For the second time this year, the Memphis City Council failed to pass anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation for municipal employees. At last Tuesday's meeting, the measure "failed to gain the seven votes needed for approval" on the council's consent agenda and is likely dead until next summer. The measure failed by only one vote, reports the Commercial Appeal.
"If the minutes from Tuesday's vote are approved at the next council meeting, council rules prohibit the ordinance—or one that is substantially similar—from being heard for six months. Even though the ordinance failed, a study of discrimination in city government, including sexual orientation, will continue. 'It's not dead,' said Councilman Shea Flinn, who sponsored the ordinance and resolution. 'We're still conducting the study and after six months, it will be back up for grabs.'
"Flinn, Janis Fullilove, Edmund Ford Jr., Jim Strickland, Wanda Halbert and Myron Lowery voted to approve the ordinance on second reading. Council members Bill Boyd, Reid Hedgepeth and and Kemp Conrad voted against approval. Council members Joe Brown, Harold Collins and Bill Morrison did not vote. Councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware has been suspended from her seat after her felony indictment on a charge of official misconduct."
The measure was re-introduced in late October. In August, a similar ordinance sponsored by City Council Member Janis Fullilove was withdrawn due to a lack of support from the council and Mayor A. C. Wharton, who previously had publicly supported the bill. Fullilove received at least four death threats in July after sponsoring the bill. Someone also threw a dead cat on her front lawn.
Memphis becomes the third city in recent weeks to reject a non-discrimination ordinance. In October, the city councils of South Bend, Indiana and Omaha, Nebraska both rejected broader LGBT non-discrimination ordinances by 3-3 votes. Incidentally, the South Bend and Omaha ordinances, just like the Memphis bill, were introduced by Black council members. On the positive side, last week voters in Bowling Green, Ohio upheld two ordinances that protected LGBT residents.
Memphis' ordinance failed to move forward by only 1 vote. That's progress over last summer. The bigots are losing, slowly but surely.