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Fighting for the Right to Discriminate… Literally. July 11, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in lgbt Issues, non-discrimination laws.

In past postings, I have questioned whether the LGBT movement is overly focused on obtaining equal marriage rights when our brothers and sisters in more moderate parts of the country can still be discriminated against in employment, public accommodations and housing. Recent events in Orange County, Florida and South Bend, Indiana may further the notion that although marriage equality is important and should be fought for, we cannot forget to continue to press for non-discrimination laws and other protections.

Orange County, Florida

The Orange County Commission is considering whether to add sexual orientation to its housing non-discrimination law, and anti-gay conservatives are putting up quite a fight:

There is no significant history or problem or issue with discrimination based upon sexuality in Orange County. To the contrary, this community is very tolerant and even accepting of gay and lesbian neighbors.

-John Stemberger, president of the Orlando-based Florida Family Policy Council

Yes… so tolerant that the Florida Family Policy Council hopes to block a law that would ban discrimination based on housing. In other words, the Council is fighting to allow housing owners and landlords evict LGBT people simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

With lots of money from the big guy, Focus on the Family, LGBT groups in the county are far outnumbered in terms of resources. That’s James Dobson and his family values at work… ensuring LGBT people and their children can be kicked out of their homes at a moment’s notice.

South Bend, Indiana

And in a long-fought battle in South Bend, the city’s Common Council defeated an amendment that would have added sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination code. Because of the city’s failure to protect its citizens, bigots in South Bend can continue to kick an LGBT person out of housing, jobs and public accommodations.

One council member who voted to allow discrimination against LGBT people said he did not want to “create a protected class”. Although his argument should not be taken seriously, I propose a daring solution that is not meant to be misconstrued as supporting the heterosexual lifestyle: We can make the non-discrimination law cover gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual people. Then nobody in South Bend can be evicted because of who they are. I don’t want anyone to get the impression I support the heterosexual lifestyle… I just don’t feel like discrimination is good no matter who it is targeting.

Another council member said this:

I don’t believe anyone is saying we support discrimination but there are a number of issues we still need to address.

Personally, I don’t care if that isn’t what you are saying, it is what you are doing. Should people be able to discriminate against gay people because they are gay? What else is there to consider? You support discrimination based on housing and employment, or you ban discrimination based on housing and employment. This proposed amendment was a simple paragraph or two… not exactly the 342 page USA “Patriot” Act. His “issues to be addressed” are not only bullshit, but I have severe doubts as to whether he will ever try to “address” them.

Discrimination and Marriage

LGBT people in Indiana, Florida and many other parts of the country are still not given the basic right to live their lives openly without fear of direct retribution. Many of us have these protections in our more progressive states, counties or cities and are ready to move on to marriage. This is a good thing… let’s just not forget to put some of our resources towards our friends in the red areas of the country.



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