If you have never met me in real life (IRL for those of you who are internet-inclined), I would like to take this moment to express to you how much of a fan of Google I am.
Huge. Big. Almost all of my net-products are Google. I use Google docs, Gmail, Google search, Google maps. I use Google chrome on all my computers. I am going to get the Google operating system for my netbook when it comes out. I have an Andriod Phone. I nearly shat myself when Google Wave came out, and then almost slit my wrists when it failed cause not enough losers knew about it. I own a Google hat. I have not as of yet listed half of the Google products that I use.
In addition to its fantastic products and services that it offers for free of cost to users, and the fact that these products are simply phenomenal, I have an enormous respect for Google as a corporation. They have taken their own steps towards environmental green-ness, and have consistently maintained a record of unbelievable employee treatment, from their badass offices, to their benefits and pay package. Not to mention employee autonomy and freedom to work on projects.
I love Google.
Given all of these things, it really came as no surprise to me that Google had decided to extend benefits to its homosexual workers. It delighted me, but did not surprise me.
My excitement over this development is two-fold. Firstly, I am excited for the people at Google who have partners of the same gender. Previously, if long-term, non-married, committed partners wished to extend their health benefits to their partners, they had to pay a tax to do so. A large portion of unmarried domestic partners are, of course, gay, having been denied the privilege of the legal benefits of marriage. So they are taxed extra if they would like to extend their health benefits to their partners. Google has mitigated the effects of this tax by paying their employees the difference of the taxes that they pay to get the same benefits as married people.
Not everyone is excited about this. But rather than go into why Fox News and other conservative pundits are incorrect in their assessment of this, I will move on to my second reason.
Secondly, and perhaps more controversially, I am excited about Google’s step in the right direction because it provides a very public piece of evidence to suggest that free markets can, will, and do promote liberty and what is right.
We don’t need no stinking government.
The free market is a system in which minorities can gain the public standing that they need and deserve as citizens, even in the face of people who are not tolerant of them. Human beings are diverse in their beliefs and how they feel they must hold to those beliefs. Even if the majority of Americans believe homosexuality is wrong, in a free market system, there will be avenues for people to go, places for them to work, to be a member of society, etc.
The law right now is pretty non-supportive of LGBT people in general. Yet they have had a good amount of success in our society because of the market system. If you take a cynic’s point of view, this is because it is simply not profitable to keep them out. But it could also be just that some people feel it is right to employ LGBT people, even if they think such acts are wrong. Or perhaps there are some people who have no qualms with it whatsoever.
Do people get fired for being gay? Sure. I am sure with an alarming frequency. However, there are lots of places which are willing to employ people fairly despite of or even because of their homosexuality. And now we are starting to see companies attempting to mitigate injustices done to homosexuals through the law — like my good friend Google. It is not economically sound to be bigoted in a rapidly accepting/tolerant world. So companies have changed, are changing, and will continue to change. And because work is so essential to who we are as people and as a society, our values will move along with them. Markets are the best way to institute this change.
If you look closely, it is government provisions — like the definition of marriage — that are causing a lot of the injustices that we are seeing towards the LGBT community. Indeed, it is government provisions that create the injustice that Google is attempting to circumvent. Why would you trust the same system that instituted the injustice to fix it, when the system is inherently static? It seems illogical to me to do so.
We are seeing the markets change things — in this case, in defiance of the law. So I tend to put more trust in them.
~V.A. Luttrell (who is going to go find another google product to use…)