John M. Becker

WI's Largest County Passes LGBT Anti-Discrimination Protections

Filed By John M. Becker | April 27, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Fair Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, nondiscrimination ordinance, Wisconsin

milwaukee-county-wisconsin.gifOn Thursday the board of Milwaukee County -- the most populous county in Wisconsin -- overcame anti-trans fear-mongering and approved a measure adding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the county's non-discrimination ordinance. The vote was 12-6.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

County Executive Chris Abele backs the measure. "Not only is adopting such an ordinance the right thing to do, but ensuring protections for all people adds to the economy of Milwaukee County," Abele said.

The change was sought by Fair Wisconsin, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Supervisor Deanna Alexander said while she backs the discrimination protection, she wanted to ensure that it would not be used by male pedophiles or sex criminals cross-dressing as a way to get inside women's public restrooms.

"I want to be very inclusive of the LGBT community," but she doesn't want the protection to be used by someone to commit a crime, she said.

An amendment by Alexander aimed at making that exception was voted down and drew denunciations from County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, the author of the anti-discrimination proposal, and other supervisors.

Dimitrijevic told Alexander that bringing up pedophiles was offensive in this context. Alexander then sought to have Dimitrijevic stand aside as chairwoman during debate on measure, but Dimitrijevic refused.

Supervisor David Bowen said references to pedophiles and sex criminals was fear mongering by opponents, many of whom called supervisors this week. "I understand there are people in the community who have been misdirected intentionally by right-wing sources," Bowen said.

Katie Belanger, president of Fair Wisconsin, praised the measure and thanked Abele and Dimitrijevic for their "visionary leadership in advancing equality." The group notes that Milwaukee County joins the cities of Milwaukee and Madison; Dane County, Wisconsin; and more than 100 communities and 17 states nationwide with funny inclusive non-discrimination laws.

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