SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. - Leaders in Sun Prairie are considering two ordinances that would protect people based on their gender identity or gender expression.
The city would be one of only a handful in Wisconsin to have an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression.
Two south-central Wisconsin cities, Madison and Janesville, have similar ordinances on the books. Appleton, Cudahy and Milwaukee are the other Wisconsin cities to adopt ordinances protecting transgender citizens; Dane and Milwaukee counties are the only two counties to do so.
Ginger Baier, a transgender woman who serves on Sun Prairie's diversity committee, said while the city's residents have been welcoming to people like her, getting a law on the books would show to the larger community that transgender people matter.
"It says to me as a transgender woman that Sun Prairie and the people of Sun Prairie value me," Baier said. "We're not protected under current ordinances."
The proposals passed the diversity committee 16-2, Baier said.
One ordinance updates the city's already existing ordinance on housing discrimination to add gender identity and expression.
The other creates a new ordinance protecting discrimination based on gender identity and expression as well as other categories, like race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, military service and political affiliation.
The new rules would apply to employment and places of public accommodation.
"It applies to the city as a whole, it applies to businesses within the city," Baier said.
Sun Prairie Mayor Paul Esser said Saturday he strongly supports the ordinance. He said while some may see it as solely symbolic, he believes it's more than that.
"There are some people who think that we've got enough ordinances and we're just making another ordinance and it's not really doing anything," Esser said. "My feeling is that it needs to be more than just the policy of the city, we're putting some teeth into it and saying 'We're serious, this is the law of the city.'"
Esser said in talking with Sun Prairie alders, he believes the proposal has enough votes to pass a full City Council vote at its May 2 meeting.
He said he has not heard from any alders who oppose the proposals.
The public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposed ordinances at the May 2 council meeting.
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