Advocates hope to get LGBT community added to city's non-discrim - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Advocates hope to get LGBT community added to city's non-discrimination policy

An equality group wants the City Council to include the LGBT community in a vote on the city's non-discrimination policy. An equality group wants the City Council to include the LGBT community in a vote on the city's non-discrimination policy.
Jonathan Cole with Tennessee Equality Project wants to amend Tuesday's amendment to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. Jonathan Cole with Tennessee Equality Project wants to amend Tuesday's amendment to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.
In 2010, an effort failed to add lesbians, gays, transgenders, and bisexuals to the city's non-discrimination ordinance. In 2010, an effort failed to add lesbians, gays, transgenders, and bisexuals to the city's non-discrimination ordinance.

(WMC-TV) - An equality group wants the Memphis City Council to include the lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual (LGBT) community in a vote next week on the city's non-discrimination policy.

This is not a new debate, but that does not mean it is any less contentious.

In 2010, an effort failed to add lesbians, gays, transgenders, and bisexuals to the city's non-discrimination ordinance.

Now, that the city is amending the ordinance next Tuesday to add age and disability, one group wants the LGBT community back on the table.

Next Tuesday, the Memphis City Council will vote on an amendment to add age and disability to the city employee non-discrimination ordinance.

"We're calling for the current ordinance proposed to be amended," said Jonathan Cole, Tennessee Equality Project.

Cole wants to amend Tuesday's amendment to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.

"These are protections that 89 percent of Americans support," said Cole.

The Shelby County Commission passed its own watered-down version of Cole's proposal in 2009.

The county now prohibits employee discrimination based on "non-merit factors."

"We want to see Memphis join Nashville and Knoxville to have a full ordinance that protects city workers," said Cole.

Councilman Lee Harris, who is sponsoring the ordinance to include age and disability, did not say if he will take up Cole's request.

But Councilman Harold Collins takes issue if this is a back-door effort to force the amendment onto the final reading.

"At the last minute to try to add something new and different in the ordinance is unfair," said Collins.

The last time the vote failed, equality groups marched to City Hall.

Collins explained why he voted against adding sexual orientation back then.

"The City of Memphis already has a non-discrimination policy," he said.

Cole reiterates the ordinance is not whole without adding the extra language.

If Cole's amendment is introduced, Collins said it should go through three new readings because it changes the scope of the ordinance.

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