Commentary: Laying out the nondiscrimination ordinance

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 12:00am

Councilman Sam Coleman stood up during last Thursday’s Council meeting and pleaded with Councilwoman Megan Barry not to drag out debate on the nondiscrimination ordinance.

The bill ‘only’ has been voted on once and already council members are growing weary of the “divisive” issue (Coleman’s words).

Barry promised to stick to the schedule she mapped out on Aug. 6, meaning a one meeting deferral is all she needs to answer lingering questions. The bill will be on second reading Aug. 18.

One thing is certain: the issue is clearly an emotional one.

Activists on both sides of the issue sat in attendance at the meeting, including the personnel committee meeting where the bill was voted for disapproval. Afterwards, Barry became choked up when talking about the nondiscrimination ordinance. During the committee meeting, she was essentially denied a fair chance to speak, which left the usually reserved at-large Councilwoman noticeably angry.

She expressed continued confidence that support would be there for the bill, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to Metro’s list of protected classes for workers and those seeking employment with the government.

District 33 Councilman Robert Duvall, who has become an outspoken conservative voice on social issues of late, speculated that Barry was merely stalling at the Aug. 6 meeting. Duvall insinuated Barry wanted to defer the bill because with several supporters absent (especially Councilmen Darren Jernigan and Bo Mitchell), she didn’t have the votes to pass the ordinance on second reading.

Duvall might have been correct, but the flip side was probably also true.

Conservative Council members haven’t won many fights lately — notably losing on the opt-out for guns in parks — and they saw an opportunity to kill the bill.

So where do things stand heading into second reading? It seems that they’re pretty close. Last Thursday’s vote went 22-14 on Barry’s deferral motion, with Councilwoman Vivian Wilhoite claiming she meant to vote in support despite the fact the machine recorded her as abstaining.

When handicapping a final vote — using best guesses for supporters, opponents and those in the middle — Barry seems to have a slight lead, but most of those in the middle seem more likely to vote ‘No.’

It will be a thin margin for sure. And if it ends up 20-20, expect Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors to cast the deciding vote in favor of the ordinance. The bill needs 21 votes on third reading in order to pass.

Predicted supporters (18): Tim Garrett, Megan Barry, Ronnie Steine, Jerry Maynard, Lonnell Matthews Jr., Mike Jameson, Erik Cole, Darren Jernigan, Anna Page, Sandra Moore, Kristine LaLonde, Erica Gilmore, Buddy Baker, Emily Evans, Jason Holleman, Sean McGuire, Carter Todd, Bo Mitchell.

Predicted opponents (13):
Walter Hunt, Michel Craddock, Jim Forkum, Rip Ryman, Jim Gotto, Carl Burch, Phil Claiborne, Eric Crafton, Randy Foster, Duane Dominy, Sam Coleman, Jim Hodge, Robert Duvall.

Undecided (9):
Charlie Tygard, Frank Harrison, Pam Murray, Karen Bennett, Bruce Stanley, Edith Langster, Greg Adkins, Vivian Wilhoite, Parker Toler.

7 Comments on this post:

By: idgaf on 8/12/09 at 12:40

We really need party identification in these elections.

The democraps pose as conservatives then stab us in the back with their lefty agenda.

By: Kosh III on 8/12/09 at 6:51

I didn't realize equal rights was an evil lefty idea.

By: Anna3 on 8/12/09 at 7:58

Extending benefits based on sexual preference when there IS NO legal relationship between the parties discriminates AGAINST all co-habitating couples of the opposite sex, grandparents raising their grandchildren, parents with disabled children over the age of 18, and attempts to raise the level of the gay community to that of a "Protected Class" which most in our society do not enjoy. By the would ANYONE know that you are gay unless you told them?

By: Anna3 on 8/12/09 at 8:02

Bo knows! One can ONLY HOPE that Bo Mitchell votes FOR will be the political DEATH of him in Bellevue. Go for it BO. I can't wait until he shows his true colors out here...Bo has an opportunity to vote for Bellevue's wishes or for the gay agenda and his liberal friends. Whom will Bo turn his back on? Two things is for sure...NO ONE trusts Bo Mitchell...and if either side would only pay Bo's wife....they would get his vote.

By: govskeptic on 8/12/09 at 10:35

Many council members know their districts oppose this, but would rather carry favor with the mayor and vice -mayor than the voters.

By: 37212Commuter on 8/12/09 at 11:02

Anna 3 -

Just so everyone is clear, your statement about this bill extending benefits to people with NO legal relationship is INCORRECT.

The bill proposed by Barry, et. al. specifically DOES NOT extend benefits of any kind to the cohabitants/partners of the Metro employees the bill would cover. It ONLY provides for non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in workplace firing, hiring and advancement. It is NOT about extending any benefits, at all.

I appreciate and am open to hearing all opinions and positions, but I do not appreciate misinformation - it muddies the issue at hand.

By: Kosh III on 8/12/09 at 12:08


"Protected class" would be people who are already covered by the law who seek to be free of discrimination in the workplace because of their choice of religious opinion/creed.
Plus, sex/gender, race, national origin.