Flagstaff gay civil rights law advances

2013-01-31T05:10:00Z 2013-01-31T12:46:59Z Flagstaff gay civil rights law advancesJOE FERGUSON Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
January 31, 2013 5:10 am  • 

It was the words of a soft-spoken man that brought the head of the Northern Arizona Pride Association to tears during Tuesday night's Flagstaff City Council meeting.

Kathryn Jim cried as she listened to a self-described former bigot confess how he once whispered hateful slurs on the playground as a child.

He credited his college professor for inspiring him to turn away from his bigoted thoughts, bonding over with LGBT classmates at a Texas university by realizing how he shared similar fears with them and how he would celebrate with them when things went right.

He, along with more than a dozen other speakers, told the Council they supported the proposed civil rights ordinance that for the first time would protect sexual preference, gender identity and veterans from discrimination in employment and public accommodations.

In all, more than 100 people attended the meeting at City Hall, with most indicating their support for the ordinance.

Only three people spoke out against the proposal, with one saying the city could not afford the cost of implementing such an ordinance.

Under current plans, the city would essentially contract the work out to a mediator, who would handle complaints on an on-call basis.

The main differences between the current proposal and a failed attempt in 2009 to implement a gay civil rights ordinance are the exemptions.

The new proposal exempts most of the employers in town -- state, county and federal agencies operating inside the city limits, religious-based organizations, "expressive groups" like the Boy Scouts and businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

With churches exempt, only a handful in the crowd made pleas from a religious standpoint.

Tim Swanson, a pastor with the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, came out to support the ordinance.

He said family values and morality do not come from scripture, noting the Bible tells the tale of a 14-year-old Mary being considered the property of her father before becoming engaged to be married to Joseph.

"If you tried that today, that would be illegal," Swanson said. "The church has a strong history of all kinds of mistakes it has made as it has tried to learn how to move forward."

Jim Dorman, the pastor at Christ's Church of Flagstaff, said he saw no reason to pass a new civil rights ordinance offering what he called "protected status" to a select portion of the residents.

"I think the current system is working," Dorman said.

Dorman said he grew up as a boy in the South and witnessed for himself in segregated communities the hatred that stemmed from racism.

"The communities I grew up in are not a reflection of the Flagstaff community," he said.

He added that although he has had some disagreements with members of the LGBT community over the ordinance, he pledged to work hard to make sure members of the gay community were treated with respect and not discriminated against.

The Council is set to discuss the ordinance on Feb. 19 again, and several councilmembers asked Tuesday for minor changes in advance of that meeting.

Joe Ferguson can be reached at 556-2253 or jferguson@azdailysun.com.

Editor's note: This story has been changed from its original version. 

Copyright 2015 Arizona Daily Sun. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(9) Comments

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    RAGGEDSTEP - February 03, 2013 8:08 am
    Frazier, your contention there was no ordinance to discuss in 2009 suggests you were not there. There was a proposed ordinance and we were told, by the proponents of the measure, it had been vetted by the finest legal minds. I am not a lawyer but it didn't take one to see that ordinance would have led to costly litigation. The current effort will probably succeed because the people involved are going about it in a more intelligent and competent. manner.
  2. Fromthemiddle
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    Fromthemiddle - February 02, 2013 8:20 pm
    Brian- As a friend and colleague of numerous members of the LGBT community, i disagree with your assertion the "community" is marginalized. This is an extremely liberal town, do you also believe that other members of the community are marginalized? Conservatives, gun owners, etc?. Unfortunately, i haven't seen any evidence that the "vast majority of Arizonians and Americans support" a special protection for the LGBT community. For what it's worth, most polls show just the opposite.
  3. NotASheep
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    NotASheep - February 02, 2013 8:16 pm
    Brian, with all due respect I couldn't disgree with you more.
    Where will this end? Irish rights, animal rights, blind people's rights, wife beaters rights, bar owners rights, bears rights, computer rights, used car dealers rights?
    Every gay person I know says this is unnecessary, so I am convinced this has nothing to do with protecting gay people and is instead being pushed by gay people who are way left of center - you know, the same people that trash the Constitution every chance they get!
  4. Fromthemiddle
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    Fromthemiddle - February 01, 2013 2:23 pm
    Good example of an overreach by Government. An ordinance or "inclusion" signs at each entry of Flagstaff serves no one.This looks, smells and acts like political correctness and pandering to me. Voting this down should not be considered as "anti-gay", it should be considered as pro people. Continued education in the home promotes tolerance/ acceptance for everyone in any given community. From the LGBT community, to far left and right views, various religions, etc the key is dialog, not enforcement.
  5. BrianWallace
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    BrianWallace - February 01, 2013 10:25 am
    This is important for our city. Not just because it appears to improve tourism and draw more permanent residents and not because the vast majority of Arizonians and all Americans support the idea of workplace protections for the LGBT community, and not just because it will get us positive PR in the state and possibly nationally. The reason this is important is because it is necessary, the LGBT community is profoundly marginalized and it’s the right thing to do.
  6. chato
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    chato - January 31, 2013 5:33 pm
    100 people? Really? They must have all came at a later time then... And what progress is being made if most employers in town are exempt? Sounds to me like another waste of taxpayers dollars and another cry for attention by those who seem to never have enough.
  7. Morpheus
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    Morpheus - January 31, 2013 11:23 am
    Homosexuals are not a protected class of people, and rightfully so. Homosexuality is qualitatively different than other protected classes, such as race, religion, and gender. Key is the inability to procreate naturally, and the concomitant undermining of the traditional family unit, which are two of the bedrock cores of a successful functioning society. The choice to discriminate or not should be a personal one. The government has no business mandating it.
  8. toyhunt
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    toyhunt - January 31, 2013 11:15 am
    Too bad we don't have the same civil rights for gun owners.
  9. DanFrazier
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    DanFrazier - January 31, 2013 9:28 am
    If you want to know what really happened, watch the video on the City Council Web site: http://flagstaffaz.swagit.com/play/01292013-574 (Item 8). There was no ordinance in 2009 to discuss. There was only an effort to have the City Attorney draft an ordinance for discussion. I think this article should have talked more about the details of the ordinance, including who is protected, the fines proposed, and the changes Council proposed. I was there and it did not seem like 100 people were there.
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