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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hillsboro, Oregon passes gender identity protection

The City of Hillsboro Tuesday evening unanimously approved a city-wide ban on discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodation on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

In enacting such a law, the City of Hillsboro has joined two Oregon counties and eight cities that have enacted similar laws: Multnomah County, Benton County, Salem, Portland, Beaverton, Bend, Ashland, Lake Oswego, Eugene and Lincoln City.

It's interesting to note that the vote in Hillsboro was unanimous, and applies to all employees, whereas the vote in Kalamazoo this week was 9-8, and that ordinance applied only to city employees. Why the difference? Both cities are of about the same population (around 80,000). Both have around the same levels of religious affiliation and racial diversity. Both Michigan and Oregon are considered blue states and went for Kerry in the last election. If one reads up on the economies of the two cities in Wikipedia, it is interesting to note that Hillsboro is inundated with Fortune 500 businesses, whereas Kalamazoo isn't. (I recognize that Wikipedia isn't necessarily the best source of info, but I do have other things to do today...)

Many high-tech companies operate in Hillsboro, making it the center of Oregon's Silicon Forest. In particular, Intel's largest site is in Hillsboro. Sun Microsystems High-End Operations is headquartered in Hillsboro. Other high-tech companies with factories in Hillsboro include Fujitsu, Epson, NEC, and TriQuint Semiconductor. Genentech recently announced its plans to locate a state-of-the-art product packaging and distribution facility there. Hillsboro is also 18 miles from Portland, a major metropolitan area with many major employers.

What does Kalamazoo have? It was home to The Upjohn Company, a pharmaceutical manufacturer (now part of Pfizer). Pfizer remains a rather large employer in the area, although they did cut many jobs from the plants leaving many middle-class residents jobless. Besides that, they have a lot of breweries. It's also not very close to any major cities; the closest major metropolitan area appears to be South Bend, Indiana, which recently defeated their own proposed gender identity ordinance.

This fits right in with my dissertation hypothesis that the passage of gender identity ordinances follows the perceived need for diversity leadership among business leaders.

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