The days of denying a person a job, housing or even service in a restaurant solely on the basis of bigotry are not entirely gone. The Tampa City Council will vote Thursday on whether to protect transgender individuals under the city's antidiscrimination laws. It is the right move and long overdue.
Tampa's existing human rights ordinance bans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation on the basis of age, sex, race, religion and other considerations. The measure before the council Thursday would also protect individuals on the basis of "gender identity." The city's human rights board did a good job documenting the need for this protection in hearings over the past year. Tampa would join 13 states and scores of cities, including Dunedin and Gulfport in Pinellas County, in extending equal protections to those whose private lives deserve to be private.
One conservative organizing opposition to the move said the measure "discriminates against Christians" and provides "special privileges" for sexual deviants. The emotional, fact-free rants reflect what many individuals and the council are up against. These protections might have helped Steve Stanton, who lost his job as Largo city manager in 2007 after news broke that he planned to become a woman. (Now Susan Stanton, she is city manager in Lake Worth.) They certainly will show that Tampa is an inclusive city that respects the dignity all humans deserve. The council should pass the measure.