Scottsdale board recommend city offer anti-discrimination protections for gays
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Scottsdale’s Personnel Board has voted unanimously to recommend the city protect gays and transgender people from discrimination in City Hall.
The vote addresses the first of a three-part ordinance including a proposal requiring Scottsdale businesses and contractors to offer protection for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
Only a few who attended the Monday, Nov. 19, meeting objected to the board’s approval.
“Where does it stop?” said Scottsdale resident Roger A. Van Camp. “It’s abominable to me.”
Van Camp called such behavior “deviant” and was a “choice” that does not deserve legal protection.
Personnel Board chairwoman Eula Dean said it’s something she first struggled with 20 years ago.
“I can recall when it was not popular to use people of color,” she said. “I look to the policy to protect all people at all times in order to make a safe community for all people at all times.”
Scottsdale has ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age and physical disability.
If the City Council approves it Dec. 4, the city will add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes of people.
Some businesses are already voicing concern they may have to build or alter rest rooms.
Rick Kidder, president of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, said many businesses already protect gays and transgender people at work.
But Kidder said businesses will strongly object if they have to spend a lot of money to offer equal protection in “public accommodations.”
Mayor who opposed benefits to preside over friend’s commitment ceremony
PHILADELPHIA Mayor John Street, once regarded as an enemy of the gay community for opposing same-sex partner benefits, is to preside over his first same-sex commitment ceremony this weekend.
Street said he was asked to officiate at the ceremony for Ryan Bunch and Micah Mahjoubian, a longtime colleague, on Saturday, Nov. 23, at City Hall.
“Micah is my friend. He has been in my campaign and has been in my administration for eight years,” Street said. “I’ve come to respect him as a person, and if this is something he would like for me to do, then I’d like to do it for him.”
About 125 guests are expected at the ceremony, which will have no legal weight since Pennsylvania prohibits gay marriage.
“It’s not marriage. It’s not real marriage. They can’t be married,” said Street, a Seventh-day Adventist. “It’s not a religious ceremony. I mean, it’s not really marriage.”
As City Council president through most of the 1990s, Street strongly opposed legislation to provide benefits to same-sex partners of city employees. It eventually passed.
But many gay activists said that once Street became mayor, he reached out to the gay community. He formed a commission on sexual minorities, held a fundraiser for a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community center and spoke at the dedication ceremony for a historical marker recognizing the work of gay and lesbian activists.
“To me, this is like a “‘Nixon goes to China’ thing,” said Mahjoubian, the city’s deputy secretary of external affairs. “He came in as a mayor that a lot of people in our community were skeptical of, and yet he is going out able to accomplish more than anyone thought.”
Presbyterians in Baltimore ask church to redefine marriage to include gays
BALTIMORE Members of a Presbyterian denomination in Baltimore are asking the national organization to redefine marriage to permit same-sex couples.
The vote in favor of the change was 76-71. The Baltimore Presbytery includes 74 churches and has almost 20,000 members.
The full General Assembly of the church will consider the proposal in June. If approved, it would have to be ratified by a majority of the regional church bodies across the country.
The Rev. Tom Harris of Govans Presbyterian Church believes the current church language on marriage is discriminatory.
Presbyterian ministers may bless the relationships of same-sex couples but are prohibited from performing same-sex marriages.
HRC urges LGBT consumers not to spend their holiday dollars at Wal-Mart
The Human Rights Campaign this week released its 2008 “Buying for Equality Guide,” which ranks brands and retailers in terms of their policies affecting LGBT people, and the gay rights organization said that LGBT shoppers should not spend their holiday dollars at retail giant Wal-Mart.
According to a report published Tuesday, Nov. 20, in USA Today, HRC cited Wal-Mart’s refusal to offer domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian workers as the reason for the warning.
Wal-Mart earned a red 40 on a scale of 100, down from a yellow 65 in 2006. It was among 54 companies that scored 45 or lower in HRC’s 2008 Corporate Equality index, which assigns ratings to 519 large companies.
Toy store Toys R’ Us was also in the red warning zone.
But Target earned a “green” rating with a score of 80, and HRC’s backing as a store that deserves LGBT business.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 23, 2007.