[B]Action protests laws banning unions of same-sex couples[/B]
[QUOTE]Gays and lesbians are being encouraged to call in "gay" to work today to support gay rights and spend the day performing community service.
"Day Without a Gay" aims to protest last month's passage of constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages in Arizona, Florida and California. Participants also are encouraged to boycott anti-gay companies, according to the organizers' Web site.
But the action, which coincides with today's International Human Rights Day, is controversial because participants are urged not to call in sick but to call in gay, which could put their jobs in jeopardy.
This is not the first time a national work stoppage has been organized in support of a cause. Latinos organized several last year to show their economic power in the wake of Arizona's employer-sanctions law.
Joseph Gessulo, chairman of the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said he opposes participating in Day Without a Gay. The chamber itself has not taken a stand.
"I don't think that is good for any business at this time when people are being laid off," he said. "Personally, I don't recommend that any business or any people in our community do anything like that."
Mark Ogden, an attorney with the Phoenix employment- and labor-law firm Littler Mendelson, said participants need to know their employers' rules.
"If a company has a policy that says you can take vacation days whenever you want but have to give the supervisor five days notice and you don't do that, then you could be disciplined for violating the notice provisions of the leave policy," he said.
Barbara McCullough-Jones, executive director of the Equality Arizona group that supports gay and lesbian rights, said that Arizona does not have a law protecting gays from discrimination in the workplace but that some cities and many businesses have such policies.
"What we ask is for people to make that decision for themselves," she said. "(We) ask people to live authentically, and if it means they call in tomorrow, they do.
"If it means they go to work and come out and maybe decide to start an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) resource group in their workplace, that probably has a better long-term effect."
The Web site [url]www.daywithoutagay.net[/url] lists several places in the state where people can do community-service today, including Palo Cristi Presbyterian Church in Paradise Valley. The church's Rev. Debra Avery said she understands the idea is to take a day off without pay.
"It (Day Without a Gay) is a courageous move because it's an invitation for those in the gay community to come out for their co-workers and say this is who we are," she said.[/QUOTE]