To the editor:
I believe I live in the greatest country in the world. At its core, the American Dream is about hard work, being oneself and providing for one’s family to make things better for the next generation. However, each day it makes me sad that we currently live in a country where millions of people spend their day at work hiding who they are out of fear that they might lose their job because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I am happy to see that U.S. Sen. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania supported the Employment Non-Discrimination Act going to the Senate floor for debate and thank him for his decision, and hope he continues to support workplace equality for all Americans by voting yes on ENDA. His decision and that of other senators on Monday show support for ENDA high among Republicans and Democrats alike, because it hits us all at our shared American values.
I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, the third of four children to Italian parents. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic elementary school, Catholic high school and even earned my bachelor of science degree from a Catholic university. I was blessed to have good parents who taught me right from wrong. They told me to work hard, treat others how I would want to be treated, to find my place in this world and to make a difference. My Catholic education taught me those same principles so, needless to say, I was well prepared for the world when I went off on my own.
I worked for 35 years in the banking industry and I found the place within the bank where I could make the biggest difference, working with small businesses. I loved my job because each and every day I had the opportunity to work with, help, support or just talk to a small business owner. I believe small business is the backbone to our economy, as well as our country. I was successful in my career because I followed the advice I received from my parents and my teachers. I am not just an advocate but I am passionate about small business. I made a difference until I lost my job.
I now work at two Catholic churches as their business manager and once again I feel I am making a difference. Both priests I work for know me and who I am, and they are supportive and allow me to do my job without feeling threatened.
When people go to work and live with the threat of discrimination and losing their job just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, they can’t possibly feel good. They can and usually do perform at a high level but can’t enjoy what it is they are doing. Not only do they suffer, but the company they work for suffers, as do the customers and the community. And that will have a negative impact on society.
The Employment Nondiscrimination Act is morally right. My parents would agree, my family agrees, my friends agree and the people of my faith community agree. It’s time all of us here in this country are treated fairly. It’s time all of us can feel safe going to work without fear of losing our jobs. It’s time to let these gifted people perform at the highest level and make a difference. It’s time. It makes me sad that we are still not considered equal and it makes me even sadder that in my own state, the state where our country got started, where the words “Freedom for All” can still be heard when you walk by Independence Hall, discrimination in the workplace is allowed.
So, I strongly urge Sen. Patrick Toomey to support the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in its current form. I ask him to do it not only for the moral reasons but the economic ones too. And I ask him to do it because that is what makes this country so great.
— Ralph A. Citino Philadelphia