“In an overwhelmingly overweight nation that worships thinness, many describe prejudice against the obese as one of the last socially acceptable biases,” writes Lisa Anderson at the Chicago Tribune. “Advocates for the plus-sized, particularly activists in the ‘fat acceptance’ movement, want obesity to become a category legally protected against discrimination, like religion, race, age and sex. But not everyone agrees.”
“I think it would help mostly because it would send a message that fat people are equal citizens. It’s not in the litigation rates, but the rights consciousness that comes after legislation,” said Anna Kirkland, an assistant professor of women’s studies and political science at the University of Michigan who is author of the new book, “Fat Rights: Dilemmas of Difference and Personhood,” which examines the question of whether weight should be a protected category.
The story goes on to discuss a law to ban discrimination against weight and height pending in Massachusetts. Here’s the text of House bill 1844 (PDF), sponsored by Rep. Byron Rushing.
Rushing has offered similar bills six times in the last 12 years. He told the Trib that last month’s public hearing on the bill showed “there is a growing number of people who think this should happen and an even larger number of people who think we should at least be talking about it.”
Similar anti-discrimination legislation is already in place in Michigan and the District of Columbia, and cities such as San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Madison.
“It’s not really about litigation, but about taking a stand,” said Marilyn Wann, a fat-rights activist who testified at the Boston hearing and helped get San Francisco’s law passed in 2000. “I do think when a government says it’s not OK to dismiss someone as a person because of weight, that’s helpful.”
Plus: Read Fat People: Please Stop Existing at Big Fat Blog.