Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 4, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

Tempe LGBT Ordinance


  • The City of Tempe has passed an ordinance that gives the LGBT community protection against discrimination. Tempe council members Corey Woods and Kolby Granville spearheaded the ordinance and will discuss it.
Guests:
  • Corey Woods - Council Member, Tempe
  • Kolby Granville - Council Member, Tempe
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, lgbt, tempe, community, protection, discrimination, ordinance,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: One day after the veto of Senate Bill 1062 the city of Tempe passed an ordinance protecting against LGBT discrimination. Among those leading that effort, Tempe council members Corey Woods and Kolby Granville.

Both: Thanks for having us.

Ted Simons: Let’s talk about the city ordinance now, what exactly does it do?

Corey Woods: One thing it does is protects the LGBT community as well as military veterans from discrimination when it comes to employment, housing, public accommodation. You can have a fine levied against you up to $1500-$2500 for an infraction. It tries to codify things that had been set into motion by previous councils in terms of openness when it comes to city contracts. When people come to Tempe it makes sure they will not be fired for being gay or discriminated against for being gay or a military veteran.

Ted Simons: Sexual orientation along with religion, age all on the same level?

Kolby Granville: That's right. There's a usual list of -- from the 70s or 80s you see the race, national origin, you go down the list, gender. The thing that I think is exciting not just in Tempe but across the United States is that we now understand that that list from the 70's or 80's is incomplete. We're doing the finishing work now to add sexual orientation, gender identity as well as veteran status to that list of usual suspects.

Ted Simons: City employment. Was this always in place regarding city employment or was it something that needed to be codified along now with private development, private employment?

Corey Woods: This was something we have long had in practice in terms of our city of Tempe policies but we felt it needed to be codified into ordinance and extended further but also mainly to make a statement. We have unfortunately been on parody shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for years for things that as Arizonans we don't like to highlight. This is one of the things I think will obviously show the other side of Arizona, people who don't share some of the opinions we have seen by some of our legislators.

Ted Simons: Talk about this particular effort. How did it get started?

Kolby Granville: It went back -- I have been on council about two years. The initial thing that brought it to my mind was the Bisbee vote about a years ago. I talked to our allies and friends and looked at that. Talked to our legal council in the city of Tempe. That led to discussions for Corey and I about what sort of things that looked like they are within the purview what we can and should do. The Human Rights Campaign came out with a quality index about six months ago, they rated Phoenix 100%, as a matter of fact. Tempe did very, very well. We were in the high 70s, the third highest in the state of Arizona. We thought, this is our shopping list. They have told us what the new normal is and it's time we rose to the challenge.

Ted Simons: Is that how you saw it as well?

Corey Woods: Eexactly. One of the things -- we were actually a 72. To a lot of folks Tempe is known for being a very progressive community. A lot of folks contacted folks like us and said I'm surprised Tempe has that low of a score. We immediately started looking at doing things that would not only raise the score but extend benefits and protections to people that have deserved them for quite some time.

Ted Simons: Protects contracts. Explain that.

Corey Woods: You have to prove when you're doing business with the city of Tempe that you're not discriminating against people for LGBT status, veteran status, age, race, some of the things we have come to know. We don't impose criminal penalties but we do have civil penalties. We're not trying to really fine people. We're trying to educate people about the process, which is why this ordinance doesn't go into effect until March 29.

Ted Simons: Religious organizations. How are they affected?

Kolby Granville: Religious organizations aren't. This is different than SB 1062 where your religious understanding is a personal, private thing. In the case of Tempe we're talking about a structured organization. If the organization itself, if there's something about that that is contrary to the beliefs of that group they could still be excluded. If a church wanted to exclude someone based on their belief system this is different than 1062, which said I'm a religion of one and I'm going to do X, Y, Z.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, membership clubs, associations in general?

Kolby Granville: We looked to Phoenix, Tucson, peer city, San Francisco, said what have they frankly dealt the bugs out of a little bit. It's one thing to get to the new normal. It's another thing to open yourself up to litigation.

