Hillsboro to consider city-wide ban on GLBT discrimination

Tonight at 7 p.m., the Hillsboro City Council will hear testimony on a city-wide ban on discrimination in housing, employment and public accomodations on the basis of sexual orientation or identity.

From the press release by Basic Rights Oregon:

Right now Oregon's law books don't prohibit evicting a good tenant, denying a patron service at a restaurant or refusing to hire a qualified candidate just because of a person's real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Although a handful of municipalities and counties in Oregon have already passes this type of legislation, citizens in most of the state remain vulnerable to this type of discrimination and efforts to pass a statewide anti-discrimination bill have thus far been blocked in the Oregon Legislature.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Anonymous (unverified)
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    What century is this?

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    Do we expect that laws alone will change what is in the hearts of people? I have always had my concerns that measures like this just serve to divide and galvanize people more. What about my personal right to free-association? Where are our real civil liberties in this nation?

    Now I am for banning government endorsed segregation (two sets of public bathrooms and water fountains? Now that is just plain insane and silly) - however I have great concerns that the real issues of bigotry is not addressed by legislation such as this and it will only serve to bury resentment deeper and increase the latent hostility.

    The winning of hearts and minds about the virtues of equality, individuality, freedom of choice and expression will not be won by taking away people's rights of freedom of association. How far removed from the virtues of liberty and reasoned debate must the left be in order to find themselves holding business owners hostage at the end of a gun to enforce integration?

    What ever happened to virtuous protest? Economic pressure? Boycotts? Public relations campaigns? Why must the answer always be, more government, more oppression, more dictatorial rule?

    -Wes Wagner Candidate, Oregon House District #39

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    Mods, please remove the duplicate posts - there was an error over here as a result of the new optical character verification system for posting and some very serious network lag.

  • Anonymous (unverified)
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    Protests? Boycotts? Economic Pressure? Against who, a few biggoted land-owners?

    Sometimes this can work, but talk a walk around any college campus. If we were to boycott every single issue that is out there, we'd be eating bugs and never going anywhere!

    Government's primary purpose is to protect people. It is NOT supposed to be the enemy. If anyone feels that way, then they should not be elected to office.

    I suspect that if one were truly a part of a discrimated minority, they'd feel differently. Frankly, I am tired of it. 30+ years of endless biggotry. I pay higher than my fair share of taxes and get less civil rights.

    I have no patience for protests or sanctions against those that really just need to get educated. When do we get the right to marry?... when I am 80????

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    So long as your battle involves using the government to take away the rights of other people, it is going to take longer for you to gain the right to marry than you would prefer.

    You can't remain intellectually consistent if you believe people have some fundamental human rights but not others, and those holes in your rhetoric will be used against you even when you make a proper argument, such as advocating equality in human relationships. The right does the same when they argue that propertty rights, the rights to self-defense, etc etc are important, but the right to free expression or freedom of association, freedom of relationships, spousal choice, etc are not.

    Be consistent in your view of freedom and liberty; then you can change people's minds and hearts.

    Sincerely, Wes Wagner Candidate, Oregon House District #39

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    Now I am for banning government endorsed segregation (two sets of public bathrooms and water fountains? Now that is just plain insane and silly)

    OK, Wes, I'll bite. If the Old South had only one water fountain - whites only - instead of the segregated two... would you be OK with that? After all, it's the building owner's freedom to only have white people drink at his fountain, right?

    How is that any different than a restaurant refusing to serve gays and lesbians?

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    I believe in a world where a person has a legal right to be a complete jackass, because the alternative is far less desirable. I also will be one of the people who refuses to eat at a restaraunt run by a jackass.

    If I were renting an apartment and I told one of my friends that the place next door was available and the owner didn't rent to him because he was gay, well the owner would have two vacant apartments to deal with instead of one, and maybe more after I told all my neighbors.

    What exists of gay rights in this nation (albeit limited) does not exist because of legislation. It exists because a large portion of americans have learned from the past. Bigotry has no tangible value and you get further in life accepting people and treating them equally.

    Yes, it should be the building owner's freedom to refuse service to anyone, even if he/she doesn't like the color of your shirt. There are better methods of dealing with issues such as those in our society than to turn more power over to our government, and they can be far more effective if people have the moral conviction to do the right and honorable thing. And if they don't, no amount of government will change that either.

    Just because you use the threat of force by the government to force someone to take an ethical action, will not leave that person an ethical person, once that threat of force is removed or is no longer present when that person's ethics are challenged again. All you have done is become an aggressor, and taught that individual that force is an acceptable choice in human interaction.

    Both parties in the end will most likely be worse off for it.

