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Despite court ruling, LGBT workplace rights secure in Wisconsin

Thirty-five years ago, Wisconsin became the very first state to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The law signed by Gov. Lee S. Dreyfus made it unlawful for an employer in our state to discriminate against you in matters such as hiring, firing, promotions and raises.

Though LGBT rights are protected, those rights are not as clearly secured elsewhere. Take, for example, Mississippi, where a law allows merchants and government workers to deny services to same-sex couples. A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that the law can stand, though an appeal of the decision is expected.

The Mississippi law allows clerks to cite religious beliefs to recuse themselves from marriage license issuance and it protects store owners who refuse services to gays, lesbians or other members of the LGBT community.

A U.S. District judge had previously ruled that the law unconstitutionally allowed for unequal treatment of LGBT people. That decision was reversed by the appeals court.

It should be noted that the 5th Circuit panel did not rule on whether or not the law is constitutional.

An Associated Press article states that legal experts say the Mississippi "law is the broadest religious-objections measure enacted by any state."

When the state's governor signed it, he said the measure protects the belief that marriage is only between one man and one woman; and the belief that sex outside of such a marriage is improper; and that a person's gender at birth cannot be changed.

An attorney for plaintiffs who are challenging the law said an appeal is planned and that the statute is clearly unconstitutional. An advocate of the measure insists that the law "is not meant to discriminate against anyone" and that it protects "the constitutional right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs."

No matter how courts will eventually decide, here in Wisconsin the LGBT community has employment rights that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. An experienced Milwaukee employment rights attorney can help you protect your rights and your career.

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