Proposed non-discrimination ordinance ignites controversy - KMSP-TV

Proposed non-discrimination ordinance ignites controversy

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PHOENIX -

The city of Phoenix is set to decide Tuesday on an ordinance granting gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders protection against discrimination.

It's something nearly 200 other cities have already approved. But here it's being met with controversy and opposition.

We're talking about protection against discrimination when it comes to things like employment, renting an apartment, and for people who have physical handicaps, it would require public accommodations.

Some opponents are using that last part of the proposed ordinance to suggest it would allow a transgendered man -- for example -- to use a woman's public bathroom or vice versa.

"It is absolutely a fear tactic, it is very effectively a fear tactic."

Erica Keppler, a transgender woman, is setting the record straight. She says a proposed anti-discrimination bill dubbed the "bathroom bill" by opponents has nothing to do with bathrooms.

"There is nothing in this law that impacts the legality of who or who may not use a restroom under any circumstance," says Keppler.

"The reason why it's called the bathroom bill is the idea that a grown man can decide he's a woman and follow your daughter into the women's bathroom and there's really no recourse to stop that," says Aaron Baer, spokesman for Center for Arizona Policy.

Baer is worried changes to the non-discrimination ordinance will mean bad news for churches, families and businesses.

The city's current ordinance protects residents based on race, gender, national origin and religion. The proposed ordinance would add LGBT citizens and residents.

Sal DiCiccio, Phoenix City councilman for district six, calls the proposed ordinance an assault.

"Mayor Stanton needs to push back on this radical proposal he's got, this is his proposal, he wants to get it through and he is trying to cram it through," says DiCiccio.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton says in this case, Phoenix isn't leading the way, it's catching up. That it's about time we send a message that every resident is valued.

"The reality is Tucson's passed their non-discrimination ordinance over a decade ago, our friends in Flagstaff passed it in the last few weeks, all of our competitor cities have passed similar type ordinances," says Mayor Stanton.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix sent out a statement saying it opposes changes to the city's existing non-discrimination law.

The city council can approve, postpone, even dismiss the ordinance after a public comment session Tuesday.

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