Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Workshop Explores Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Workshop Explores Sexual Orientation Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

Article excerpt

The debate over the inclusion of "sexual orientation" in civil rights statements is going on in cities across the country. In a workshop sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Local Officials (GLBLO) constituency group at the Congress of Cities in Philadelphia, city officials heard from colleagues in cities that have gone through the process of implementing an inclusive ordinance.

"What Happens When Sexual Orientation Is Added To Your Anti-Discrimination Ordinance?" was the primary question for the participants at this Hot Topic track workshop. The panelists were Mayor Michael Nelson, Carrboro, N.C., Tina Scardina of the Mayor's Neighborhood Response Office in Denver, Colo., and Kevin Vaughan, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. Council Member George Janecke of Lynnwood, Wash. served as moderator for the session.

Among the topics addressed were the steps in the process of implementing such a civil rights policy statement including employee training, public education, and city staff allocation. Sample ordinance language, budget figures, and case load statistics were provided by the speakers as handout materials.

In his opening remarks, Vaughan stressed the dual components of implementing a civil rights policy that includes protection on the basis of sexual orientation. One component is law enforcement, the other is outreach. He explained that the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is called on for proactive training for businesses and government offices. Philadelphia has had it's ordinance on the books since 1982.

The ordinance that was passed in Denver in 1990 is best known for the statewide referendum in Colorado that sought to halt its implementation and the subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Romer vs. Evans) that protected the ordinance.

Scardina indicated that approximately 25 percent of the cases of discrimination addressed by Denver are related to sexual orientation. …

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