August 11, 2009
City votes down gay rights amendment
by Alison Himelhoch
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A gay rights amendment gets knocked down in Jackson. The city council voted against changes to Jackson’s anti-discrimination ordinance. It’s a law that currently says people can’t be denied rights based on certain characteristics, like race or gender.
The human rights commission wanted to add nine words to the current law, saying that in addition to what’s already on the books, people can not be discriminated against based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or HIV status, but council voted that down 5 to 2.
Before they voted, several spoke out both for and against the proposal. Some say the debate is way overdue and the language should have been changed years ago, but others say changing the ordinance wouldn’t be fair, because the gay and lesbian community chooses to live their life that way, so employers and others shouldn’t be forced to give them equal rights.
Christine Canning-Peterson, supports ordinance: “It’s the right thing to do. I don’t want to live in a neighborhood that discriminates against people for any reason, and I appreciate and celebrate diversity in citizenry, and the city should do the same.”
Brad Foster, against ordinance: “It would be terrible for businesses. It would take out for businesses to choose how to run their business, who do they want representing them at the counter.”
I spoke with someone from the human rights commission after the vote, and he says they’re down, but they aren’t defeated. They will go back to the drawing board to see how they can get changes passed.