|To the Editor: If it's right for city employees, it's right for all in BG|
|Written by Dr. Dafina Stewart|
|Wednesday, 12 August 2009 08:24|
I have lived and worked in Bowling Green since 2005, when I moved here to join the faculty at BGSU. I have found BG to be a place that is welcoming and where my daughter and I can live peaceably among our neighbors. Much of this is due to the people here - folks who are mostly friendly and respectful, whose personal values affirm the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect.
However, affirming human dignity cannot be only a private virtue exercised in the confines of our backyards and the personal spaces of our private lives. We must be willing to put action to our values in the public sphere, as well. We have the opportunity to allow our city council to do just that on Aug. 17 by voting to pass two ordinances that extend non-discrimination protections to more people. How does it hurt our community to ensure that more people are treated with dignity and respect in the areas of our lives in which our most basic human needs are engaged?
Unfortunately, there are some who believe that to protect and affirm others' equality and dignity will be a loss for our community. Some are saying that employers will be forced to hire people who are not qualified to do the work required for a position. In fact, the non-discrimination ordinance says in Section 39.06 under General Exception #5 that employers will not be prohibited from selecting or rejecting an applicant for employment based solely upon a "bona fide" qualification or physical requirement. This claim thus misrepresents the facts of the ordinance.
Among these opposing voices there are those who, although affirming the right of every person to be safe from harm, believe that these protections have nothing to do with safety as they are "only" about housing, employment, and access to public accommodations. On the contrary, safety is necessarily tied to these three issues. Consider the repercussions faced by an individual who is fired from her job because she was a member of one of the groups to which these ordinances seek to protect, despite satisfactory job performance otherwise. The job loss means she cannot pay for food, medical care, and housing sufficient to meet her needs. Being unable to meet those needs leaves people without safety. The harm incurred by victims of discrimination is broad and deep and living witnesses to this fact remain with us today.
Our city has already included these additional groups in Administrative Instruction #7 enacted for city employees last year. If it is good and right for our city employees, it should be both good and right for anyone who lives and works in BG.
Dr. Dafina Stewart
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