City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton Expands Efforts for LGBT Agenda

An article appears in the Arizona Republic this morning describing Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s latest drive to expand city authority in the area of  “sexual orientation” discrimination.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton’s aides and a group of attorneys are working to draft ordinances that could outlaw discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents. 

The aides and attorneys believe that if rewritten, city laws would also give victims of such discrimination in restaurants and other businesses an opportunity to file complaints with the city’s Equal Opportunity Department for investigation — an option they currently do not have.

The effort comes as the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel near Van Buren and Third streets tries to recover from threats of boycott by the gay community over a decision by the manager of the hotel’s District American Kitchen & Wine Bar to expel a lesbian couple in late February. 

The hotel is owned by the city and managed under the Sheraton brand through a contract with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. 

Despite the incident at the hotel restaurant, the city’s Equal Opportunity Department, tasked with investigating discrimination complaints by workers or customers at businesses, has received no complaints of discrimination over sexual orientation or gender identity at downtown hotels. 

The department cannot investigate or respond to such complaints anyway because the city has not outlawed discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals or transgenders. Such protections exist for the disabled and for ethnic minorities in areas such as employment, housing and public accommodations like hotels and restaurants. 

Stanton’s policy adviser, Brendan Mahoney is leading the mayor’s charge to address any gaps in the city’s human-rights protections. 

He has convened a group of attorneys — some from gay-rights organizations — who are analyzing the city code to determine how the laws could be amended to ensure equal rights for anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Mahoney said that, while the incident at the hotel restaurant “certainly brought the issue to the forefront,” the timing of the city effort is coincidental.

“This issue was on the mayor’s agenda,” he said.

“This issue was on the mayor’s agenda,” he said. (read entire article)

A few items for discussion here:

Should this even be considered an issue, let alone, a high priority issue for the City of Phoenix and Mayor Stanton? Is this even a serious problem for the City of Phoenix or will it be perceived as an effort to promote LGBT issues?

Was the Arizona Republic article fair or even necessary?

Any sound minded critical thinking person can argue the position that any property or asset the city owns is controlled by the City Council. (He who pays the piper, calls the tune.) But should this effort extend to non-governmental stakeholders or private property owners?

Would these efforts extend to segments of the faith-based community such as Evangelical churches, orthodox Jewish or Muslim mosques? For example, would these faith-based communities be prohibited from using city parking or other assets unless they adopt policies that codify sexual orientation into their bylaws?

Don’t get me wrong. I am sensitive to this issue (family members) and actually prefer that the government stay entirely out of this arena, but is this issue forcing itself to center stage unnecessarily? Is the LGBT community overextending their efforts on this? It’s no secret that Equality Arizona invested itself into the Phoenix Mayor’s election in 2011. Was that on purpose in order to use the City of Phoenix as a platform to push its agenda?

Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. Please be respectful.