Korte: Human equality in Scottsdale lies within LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a much-anticipated decision, the result of which rendered marriage between two people, regardless of gender, legal.

Virginia Korte

Virginia Korte

Prior to that, the majority of states in America, including Arizona, already permitted equal access to marriage. Conversations, instigated by the June 26 ruling began flooding social media. These relevant dialogues gave rise to issues that need to be considered in a thoughtful manner. While many believe the movement is now over, quite the contrary is true.

One of the popular threads of discussion revolves around religious choice and the belief that the court overstepped its bounds.

It is vital to understand that the decision is not grounded in religion rather it is based upon civil rights and liberties established by the founders of our country and authors of our constitution. People have always been able to enter marriage without ever invoking any religious reference or context.  Indeed, it has always been an option for those who are so inclined to hold ceremonies that include no semblance of religion whatsoever.

So, here we are in 2015, with equal rights in terms of marriage, but many do not realize that in some cities people can be married in the morning and fired from their jobs and denied housing or services that same afternoon just because of who they love.

One may wonder how this impacts individual municipalities in Arizona? The answer is that it now highlights cities’ non-discrimination ordinances and lack thereof.

In a city with Scottsdale’s resources, tourist attractions, sports venues and entertainment options one would expect that people would be living in or visiting a locale that protected all people. Disappointingly, this is not true.

Two men or two women can get married in Scottsdale, work in Scottsdale, live in Scottsdale, and raise a family in Scottsdale, but they cannot expect equal protection under the law. Cities such as Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff, and Tempe have adopted ordinances that prohibit various forms of discrimination including race, religion, sex, national, origin, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

What is Scottsdale doing to lead the state in the support of civil liberties that reflect our very core values of inclusion? Not much, unfortunately.  What we are doing is failing to exhibit statewide leadership.

Scottsdale likes to promote itself as having a progressive attitude toward economic opportunity, entrepreneurship, creativity, the arts, and entertainment. A non-discrimination ordinance that includes the gay and transgender community would validate what Scottsdale already claims to be its identity: That of a vibrant city where all are sincerely welcome to conduct business, live, and partake of retail and entertainment venues.

The city prides itself on its worldwide reputation as hospitable; we should adopt an ordinance that demonstrates our commitment to sustaining economic growth and promoting prosperity and success for everyone who lives, visits, and conducts business here.

The future certainly does not have to be marred by the discovery that Scottsdale has failed to protect all citizens, employees, and visitors regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

How utterly embarrassing for Scottsdale to be held up as an example of what is wrong with municipal government in the age of inclusivity. Yes, Scottsdale needs a non-discrimination ordinance not only because it is best for the city’s reputation and because it is good for business, but also, quite simply, because it is the right thing to do.

Ms. Korte is a member of Scottsdale City Council

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