Frank Cikutovich Article:
City Puts Off Human Rights Decision, Council Defers Vote 60 Days
Spokesman Review Aug 4, 1998
by Kathy Mulady Staff writer
The City Council members put off making a decision on a controversial human
rights ordinance Monday night.
After more than three-and-a-half hours of testimony, council members asked
that the ordinance be reworked to address a wide range of questions.
"I can't vote for it, there are too many areas of concern for me," said
Councilwoman Roberta Greene. "But that doesn't say my concerns can't be
"I'm ready to vote against discrimination, but I am not ready to vote on this
ordinance," she added.
The ordinance would reinforce state and federal laws prohibiting
discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin and
However, it goes a step further by also targeting discrimination based on
sexual orientation, gender identity and source of income.
Monday, Frank Cikutovich, chairman of the city's Human Rights Commission,
faxed a letter to council members suggesting removal of gender identity and
source of income language if it would make the ordinance more palatable.
The council heard testimony from 48 speakers, 28 asking that the ordinance be
rejected. Testimony was more civil than two weeks ago when comments sometimes
"I am constantly amazed how people can lose their sense of decency," said
"We've seen a great deal of bigotry and anger," added Mayor John Talbott.
"We clearly have a problem of acceptance," he added. "But this legislation
isn't going to get us there."
Critic David DeWolfe, representing Citizens for Common Sense, warned the
ordinance would have unintended consequences including a chilling effect on
He called the ordinance an example of "good intentions badly carried
Cindi Abbott, a lesbian mother, said she's heartsick at the hate and venom
from those opposing the ordinance.
"We are your neighbors, co-workers and people - people worthy of protection
from discrimination," she said.
Cherie Rodgers was the only council member supporting the proposed ordinance.
She voted against taking another 60 days to rework the language.
"This is not a hard decision for me, not even close," she said. The ordinance
would prevent discrimination and ensures equal opportunities in employment,
housing and public accommodations, such as hotels.
Such sweeping protections for homosexuals are rare in Washington cities and
Many cities prohibit discrimination against their own municipal employees.
Some cities require contractors to have similar human rights provisions for
their employees. There are also protections for state and federal employees.
Washington state law doesn't protect the general public from discrimination
based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Last fall, 60 percent of voters statewide trounced Initiative 677 seeking
employment protection for gays.
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