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REGISTERED NURSES’ ATTITUDES TOWARD THE PROTECTION OF GAYS AND - page 117 / 161

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similarly qualified employees. As Rawls might explain, only when employers are within the original position can a gay or lesbian nurse be truly treated as an equal with a heterosexual nurse.

Many authors and researchers have correlated John Rawls’ theories of social justice and distributive justice theory to the modern gay civil rights movement (Schauer & Sinnott- Armstrong, 2003). Much of the work Rawls puts forth in A Theory of Justice (1971) delineates why discrimination outside of the original position is inevitable; he also dictates why the government must provide for protections for oppressed groups. He asserts that the principles of fairness has two parts, the first states that the institutions of practices in question must be just; the second characterizes the “requisite voluntary acts” (p. 112).

It is perhaps this first part, the need for just institutions of practices to which discrimination against gays and lesbians in American society conflicts. Currently, federal law related to discrimination does not include homosexuals as a protected class; federal laws do not list “sexual orientation” in federal employment nondiscrimination policy. Furthermore, litigants have been widely unsuccessful in attempting to use federal legislation in support of a claim of employment discrimination based on sexual orientation (Yared, 1997).

The human rights system is constructed with the underpinning that it is the obligation and responsibility of the government to create fair conditions through which human rights laws can be practiced and realized; this provides every individual freedom

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