Tuesday, April 13, 2010
At 1:45am today, the Missoula, Montana city council voted 10-2 to approve the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to their existing nondiscrimination law. Good for them! I think I may just send them a couple dozen cookies as a token of gratitude!
This victory for equal protections - despite the tired worn out fear mongering the opposition inflicted upon the citizens of Missoula - is another sign that fairness and equality are gaining ground in the US of A, albeit too slowly for my taste. I also noted two other observations regarding this victory.
The first is that the old "male predators in bathrooms" tactic that the far right asshats like to use when gender identity is included in any kind of legislation has stopped working as consistently as they would like. This is the third time now that this tactic was used, previously the fight in Gainesville, FL and Kalamazoo, MI included the same lies, and all three times it's made no difference in the outcomes. I'm sure it's way too early to sound the well deserved death knell for this scurrilous tactic but I am cheered by the thought that the opponents of equal protections under the law will have to think twice before using it again.
The second observation notes that the three instances in which nondiscrimination bills passed despite the "men in ladies bathrooms" fiction all included BOTH sexual orientation and gender identity. Protections for gender variant people weren't dropped for expediency's sake, with the empty promise incremental progress made to gender variant people. I also note that trans people, in too many places that have sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination laws but do not include gender identity, are still waiting. States like Wisconsin, and New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are egregious examples of this. In Wisconsin, gender variant people have been waiting in vain for the GLB organizations to help them win equality since 1982!
We all need to remember these facts in the fight for the Employment Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) that will soon be coming up in Congress. We need to remember that this bill covers both sexual orientation AND gender identity. We need to remember that inclusive bills CAN be passed and we need to remember that dropping trans protections means denying trans people vital job protections for a very long time. Above all, we need to remember that fighting the "bathroom predators" meme works! Presenting the truth in the face of the advocates of discrimination and harm works! They can be beaten if we do the work.