Memphis Non-Discrimination Policy Gets Green Light

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(Memphis) Any roadblocks keeping the Memphis City Council from approving a new non-discrimination policy have been removed by the city attorney.

The city was set to take up the policy that prevents discrimination based on sexual orientation, but it was delayed because the city administration wanted to get a legal opinion on whether the ordinance violated the city's charter.

The legal opinion from the city attorney's office says they have found the proposed ordinance does not violate the charter because the new policy doesn't conflict with the old already on the books. It says it strengthens it.

In the legal opinion by City Attorney Herman Morris, he says Nashville set a precedent because it approved a similar nondiscrimination policy by adding sexual orientation to existing rules.

Councilman Lee Harris wrote the new nondiscrimination policy and says he was shocked when the city attorney initially said the new policy could violate the charter by actually making it what he calls tougher on discrimination

“The idea of an all-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance has been running through the track in Memphis the last at least two years, and none of us have ever heard there could be a legal roadblock in the passing of an ordinance that's all-inclusive,” said Harris.

Some city politicians questioned that saying it may need to be decided on by you the voter.

Now that roadblock is gone and a tougher anti-discrimination plan has an open road for council approval

“There isn't any specific exception that says city council can't expand the nondiscrimination policy by ordinance. There's nothing stopping them from doing that,” said city charter expert Professor Stephen Wirls.

Wirls says if the ordinance weakened the policy then it would be in violation of the city charter.

Councilman Harris says city council could vote on the non-discrimination ordinance at Tuesday's meeting.