At the end of Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Council Phil Boyum brought forth an action item not originally on the agenda, a matter he said he was addressing in light of the Supreme Court ruling as well as information on incidents locally that most everyone was already aware of.
He was referencing Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, GA., in which the court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects lesbian, gay, and transgender individuals from employment discrimination because “discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex.”, and an incident in Statesboro three years ago which resulted in a young man being forced from his rental house mid-lease because of his sexual orientation.
Boyum made a motion to direct the city attorney to draft a ‘nondiscrimination ordinance for the City of Statesboro. “If this city is going to soar and move forward in these challenging times, it is imperative that council not just talk the talk, but walk the walk,” Boyum told members of council. “Putting a nondiscrimination ordinance in place puts the city in a leadership position across the state as only a handful – and when I say handful, only a handful currently have a nondiscrimination ordinance.” He referenced the City of Clarkston and the City of Atlanta as model cities to refer to for ordinance language.
Mayor Jonathan McCollar said he wanted to piggyback off of Boyum, “I think that is the right thing for this council to do if we are going to be an inclusive city…I concur with Councilman Boyum on that.” McCollar called for a second to the motion, which was echoed by all four of the other council members present.
In March 2017, the City approved resolution 2017-14 – a Resolution of the City Council of the City of Statesboro declaring Statesboro as a Safe Inclusive and Welcoming City for All People which read:
WHEREAS: The City of Statesboro is committed to inclusion as a fundamental aspect of our community; and WHEREAS: cities and towns are the best place to make inclusiveness an everyday priority; and
WHEREAS: local elected officials can and should lead the way forward in making inclusiveness a priority in America’s cities and towns; and
WHEREAS: an inclusive community promotes equal opportunity and fairness; and
WHEREAS: an inclusive community promotes citizen participation and engagement; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: The City of Statesboro hereby reaffirms our commitment to inclusion as a fundamental aspect of our community, pledges active efforts to seek to achieve that goal and urges all citizens of The City of Statesboro to join together to support this effort.
While the resolution was significant at the time, the ordinance is a binding ‘local law’ instead of a resolution which is more ceremonial.
The language of the proposed ordinance will be presented for council consideration at a First Reading in July.