Gay men earn less. But not lesbians.

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So says a new study:

Gay men working in management and traditional blue-collar, male-dominated jobs make less than straight men because they are discriminated against by their employers, according to new research released today by the University of New Hampshire Whittemore School of Business and Economics. Lesbians, however, do not experience similar discrimination in the labor market.

Bruce Elmslie, professor of economics, and his co-author Edinaldo Tebaldi, former assistant professor of economics at UNH and now at Bryant University, published their research in the Journal of Labor Research in an article titled “Sexual Orientation and Labor Market Discrimination.” The authors analyzed labor and wage information from more than 91,000 heterosexual and homosexual couples collected by the U.S. Census March 2004 Current Population Survey.

According to the authors, “gay men who live together earn 23% less than married men, and 9% less than unmarried heterosexual men who live with a woman. Discrimination is most pronounced in management and blue-collar, male-dominated occupations such as building and grounds cleaning and maintenance; construction and extraction; and production.”

This isn’t true for gay women, however. The authors conclude that

while negative attitudes toward lesbians could affect them, lesbians may benefit from the perception that they are more career-focused and less likely to leave the labor market to raise children than heterosexual women. According to their study, 18.1% of lesbians have children, compared with 49.4% of straight women.

So employers stereotype lesbians as being more committed to the job and not as likely to have kids. But why should gay men earn less? Three reasons, say the authors: bias by employers, bias by customers and fear of AIDS.

“Employers may disapprove of gay lifestyles and act on this bias in making hiring decisions,” the authors said. Employers also may discriminate against gay men in response to the desires of the majority of employees. If employers consider mixing heterosexual and homosexual employees distracting and detrimental to productivity, the authors said the employers may consider it profitable to discriminate.

Gay men also may experience labor market discrimination because customers may not want to interact with them, thus influencing hiring practices. “If customers prefer to interact with heterosexual employees, the owner will act on the customer’s taste for discrimination,” the authors said.

Finally, discrimination may occur as a result of anti-gay attitudes associated with AIDS and misunderstanding as to how HIV is transmitted. Previous research shows that people with HIV/AIDS have higher rates of absenteeism from work. The authors theorize that biased employers may be reluctant to hire gay men because they are concerned about a loss of productivity if a worker becomes infected with HIV/AIDS.

I mean, really? Are employers so stupid? They still think the most productive and thus worthy of highest compensation is the married, hetero male? Friends–I give up. Please discuss among yourselves. I’ll give you a topic: biased bosses.