A controversial topic is stirring up debate among Chattanooga City Council members.
New legislation is being discussed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered employees at work. While some say it's time, others worry it could end up hurting the city. Chattanooga city council is considering whether the city's gay and transgendered employees should have legal protection from discrimination at work. Councilman Chris Anderson hopes for a vote on his ordinance Tuesday, July 14.
"So currently city workers can be harassed, bullied, intimidated and or terminated simply for being gay, bisexual, lesbian or transgender—I’m trying to make it to where they have equal protection," said Anderson.
The ordinance would keep supervisors from firing someone simply because of sexual orientation or gender identity. It also means discipline for any co-worker or supervisor who violates it.
"It's the law of the land that same sex marriage is going to occur," said Moses Freeman, City Council Vice Chair. "It ought to be the law for the land that no matter what your sex is you get the same rights and privileges as everyone else."
Those opposed to the ordinance worry that such an ordinance opens the city--and taxpayers--to expensive lawsuits.
"The scenario where we have restrooms in the city of Chattanooga.... where you could have a transgender walk into a female bathroom and the ladies all of a sudden feel unsafe, feel threatened or their privacy violated," said Mark West, Pres. for Citizens of government Accountability and Transparency.
"We don't want discrimination but we don't need to open the door to more protection for a group of people, a very small group and yet many other views and values are diminished in terms of privacy and safety," said West.
"I would ask the people who oppose this to look inside their hearts and see if they really think discrimination against others is right or just bigotry," said Anderson.
Councilman Anderson tells Channel 3, he has not had any complaints of discrimination in the LGBT community since the Berke administration. Residents were allowed to voice their opinions in Tuesday night's council meeting. Council members will have several work sessions this week to discuss "wording" of the ordinance and any other concerns raised. The ordinance will be heard July 14.