Letter to the Editor:
As a longtime New Jersey resident, I was interested to see the PGN editorial last week (March 15-21) on the latest events from the Chick-fil-A saga at Rider University. However, I disagree with the conclusion of this editorial so strongly that I was moved to pen this response.
New Jersey has been a leader on LGBTQ rights and antidiscrimination laws: Protections in housing, employment and public accommodations based on sexual orientation have been state law since 1991. And these protections based on gender identity were added in 2006. I am hopeful that Pennsylvania will finally join New Jersey in these endeavors as well as hoping (though skeptically so) that the Equality Act will become federal law.
While these protections are in place in New Jersey, national businesses have not been obligated to extend these protections in locations outside of the state. While multiple corporations have been proactive in extending protections for all of their employees and customers ahead of the lack of federal law, Chick-fil-A serves as an example of one that has not. Even regardless of the founder of the company’s financial allegiances (as well as past public declarations) with anti-LGBTQ organizations, the lack of antidiscrimination policies that include both sexual orientation and gender identity mark Chick-fil-A’s poor stance on equality.
I have argued with some that report knowing LGBTQ employees at Chick-fil-A who love their work and who don’t express any fears of employment discrimination. My counter is that for those employees in New Jersey, they are indeed protected by state law. But Chick-fil-A employees in most of the country only have protection of corporate tweets/social-media posts that the company doesn’t discriminate — not an actual policy.
Dr. Cynthia Newman chose to resign her position as Dean of the School of Business as a personal statement, to which she is entitled. Though I find it quite interesting that she chose not to resign as a professor from Rider, but I digress.
Religion is protected federally; one can practice and worship whatever you choose and your job is protected. Dr. Newman was not fired from her position; countless LGBTQ people in more than half of the country can be or have been fired for their identity.
I applaud Rider’s commitment to equality in not only operations as an academic institution, but also as a company that contracts with other vendors. By not allowing a vendor to lack an antidiscrimination policy that is inclusive of LGBTQ people, Rider has sent a strong message.
I do see the initial choice of Chick-fil-A being offered in a survey to students only to be rejected at a later time to be a mistake; Chick-fil-A should not have been a choice to begin with. There is a clear distinction between anti-LGBTQ discrimination and so-called religious bias — especially in this situation. Taking a Trumpian stance of “bad people on both sides” is misguided and plainly wrong.
Dr. Jeffrey Jin