CNN has been giving hourly updates to hype claims that a religious freedom law in Indiana could unleash hateful discrimination against gay people. This appears to be a media-driven hysteria. Nineteen other states have laws similar to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which is modeled after a federal law Bill Clinton signed. Yet the question needs to be asked: Exactly how much workplace discrimination do gay people face and what is its impact?
This chart is from the Germany-based Institute for the Study of Labor, and is from a study which found that lesbians in the United States earn 20% more than do heterosexual woman. Although I’m not sure if I trust these findings, let us stipulate that the study is accurate and ask: Why is this so? Is it because employers are pro-lesbian? Are companies prejudiced against heterosexual women?
Keep in mind the oft-quoted claim that women earn 77 cents on the dollar in comparison to men. As critics of that statistic point out, once you account for differences in education, occupation and other variables, the male-female “wage gap” disappears. That is to say, actual differences between men and women — not sexist discrimination — explain the disparity of earnings. Could this also be true in regard to the lesbian/straight “wage gap” among women? Yes, obviously so.
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