Hundreds rally in support of anti-discrimination ordinance - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Hundreds rally in support of anti-discrimination ordinance

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - An ordinance against discrimination in the workplace goes before the Shelby County Commission Monday afternoon.

Sunday, more than 500 people gathered for a rally on the steps of First Congregation Church in Midtown Memphis to send a message to commissioners.

The ordinance, in its amended version, prohibits Shelby County from discriminating against employees who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered employees.

No matter which way the vote goes, it's the first time a proposal of this kind has gone before this body of government.

"If we get the votes tomorrow, it'll be historic," Commissioner Steve Mulroy said. "It'll be a statement the first time in a Tennessee jurisdiction upholding the principal of equal rights for everybody."

At the rally, people spoke, sang and chanted.

"The idea that we should treat everybody with equality, dignity, compassion and respect is quite simply just the Christian thing to do," Mulroy said.

"It's intent is solely to enable everybody of every creed, of every religion, and of every class,and of every sexual orientation to have a level playing field," civil rights advocate Walter Bailey added.

Members of the Mid-South gay community said they were more unified than ever and will not be ignored.

"It is a new day and we're not going to be quiet anymore," said Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project. "No matter what happens on Monday, we're still going to be here."

After the speeches, supporters of the anti-discrimination ordinance gathered, sharing information and even handing out a list of equal opportunity employers. 

"There's a motivation that's never been there before and I think it's here to stay," said Col Bradley, who attended the rally. "There's a younger generation coming up and this younger generation, they care."

The rally ended with a march through Cooper-Young.

The ordinance must go through three readings before it's final, and it has heavy resistance from some who call it reverse discrimination against the faith-based community.

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