Last edited: December 08, 2004

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 WORTH—A 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.

"It’s 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 council’s 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 proposal.

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 don’t think there’s any doubt there’s discrimination out there," Mr. Barr said. "If this matter is not going to move through the City Council, I don’t think it makes sense to put this city through the trauma of it."

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 city’s own hiring and employment practices.

Fort Worth’s 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 orientation.

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 we’ve 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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