Montgomery’s LGBTQ ordinance is delayed by ‘misunderstanding’

A Pride Month effort to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in Montgomery has expanded into a broader non-discrimination ordinance while it has been delayed by rejections blaming city officials for misinformation.

The office of Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed in June revealed plans for an ordinance that would provide protection for LGBTQ residents. “We didn’t just want a proclamation,” said Mayor’s special assistant Tania Johns at the time. “… We wanted to do something tangible that can help people.” In drafting this ordinance, his office found that there was no similar municipal ordinance outlawing discrimination against other groups.

The regulation, which is still being worked on, would now prohibit discrimination based on “real or supposed race, skin color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, marital status or veteran status”, according to the mayor’s office. In particular, it would be illegal to discriminate against any of these groups in the areas of public housing, housing, employment and all urban practices, including contracting.

The ordinance has not yet been put to a vote in Montgomery City Council. Reed said those involved in drafting the ordinance will meet in person with city councils to discuss and dispel any misinformation.

“I’m confident we can work this through if we talk to the councilors about what it is and what it isn’t,” Reed said.

In August, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, citizens were allowed to turn to the council on items that were not on the agenda. Since then, several speakers have used that time to campaign against the regulation while LGBTQ advocates watched from the crowd.

One such speaker, Matt Clark of the conservative Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, warned the council that voting for the ordinance would force its Christian residents to become criminals because their beliefs would force them to break the non-discrimination law.

Meta Ellis of Montgomery Pride United speaks during a Pride Month Unity Vigil at City Hall in Montgomery, Alabama on Friday, June 25, 2021.

Montgomery Pride United director Meta Ellis said she wasn’t surprised by the pushback, but much of it appears to be due to a misunderstanding about the scope of the regulation and its impact on places like schools or churches. “If they want state or federal funding, they can’t tell a transgender person, ‘Look, you can’t come to school here,'” said Ellis.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there, but guess what? It definitely draws your attention to it. “

Failure to comply with the regulation could result in anything from an injunction to a fine of up to $ 500.

Reed said the regulation remains a priority for him and he is optimistic that it will be passed.

“It’s important to make sure we live up to our principles and values, which we call the birthplace of the civil rights movement,” Reed said.

“We also want to make sure we’re doing things the style of the new Montgomery that we want to be. This means that we take into account and adopt such regulations that are essential not only for the quality of our place, but also for the quality of the city that we want to become. “

The Court Square Fountain in Montgomery, Alabama is rainbow colored for Pride Month as seen on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Contact Brad Harper, the Montgomery Advertiser reporter, at [email protected].

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