Acceptance of diversity. Freedom of expression. Respect for individuals.
Well. That was then. This is now.
That’s the argument: Each company has a right—indeed, it has a market-driven obligation—to make hiring and firing decisions based on “values” and “community standards.” It’s entitled to oust anyone whose conduct, with regard to sexual orientation, is “bad for business” or for employee morale.
The argument should sound familiar. It has been used for decades to justify anti-gay workplace discrimination.
Twelve years ago, Larry Lane, a former manager at a carpet company, testified before Congress about how he lost his job:
In the late summer/early fall of 1998, an employee, one of the sales representatives that I supervised, learned that I was gay and “outed” me—that is, told a number of other direct reports in my Region that I was gay—without my knowledge. … [Two of them] informed one of their coworkers that they didn't want to work for me … [They] told my supervisor that they could not trust me and said that I was secretive. … [M]y supervisor and his boss, the Vice President of Sales, placed me on probation and advised me that my “job was in jeopardy.” They explained that I was “hired to build the team in NY” and that based on feedback from “several of [my] people'” I was failing to get this “critical phase of [my] job done.” They … told me to return to New York and “reflect on what may be causing this dissension among my people.” … [Then they] fired me. When asked if this had anything to do with my performance or work ethic the Vice President of Sales stated, “Let's just say you don't fit” …
Dissension. Building the team. Don’t fit. Sounds a lot like the case for removing Eich.
Losing your job for being gay is different from losing your job for opposing gay marriage. Unlike homosexuality, opposition to same-sex marriage is a choice, and it directly limits the rights of other people. But the rationales for getting rid of Eich bear a disturbing resemblance to the rationales for getting rid of gay managers and employees. He caused dissension. He made colleagues uncomfortable. He scared off customers. He created a distraction. He didn’t fit.
It used to be social conservatives who stood for the idea that companies could and should fire employees based on the “values” and “community standards” of their “employees, business partners and customers.” Now it’s liberals. Or, rather, it’s people on the left who, in their exhilaration at finally wielding corporate power, have forgotten what liberalism is.