Feb. 21, 2013
Caption: Mayor Greg Stanton
Phoenix will have the chance to join more than 160 cities nationwide Tuesday when the City Council votes on ending discrimination against its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, Mayor Greg Stanton said.
The City Council will vote on an ordinance change that would ban the discrimination of LGBT residents and residents with disabilities in housing, employment and public accommodation. The ordinance does not require businesses to permit inappropriate behavior in restrooms, as others have claimed.
Stanton and City Councilman Tom Simplot led the charge for more than a year to put the non-discrimination ordinance change to a vote.
“In Phoenix, diversity is our strength,” Stanton said. “The more we embrace diversity, the better Phoenix will be for business, tourism, high-wage jobs and our future economy. Updating our ordinance is the right thing to do so Phoenix can match every other major city in our country that has already passed similar non-discrimination policies, show that we value the contributions of all our citizens and move our economy forward.”
Currently, the City of Phoenix prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodation, housing and city contracts based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information and marital status. The proposal will simply add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and disability. All existing exemptions for churches, small landlords and others will remain unchanged. For example, an employer will not be able to fire someone for being gay and a hotel will not be able to refuse to accommodate a same-sex couple.
Caption: Councilman Tom Simplot
Stanton said the ordinance is necessary for good economic policy. The cities with which Phoenix competes all have adopted LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. As Salt Lake City’s experience proves, high-tech companies and their young workers put diversity as a key consideration for possible relocation. Salt Lake City has had such economic success with the passage of their 2009 ordinance that their statewide chamber of commerce is advocating for a state statute. Other economically competitive cities such as Dallas, Denver, San Diego and Austin, Texas have all adopted LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances. Cities across the nation such as Omaha, Neb., Charleston, S.C. and St. Louis also have adopted the ordinance.
“It’s long past due in 2013 for Phoenix to catch up to other cities and support the LGBT community,” Stanton said. “It’s not just smart economics; it’s the right thing to do.”
Simplot said he has seen Phoenix’s progress in the past and wants to see it continue into a strong city economy.
“Phoenix went from being a leader on non-discrimination in the early '90s to being one of the last major cities to adopt a complete non-discrimination policy,” Simplot said. “This has been a long time coming, and now is our opportunity to live up to our reputation as a world-class, diverse and inclusive city.”
Proposed Changes to the Human Relations Ordinance