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October 27, 2019

Legislation & LGBTQ+

by Lisa Koenecke

Let’s give it up for the letter, “L” this week! What a Lovely Letter that has Literally Labled Lisa (me) as a strong Lady! In case you didn’t know this, my mother named me after a soap opera…true story. Eileen Fulton, played the character Lisa Grimaldi on “As The World Turns.” Lisa was a strong female character, and that’s what my mother wanted me to be…BINGO! Looks just like me, right?

Eileen Fulton stars as Lisa Mitichell Grimaldi in AS THE WORLD TURNS. Photo cr: Danny Sanchez/CBS ©2010 CBS BROADCASTING INC. ALL RIGHS RESERVED

Lesbian is the first “L” in LGBTQ+. Raise your hand if you know where that term derives from. It’s ok, I can’t see your arms, but if you played along, you’re FUN and LIVELY. Let’s travel to the Northeastern Aegean Sea to find the third largest of the Greek Islands, Lesbos.

Lesbos within the North Aegean
Coordinates: 
39¬į10‚Ä≤N¬†26¬į20‚Ä≤E (trust me, it’s in there, it didn’t come through in the copy)

The word¬†lesbian¬†is derived from the name of the Greek island of¬†Lesbos, home to the 6th-century BCE poet¬†Sappho.[3]¬†From various ancient writings, historians gathered that a group of young women were left in Sappho’s charge for their instruction or cultural edification.[6]¬†Little of Sappho’s poetry survives, but her remaining poetry reflects the topics she wrote about: women’s daily lives, their relationships, and rituals. She focused on the beauty of women and proclaimed her love for girls.[7]¬†Before the mid-19th century,[8]¬†the word¬†lesbian¬†referred to any derivative or aspect of Lesbos, including a¬†type of wine. Cheers to Wikipedia!

Sappho of Lesbos, depicted here in a 1904 painting by John William Godward, gave the term lesbian the connotation of erotic desire between women.

Pop culture lesson = Check! Geography Lesson = Check! History Lesson = Check! Now, let’s go into some modern political lessons. Let’s start with a Law called Title VII (that’s a 7 in fancy Roman numerals) of the Civil Rights Law of 1964. Stay with me, sometimes we have to know our history as to not repeat it…thanks for still reading along. You’re LOVELY!

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion. It generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including federal, state and local governments. Title VII also applies to private and public colleges and universities, employment agencies, and labor organizations.

Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 provide protection against sex discrimination in the context of tenure. Title VII is a federal law that prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of sex, as well as race, color, national origin and religion. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, covering all staff and students in any educational institution or program that receives federal funds. https://www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/title-vii/

United States Map
  • (Dark Green) State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity¬†(21¬†states,¬†2¬†territories¬†+¬†D.C.)
  • (Strike through Light Green) State explicitly interprets existing prohibition on sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and/or gender identity (see note)¬†(2¬†states,¬†0¬†territories)
  • (Light Green) State law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation only¬†(1¬†state,¬†0¬†territories)
  • (Tan) No explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law¬†(26¬†states,¬†3¬†territories) this is the scary one
  • (Gavel) State is in a federal circuit with a ruling that explicitly interprets existing federal prohibition on sex discrimination (under Title VII) to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.¬†¬†(26¬†states,¬†3¬†territories)

What does this mean having Wisconsin in Light Green with a Gavel? According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, I can’t be discrminated in hiring or firing for being gay…Hooray! Here’s your human resource lesson for the day! If you are reading this and you don’t live in Wisconsin, please check out your state in the aformentioned information. Thanks & I hope you still like our cheese! https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/er/civil_rights/discrimination/sexual_orientation_protection.htm

Sexual Orientation Protection

Overview (WISCONSIN)

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act prohibits employers, employment agencies, labor unions, licensing agencies, and other persons from discriminating against employees, job applicants, or licensing applicants because of their membership in specific protected categories, including sexual orientation.

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law defines “sexual orientation” as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference.

What actions are covered?

When an individual’s sexual orientation motivates the decision related to an employment action or licensing action, it becomes unlawful discrimination.

Specifically, the law prohibits discrimination in recruitment and hiring, job assignments, pay, leave or benefits, promotion, licensing or union membership, training, lay-off and firing, and other employment related actions.

How does the law define sexual orientation?

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law defines “sexual orientation” as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of such a preference or being identified with such a preference.

Who is protected?

The Wisconsin Fair Employment Law applies to all private and public employers, regardless of the number of employees, except for federal government or tribal employers.

Can an employer refuse to hire a person because of their sexual orientation?

No, the law prohibits discrimination because of being identified as a relative, friend or significant other of someone with a particular sexual orientation.

May an employer ask about an applicant’s sexual orientation?

The Fair Employment Law prohibits any inquiry that implies or expresses any limitation because of a protected basis, including sexual orientation. Marital status discrimination is also prohibited under Wisconsin law and questions about marital status that are designed to detect a person’s sexual orientation may violate both marital status and sexual orientation provisions of the law.

Is an individual protected if an employer thinks the employee’s sexual orientation is different than it really is and acts on that perception?

Yes, the definition includes being identified with a preference for a particular sexual orientation. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against someone based on perceived sexual orientation, even if the perception is wrong, for example, it would be a violation of the law if an employer assumes a man is homosexual because he is effeminate and discharges him because of that perception.

The Supreme Court heard three cases earlier this month that ask whether it is legal to fire workers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity (Title VII). That alone is enough to make those three of the most important employment discrimination cases in many years. But there are additional layers to these cases, layers that could imperil all workers regardless of whether or not they are LGBTQ. Only 22 states prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and only 21 prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. So if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the employers in Zarda, Bostock, and Harris Funeral Homes, millions of LGBTQ workers will be left without legal protections. Read on, my friend. https://www.vox.com/2019/10/2/20883827/supreme-court-lgbtq-discrimination-title-vii-civil-rights-gay-trans-queer

Let’s see, Lisa was named after a soap opera and might lose protections because she’s a lebian? Looks like a little scary scenario to me and for my other LGBTQ+ friends. Why do we need to legislate kindess and decency? That is a direct quote from my wife, Angela. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

My call to action this week is to think about how you would feel if you were fired for having brown eyes instead of blue? What if you lost your health benefits because you were left-handed? I was born this way, who says Little Lisa from Loganville should be legislated against? Please show your rainbows, please stop homophobic jokes, and please register to vote!

Mahalo,

Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)

Read more from LGBT Resources A to Z

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