Panel discussion to focus on city’s non-discrimination ordinance protecting gays
An upcoming panel discussion on the protections Dallas’ anti-discrimination ordinance provides for GLBT residents will feature City Manger Mary Suhm, gay City Council member Ed Oakley and Pamela Kendrick, manager of the city’s fair housing department,
Pete Webb, a member of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s board who is coordinating the event, said the city officials’ participation in the discussion shows how serious the city is about ensuring GLBT residents are protected from discrimination.
“Some people don’t realize we have a wonderful ordinance that politicians worked very hard and long to get enacted,” Webb said. “It’s important for us to know about our rights and stand up for equality.”
Language protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was passed by the City Council in May 2002.
The panel discussion will be held on June 15 at 6:30 p.m. in the Rainbow Room at the John Thomas Gay and Lesbian Community Center. It will include a presentation about the ordinance and a discussion by the panel members, who will also take questions from the audience.
Erin Moore said the panel discussion is needed because many people in the GLBT community seem unaware of the ordinance and fail to take advantage of it when they face discrimination in employment, housing and public services.
The anti-discrimination policy prohibits anti-gay discrimination, and it provides for up to a $500 fine.
“It never hurts to remind people that we have a nondiscrimination ordinance, and that it was hard-won,” Moore said.
“It’s something we need to remind people of in case we have a grievance.”
Webb said he was especially grateful for Suhm’s participation in the panel discussion because she is the top administrative official in city government.
“It’s a very big deal,” Webb said. “She’s a longtime friend and supporter of the GLBT community. It’s a wonderful statement for her to come out to the community center.”
Webb said it is important for GLBT people to know their rights.
“People need to come and learn about the past and appreciate the present to see a brighter tomorrow,” Webb said. “Knowledge leads to empowerment and empowerment leads to change.”
The panel is being sponsored by the gay alliance’s Don Baker Education Fund.
For information about the town hall meeting visit www.dgla.com or call 214-528-4233.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 2, 2006.