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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Due to an error by the City’s Law Department, the wrong version of a bill aimed at expanding the City’s nondiscrimination ordinance was brought before City Council’s Community Involvement Committee.
The bill, sponsored by Mayor Bob Stephens and Councilman Craig Fishel, should have reflected language mirroring the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Task Force’s (SOGI) top recommendation. The Task Force met for nine months before submitting a final report last June. (link to full report is below)
Task Force member Dr. Robert Saylor brought it to the City's attention following Tuesday’s meeting.
The language should have read:
“Amended Council Bill 2012-226 but remove all provisions pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity, except in the area of housing, with a request that City staff gather other data pertaining to discrimination and public accommodation, as proposed by Robert Saylor.”
This recommendation received 12 yes votes and 3 no votes by the SOGI Task Force.
"After appointment by City Council, Judge Sweeney and the members of the SOGI Task Force did everything asked of them by the Council. They surveyed different populations, they researched past activities, and they developed potential options,” Mayor Stephens said.
“Of all the motions made by members of the task force, only two received positive votes. I feel it is necessary to support the Task Force's first recommendation as it had the most votes from the membership. That is why I asked the Law Department to draw up a companion bill so that City Council could consider both the Task Force's primary recommendation and also the primary recommendation of the Community Involvement Committee. I continue to thank Judge Sweeney and all the task force members for their voluntary service to our community."City Attorney Dan Wichmer regrets the error, which ultimately led to a discussion on an item that was in draft form and did not fully incorporate the Task Force’s top choice. Further, the bill had not received a final review by either the Mayor or Councilman Fishel before the City Attorney’s Office sent the draft to the City Clerk.
A second bill adopted by the Community Involvement Committee Tuesday, will move forward to the full City Council next month. It is a substitute bill making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of housing, employment or public accommodations. It would also expand an exemption for religious organizations included in an original council bill tabled in August 2012.
For more information, contact: Cora Scott, Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement, 417-864-1009 (office) | 417-380-3352 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org.