Policies of inclusiveness benefit everyone’s pocketbook

     Let’s take a moment here to think outside the box. To do so, first we must take a look at the box we are in currently, and closely examine our walls and our ceilings. Face some facts.
     Donald Trump is our president, and we are all urged to give him a chance. Let’s see what he does, let’s become united to “make America great again.” Regardless of how we voted, he IS our president, and we need to be unified in that understanding. Give him a chance.
     Yet, some things should never be left to chance. Sometimes we just need to make decisions about our lives in an intelligent manner, maybe by looking at past evidence, judging character based on words spoken, and using our brains in analyzing the information presented to us.
     In other words: make informed decisions.
     Decisions such as where we want to live, work, play, and raise our families. As a mother of six, I know those basic life choices are important to me. As the mother of a member of the LGBTQ community; as a sister and sister-in-law, as a cousin, and as a friend—those life choices are important to me. Therein lies the box of many of us.
     But let’s start a conversation about stepping outside our box. Taking a more broad look at things.
     Economically, the above things should be important to everyone, regardless of whether you advocate for basic human rights. Even a lay-person such as myself can see the connection between a healthy local economy and who is contributing to that economy. One thing that ought to be foremost in our minds is: how can we bring more financially independent tax payers into our communities?
     There might be more here than meets the eye. Say, the intangible, unexpected benefits of policies of inclusiveness. Let me share how Utah just lost and New York just gained about $20,000 in annual tax revenue and well over $50,000 in local economic footprint.
     My sister and her wife ended up fleeing Utah last year. Fleeing.
     They had given it a few years, having moved from Texas for a new employment opportunity. Both working near Salt Lake City, they were dismayed to discover that workplace attitudes reflected the deeply rooted beliefs of the state, in both disapproval of same-sex relationships and women in the workplace. Still they persevered, thinking: be the change you want.
     It looked as though it were working. Buoyed by the changing mindset of the American population; validated as real and important, stamped as equal with new laws brought about by the Obama administration and finally able to marry legally, they thought all was well.
     Then, a particularly threatening and terrifying experience one night. Discovering no legal way to protect themselves, they realized the true depth of a narrow view of LGBTQ rights—and packed up and left that same week, taking one job with them and forfeiting the other. Anyone who thinks gay rights are ‘settled law’ needs to realize that people are still forced to make significant sacrifices to ensure something as basic as personal safety.
     And here, the crux of the matter and how New York gained. The changing form of the workforce places few limits on where one must actually live while working, as pointed out by Global Workplace Analytics. Latest data shows that regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 103% since 2005. As technology advances, as Americans strive for that perfect work/life balance, and as our most profitable companies continue to recognize that trend, those numbers are only set to rise.
     My sister and her wife can work from anywhere, as can millions of others; as will millions of others, according to further data in that study.
     The question then becomes where is the best place? Where can they live and work, around like-minded progressive humans? And now that Trump is president, where is most likely to continue to protect their hard-won civil liberties?
     Where will be their best chance for continued freedom and the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as defined by our Declaration of Independence, despite a new White House attitude?
     Trump has said he would prefer states rule on civil rights law, and is making good on those words. The people he’s chosen to surround himself with further prove it. It’s all being put in the hands of the individual states to decide.
     So with that in mind, along with knowing how Utah treated them, my sister and her wife also realized that going back to Texas was off the table.  According to the Human Rights Campaign, Texas does not prohibit discrimination against the LGBTQ community when it comes to workplace practices, bullying in schools, public accommodation, or marriage equality. Even discrimination in something as basic as housing.
     According to the Human Rights Campaign website, neither do many others.
     My sister and her wife’s subsequent visit to my state of New York has now become a permanent move. The kicker? They are mobile workers. And they brought their jobs with them. Politics was the linchpin of their decision.
     New York has long been a front-runner in civil rights, with laws on the books since 2002 that added sexual orientation to its protected classes. A move that our current governor has made clear would not change under the new presidency.
     On November 20th 2016, Governor Cuomo stated that “New York is, and will always be, a place of acceptance, inclusion and a bastion of hope for all people. We will never allow fear and intolerance to tear at the fabric of who we are – New Yorkers are stronger than that, and we are better than that. With these decisive actions, we say to people of all backgrounds and beliefs: New York is your home and refuge, and we will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”
     That’s an example from my state. California, Colorado, New Mexico, Maryland and D.C, among others, are further states that stand to benefit economically from these policies of inclusiveness.
     Far too many other states are shooting themselves and their residents in the foot by not.
     “Safety” is on the minds of many right now. Safety is on the minds of our children, our families, our co-workers, and our communities.
     Economy is as well. Why would we want to discourage such vast amounts of contributing members of society by making them unwelcome in our state? Like Utah did, like Texas does? Like many other states in our country do.
     Even if you care nothing of human rights, if you care nothing of civil liberties, I’m sure you care greatly about the part of “making America great again” that includes your money.
     A 2015 analysis by Witeck Communications found that “The combined buying power of the U.S. lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adult population for 2015 is estimated at $917 billion.”
     With more people deciding that telecommuting is the best option, and with more companies making that a viable option, jobs are less likely to be a factor in where discriminated minorities and other vulnerable classes choose to live.
     Let’s start thinking outside our box, ‘Merica.

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