Progressive members of the City Council of Binghamton New York have expanded the boundaries of civil rights in their fair city to include protection for citizens on the basis of sexual orientation, nothing shocking in a university town. What is surprising is that the law also protects Binghamton citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodation on the basis of height and weight. Presumably in the future, Binghamton bean poles will have to yield to their shorter peers for slots on basketball teams, and the horizontally expansive will be able to demand wider doors and sturdier seats in restaurants and shops.
According to the law’s chief proponent, Binghamton Council member Sean Massey, it is a “sad fact” that a law protecting the undertall or the overweight is necessary, and even if it isn’t, “It’s simply the right thing to do. … It is the human thing to do.”
While it’s not at all clear to me, from a simple google search, that Binghamton was experiencing a tide of discrimination against the short, the tall, the fat, or the cadaverous before the passage of this law, it’s also unclear how this law will in fact promote its author’s vision of Harrison Bergeronlike equality of outcome for people of nonstandard body configuration. Will morbidly obese firemen be able to sue the city for discrimination if they are not provided assistance in climbing ladders and carrying victims? Will students whose body mass makes them unappealing by conventional standards of good looks now demand appointment as homecoming kings and queens on the ground that they are denied a fair shot in student elections? And how, exactly, will the city determine that someone was denied housing on the basis of height or weight? While one assumes that signs reading “Fat people need not apply” are being removed from apartments all over Binghamton, apart from that what does this accomplish, other than making the Binghamton City Council feel good? Gannett: “Council Passes Rights Law”, Weekly Standard: “The Politics of Fat”, thanks to dispatches from TJICistan for the pointer.