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This is not legal advice, which can only be given by an attorney admitted to practice law in your jurisdiction after hearing all of the facts and circumstances in a particular case.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Ohio gender identity policies changing

Here's an interestingly biased article from the Dayton Daily News today. The article discusses a new prohibition on job discrimination based on sexual orientation soon to be implemented by executive order by Governor Ted Strickland. The article, however, does not discuss discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Instead, it starts off with "Cross dressers, transsexuals, gays, lesbians and bisexuals may be protected from job discrimination in the attorney general and secretary of state's offices under soon-to-be expanded employment policies." The emphasis here, interestingly, is on the smallest populations, crossdressers and transsexuals, rather than the much larger population of gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Why would an article begin this way? One guess might be that the paper is rabble-rousing.

This is confirmed when the paper launches into criticism of Attorney General Marc Dann and Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, who plan to expand the job discrimination ban to cover gender identity.

A garbled quote by Ohio State University associate law professor Marc Spindelman follows:

"It seems hard to imagine that there won't be some people in the state who are incredibly upset by the notion that people will be being judged simply on the basis of their merit and their workplace performance," Spindelman said. I think this means some conservatives will be upset by the new rules. I don't fault Spindelman, who's written some really interesting articles on the same-sex marriage debate from a unique angle. I've given media interviews, and reporters know that verbal expression requires translation to the written context. When they choose to print unexpurgated the part that came right after you dropped the phone on your foot and banged your head on the desk, it means they don't like what you're saying.

The paper then quotes David Miller of Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, who calls it "bad public policy because sexual orientations can change, and he noted that gender identity disorder is a recognized mental condition." Miller's organization, interestingly, has a mission of "promoting Judeo-Christian moral values" and, at the same time, promoting the First Amendment. Wait a minute, isn't that a contradiction of some kind? Well, who's got time to read the First Amendment, anyway. Never mind that, what is Mr. Miller saying? He's saying that people with "mental conditions" don't deserve job protections. What happened to the Americans with Disabilities Act? He is correct in saying that the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual includes "gender identity disorder." Whatever one may think of the APA's position, it is important to note that it is only considered a psychiatric problem if it causes "clinically significant distress," and not all transgender people are experiencing distress. Of course, he also fails to note that homosexuality was removed from the APA list in 1972, which, logically according to his position, would mean that being gay is now OK.

Next, he says that sexual orientations can change. I'm mystified by this comment, and not at all sure that I agree. The idea of sexual orientation is the sex of the romantic partners that one innately desires. It's generally something we know when we're quite young and get that funny feeling in the stomach when we look at a person whom we want to....well, enough said. It's not something that changes at all, from what I know. More the point, however, is how its changing would justify job discrimination. Let's say it does change. Does that mean I can refuse to hire gay people?

I think the most rational conclusion is that I am trying to make sense of a position that doesn't make sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"David Miller of Cincinnati-based Citizens for Community Values, who calls it "bad public policy because sexual orientations can change"
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The follow-up question to Mr. Miller being - what would change his sexual oreintation?