City Council to look at changes to non-discrimination law; diocese opposed

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX (AP) -- A large crowd is expected to pack the Orpheum Theater for a City Council meeting Tuesday afternoon. On the agenda -- the city's anti-discrimination policy, which has not been changed since 1991.

At issue is a "[r]equest to amend Chapter 18, Sections 18-1 to 18-20, of the Phoenix City Code to add 'sexual orientation,' 'gender identity or expression,' and 'disability' as three additional categories protected from discrimination.

While many applaud the proposal, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix opposes changes to the city's non-discrimination law that would provide protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents.

A statement released Monday by the diocese says Catholic leadership in the Phoenix metropolitan area condemns any hostility toward gay residents.

But the diocese says it believes the city's proposal is "so broadly worded that it risks trampling the religious liberties of Phoenix citizens for doing nothing more than living their faith."

The diocese is not the only opposition to the "Bathroom Bill," so dubbed because it would allow transgendered men to use women's public restrooms. Center for Arizona Policy also is vehemently against it.

"There are no protections in this law to prohibit a predator from posing as a so-called 'transgender' to gain access to a child through a restroom or locker room," the organization's website reads.

"The issue that we have here is not an issue of discrimination," said Aaron Baer of the Center for Arizona Policy. "It's an issue of unintended consequences from this law that can really impact families, businesses and churches."

Supporters say the changes are similar to non-discrimination laws adopted by at least 166 other cities and counties across the country.

The changes would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels.

The Phoenix City Council will vote on the proposed changes at Tuesday's hearing. Before taking their vote, they'll hear public input. Because this is such a hot-button issue, a large crowd is expected, which is why the meeting was moved to the downtown theater.

The Orpheum Theater is located at Second Avenue and Adams Street. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

Phoenix City Council


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