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August 09, 2006

« Thinking About Today's Mayors | Main | Creativity, Software, and IT Professionals »

Some food for thought and examples of what communities around the country are doing on the tolerance front. Some are putting out the welcome mat, while others are following a different route.

A recent USA Today series highlighted a new movement in which cities are posting signs declaring their inclusiveness. According to the article,

"Sixty-eight cities in 28 states have decided that a plain old welcome sign is no longer enough in a nation growing increasingly diverse. In a symbolic plea for greater tolerance, communities from West Virginia to California are posting signs that say: 'Welcome. We are building an inclusive community.'"

The USA Today series (hat tip: SohoDojo) also offered an article on a small Indiana town working on its tolerance and an article on the growing diversity in suburbs throughout the US.

Alternatively, a recent article in the Washington Post provides anecdotal evidence from Virginia that points to potential 'gay' flight as the state's gay marriage debate heats up. From the article,

"Virginia state legislators passed a law two years ago that prohibits "civil unions, partnership contracts or other arrangements between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage." A proposed constitutional amendment, which will go to voters in November, excludes any "unmarried individuals" from "union, partnership or other legal status similar to marriage."

Many gay people in Virginia and some family-law attorneys say they worry that the state law and proposed amendment are more far-reaching than simple bans on gay marriage -- that the measures could threaten the legal viability of the contracts used by gay couples to share ownership of property and businesses.

Many have moved to the District, but no estimates are available. "Virginia is becoming not gay-friendly," said District-based real estate agent Jeff Lockard, who said he has many gay clients. "What we are seeing is that same-sex couples -- if they can afford it -- their preference is to be in the city. It's something I've seen more and more in the past year and a half."

Comments

Reader

If some towns only retain gays who are too poor to leave it'll only increase the level of intolerance.

I've noticed that areas with a high percentage of wealthy non-whites (like Baltimore, MD) have developed gorgeous upper middle class (mostly) minority neighborhoods. I wonder if gays will wind up practicing that sort of voluntary segregation as well.

Michael Bindner

It will be an interesting election and court fight in Virginia, since what the state did in the area of contracts is clearly unconstitutional. I am surprised that no suits have yet been filed to overturn the law. I am sure the ACLU and others are putting something together. It takes a while, just like it took a while for the SLDF to put together its suit after the Texas decision. I have a post on my blog at http://xianleft.blogspot.com/2006/07/gay-marriage-and-activist-judges-in.html

Of course, tolerance is not about the law, but about the people. In the short term, folks may be leaving NoVA, although the local community is very tolerant. Once the legal questions are settled, NoVA will attract gays (unless the judges ignore equal protection and contract law) while the places where the anti-gay delegates come from will not and continue to be backwaters (and proud of it).

mika

One also has to think about those who choose to not move into the states that ban SS marriage. The loss of talent and the inability to attract talent is of equal damage.

Robert

Gays only represent a small minority of people in America including those among the key top senior level engineers and scientists that America needs to attract from abroad to fuel the domestic economy. Tolerance towards gays is not important but tolerance toward Indian and Chinese engineers is important because engineers and scientists are the ones that create goods and services that are internationally tradable and thus essential in earning back all those dollars that are being printed up to pay for foreign goods. Furthermore, Richard Florida does not recognize that America is short of domestic engineers and scientists because of the lack of respect for engineers, scientists, and education in general. America respects the celebrities, basketball players, and even convicted criminals (black gangster rap musicians) not science and engineering. In India and China engineers and scientists are respected by the nation as a whole that is one reason why there are many qualified people that now have the jobs that American citizens once had. The link that Florida brings up frequently between gays and engineers in America is actually a sign of big problems in American society. That is engineers like gays are not respected and valued by mainstream society, they are marginalized and ignored.

mika

so if an engineer was gay there still would be license to be intolerant. But if the engineer is straight then all tolerance should be shown him/her.

Perhaps it should be noted that the LGBT population is across and within every creed, color, race, religion, socio-economic and educational, as well as occupational strata?

Michael Bindner

This reminds me of a demotivator on despair.com about creativity, inspiration, perspiration and the sanitary habits of engineers. Would gay engineers fair better? LOL.

More seriously, attitudes to GLBT populations are but an indicator of the general attitude in areas and companies regarding free thought. In some firms, innovation is tightly controlled. For some products, this is a good thing. For other areas, innovation comes from shaking things up. If that is how you wish to innovate, then the creative class literature should be your holy writ (including my books which serve as a how to on training for and managing for creativity).

Robert

Weather or not a country should be tolerant of gays depends on the specifics of the country. Tolerance of gays can be an indicator of tolerance of foreigners. Countries like Japan, and South Korea actually don't need to be tolerant of gays since Japan and Korea have most of the domestic talent needed to build the country and can compete in the international market very well. Countries like Canada however, must attract talent from abroad to compete in a high tech world market. Thus, it is no surprise that gay marriage is in fact legal in Canada. However, I would have to disagree with Richard Florida in that I don't believe Canada is a "tolerant" country in that foreigners are wanted to "join" the Anglo-Saxon and/or French Canadian society. Foreigners are wanted to "build" Canada and are encouraged to live in their own separate enclaves through multiculturalism and not interfere in the larger Canadian society. I vividly remember that the French and Anglo-Saxons in Canada were almost at each others throats over Quebec independence. I don't think such a society is realy tolerant of foreigners but just tolerant of exploiting their labor and skills.

Michael Bindner

Tolerance of gays may or may not be different. In the religiously conservative south, many right wingers aren't tolerant of either gays or illegal aliens but may be tolerant of other foreigners.

John W. Dean's new book, Conservatives Without Conscience, which I am currently reading, is worth exploring in this area. The Amazon link is http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0670037745/crooksandliar-20/ref=nosim The thesis of the book is that Right Wing Authoritarians, both leaders and followers, have taken over the Republican Party and much of the country. Any disscussion on the issue of tolerance should have this book in the background.

Martin in Amsterdam

Hello there,

I'm a gay engineer with a university degree in mechanical engineering and several years post-graduate experience. Your points are all very interesting. I studied engineering in the UK and am a citizen of NL and resident in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Being gay and an engineer, in fact in any professional career, here is not really an issue. Discrimination is illegal in Holland.

It would be considered absurd, at least amongst professional people, to negatively discriminate against someone because they were gay or transgender. Potential employees are judged by their capability to represent an added-value to a company. That's it. That's what hiring should be about. Unfortunately this concept has only reached the upper echelons of management and professionals, at least in the EU.

How does this work in the US?
let me know
martin DOT adams AT hetnet DOT nl

x
from Amsterdam (don't ya wish you were here?)

Kiyoshi Sako

The one where it suffer in the CONSTIPATION, trying one time my KOMBUCHA, how is? Kombucha is the healthy beverage which has been popular with New York. My Kombucha is 100%Kombucha. Part is different from Kombucha of Wikipedia. When drinking, incerting in cola or juice, please drink. Drinking Kombucha, it seems that you can defecate after 4-5 time.

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