3 Guard Rails for Workplace Discussions on Marriage Equality


As everyone knows, SCOTUS ruled 5 to 4 that same sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. The full case is cited below. The opinion is consistent with the growing support for (or at least acceptance of) same sex marriage. 

I spent Friday reading social media postings, including tweets.  There were strongly felt emotions expressed on both sides of the issue.

These conversations will not end on social media this weekend.  They will spill into workplaces next week and for the indefinite future.

It is not practical nor desirable to prohibit such discussions.  Indeed, because of the connection between marriage and some workplace issues, a prohibition may be unlawful in some circumstances.

But we also cannot ignore the potential for deep emotional feelings to result in deep emotional workplace divisions.  So here are 3 suggested guardrails for workplace discussions.  As leaders, stay within them and respond proactively to subordinates who do not:

  1. For those who agree with the Court’s decision, I join you.  But I implore you also to recognize that many people do not agree with it for sincerely held religious beliefs.  So, supporters of the decision rejoice, but do not assume or state disagreement equals bigotry or prejudice.  And,  recognize also there is substantial diversity among religious groups on this issue. Respect for those who support marriage equality increases with respect for those whose religious beliefs guide them in a different direction.
  2. For those who disagree with the Court’s decision, I respect your views.  I found Roberts' dissent to be well reasoned and a model for civil discourse. So, opponents of the decision, disagree with the decision, but do not demonize same sex couples, and implicitly, your LGBT colleagues. Respect for religious liberty increases with respect for those whose belief structure guides them in a different way.
  3. While respectful dialogue is healthy--and, in my view--desirable, no matter what your view on SCOTUS' decision, don’t try to persuade others to change their views or spend an ordinate amount of time talking about the issue.

Where we disagree, let's agree to disagree respectfully.  As HR professionals, our focus now must be to guide our organizations as we transition our policies and procedures to comply with the Court's rulings in a way that is sensitive to the diverse views of it.

The full decision: https://lnkd.in/eqmbBVA. I encourage you  to read the last paragraph of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion and Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent.



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