Substitute resolution against discrimination passes - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Substitute resolution against discrimination passes

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email and Jason Miles - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The Shelby County Commission passed a substitute resolution against discrimination Monday afternoon by a vote of 9 to 4.

The substitute resolution establishes non-discrimination against any Shelby County employee, with no reference to sexual orientation.

It was the kind of crowd rarely, if ever, seen at a Shelby County Commission meeting.  Folks were lined up outside the county building Monday due to over-crowding inside.

"This is a county that is going to stand for God and He says that homosexuality is an abomination," said Constance Houston during the meeting.

An ordinance that would have prohibited the firing of any county employee based on sexual orientation divided the dozens who signed up to speak.

"What matters is that each of us is a child of God and we're entitled to the same rights and privileges as everyone else," Johnnie Turner told the commission.

The original ordinance was eventually substituted by a broader measure that got all but four commissioners on board.

"Your "no" votes are commissioners Avery, Flinn, Carpenter, and Bunker," read the clerk.

The winning resolution reads, "That discrimination against any Shelby County Government employee on the basis of non-merit factors shall be prohibited."

In other words, no employee can be fired for anything other than job performance.

"Seemed like a little bit of a compromise but it's a step in the right direction and I'm happy with the county's decision," said former Marine Timothy Smith.

He says he was kicked out of the military for being gay.

"I was actually outed by a pastor who found out about my sexual orientation," says Smith.

He's glad county employees will no longer face a similar fate.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy, who proposed the original ordinance, is happy with the compromise.  On the other hand, Commissioner Wyatt Bunker continues to see it as an "attack" on the traditional family.

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