Sussex County Delaware

Guest Commentary:
Support H.B. 99

 
Guest Opinion ...

Relative of Sen. Venables
Says Senate Should Pass
Gay Civil Rights Measure

By LISA VENABLES
Guest Commentary

Editor's Note: Lisa Venables is a Laurel resident and the daughter-in-law of Delaware Sen. Robert Venables, the chairman of the Senate committee investigating House Bill 99 for the state Senate.

"The highest result of education is tolerance." -- Helen Keller

I am writing to express my support of HB 99 -- as a concerned Delawarean, crisis counselor, sister-in-law of Senator Robert Venables, and in honor of my late gay, brother. Like many, I was aware of HB 99 and had read several news features and editorials. However, until I read the full bill, for myself, I had many misconceptions and did not realize just how necessary its passage is -- to protect everyone equally.

Upon reading HB 99, I knew I must support it, as one who's counseled many suicidal teens struggling with  harassment at  school, due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, and domestic violence victims with less protection and legal recourse than others, because they're the same sex as their abusers.

Moreover, I wanted to honor the life of my late brother, who proudly served our country in the Air Force, yet experienced discrimination because he was gay. Despite warnings that I might experience negative consequences for speaking out - secondary, vicarious discrimination -- I'm now actively lobbying for its support.

Accordingly, I would like to challenge and urge my fellow Delawareans to suspend any judgements they may have and take the time to read the bill, in its entirety, for themselves. I'm confident they'll see that it's not about creating "special treatment" - it's about equal rights for everyone, basic human, civil rights we're all supposed to already have protection by, with various Constitutional Amendments.

The bill can be accessed online at: http://www.delaware.gov, then linking to the Legislative site for tracking bills.

Many mistakenly believe that they're already protected, from workplace and other discrimination, by the word "gender" in their employers’ and schools’ policies, elsewhere such as insurance and other State and Federal laws -- NOT SO!

While many employers have added the wording "sexual orientation" which also applies to all, (for example, heterosexual), many have not. Do you know if yours protects you, accordingly, or is there a loophole? This is crucial, considering increased lack of privacy for all, and the future implications of DNA mapping.

HB 99 passed in the House, and is currently stalled in committee by Senator Venables - an honorable man who just can't believe, coming off Martin Luther King Day and the events of September 11th -- that such discrimination is still occurring. If you have experienced such discrimination, PLEASE share your story, NOW, before the public hearing, on Monday, January 28th, at Legislative Hall, 10:00 a.m., by contacting Senator Venables and other senators.

All supporters of HB 99 are asking is that this bill go forward to the Senate floor for voting -- let the democratic process happen!

Toward equality and justice,

Lisa B. Venables


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