Monday, September 10, 2007

Scottsdale's Human Relations Commission urges expansion of anti-discrimination protections

Tonight, the Scottsdale Human Relations Commission (SHRC) passed three motions that basically recommend that the City Council extend non-discrimination protection to cover sexual preference and sexual identification.

Currently, sec. 14 - 2 of the city code protects against discrimination on the standard bases of "race, color, religion, disability, sex, age or national origin."

The motions covered the areas of employment with the City, contractors, suppliers, and lessees of the City, and entities doing business in the City.

Note: I don't have the exact wording of the motions; it was a very confusing meeting. Even the secretary for the meeting didn't have the exact wording; when asked, she said that she would have to listen to the recording of the session to clarify the phrasing. It should be available on the SHRC's agendas and minutes webpage late this week.

The move to add additional non-discrimination language to City code had its genesis in a discussion over whether the Scottsdale Charros, a local private charitable group that hosts spring training for the City, discriminates against women in its membership practices.

Short summary of that issue: Don Logan, Scottsdale's Office of Diversity & Dialogue director, met with the Charros. During that meeting, the Charros stated that there is no restriction against female membership; potential members just have to be nominated by a board member.

Net effect: No women in the group.

When asked if any women had ever been nominated, the Charros replied that there have been, but when asked to list individual names, they demurred, citing privacy concerns.

Consideration of that motion was tabled (I think. It was a *very* confusing meeting) to consider a benchmark study prepared by City staff with anti-discrimination ordinances and policies from other municipalities across the valley, the state, and the country.

Net on this: they *really* liked Tucson's and Denver's ordinances.

The next item on the agenda involved discussion of what, if any, recommendation to make to the City Council on the topic.

In the end, while there was a bit of wrangling over the wording, there was very little disagreement. The motions either passed unanimously or with one 'nay' vote. The lone dissenter was worried about telling private businesses that didn't contract with/for the City how to conduct their business.

One public speaker, a trans-woman from Gilbert, appreciated the motion but questioned whether the City Council would approve such an ordinance if they wouldn't approve a GBLT day.

Recently, I've been attending Scottsdale Transportation Commission meetings because they are working on an update to the City's Transportation Master Plan. I figured that update was going to be the root of most of the screaming in City Council meetings for the next year and wanted to have an idea of what all of the hubbub was about.

The SHRC changed that prediction tonight.

Note to any SHRC members who happen to read this: Tighten up the parliamentary procedures; informal discussions are great, but when motions are read into the public record, they should be clear.

Anyway, Blogger is about to have a scheduled outage, so have a good night.


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