Hughey: the first step is admitting you have a problem

“Scottsdale doesn’t have a problem with discrimination.”

Angela Hughey

That’s what we’ve heard over and over again from opponents of a non-discrimination ordinance that would help to protect all Scottsdale residents, including gay and transgender residents, from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public accommodations.

But this week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint against 5th and Wine, a Scottsdale wine bar, on behalf of two employees who allege graphic and long-term harassment for being gay — and the perception of being gay — that culminated in the dismissal of one employee while the other employee quit.

Our question is, what now Scottsdale?

We know that the overwhelming majority of business owners in Scottsdale are good people and would never treat others in the despicable manner described in the complaint. The alleged discrimination serves as the perfect example of why an inclusive non-discrimination ordinance would not only deter the few bad actors, but also give people legal recourse in the unfortunate circumstance when they do face discrimination.

We hope the EEOC complaint leads to justice for the people involved. We also hope the city of Scottsdale sees this as a reality check that discrimination sadly does and will continue to exist. Although the city can’t proactively prevent all forms of discrimination, they can put mechanisms in place so that when it does occur, people are able to seek help.

No one in our community should feel like they are second-class citizens because they aren’t afforded the same protections under the law as other Arizonans. We hope Scottsdale does the right thing for all, not just some, of its citizens. Admitting that we can and must do more to be inclusive is the first step.

Editor’s note: Ms. Hughey is the president and co-founder of ONE Community

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