Tacoma Adds Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to Human Rights Ordinance
City Council Overwhemingly Supports New Law
[TACOMA, WA] - On April 23, 2002, the Tacoma City Council amended its local Human Rights Ordinance to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The council approved the amendment by a margin of 8 to 1.
Prior to the amendment, the law prohibited discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, marital status, and disability. The new law will also protect citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public and private employment, housing, and education.
The law defines the term "sexual orientation" as "actual or perceived homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality." The term "gender identity" is defined as "the status or perception of being transsexual, intersexed (possessiong aspects of both genders), transvestite or transgendered."
Two states, Minnesota and Rhode Island, and 39 other municipalities, have enacted laws that include gender identity as a protected category. There is currently no federal or Washington state law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Despite the overwhelming support for the amendment, there is concern that there may be a repeal effort soon. The council had approved a similar measure in 1989, only to have it overturned by voters later that year.