POLITICS
03/29/2016 01:37 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2016

Paul Ryan's Hometown Bans LGBT Discrimination

The city council passed the measure one day before Donald Trump's rally in town.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
Janesville, Wisconsin, the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), approved a measure that bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The city of Janesville, Wisconsin, approved an ordinance Monday night that protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from discrimination, giving the hometown of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) broader protections than those at the state and national level. 

The ordinance passed 6 to 1, according to Councilman Sam Liebert, one of the authors of the measure. It provides protections to residents in public accommodations and employment on the basis of 17 categories, including race, religion, military service, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The measure also specifically would allow transgender people to use a public restroom based on the gender they identify with, rather than the gender on their birth certificate. 

"Local cities know what is best for their residents, and the Janesville council members did the right thing by passing protections that ensure none of their constituents can be denied a job or refused services because of who they are," said Matt McTighe, executive director of the pro-LGBT rights group Freedom for All Americans. "This measure will improve the lives of countless people and their families, and will hurt no one."

Liebert said he and another member of the council spent months working on the ordinance, looking at the three other cities in Wisconsin with similar measures. They knew that some conservatives in the community would specifically object to the bathroom issue, so they made sure that the other cities hadn't had any issues. 

"Our congressman is also the speaker of the House. It would be nice to see him on the right side of history, being in support of these types of protections on the federal level as well. That doesn't hurt to let him know that his hometown overwhelmingly supports these types of protections," Liebert told The Huffington Post Tuesday.

Ryan's office said it had no comment on the local ordinance. 

Wisconsin was the first state to pass nondiscrimination protections for lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals, but it still lacks the same rights for transgender people. There are no sexual orientation and gender identity protections at the federal level, although legislation has been introduced to provide them.

North Carolina passed a law last week that bars localities from passing LGBT-inclusive ordinances, such as the one the Janesville city council approved. 

Donald Trump has a rally scheduled in Janesville on Tuesday. Dozens of protesters showed up Monday night in advance of the event, previewing the opposition the GOP presidential front-runner may face when he arrives. 

This piece has been updated with comments from Liebert. 


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