Memphis city council landmark vote on anti-discrimination ordinance put on hold

Memphis City Council Landmark Vote On Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Put On Hold

(WMC-TV) - After much conversation and angst, the Memphis City Council voted to add sexual orientation to a list of things a city employee cannot be discriminated against.

The sponsor of the ordinance, Lee Harris said it is needed because he believes there is no protection for employees.

"Many of us have heard the slurs against gays and lesbians in the work place," council member Harris said.

Tuesday night, people on both sides of a proposed anti discrimination ordinance that would include sexual orientation filled city council chambers. They were there to make their opinions very clear through gestures or t-shirts that read "Protection for All".

"I believe it is an indisputable fact the same Bible that says these wonderful words for the lips of our Lord also categorize homosexuality as a sin," said Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church.

"That same Bible helped promote slavery," said Devin Clemons of Cathedral of Praise Church.

That is the controversial part of the proposed ordinance that would ban discrimination for nationality, age, disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

"The laws that we have currently work," said Paul Hoagland of Family Action Council of Tennessee. "No need to change them. Vote no on this amendment. Your decision to follow God is that simple."

"I am gay. I am straight. I am bisexual. I am transgendered. I am human," said Jacob Flowers of MidSouth Peace and Justice Center.

"I ask my colleagues do the right thing today," said council member Janis Fullilove. "God is no respecter of persons. He loves all of us. Vote yes today. Thank you."

In the end, the council voted to add sexual orientation to the anti discrimination ordinance.

They then voted for a 30 day delay on the vote of the ordinance because they want legal experts to research it. The council fears the addition of sexual orientation might violate the city's charter.

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