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Pro-Gay Town Sued for Antigay Bias

Pro-Gay Town Sued for Antigay Bias

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The municipal government in Oak Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb noted for its gay-friendliness and general acceptance of diversity, is being sued by current and former employees claiming antigay and religious discrimination.

In one of the lawsuits, Michael Aguayo, who is gay, says he was the subject of antigay harassment by his coworkers, reports local newspaper Oak Leaves. He was fired from his job early this year, which he alleges was retaliation for his complaints about the harassment, but reinstated after his union intervened. In the other, Shawnya Robinson, a Jehovah's Witness, says she was dismissed from the village clerk's office in 2009 because she would not perform duties involving voter registration or domestic-partnership registration, both of which conflict with her religious beliefs. Both suits were filed Friday, but they are not related, according to Oak Leaves.

"It kind of surprised me that this kind thing could happen in Oak Park, especially knowing its commitment to diversity in the workforce and among residents," Timothy Huizenga, an attorney for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago who is representing Robinson, told the newspaper. "It's hard to believe the village was unwilling to grant what was a very minor work adjustment that could have been easily accommodated."

In addition to offering a domestic-partnership registry, Oak Park has a ban on antigay discrimination, and it provides benefits to same-sex partners of municipal employees.

Village officials declined comment to local media on the lawsuits, except to note that a previous complaint by Robinson had been dismissed by the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

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