By Shereen Siewert

Marathon County is considering a proposal to declare June as “Pride Month,” according to Administrator Brad Karger.

The draft resolution seeks to recognize the rights of all citizens in Marathon County regardless of age, gender identity, race, color, religion, marital status, national origin, sexual orientation, or physical challenges. Specifically, the resolution points to a Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law report that shows 3.8 percent of Wisconsin residents identify as LGBT, which makes the group one of the largest minority/marginalized groups in the county.

County officials say that being a place that is perceived as open, safe and accessible to people of diverse backgrounds is a critical issue that must be addressed for the county’s future prosperity. In addition, the 2019 Economic Development Strategic Plan commissioned by the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce identified talent recruitment as a fundamental component of economic success, stating that competing successfully for top-tier talent will require that the Greater Wausau Region bring in nontraditional workers to attract and retain skilled workers from outside the region.

Wisconsin in 1982 was the first state to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit, and all public accommodations. When signed into law by Governor Lee S. Dreyfus, he said, “It is a fundamental tenet of the Republican Party that government ought not intrude in the private lives of individuals where no state purpose is served, and there is nothing more private or intimate than who you live with and who you love.”

The declaration of Pride Month invites residents to reflect on ways to work together with a commitment to mutual respect and understanding. Under the terms of the proposal, the county administrator would be directed to evaluate Marathon County Government’s employment policies/practices and facilities/work environments to assure that they meet the County’s expectation of being open and inclusive to people who identify as LGBTQ, consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan.

The draft resolution will be discussed by the county’s Extension, Education and Economic Development Committee next week.