Thursday, February 24, 2011

Regarding sexual orientation language in the budget repair bill - it's not new

Over the past 11 days, readers have been finding all sorts of non-budget items packed into Governor Walker's budget repair bill, including language that excludes lesbians, gays and bisexuals from affirmative action requirements that apply to government contractors.

However, this is not language that is new with Walker. It has appeared in bill after bill since sexual orientation became a protected class in Wisconsin in 1982. That's because the law made sexual orientation a protected class from discrimination only, not for affirmative action.

Fair Wisconsin released this statement to clear up confusion regarding this part of the budget bill:
Since the release of Governor Walker's anti-labor union-busting "Budget Repair Bill", we have heard from many supporters asking us about the anti-gay language that appears on page 8, line 18 (contained in Section 32):
"Except with respect to sexual orientation, the contractor further agrees to take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunities."
Although those words do appear in the bill, it is not a change in Wisconsin state law. Just to be clear: This is not a new challenge. Currently, sexual orientation is only a protected class only in our non-discrimination laws. Wisconsin has never considered it a part of its affirmative action laws.

Thank you to everyone who has brought it to our attention. It's inspiring to see so many people taking the time to review the bill critically in its entirety!

In fairness AND solidarity,
Katie Belanger
Executive Director

For more information on Wisconsin's law protecting lesbians, gays and bisexuals from certain forms of discrimination, see this page on the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website.

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