OKC proposal leaves out trans employees

Councilman Ed Shadid

The Oklahoma City Council is considering a proposal to add sexual orientation — but not gender identity and expression — to the city’s employment nondiscrimination policy. The Oklahoman reports that the council discussed the proposal from Councilman Ed Shadid today but put off a vote until Nov. 15:

The length of time that the measure was delayed was a subject of debate. Shadid voiced his desire for Mayor Mick Cornett, who was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, to be at the meeting where the measure will be voted upon. And Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan said he wanted to be sure to be in attendance so he could vote in favor for it. But Ward 7 Councilman Skip Kelly said he didn’t think it should matter if the mayor is able to attend.

The council eventually settled on Nov. 15 because the mayor and the rest of the council are expected to be in attendance and city staff said that would provide ample time to study the issue.

The city’s equal employment opportunity ordinance now lists only classes protected by federal and state law, like gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, disability and political affiliation. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation is not explicitly prohibited federally or in Oklahoma.

It’s unclear why Shadid’s proposal doesn’t include gender identity and expression, but let’s hope the delay provides an opportunity to make it fully inclusive. The Oklahoman reports that a previous effort to add sexual orientation to the policy was so controversial that it led to the disbandment of the city’s Human Rights Commission in the 1990s.

—  John Wright