, ,

Madison Outlaws Discrimination Against Atheists

City Council Votes To Include 'Nonreligion' As A Protected Class For Housing, Employment

Maitri (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Madison is the first city in the nation to make discrimination of atheists and other non-religious people illegal.

Madison’s Common Council voted to pass an amendment this week that the Freedom From Religion Foundation says is the “first in the nation.” The amendment changed the city’s equal opportunity ordinance by adding “nonreligion” to the classes protected when it comes to employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“It started because we have religion protected, in the ordinance, protected from discrimination. So it just seemed logical to me that we would also protect nonreligion. It just seemed a matter of equality,” said Alder Anita Weier, who sponsored the change.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, a co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, said the amendment’s adoption comes at a time when there’s a “furor over discrimination in the name of religion,” and pointed to “religious freedom” laws and other similar legislation that’s been enacted in Indiana, Arkansas and elsewhere.

“So in the face of this, this ordinance protecting the right to be nonreligious is very significant, very historic, and it especially needed protection,” she said.

Gaylor added she hopes this will lead to other campaigns around the country trying to do this at the local level.