As they say, if it plays in Peoria, it plays in the U.S.
The town of Peoria, Ill., has often been used as a test-market to gauge the tastes and trends of America, and last week they moved one step closer to granting protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation—with a broad definition that includes gender identity.
Rick Garcia, political director of Equality Illinois, attended the Feb. 6 Peoria Fair Employment and Housing Commission meeting, where that body voted 4-3 on a measure that will go before the City Council later this month. The measure would amend the local civil-rights ordinance to include sexual orientation protections in the areas of employment, housing and public accommodations.
'Opponents of the ordinance on the commission cited biblical injunctions against homosexuality and that homosexuality is a choice so there should be no protections for that 'lifestyle,'' Garcia reported. 'Proponents on the commission acknowledged that people have been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and they have a responsibility to work to eliminate any kind of discrimination in Peoria.'
The Peoria Star Journal even editorialized strongly in favor of the ordinance. Equality Illinois submitted testimony to the commission and Garcia addressed the group.
The vote had been 4-4 because an absentee vote from one member was originally allowed. It was later thrown out.
Caterpillar, one of Peoria's major employers, just added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, Garcia noted.