Sandy Springs approves new LGBT protections

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With little fanfare and little debate, Sandy Springs – the seventh largest city in Georgia – adopted an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy that will guide the Atlanta suburb's hiring and other city business. 

City Council member Andy Bauman (photo) called for revising and expanding the city's existing policy, which included “sexual preference” in a list of protected categories and applied to just the city's employment decisions. He proposed the ordinance on March 21 to make it clear that “discrimination has no place in our community.”

On Tuesday, City Manager John McDonough said staffers concluded a review of the city's non-discrimination policies and moved forward with revisions. Via Reporter Newspapers:

McDonough recommended an updated policy that includes “sexual orientation” and “gender” as protected categories, as well as “any other status or [classification]” protected under any federal, state or local law. The policy would continue to include other specific categories such as race and religion.

The update immediately applies only to the city’s employment policy. But, McDonough said, it will be the basis to “update all other documents,” including outside contracts and agreements covering use of city parks and recreational facilities.

Bauman praised the new policy, which was adopted without a vote as Mayor Rusty Paul said, “Without objection, so ordered,” according to Reporter Newspapers.

Bauman later praised McDonough’s “thorough” review. He said the policy update reflects his belief that the city is not discriminating against anyone, but that it also was lacking a full policy to deal with potential outside problems. “It’s good to have it consistent” and clearly applied to all city business, he said.

The new policy, via Reporter Newspapers:

“The City provides equal opportunity to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, age, disability, or military or veteran status, or any other status or classification protected by applicable federal, state and local laws. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including but not limited to, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leave of absence, compensation, and training.”

Though nearly 60 jurisdictions in Georgia include sexual orientation in non-discrimination statements, just a dozen places also include gender identity like the new Sandy Springs policy, according to Georgia Equality. 

Bauman proposed the expanded ordinance in March, five days Georgia lawmakers passed an anti-gay “religious freedom” measure and a week before Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed it. The measure threatened to abolish municipal protections for LGBT citizens.

“I was reacting to the religious liberty bill and then wanted to make note of what we do here in Sandy Springs,” Bauman told Project Q Atlanta in April. “What I want to focus on is continuing a really good atmosphere in Sandy Springs.”

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