Wedding bells started ringing for gay couples in the Triad late Friday evening. It was a landmark moment, but it won't end discrimination against gays.

Shannon Gilreath is an associate professor of law at Wake Forest University.  He says the lack of protection in the workplace may ultimately have more impact on gay couples than the ability to wed.

Gilbreath finds it "cruelly ironic" that you can be legally wed in North Carolina, and also legally fired for talking about it.

"For me, the fight is about employment non-discrimination," he says. "It is the single biggest impediment to full citizenship for gays and lesbians in North Carolina."

Gilreath says gay people in hourly-wage jobs are the most vulnerable because they may not feel financially secure enough to speak up against workplace harassment or discrimination.

"For working-class people coming out – forget about getting married, just coming out – can mean you can no longer pay your bills or feed your family. And that's a serious problem," he says.

Gilreath says where there are private sector protections, they come from the goodwill of the employer and are not backed by the state. He'd like to see a federal workplace protection law that would apply to all states.

Such legislation has been proposed. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would ban hiring and employment discrimination based on gender or sexual identity for companies with 15 or more employees. The bill passed in the Senate last year but has languished in the House.

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