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The social issues that Andrew Beckett had to deal with regarding his sexual orientation with his peers go beyond those that he had to confront when dealing with society, as a whole, or at work.
Andrew Beckett, a young and admirable lawyer was recruited by the top lawyer firm Wyant Wheeler Hellerman Tetlow & Brown. Not only was he hired for the firm, he was actually recruited by Charles Wheeler, himself.
During Andy's testimony, we find that he is a huge admirer of Charles Wheeler, and that Andy looked up to him as a mentor. His description of Wheeler fits the picture of someone who has developed a familiar affection toward his boss which stems from the deep professional admiration that he had for him.
Possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of the law, a razor-sharp litigator, genuine leader, gifted at bringing out the very best in others, and an awesome ability to illuminate the most complex of legal concepts to a colleague, to a courtroom, to a man in the street.
Andrew tells in his testimony that he refrained from sharing his personal lifestyle choices with his boss because it is not the professional thing to do, but also because, he explained, during a time at the spa the men made a homophobic joke that left him relieved of not having confessed.
However, the fact that he did not tell was used by the peers as an excuse to call Andrew a liar, and a deceitful person. His choice of not telling was also used against him to prove that he is someone with no morals, nor values. This, because they needed to find many ways to make Andrew look like a bad peer in order to elicit the antipathy of the jury. And all of this is to hide the fact that it was their prejudice, hatred, discrimination, and stereotypical view of homosexuals, along with their panic against AIDS, what really made them sabotage Andrew's career and fire him from the firm.
During Wheeler's testimony, the latter claims not to have cared if he had known, whether his employee was homosexual or not. However, the social issue among peers was brought up by Andrew's lawyer with these words:
Remembering all the hugs and the handshakes, the intimate moments in the sauna, the friendly pats on the backside that you and Andrew exchanged, like guys exchange sometimes...it made you say, my God, what does this say about me?
Hence, here's the biggest of all the social issues aside from stereotyping and discriminate, harass, and sabotage a career: the issue of association. Peers, bosses, even clients may fear, out of prejudice, that they will be associated to Andrew; that they work with him because they are "like" him, and that, since they are like him, they to might end up with AIDS.
The final peer-problem Andrew faced was the sanctimonious nature of an ultra-conservative group of peers. This is evident when Wheeler claims that Andrew's problems are a result of "bending rules". To which the attorney asks:
Explain to me like I am a 4-year old: Who makes these rules that you're talking about. You?
And the certainly biased answer was:
Read your Bible, Mr. Miller. Old and the New Testament. Pretty valuable rules in there.
Hence, peers make up a common interest team. In the team, each member is valued, trusted, and hoped upon. Andrew's group did not fit him, nor he fit them. However, that should have not been the case, for their were not in a fraternity, but in a law office. Discrimination was the unfortunate ending to the peer relationship.
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