Thursday, August 26, 2010

Memphis Tables Proposed Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Councilwoman Janis Fullilove

A controversial city ordinance that's generated conflict, debate and even death threats is now dead in the water.

Gay rights group Tennessee Equality Project requested that Councilwoman Janis Fullilove withdraw the Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance (ENDO) that would have protected gay and lesbian job seekers from discrimination when applying for jobs with the City of Memphis or its contractors.

ENDO was up for three readings in City Council, but members of TEP say it was clear from the first, it would not get a fair shake.

“It became very apparent that it was being treated differently, and it became very, very apparent we were not going to get a fair hearing from the majority of the council members,” Michelle Bliss, Vice-Chair for the Shelby County TEP said.

Local clergy came out hard against the measure. They say ENDO’s wording would have made for a slippery slope and those behind it had an agenda.

“It was a subtle move to desensitize what's taking place as a way to ease in a life style and to cause everyone who's against it to agree with it,” Bishop Edward Stephens from Golden Gate Cathedral said.

Stephens and other clergymen felt the ordinance’s language would have opened the floodgates for various kinds of homosexual expression, even allowing gay employees to come to work dressed as a man one day and a woman the next.

“The ultimate question is where does all of this end? From here, then to the school, to the teachers. Where does this really stop?” Stephens asked.

Fullilove expressed disappointment at ENDO’s failure, thanks largely in part to “close-minded” council members and lack of support from Mayor A C Wharton.

TEP said they plan to bring the issue before the Mayor and City Council again when they feel they can get a fair shake from city leaders.

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