Plan To Ban Anti-Gay Bias In Fort Worth Dies
Supporters Of Measure Pledge To Revive Effort
Dallas Morning News, January 20, 1999
By Dianna Hunt / The Dallas Morning News
FORT WORTHA proposal to ban discrimination against gays and
lesbians in Fort Worth died Tuesday for lack of majority support on the City Council.
Proponents, however, vowed to revive their efforts for an anti- discrimination law once
state courts and the Legislature have addressed related issues now pending before them.
"Its not a dead issue," said council member Ralph McCloud, who brought
the issue to its first public council airing since the proposal surfaced more than six
years ago. "I was pleased there appears to be an openness on the part of the council
to consider some of these issues."
The measure died after an informal poll taken by Mayor Kenneth Barr at the
councils work session Tuesday indicated that only four of the nine council members
supported advancing the proposal beyond cursory discussion. And one of the four, council
member Clyde Picht, has already indicated he would vote against the final proposal.
Council members Cathy Hirt and Frank Moss joined Mr. McCloud in supporting the
Mr. Barr said he did not want to raise the divisive issue if it ultimately has no hopes
of winning approval from the council.
"I dont think theres any doubt theres discrimination out
there," Mr. Barr said. "If this matter is not going to move through the City
Council, I dont think it makes sense to put this city through the trauma of
Had it been approved by the council, the ordinance would have been among the strongest
municipal laws in the state, banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing,
employment and public accommodations.
Dallas ordinance, by comparison, prohibits discrimination based on sexual
preference only in the citys own hiring and employment practices.
Fort Worths Human Relations Commission recommended in a formal letter last month
that the City Council change municipal laws to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual
The proposal was the second from the Human Relations Commission. The first, in 1992,
died without making it before the council.
On Tuesday, several council members said they would prefer to address the issue after
the state appeals courts rule on a challenge to Texas sodomy laws and after state
legislators consider abolishing the law making sodomy a crime.
Carolyn Miles, former president of the Tarrant County Lesbian and Gay Alliance, said
she was disappointed that the proposal failed but was somewhat encouraged that the council
discussed the issue.
"By the end of the meeting, they were at least admitting there is a problem,"
she said. "If the City Council was convinced there is a problem, then weve come
a long way."
A coalition of ministers and churches had opposed the measure, saying that
homosexuality was morally wrong and an affront to family values.
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