The state of Alabama has a conservative record when it comes to LGBT issues — but some local residents are trying to change that.
The online newspaper Gay Star News reports that, along with Nebraska and Arkansas, Alabama is the latest state to participate in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) “Equality is Our Business” initiative, officially launching it this week.
Of all the states in the Union, Alabama has one of the poorest track-records for LGBT rights. Alabama does not have state laws outlawing workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation nor hate crime laws with regard to LGBT people. In addition, same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt, and same-sex marriage is still illegal.
Even the Supreme Court ruling that deemed prohibitions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional has not stopped the state from blocking gay marriage. One probate judge from Mobile County, Judge Don Davis, is still refusing to issue state marriage licenses to gay couples.
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization for LGBT issues in the country, launched “Equality is Our Business” on Monday in order to promote diversity in the workplace. Specifically, Al.com reports, the initiative seeks to recruit 10,000 businesses and organizations in the state. Businesses can sign a pledge on HRC’s website expressing their support for LGBT rights. After signing the pledge, businesses are also encouraged to place stickers at their front doors and registers, among other places, and actively engage in social networking and educational programs.
“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.”
Johnathan F. Austin, the President of the Birmingham City Council, is one prominent state official that has lent support for the cause.
“It is important to hear from our business community,” he said. “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.”
“People want to work in this state,” he added, “and they shouldn’t have to hide who they are when they go to work. God loves all people.”
More than 100 businesses have signed the pledge so far. Individuals interested in signing the pledge can go to HRC’s website. To further support the LGBT cause, Alabamans can access search engines such as Google and Bing to find LGBT-friendly businesses. Considering 93% of all Internet sessions begin with a search engine visit, it’s one of the easiest ways to contribute to the cause.