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Natchez shelves proposed anti-discrimination ordinance
from Staff Reports - NEWS
May 15, 2019 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Lack of support by city aldermen quietly shelved a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance focused mainly on punishing people found guilty in court of bias against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell proposed the measure in March but said Tuesday it’s been cast aside. As written, the ordinance could’ve authorized the city judge to impose a $500 fine on anybody found guilty of violating it.

While aldermen said in March they want to discourage discrimination, they had questions about the drafted ordinance’s legalities and how allegations of bias would be investigated. They voted in March to delay a decision on whether to adopt it. The proposed “nondiscrimination ordinance” was on the agenda for Tuesday’s city board meeting, but the mayor said it’s no longer up for consideration to be openly discussed.

Mississippi in 2016 enacted a religious-freedom law that allows people to discriminate against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. For example, county clerks can cite religious objections in recusing themselves from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The law also protects merchants who refuse services to LGBTs.

In response to the new state law, the Natchez Board of Aldermen three years ago did adopt a resolution affirming the city’s “commitment to diversity and hospitality.” Aldermen proclaimed “Natchez is open for business, tourism and residential development to all law-abiding individuals and groups regardless of religion or identity” and is a “hospitable community that appreciates, celebrates and protects diversity and the individual rights of all its citizens, visitors and businesses.”

The most recent proposed anti-discrimination ordinance for Natchez was similar to what Jackson has enacted. The City Council there in 2016 adopted a comprehensive policy that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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