Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Discrimination Against Gays and Transgender Persons in Ohio --- I Am Shocked!

Well, guess the Citizens for Community Values crowd will have something new to get worked up about now that several state legislators are introducing legislation in the Ohio General Assembly to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For those of us who work in organizations that already provide such protections in employment and that provide domestic partnership benefits, this legislation perhaps does not seem so revolutionary. But, for the vast majority of gay and lesbian persons who do not work or live in such environments, such legislation is long overdue. Currently, seventeen states and the District of Columbia have laws that currently prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private employment: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

I guess we all get to hear again about how this is just about "special rights" from people who would gladly remove such protections from women and racial ethnic minorities if they could find a way. There can be little doubt that such legislation is needed in a world where a 15 year old boy in California, Lawrence King, who suffered taunting and bullying by his classmates because of his sexual orientation and gender identity, is shot and killed in school by one of those classmates – a 14 year old boy or where a member of the Oklahoma state legislature can say that "the Gays are the biggest threat our nation has, even more so than terrorism or Islam."

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