Tuesday, November 22, 2005

banning bias, take two

back in april, the indianapolis city-county council rejected (18-11) an ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity in the workplace and housing market. it was a shameful episode in which five democrats effectively voted in favor of discrimination (and three of the democrats are black, so they should really have known better).

now they have a second chance, since my councillor, jackie nytes, has reintroduced the bill. she had been waiting to reintroduce until she had established more support for the ordinance, so its return is a good sign.

from the indy star:

Jackie Nytes, the Democrat who also sponsored the first gay-rights effort in April, now has 12 sponsors, including herself. She would need three more votes to win a 15-vote majority in the 29-member council and hopes to land those through steady lobbying over the next few weeks.

"There's so much support for it in the community, I'm surprised some council members are hesitating," Nytes said, adding she has collected 1,200 letters backing the plan.

Current laws protect all workers from discrimination based on race, religion, age and several other factors. The anti-discrimination ordinance would protect gay and transgendered people from being fired or denied housing because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

City and state employee hiring policies already include such protections, and the ordinance would extend the same to any businesses with six or more employees, excluding religious institutions and certain nonprofits. In Indiana, Bloomington, Michigan City, West Lafayette and Fort Wayne already have passed similar ordinances.

now that's just embarrassing... this is indianapolis. we're supposed to be the 12th largest city in the nation and the seat of regional culture. i can accept that bloomington would pass such an ordinance first, as they're pretty progessive. but fort wayne? michigan city? these places already have such ordinances, but we don't have one in indy yet? that's just sad.

Scott Schneider, a Republican opponent of the proposal, said the proposal was being introduced illegally. The council was holding a special meeting to vote on an emergency child welfare tax measure, and Schneider said the agenda couldn't include additional topics.

"They're trying to do this quick, because the public is against it," Schneider said.

Council President Steve Talley, a Democrat, said he would allow the measure to be introduced, rendering Schneider's complaint moot. It could be voted on as early as Dec. 12.

last time around, steve talley voted against the ordinance, saying there was "no evidence" that gays are being discriminated against. i imagine a lot of people have submitted evidence in the past 7 months.

Bil Browning, a coordinator for gay-rights activists, said he's glad to see the measure come before the council again.

"We've done a lot of lobbying and I believe the effort is about to pay off," he said.

bil browning is a blogger at bilerico, which is in my blogroll but which i don't read often enough. he posted yesterday, urging people to come out and support the measure (the star says "as many as 100" showerd up), but as of now he hasn't posted since the ordinance was officially introduced.

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