    Sincerely, Wes Wagner Candidate, Oregon House District #39

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    As an afterthought, in case the general body of readership here has lost their way just a bit, I am going to provide the first entry for the definition of the word "liberal" - which can be found at one of my favorite sites (and helpful since I went to public school) www.dictionary.com

    lib·er·al Pronunciation Key (lbr-l, lbrl) adj. 1. 1. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.

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    Sorry Wes, but your arguments don't fly. This is simply about equal protection under the law, which is clearly the business of government.

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    Equal protection under the law means that all laws that are passed must protect people equally. It is not a mandate that a law must be passed to regulate every form of commerce or human interaction to the point where all economic and human activities are goverend by law.

    Your reference to a constitutional amednment that I agree with very strongly is inappropriate in this case. There is no mandamus that we must regulate the rental market nor set laws regarding who may or may not be rented to.

    If the government owned and was renting the housing, I would agree with you. (Though I would consider that a sad state of affairs) Also I would agree with you that the current policy regarding gays in the military is unconstitutional due to said amendment. There are many places where government engages in hiring and economic activity where you would be correct, but the 14th amendment applies to the law and government activities, not private commerce.

    If it did, you would not legally be allowed to have women-only health clubs, gay-only bars, or any other type of voluntary commercial/association discrimination.

    Sincerely, Wes Wagner Candidate, Oregon House District #39

  • BlueNote (unverified)
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    Living in a free country means freedom of choice and freedom of action for everyone. That being said, I would like to focus on electing people who will protect freedom, and not not focus on anyone's particular orientation or preference or whatever.

  • Zak J. (unverified)
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    The Fair Housing Act makes it pretty clear that we've granted government the right to protect against housing discrimination based on someone's identity--race, gender, ethnicity, and so forth. So the precedent is there (unless you feel the Fair Housing Act is unconstitutional?), though unfortunately GLBT-identities were not included explicitly for protection under the act.

    So don't parrot Goldwater in saying the government can't legislate morality. It's not about that. It's about equal access. The FHA allows exceptions for small-time landlords, for instance people renting a room out of their home. But when a landlord crosses the volume threshold where their renting practices impact the greater community, government regulation against discrimination can, does, and should apply. There is a compelling public interest in that, and in extending these protections to the GLBT community.

    I hope Hillsboro does the right thing.

  • Mark (unverified)
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    Since there is no discrimination going on in Hillsboro towards GLBT, it is Politically correct haymaking. Passing any such laws won't do anything for a GLBT person who was turned down for City services or employment for other reasons.

    The only reason the City councel would ever pass such a resolution or ordance would be to increase thier own support for elections and to publish something in the city newsletters that they ended sexual orientation discrimination. Yeah, like it is really happening.

    Discrimination in general happens. I have been discriminated against from many jobs because I was the wrong color, sex, wrong politics, wrong beliefs, wrong language, wrong sexual appeal. Laws cannot change peoples hearts and you cannot dictate how people are to believe and feel towards one an other....I sort of thought that was the job of relgion anyway.

  • Wes Wagner (unverified)
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    Well the Fair Housing Act was a federal law - and I would love to see the actual constitutionality of it debated. I doubt it would stand up to genuine 9th and 10th amendment scrutiny. However that is outside the scope of what we can do as a State in Oregon (although it should not be ... a little more sovereignty would be a good thing).

    Now this is theoretical, but if the Fair Housing Act were deemed constitutional, I would agree that it should apply to all forms of discrimination, not just those that had an influential lobby at the time it was written. Consistency in law is a very important thing.

    I would hope that the Fair Housing Act would not stand however. Free association is a very important civil right. Imagine if a retirement community that has a 55+ age requirement were told by 100 people in their mid twenties and thirties with babies, young children, and loud teenagers that they wanted to and should have the right to rent any unit in their community and it is unfair to discriminate against them?

    Rights need to flow in all directions, even those that we personally find distasteful. Otherwise we will lack the intellectual and moral consistency to argue for the protection of our own rights, which we deem important, when someone else with more power and force comes to take them from us.

    Sincerely, Wes Wagner Candidate, Oregon House District #39

  • Jamie (unverified)
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    All this commentary by Wes Wagner is getting unbearably tiresome. I just waved my little fairy wand. I hope that makes him go away.

  • ws (unverified)
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    Mr. Wagner, your statement : "What about my personal right to free-association?" Is that paraphrasing from the U.S. constitution?

    I figured it must have taken some creative thinking to inject fear over the theoretical loss of whom we're free to associate with in regards to efforts by the Hillsboro Basic Rights Action Team to get the non-sexual orientation or identity discrmination topic on the city council agenda.

