Today we celebrate the strides women have made in the ongoing struggle for equality here in the United States and around the world, but it’s also a time to make note of the many battles yet to be won.
For example, do you remember a little piece of legislation called SB207? Passed at the 2009 Nevada Legislature, the bill added sexual orientation to the list of protected groups who cannot be discriminated against in places of “public accommodation”—which includes most private businesses and other buildings open to the general public.
A great step forward, yes. But the crazy part? Nevada’s laws STILL don’t offer protection for gender identity or even sex. Yes, you read that right. In Nevada it is perfectly legal to discriminate in a hotel, a casino, a restaurant, and a million other such places based on whether you are male or female, not to mention being a transgender individual.
This is clearly a problem. As is so often the case with civil rights, we as a society rise and fall together—unless everyone’s rights are protected, then nobody’s rights are unassailable.
Consider this: if a lesbian couple were visiting Las Vegas and trying to get into a nightclub, they could not, under the law, be turned away for being a same-sex couple, but they could be kept out simply because they are female. It is nonsensical, and it’s wrong.
Nevada prides itself on being a place where government does not stand in the way of individual freedom. In this case, however, our reality falls short of our ideals. Until all of us—men or women—are guaranteed protection from discrimination, there is still work to be done.
So, in honor of International Women’s Day, try this: forward this blog post to as many folks as you can and let them know that Nevada’s laws aren’t necessarily protecting women (or men) in some cases. It needs to change, but it won’t unless we demand it.