The Full Weight Of The Law

HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 08: Actress Brittany Murphy (L) and boyfriend Joe Macaluso depart the 34th AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Sir Sean Connery held at the Kodak Theatre on June 8, 2006 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for AFI)
Michael Buckner/Getty for AFI
San Francisco is expanding its definition of discrimination to include bias against the obese, and it's backing it up with tougher, more inclusive legislation, CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone reports.

Millions of Americans sweat to keep slim and trim and firm, but now one city is ready to declare it's okay to be fat.

"I would love it if everyone used the f-word. Fat!" says Marilyn Wann. Wann and others came to San Francisco's City Hall to throw their considerable weight behind legislation that would ban discrimination against fat people.

"Two hundred and seventy pounds happens to be my natural healthy weight." Wann says.

In a sometimes crowded hearing room, witnesses told of restaurant chairs too small to sit in. "It didn't fit," explains Carole Cullum, "and I didn't fit."

They told of failed job interviews. "You're too fat for this job," Divorna Eyall says she was told. "You're so fat you might not be able to get another job."

They told of trouble finding a place to live. "I have been denied an apartment because the apartment manager had a 'no fat chicks' policy," claims Lenee Selman.

A ban on fat discrimination is being pushed by city Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who also happens to be a stand-up comedian. "I feel like I should go into a 12-step program and say, I'm Tom and I told fat jokes," he quips.

In fact, it was a fat joke that got this campaign started. Last year, a fitness club put up billboards warning that when aliens come from outer space, they'll eat the fat ones first. A sizeable group of protesters fought back with their own humor.

Wann, who works out regularly in a water aerobics class, says laughter has helped propel this weighty crusade. "Life is too short for self hate and celery sticks! At the million pound march a couple of years ago," she recalls, "We chanted 'We're here, we're spheres, we're fat, that's that!'"

On Monday, San Francisco's leaders are expected to amend laws that ban discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual preference by adding weight and height to the list of protected characteristics. Those who will gain from this change say it might just help everybody who worries a little too much about their weight. If the rest of us learn to accept them, they say, we might be more willing to accept ourselves.