News (USA)

Phoenix mayor seeks ordinance to outlaw discrimination against gays

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is looking to address gaps in the city’s human-rights protections, and has assembled a group of aides and attorneys to draft an ordinance that would outlaw discrimination against LGBT residents.

If rewritten, city laws would give victims of such discrimination the ability to file complaints with the city’s Equal Opportunity Department for investigation — an option LGBT citizens currently do not have, reported the Arizona Republic.

Such protections already exist for the disabled and for ethnic minorities in areas such as employment, housing and public accommodations like hotels and restaurants.

City Councilman Tom Simplot, a Phoenix attorney who is openly gay, said he anticipates some resistance from council members, who may be reluctant to even discuss the issue at a public meeting.

The effort comes as the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel tries to recover from threats of boycott by the gay community over a decision by the manager of the hotel’s District American Kitchen & Wine Bar to expel a lesbian couple in late February after customers saw them kiss.

The hotel is owned by the city and managed under the Sheraton brand through a contract with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Attorneys for the couple advised them that they had no grounds for a lawsuit due to the city’s lack of anti-discrimination laws for lesbians and gays.

Stanton, a Democrat, is a member of “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry,” a bipartisan coalition of more than 200 mayors from across the U.S. who have publicly stated their support for marriage equality for LGBT citizens, and their intention to work toward that goal.

Last month, Stanton appointed an openly gay Arizona teen as a youth and diversity liaison to help raise awareness about bullying and diversity, and to serve as a point of contact for the mayor’s office on youth issues.

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