In 2010, Lisa Howe sat down with her boss at Belmont Univ. and shared the joyous news that she and her partner were having a child. Howe was the head women’s soccer coach at the time.
Without hesitation, Belmont Univ., a Christian college, fired Howe simply for being in a relationship with another woman.
While that moment still brings Howe some pain, she chooses to focus on her incredible moments as a coach. Now the vice president, membership and programs, for the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce, she told Outsports that this week’s Supreme Court decision was more powerful than SCOTUS’s 2015 decision affirming same-sex marriage.
“People celebrated marriage equality, and I thought, marriage equality is nothing compared to employment protection,” Howe said. “To be able to get married on a Saturday and fired on a Monday wasn’t worth marriage equality to many people. So I think this decision is bigger, and we should be celebrating this event more than we celebrated marriage equality.”
In 2018, Howe and her wife and daughter moved to the Dallas area. Before that she was CEO of the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
“I saw Nashville change a lot,” she said of the 13 years she lived in Music City. “There were some really great leaders there in business and elected officials and in the community. It’s not a huge city like Dallas and Los Angeles. They can still collaborate and build partnerships. I felt the size of the city really helped Nashville create dialogue and build policies. And that’s helped the city grow.”
Moving to the Dallas area was a strategic decision by her family, she said, as both she and her wife are from the area and they wanted their daughter, Hope, to be near grandparents, aunts and uncles.
She wondered if the SCOTUS decision put her out of a job. Yet she reflected on the difference between inclusive policy and inclusive culture.
“Policy is one thing, but a culture of inclusion is another thing. So we work with companies to create policies and focus on intersectional inclusion as a corporate culture. We know our Black community members don’t have equitable access to education and healthcare and the justice system. So we have work to do still.”
Interestingly, on June 17 she is hosting a conversation with Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which was supposed to discuss litigation in front of the Supreme Court. She met Minter as a result of being fired a decade ago, so she sees the event as a celebration of the ramifications of her losing her job simply for being LGBTQ.