Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Brody's Notes... Memphis, TN Councilwoman Janis Fullilove Withdraws Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove  Photo By City Of Memphis
By Brody Levesque (Washington DC) AUG 24 | Memphis, Tennessee City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, has withdrawn the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance that would have provided inclusive workplace protections for City of Memphis employees based on religion, race, national origin, ethnicity, age, sex, political affiliation, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. Earler this year, Councilwoman Fullilove had also received four death threats specifically related to her sponsorship of the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance. Someone else threw a dead cat onto her lawn.
The local CBS News Memphis affiliate, WREG NewsChannel 3, reported on July 28th:
"Police think the threats are serious enough have increased patrols around her home to keep her safe. Each phone call mentioned her support for banning discrimination against gays in city government. Distraught, Fullilove reached out to Jonathan Cole with the Tennessee Equality Project. 'She essentially said that they were threatening to kill her,' said Cole, who thinks the death threats are just another example of intolerance in Memphis. 'It's scary and our city needs to stand up to this kind of ugliness.' Police are keeping a close eye on Fullilove and her family. She's asked her telephone provider to track the calls. Meanwhile, Cole says the councilwoman's experience should highlight the need for the ordinance to protect gays and lesbians working for the city."
In a press release issued Monday, TEP spokesman Cole wrote:
"The withdrawal is designed to save Memphis City Government and the larger community from becoming a national disgrace in the movement to create an inclusive community that welcomes people from diverse backgrounds. 
Since LGBT citizens and City employees are treated like second-class citizens by the Memphis Mayor and City Council, TEP does not believe that Memphis City Government is serious about making Memphis a real City of Choice for all job seekers, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Memphis will be considered a City of Exclusion as long as its citizens are treated with disrespect and fear. TEP looks forward to returning to the Mayor and the City Council with legislation protecting all employees from unfair discrimination when a fair hearing is possible."
On the first of three readings of the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance (ENDO) on Aug. 10, the Mayor of Memphis and the Memphis City Council made it clear that proposed legislation would not receive a fair hearing. In an announcement made through City Attorney Herman Morris on August 10, Mayor AC Wharton reversed his position supporting LGBT-inclusive workplace protections. Mayor Wharton pledged his support for LGBT-inclusive workplace protections during his campaign and again when working with the Tennessee Equality Project through the City Attorney’s office to write the proposed ordinance.
According to Cole:
"City ordinances on first and second reading are routinely bundled into a consent agenda that appears at the end of the regular agenda during City Council meetings. The Council reviews each item in the consent agenda and then votes to approve or disapprove all of the items in bulk. The Council waits for the third reading to debate ordinances and opens the floor for public comment from citizens for input.
But that didn't happen at the first reading. Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware objected to the inclusion of the ENDO and threatened to vote against the entire consent agenda if it was not voted on separately.
After the ENDO was knocked out of the consent agenda, Councilman Bill Morrison introduced a substitute ordinance that gutted the inclusive ENDO. His substitute ordinance contained no provisions protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. His substitute proposed protections based on non-merit factors that are already explicitly defined in current municipal, state, and federal law.
Neither the Council nor the public was given an opportunity to review the substitute ordinance. Morrison acted in secret and broke a campaign pledge he made when he ran for office to support LGBT-inclusive workplace protections."


Trab said...

America, land of the free; free to discriminate, bully, threaten, and harass. The only thing I can't figure out is if the trouble is coming from the top down, or the bottom up. Either way, it is sickening considering the hopeful start of this nation.

There seems to be an underlying need to attack minorities in the USA. Blacks, Jews, Hispanics, Moslems, Orientals, First Nations people (aboriginals). What makes so many so intolerant?