    No need to panic Mr. Wagner. The city doesn't have such a ban yet. Unfortunately, anti-discriminatory codes are neccessary, because even though people may oppose discrimination, they may not have the luxury of being able to turn down an opportunity to get an apartment as a personal statement against a landlord who discriminates against another person.

    It's only the naieve, afraid, devious, and mean spirited people who are responsible for requiring such codes in the first place. Hillsboro seems to be on track regarding defense against discrimination. Below is Hillsboro's current equal employment policy:

    2.36.050 Equal employment opportunity.

    It is the policy of the city that all persons are entitled to equal employment opportunities and benefits regardless of race, religion, color, sex, marital status, political affiliation or national origin. Discrimination on the basis of age, relationship or mental or physical disability is also prohibited except where a particular position requires a valid occupational qualification. (Prior code § 1-18.5)

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    Since there is no discrimination going on in Hillsboro towards GLBT, it is Politically correct haymaking.

    Oh, puh-leeze. Hillsboro, according to you, is a magical little place on earth where discrimination never happens. Uh huh.

  • Chuck Paugh (unverified)
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    If the good people of Hillsboro want to include sexual orientation to the classes of people they are protecting from abuse in a citywide civil rights ordinance, then let them do it.

    The real solution would be to include sexual orientation in the state's civil rights statutes, but this has not happened. By municipalities such as Hillsboro enacting local ordinances like this, it sends a signal to Salem to get working on such legislation.

    Once more states have passed similiar legislation, we will see federal civil rights statutes changed to include sexual orientation as a class of people protected from inappropriate descrimination.

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    Chuck -

    You lay out a good strategy...I hope we (in Hillsboro) can be a small part of helping to get it done!

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    I'm always fascinated by the argument that laws don't change minds. They don't change everyone's mind, but in fact the struggles for rights and putting the authority of law behind them clearly have changed behavior. And changing behavior actually does change minds. If you do one thing, you get defensive about it. Once you stop or reduce doing it, you can look at it differently. So I agree with Chuck and Ed on the politics, and think it goes further into culture.

    When I was born, racial discrimination was enforced in 1/4 of the states and permitted in most of the others, and women couldn't serve on juries in many states; I can recall reading job ads in early adolescence that specified sex as a job requirement. Most people accepted those things then. Most would not today. It's partly a matter of new people born since the change of the law -- but also of older folks who changed their hearts and minds, as well as the influence on those of us in the middle who had to decide what we thought while we were still forming our outlooks.

    "You can't legislate morality" is a canard. Libertarians believe the law should enforce contracts and punish fraud in commercial relations. And punish murder and theft I suppose. All of which involves morality.

    The point of the canard is to justify doing nothing about discrimination, no more, no less. And of course those who oppose LGBT civil rights very often also do want to legislate their morality, quite precisely, regarding sexuality as a matter of moral and immoral behavior which they want the law to support or to repress if not punish.

    To anyone inclined to "you can't legislate morality" in a more passive sense, I would commend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which was written to a group of southern white ministers who had criticized his campaign of non-violent direct action for civil rights as being insufficiently patient in waiting for persuasion to change racial segregation. Their criticism included the argument that changing the laws without changing hearts and minds first would be meaningless.

    In fact it was the struggle for the law that became the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (bringing the 14th amendment back from the dead) which changed a great many minds, south and north, and shifted the burden of social unacceptability from those who questioned bigotry to those who voiced and acted on it.

    Wes' comment about forcing something on restaurant owners at gunpoint brought to mind the image of (Democratic) Georgia governor Lester Maddox, a restauranteur and segregationist politician who resisted integration of his restaurant under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with a gun and a pickaxe, and then used the axe-handle as a symbol when running for governor in 1966. Obits of Maddox characterized him as becoming relatively "moderate on race" in his term from 1967-71. Did his views change? I don't know. But the change in the law changed his practical actions in politics, evidently.

    One might argue for a distinction between state enforcement of discrimination vs. state permission of discrimination. But the line is smeary. Does discrimination in the form of so-called freedom of association include restrictive covenants, contracts requiring purchasers of property to agree not to sell to members of disfavored groups? These were common in the north and west when the south was under Jim Crow, aimed at Jews as well as black people. Should the state enforce such contracts? There are contracts we don't permit, e.g. a contract of self-enslavement, and more recently, such restrictive covenants.

    <h2>Non-discrimination laws involve civil associations in which the state already intervenes to enforce and set limits on contracts -- in housing, the enforcement of rental obligations, property maintenance related to the public health and safety and that of tenants, and so on. It is quite legitimate to say that people who wish to enter into such associations must meet requirements for the larger public good or avoid certain actions that harm it.</h2>
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