Decatur pressed to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policy

A Decatur activist called out city leaders for falling behind other metro Atlanta cities in protecting its LGBTQ residents with a nondiscrimination ordinance.

Clare Schexnyder said the city’s progressive reputation is “fading fast,” according to Decaturish. But city leaders say an ordinance is in the works.

Schexnyder made the comments at a City Commission meeting on June 17.

“Decatur should have been the first city in DeKalb County to do this,” Schexnyder said during public comments. “Instead, Doraville, Clarkston, Chamblee and Dunwoody have done the right thing, and we sit here, with not even an ordinance drawn up and before the commission.”

The broad nondiscrimination policies passed recently in metro Atlanta prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in private employment, housing and public accommodations. Some policies also require local law enforcement to be trained in and report hate crime statistics to the GBI and FBI.

Doraville passed its ordinance in November. Clarkston and Chamblee followed suit in April, and Dunwoody passed its ordinance in June. Atlanta passed an ordinance protecting people from discrimination based on sexual orientation in private employment, housing and public accommodations in 2000. Gender identity was added to those protections in 2013.

Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett (photo bottom right) said the city’s diversity board, called Better Together, is working on the ordinance, according to Decaturish.

“I met with the Anti-Defamation League,” Garrett said. “We have copies of the other cities’ ordinances. We’re looking at what would be the best language for the city of Decatur … Whatever we’re putting in it needs to be workable for the city of Decatur. We absolutely are working on it.”

Decatur routinely scores poorly on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. The city received a 28 in 2015, dropped to 21 in 2016, improved to 51 in 2017, but dropped to 45 in 2018. HRC deducted points in 2018 for Decatur not having LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, not offering transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits and not reporting hate crimes to the FBI.

Gay Decatur resident Trey Peters was shot and killed on June 4 as he walked to a MARTA station. Witnesses said two men yelled homophobic slurs before shooting him. DeKalb County police released photos of the suspects on June 21.

Sandy Springs will vote on an LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes policy on July 16, but city leaders said they are holding off on a broad LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policy for now.

Photo courtesy City of Decatur