|To the Editor: BG council urged to do the right thing|
|Written by Joelle Ruby Ryan|
|Monday, 17 August 2009 09:19|
I am writing to express my support for the unlawful discrimination ordinance currently being considered by the Bowling Green City Council. The legislation proposes changes to the anti-discrimination policy by adding the categories such as sexual orientation, gender identity, physical characteristics, veteran status, genetic information and HIV status. I believe this is an important piece of legislation and I urge council to pass it. There are three reasons why I believe it is important to do so.
Discrimination against anyone is wrong. Over and over again, Americans have rejected the concept of discrimination against their fellow citizens in various polls. Discrimination is ethically wrong and goes against the core tenets of American culture. In this time of economic recession, jobs are often hard to come by. This is why it is vitally important that all people be given a fair shake. The proposed legislation is about fairness, equality and human dignity.
The legislation sends a strong and positive message. American society is incredibly diverse, made up of a mosaic of many unique groups. Unfortunately, Ohio is experiencing a "brain drain" whereby some talented people are leaving due to a lack of opportunities and due to the perception that their social group is not protected against discrimination. A more inclusive anti-discrimination policy helps to promote a thriving and welcoming community by encouraging diverse groups to live and work in BG.
This legislation will promote education, and by extension, improved human relations in the city. It is imperative that all of us learn about our neighbors and what makes them unique. Sadly, there is a long history of prejudice in our country, our state and our city. However, there have always been people who have stepped up to fight for change and to change the laws to promote access for all. This legislation builds on the momentum of many movements for social justice, including the civil rights movement and the women's movement. While this legislation is not a panacea, it is an important step forward in building a more inclusive, just and tolerant environment.
At the July 20 council meeting, a number of people raised concerns about the legislation and whether it is necessary. While I appreciate people exercising their civic rights, I must respectfully disagree with the merits of their arguments. A number of red herrings were raised that do not hold up to the light of greater scrutiny. I sincerely hope that council members and residents do not buy into fear-mongering tactics that mischaracterize this legislation and what it is intended to do. This is a clear and straight-forward anti-discrimination bill intended to promote equal opportunities for BG residents in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations. I strongly believe that most people, when called upon, will do the right thing. To end I would like to appeal to council to step up and do the right thing by passing this important legislation.
Joelle Ruby Ryan
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