City of Flagstaff moving forward on LGBT rights
by Caleb McClure
This summer was successful for Flagstaff’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community, with Flagstaff City Council voting to progress with the creation of a Civil Rights Ordinance that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ordinance would include protections for all classes protected by the state and federal government on the basis of religion and race, as well as protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill would protect these classes from discrimination for public accommodations, education and employment. It would also extend non-discriminatory policies to employers with fifteen employees or less, which there are no state or federal laws for.
“It’s more than just the fact of just gay people. It’s the fact of treating everyone equally, because when I think gay rights my first thought goes back to the constitution, every man created equal, and the fact that we can’t really hold up to that,” said sophomore and LGBT community member Nick DiCenzo.
Many Flagstaff businesses and organizations already have a non-discriminatory employment policy regarding sexual orientation, including Northern Arizona University (NAU) and the City of Flagstaff, but this ordinance would outlaw discrimination for any employer within the community.
“It’s time that we are very intentional about protecting people from discrimination based on characteristics that have nothing to do with their ability to perform work,” said Eva Putzova, board member of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future. Friends of Flagstaff’s Future supported the ordinance.
Talk of extending civil rights to the LGBT community is a not a new conversation in Flagstaff. In 2009, Resolution No. 2009-12 was passed and added protection against discrimination for public accommodation, education, employment and housing. The housing provision was ultimately scrapped due to conflicts with state law and will not be included in the new ordinance.
The amount of time this ordinance has been taking to provide legal protection has invoked frustration from its supporters.
“I think it’s taking too long,” Putzova said. “The resolution was passed in December of 2009, but again it doesn’t have any legal teeth.”
The three years spent addressing these issues hasn’t been without any success for the LGBT community. In December 2011, the city created a domestic partnership registry on the basis that the traditional definition of family, according to Ordinance No. 2011-25 “denies certain rights that should be afforded to persons who share their homes, their hearts, and their lives.”
The ordinance will be brought before City Council again later this month.