Scottsdale to investigate possible LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

Following the 5-2 vote in August, Scottsdale City Council will examine LGBT anti-discrimination laws across the state to inform the implementation of LGBT rights policy in the city.

In March, the council voted down a law that would have extended legal protection to Scottsdale LGBT residents in places of employment, housing and other private areas, instead approving a voluntary gay-rights pledge called the Unity Pledge. 

Now, the council is pursuing an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance with renewed enthusiasm. Council leaders said they hope to use the information gathered from the reconnaissance to form a policy that protects the rights of Scottsdale’s LGBT community without violating the rights of local businesses and other residents.

Opponents to the ordinance are concerned it would add unnecessary regulation and infringe on the religious and economic freedoms of citizens.

Still others said these fears are not credible.

“Scottsdale isn’t the first city to adopt this ordinance. If they want to look at anecdotal evidence, all they have to do is look at other cities in Arizona and across the country to see that that argument always rings false,” said Tom Simplot, former Phoenix city councilman and ASU alumnus.

Simplot, who is openly gay, said that the council’s exploration of ways to implement the law sends a message that the LGBT population will have protection.

The new ordinance could address concerns that Scottsdale is lagging behind other cities in furthering LGBT rights.

“I think a lot of people in Scottsdale don’t realize the problems people in the LGBT community may face, and think that everything is fine,” business sophomore and Scottsdale resident Trisha Dasgupta said. 

She said she attributes the lack of anti-discrimination law in the city to its formidable older demographic.

Indeed, Scottsdale has not been as expeditious as cities like Phoenix and Tempe in passing an anti-discrimination law, ASU political science professor David Wells said. Scottsdale is a more affluent community with politics that tend toward the center-right, and thus, has been slower to adapt LGBT reform, opposite of Phoenix and Tempe, Wells said. 

“(Tempe and Phoenix) both have Democratic mayors and city councils with Democratic majorities — Tempe overwhelmingly so,” Wells said. “Over 70 percent of the voters in Tempe passed an anti-discrimination ordinance in August of 2014 as an amendment to their charter,” he said.

Medical studies freshman and Scottsdale resident Katie Fricker said the city may be on the move politically.

“I think it can become more progressive,” she said. “(The ordinance) won’t affect everyone’s life. And, I think once people are no longer given an option to not respect people, they eventually will,” she continued.

Fricker supports the ordinance, and said if someone is to refuse service to a member of the LGBT community, they are just denying themselves a customer.

If the ordinance were to pass, it would fit a national trend of legal acceptance of the LGBT community, motivated by an increasingly powerful Millennial voter block, Danika Worthington, president of the ASU Chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, said.

The ordinance will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the local political climate.

“It’s one of those things where it won’t necessarily stop discrimination but it will at least put you in a position where if you’re discriminated against you have the law on your side,” Worthington said.


Reach the reporter at Arren.Kimbel-Sannit@asu.edu or follow @akimbelsannit on Twitter.

Like The State Press on Facebook and follow @statepress on Twitter.


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.