Texas is like a whole other country — especially for Toyota’s LGBT employees planning to relocate to the automaker’s new HQ in Plano.
When Toyota announced its consolidation/relocation plans in May, the company sent Gaywheels the following statement:
“We have assured our LGBT team members and associates who may move to Plano from Kentucky, California, and New York, that eligibility for Toyota partner health and welfare benefits will remain the same.”
Given the company’s outstanding track record on LGBT rights and protections, there’s no doubt that Toyota’s promise still stands.
However, many Texans aren’t so accommodating. In fact, they mounted a serious attack on an LGBT-rights ordinance being considered by the very city where Toyota is moving. In their arsenal was a letter — signed by the state’s attorney general, among others — that urged the mayor of Plano and the city council to delay voting on the bill:
“We do not believe there has been adequate time for the public and community leaders to be a part of the discussion of such a major, wide sweeping change in law and policy for Plano. As husbands and wives with children, we have concerns that your sexual orientation and transgender ordinance may place women and children at risk and does not consider the moral or religious beliefs of Plano citizens or vendors who do business with the city.”
Which are two of the most hyperbolic sentences we’ve read in recent weeks, full of misrepresentations, exaggerations, and a heavy dose of hatred masquerading as piety.
Thankfully, the mayor and a majority of city council members saw through that reactionary
bullshit rhetoric and passed the measure, which protects LGBT citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. However, officials were careful to carve out exemptions for religious, political, educational, and nonprofit organizations. Also, the bill doesn’t cover the usage of restrooms or locker rooms, in deference to conservatives’ bogus boogeyman of rape-minded, cross-dressing guys lurking in women’s toilet stalls.
Still, debate over the measure was heated, and given the council’s 5-3 vote, it’s clear that many in the Plano community aren’t ready to embrace their LGBT neighbors. (In public, anyway. Behind closed doors is another matter). When will this town start to realize that joining the LGBT community is a big life event that should be celebrated en masse including in workplaces like Toyota?
Will attitudes change before Toyota’s move is complete in 2016? Not likely. Will vitriol like this make some of Toyota’s LGBT employees think twice about relocation? We’d be surprised if it didn’t. Stay tuned.