Commission debates discrimination law

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The Manhattan City Commission discussed developing an ordinance regarding sexual orientation discrimination as a protected class in Manhattan at the regular city commission meeting last night in City Hall.

A heated debate on the validity of the recommended change to the discriminatory ordinance took place at the meeting.

Serveral community members came forward to share their personal experiences of sexual orientation discrimation and their thoughts, agreements, and disagreements of the issue.

“Although I support the idea of protecting the people who have been discriminated against, I hate that is necessary for government to make policies regarding discrimination when it should be in the heart of people to do the right thing, I worry about the message the ordinance says about our town, that we have so much discrimation, we have to impose a special ordinance for it.” said commissioner Bob Strawn.

“I just don’t believe government should legislate civil rights” said Commissioner Loren J. Pepperd.

Commissioner Jayme Morris-Hardeman disagreed.

“I’m quite supportive of this ordinance, I think it sends a positive message about Manhattan, it lets people know that no matter your sexual orientation, race, gender etc. you are welcome in our community.” said Morris-Hardeman.

“It is the proper role of government to intervene in civil rights when necessary”, said commissioner James E. Sherrow.

After the issue was discussed further, the commission reached a vote of 4 to 1, to request the Human Rights and Services Board to formulate a recommendation of whether the City of Manhattan should consider an ordinance adding sexual orientation as a protected class in Manhattan, and provide examples of how that ordinance could be crafted to address the issue.

Commissioner Pepperd voted against the motion.

“I’d like to see what reccemdations Human Resources has first”, said Pepperd.

Commissioners also approved items on the Consent Agenda, which are those of routine housekeeping nature or which the Commission, has previously reviewed, saw a presentation of the 2009 City Audit report, and gave direction on the design of

the South Park, Depot Connection, and 3rd Street Landscape at the meeting.

All citizens are encouraged to attend meetings or watch them live on cable channel 3.

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