DC Office of Human Rights Newsletter | Volume XIX | December 2019
A Decade of Civil and Human Rights
A reflection of human rights achievements from 2010-2019
Photo courtesy of Metro.style
Can you believe that December is the last month in this decade? Since we are about to enter a new decade, we thought it would be cool to highlight some of the human and civil rights milestones we have achieved during this time. It is no secret that DC is a model city when it comes to human rights protections. The DC Human Rights Act of 1977 (DCHRA) made it illegal for employers and organizations to discriminate against people for things like personal appearance, sexual orientation and source of income. Traits that wouldn't be recognized by other jurisdictions until decades later, if at all. Needless to say, but DC in 1977 was at the forefront of civil and human rights protections and continues to be a leader in passing and enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Initially beginning with 15 in 1977, we now have 21 protected traits, recently adding status as a victim or family member of a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking in October. In no way is the below list exhaustive, but take a look at the examples of the progress we've made in the area of human rights here in DC, nationally and around the world.

  • Same-sex marriage legalized in the District (2010)
  • Returning citizens get a fair shot at employment (2014)
  • The Unemployed Anti-Discrimination Act of 2012 (UADA) goes into effect (October 2015)
  • Housing providers can no longer run criminal backgrounds before conditional offer (2016)
  • Credit information becomes the 20th protected trait in employment (2017)
  • OHR creates committee to study and propose recommendations on Street Harassment (2019)
  • Status as a victim or family member of a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking becomes the 21st protected trait in employment (2019)

Nation and World
  • Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriages throughout the United States (2015)
  • India decriminalized same-sex relationships and ruled that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a violation of rights (2018)
  • Taiwan becomes first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage (2019)
  • California passes the Crown Act, protecting people with natural hair styles from discrimination (2019)
Trait of the Month: Genetic Information
Did you know that it is illegal for employers and public establishments to discriminate on you based on your genetic information? This is defined as your DNA or family history which may provide information as to a person’s predisposition or likely to come down with a disease or illness. For more information or to file a complaint, visit our website;  ohr.dc.gov .
This Month's Spotlight: OHR By the Numbers

Take a look at OHR's Fiscal Year 2019 At-A-Glance for a preview of the full report that will be released in early 2020!

The Fight for 51: Human Rights Awards Gala
On December 5, 2019, OHR and the DC Commission on Human Rights celebrated milestones in civil & human rights at its annual Human Rights Awards Gala. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and George A. Jones were recognized at the event for their contributions to the advancement of human rights. George Washington University Law School's International Human Rights Clinic presented on the District's legal right to statehood.

Today is Human Rights Day!
Every year, on December 10th, the world observes Human Rights Day because it is a the day the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. This milestone document proclaimed the unalienable rights all human beings are entitled to regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Be sure to use the hashtag #StandUp4HumanRights today and throughout the month when posting about civil or human rights.

Director's Note
Dear Stakeholders, Partners and DC Residents, 
And just like that, it is the end of a decade.
In the feature story (above), we reflect on some of the human and civil rights milestones we’ve reached as a city, nation and world this past decade. The District has certainly come a long way in advancing protections for the most vulnerable residents of this great city. Same-sex marriage became legal (2010), we became a sanctuary city (2012) and Congress heard its first hearing on DC statehood in more than 20 years (2019) within this decade.
For OHR: we celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2017, our agency has doubled in size and we started enforcing two new traits, most recently adding status as a victim or family member of a victim of domestic violence, sexual offenses and stalking as our 21st protected trait . Additionally, during the past decade, the District increased protections for returning citizens , making it illegal for both employers and housing providers to inquire about criminal background prior to a conditional offer.
At the DC Office of Human Rights, we are constantly striving to improve the lives of residents and visitors. As we enter a new year and a new decade,I firmly believe that can find hope in the prosperity of our city and we can find hope because we continue to model values of inclusion and respect for all people regardless of our different identities and life choices. Whether or not national politics bring us some of the changes we want in our city, we can continue working together to end the harms caused by racism, sexism and xenophobia. I am hopeful because we all can remain vigilant and speak up for our more vulnerable neighbors, friends or family members. In this coming decade, let us all commit to becoming more patient, compassionate and caring for one another (including ourselves).
From all of us at OHR, we would like to wish you all Happy Holidays!    
Yours in service,
nica Palacio, OHR Director
DC Office of Human Rights | 202.727.4559 | ohr.dc.gov