Ted Simons: There's been concern regarding bathroom policies in this state in thee past. How does this address those?

Corey Woods: It doesn't have anything -- I think the bathroom bill was something that was just an unfortunate way the Phoenix ordinance was characterized. It protects people when it comes to public accommodation, employment, housing issues. The realty is people when -- Kolby made a comment in the paper that people can sort of think what they want but the reality is when you come to Tempe you're not allowed to act on certain things, not allowed to tell someone they can't purchase something in your store because they are gay or lesbian. That's a very important message to send, especially in the year 2014.

Ted Simons: School districts, apply there?

Corey Woods: It doesn't, no.

Ted Simons: Okay, as far as implementation, are we looking at a cost factor here?

Kolby Granville: That's a great question. One of the things we both talked about, we talked with Phoenix, Tucson, other places, what is this costing you? How many suits are being brought forward? Is this a $5,000 or $50,000 a year item? Those cities the first step when something is brought forward to go to mediation, to go to a chance for people to sit down at a table and educate. Our goal is not to punish people but to get a city that's inclusive. What we found is in the case of Phoenix and Tucson costs were minimal, thousands of dollars if at all.

Corey Woods: Maybe they have had one or two cases that have gone to mediation but one of the things we had to talk to the business community about, the tourism community up front, we have not seen a rash of lawsuits against small businesses that have put them out of business. Frankly these things have gone to place. They have been enacted smoothly and you get maybe one, two, three cases at most that have reached the mediation stage.

Ted Simons: What public input did you have? Were there hearings? What did you hear?

Kolby Granville: That's one of the things that's the most exciting part about Tempe which makes Tempe unique from the legislature, unique from the case of the city of Phoenix where they had 500 people speak. Passing it in Tempe was a yawn. It was 7-0 vote. There was no one who showed up to speak against it. It's a point of pride to say we're already there. This is just a codification of the beliefs we have had for quite a while.

Ted Simons: Back to something you said earlier, when you come to Tempe there are certain things you can do and can't do because you’ve entered the public arena, the public square if you will. Why not, go back to 1062, why not protect those who have sincerely held beliefs against doing X, Y, or Z in the public square?

Corey Woods: As Governor Brewer even talked about in her veto there are currently state laws that protect people that have sort of religious freedom built into them. Senate Bill 1062 was sort of excess, it was actually repeating something that actually was already on the books. From my perspective, there can be basic religious protections and we outline them in our ordinance. At the same time we don't want someone saying because of my religion I'm not going to pick someone up in a cab or sell them a cake. That's not the kind of Tempe we want and that’s not the kind of Tempe our residents want.

Ted Simons: Yet those who supported 1062 will say people should not be forced to act against their faith, their sincerely held beliefs. How do you apply that to an ordinance like this?

Kolby Granville: I have heard that argument before with slavery, with roles of women. With roles of minorities, with the roles of -- the sincerely held beliefs argument has been used since the beginning of time. Of course the difficulty is sometimes you're just on the wrong side of history. I think that's the case here. That's going to be ultimately the case with 1062 . What you think is your own business. But when you interact in the public sphere we have certain social mores of the way people should be treated.

Ted Simons: You mentioned you called it a yawner as far as getting it through the council. Have you heard anything since the ordinance passed?

Kolby Granville: I have gotten three emails. Imagine a city of 165,000, I got three emails.

Corey Woods: I got none. It may have sounded easy as it relates to our public meetings but a lot of work was done in advance by council and staff to meet with groups like the chamber, the tourism office, a lot of people, equality groups, Equality Arizona, the HRC, to get support for this in advance, to work out all the language issues. Frankly there was a lot of work done by councils past. Juliano was a paragon in terms of -- people like Neil and folks before us, a lot of councils work to make sure by the time this came to pass it was easy to get through.

Ted Simons: Gentlemen, good to you on the program. Thanks for joining us.

Both: Thank you.

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