decision making.' ”
     This reality caused the Governor of Rhode Island to sign a marriage equality bill.  Gov. Chafee put it this way:
"The point is not simply that we are welcoming to gay people, though we are. It is that we want to welcome everyone. The talented workers who are driving the new economy — young, educated and forward-looking — want to live in a place that reflects their values. They want diversity, not simply out of a sense of justice, but because diversity makes life more fun. Why would any state turn away the people who are most likely to create the economies of the 21st century?"
     I have seen this reality play out here in Maryland.  I was at a meeting recently when I met a medical resident at Johns Hopkins who was legally married to her partner in Massachusetts while she was a student at Harvard Medical School.  When she looked at which hospital to do her internship she only looked at states with marriage equality.  Johns Hopkins Hospital was fortunate to be in one of those states.  Baylor University Hospital in Texas was eliminated as a possible choice.  This was not an easy decision to eliminate Baylor as she hopes to be a heart surgeon and Baylor Hospital is a leader in this field.
     One other area this issue may play out is with our military.  Some state National Guard leaders are ignoring Secretary Hagel's order to recognize same sex unions among military personnel. This was written about that in the Daily Kos:
     "Last week, Hagel let the National Guards of nine states— Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Indiana—know that equality isn't optional, ordering them to recognize same-sex military spouses. So far, only Indiana has complied. South Carolina is taking the approach of making things harder for everyone, forcing all National Guard spouses to go to federal bases to get their IDs."
     Maryland is often in competition with Virginia as a location for business contractors of the Federal Government.  Marriage equality might become a factor in the decision of where to locate for some of these contractors with a young workforce.
      If you look at the economic health of a state by looking at the median home values you will see that most states that are solidly Democrat have median values above the national average and solidly Republican states have values mostly below the national average.   Maryland comes in at over $90,000 above the national average.  Howard County comes in at double the national average ($400,000 vs. $193,000).
     It is hard to predict where this division will lead our Country going into the near future.  While some conservative areas of our Country talk of secession  it is hard to see this realistically happening (even with Western Maryland!).  But it is not hard to see our Country in the future continuing to divide into regions that have characteristics of Western Europe or Canada and other parts of our County have cultures reflecting less developed areas of the world. The question does remain as to when this fragmenting of our Country leads to a more strident movement then even the present Tea Party.

1 comment:

Steve Charing said...

Good points Duane. Businesses that embrace same-sex couples as employees find it to be a successful strategy.