Dunwoody nears passage of broad LGBTQ nondiscrimination policy

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Dunwoody is one vote away from adopting a sweeping LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance that would fine violators up to $1,000.

The nondiscrimination policy would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in private employment, housing and public accommodations. The ordinance would also prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, disability, marital status, familial status or veteran/military status.

“The council’s purpose in enacting this ordinance is to promote the public health and welfare of all persons who live and work in the City of Dunwoody,” according to the ordinance. “It is important for the city to ensure that all persons within the city have equal access to employment, housing and public accommodations.”

The Dunwoody City Council held a first-reading of the ordinance on May 20 and there were no questions or objections, according to Reporter Newspapers. The council will have a final vote on June 10. The passage of the ordinance would make Dunwoody the fifth city in Georgia with such protections. 

Councilmembers Pam Tallmadge and John Heneghan (photo) proposed the ordinance after a gay resident asked them to do so to protect his family, according to Reporter Newspapers. The resident read media reports about neighboring cities passing similar ordinances. Doraville passed its nondiscrimination ordinance in November. Clarkston and Chamblee followed suit in April

Heneghan said the issue “needed to be thoroughly looked at,” according to Reporter Newspapers.

“When a member of our community comes to me and asks … why haven’t you done this to protect me and my family, it needed to be thoroughly looked at,” Heneghan said. “As a council member, I’m there to make sure there is protection for everybody. It’s the right thing to do.”

Dunwoody Mayor Denis Shortal said the ordinance was “fine by me,” but that he believes no one in Dunwoody is being discriminated against, according to Reporter Newspapers.

“First of all, I think we already treat everybody equally here in the city,” Shortal said in a May 21 interview. “I’ve never had any cases [of discrimination] come up to me by people, and I talk to a lot of people.

“I think we’re family here. Everyone is equal,” he added. “Nobody is at an advantage or disadvantage.”

The ordinance also requires Dunwoody to develop guidelines for identifying, investigating, documenting and reporting hate crimes committed in the city. Dunwoody law enforcement would be trained on local, state and federal hate crime laws. Georgia is one of five states without a hate crimes law.

The ordinance requires Dunwoody to report evidence of any hate crimes to the FBI to be entered into a national crime information database.

To file a complaint under the ordinance, Dunwoody residents must do so with the city clerk within 90 days of the alleged act of discrimination. A $50 filing fee is required, but that fee may be waived later in the process.

Under the ordinance, both parties go to voluntary non-binding mediation. If the issue isn’t resolved, the complaint is referred to a hearing officer. If the officer finds a violation has occurred, the offender can face a fine of up to $500 for a first violation and $1,000 for subsequent violations. 

Photo via Facebook


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