April 21, 2021
Scottsdale City Council unanimously passed an anti-discrimination ordinance for the local community on April 20th, after years of dedicated lawyers and allies’ work, after such a law had not come into force in previous years.
The new law comes into effect in 30 days on May 20th.
Scottsdale is the eighth Arizona city to pass an LGTBQ anti-discrimination ordinance.
This anti-discrimination regulation prohibits discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
“Today’s passing of the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance confirms our commitment to a Scottsdale that includes all people,” Mayor David Ortega said before the vote. “No matter who you are or who you love, you are welcome to Scottsdale.”
More than a dozen people attended the April 20 city council meeting to provide feedback on the proposed ordinance, including former city council member Virginia Korte, who was lauded by many elected officials as a staple for this achievement.
In addition, a petition was reportedly filed with the support of more than 100 local businesses.
“The passage of the Anti-Discrimination Act enables Scottsdale to thrive,” said Kari Archer, general manager of Scottsdale Marriott Old Town and chairman of the Marriott Business Council. “Not only is it the right thing, but it also provides another tool in our toolbox for attracting talent, companies, visitors, and the events we need to be successful.”
Regulation No. 4497 covers local businesses and employers and requires compliance. It also provides a mechanism for responding to complaints about discrimination. If discrimination occurs, violations will be prosecuted under civil law.
It also extends coverage of current anti-discrimination policies to include elected and appointed officials, as well as contractors, vendors and consultants working on behalf of the city, officials say.
The city’s Human Relation Commission, an appointed group of volunteers, has been working steadfastly on the ordinance for almost a year.
Staff member and HRC representative Sharon Cini spoke on behalf of the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Office.
“After many months of discussion, we are pleased to table a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance for the city of Scottsdale tonight,” said Ms. Cini, going over the key points of the ordinance.
Ms. Cini stated that this regulation does not affect the First Amendment and any other state, federal right, safeguard, or privilege.
Lots of opinions on the subject
Ms. Korte was the first to give her opinion on the regulation.
“Today’s decision to pass an anti-discrimination regulation, a regulation on equal treatment for all people, is a culmination of work and passion for many,” said Ms. Korte. “I really admire the council’s courage to discredit the myths surrounding an NDO – it’s not about restricting religious freedom, and it’s not a solution that looks for a problem. This is not an undue burden on businesses. While a former political leader believes there is no discrimination in Scottsdale, we need to know that Arizona ranks fifth in reporting incidents of hate crimes against the LGBTQ population, and Scottsdale is part of that. “
Angela Hughey, President of ONE Community, made a statement immediately after approval.
“All hard working people, including those who are LGBTQ, want to get their jobs done and take care of their families. LGBTQ people want what everyone else wants – the freedom to work hard, have access to basic services, and care for themselves and their loved ones without fear of discrimination. We thank the mayor and council for their guidance and willingness to work with stakeholders across the community, ”said Ms. Hughey.
Since discrimination was not illegal, the city states it has no record of certain incidents, but the city’s communications department has published known cases of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation:
- December 2018 – Assault and sexual orientation harassment in a Scottsdale bar;
- March 2019 – Reports or discriminatory comments regarding gender, sexual orientation, and race / ethnicity at an event in Scottsdale;
- Fall 2019 – Gender Identity Discrimination Report at a Scottsdale School;
- February 2020 – Report of harassment in a Scottsdale bar based on sexual orientation awareness;
- August 2020 – Report of sexual orientation harassment at a Scottsdale restaurant.
After the March Independent’s article on the non-discrimination regulation was put to the vote, the local newspaper received some emails.
Jeanne Bogle described the article as “scare tactics at best” and wrote:
“How many more laws, regulations, etc. have we needed since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed? The City of Scottsdale has to have endless new laws and regulations. Scottsdale already has ordinances protecting civil rights beyond the Civil Rights Act of 1964. “
Another letter says, “We have a lot of liberals on the city council and in the mayor’s office.”
“Basically, the NDO should destroy traditional values and give preference to those who the majority perceive as offensive. We have laws, we don’t need an NDO to give them extra protection, ”wrote Robert Petry.
Despite some setbacks, the city council voted 7-0 for the protection of all people. Overall, the group noted the overwhelming support from their constituents.
Councilor Linda Milhaven, a member of the Christian faith, said she was “so excited” to be there for the historic approval.
“A lot of people try to say this about religious beliefs, and I just want to share mine. I am a Christian, I believe in a loving and merciful God who protects all his children. I think this regulation is fully in line with my religious beliefs, ”said Ms. Milhaven.
Councilor Solange Whitehead applauded city officials for navigating many emails, questions and concerns about the Non-Discrimination Regulations.
“Change is always scary,” said Ms. Whitehead.
Mayor Ortega said 20 years ago when he was a councilor the city established the Human Relations Commission and the Office of Diversity. Today they are considering a comprehensive code of conduct.
“We have to set an example internally and externally,” said Ortega.
“Scottsdale has a reputation for being a hospitable oasis in the Sonoran Desert. Our code of conduct now corresponds to our openness and western hospitality. We raise awareness, protect individualism, and provide safe working and living spaces with a sincere effort to improve Arizona city by city. “
News Editor | Scottsdale &
City of Paradise Valley | [email protected]
I started my journalism portfolio at the age of 15 in high school before studying Journalism and Mass Communication at Walter Cronkite School. Being in journalism is the only career path I’ve ever been interested in and I’ve worked hard covering topics from school boards to hard news while working for the Independent where I do my reporting was awarded.
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