El Paso Amends Ordinance on Discrimination
[EL PASO, TX] - The City Council expanded its anti-discrimination ordinance Tuesday, unanimously voting to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which refers to people who have undergone sex changes.
Originally set to add only "sexual orientation" to the ordinance, the council also included "gender identity" after Lisa Turner, a council candidate for District 8, requested the addition. West Side Rep. Jan Sumrall, who had been "wanting to do this for years," faced no opposition to her amendment, the culmination of several years of support for the gay and lesbian community in El Paso.
The change "is long overdue," said Rob Knight, president of Lambda Community Center and GLBT -- or Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered. "This will bring El Paso into a new generation of tolerance and equality and fairness for all."
Among Texas' larger cities, Houston and Dallas include either sexual orientation or gender identity in their anti-discrimination ordinances, according to an online search of city codes. Fort Worth forbids discrimination for "sexual orientation in any manner."
There was also a practical reason for the change, Sumrall said. A number of companies require a prohibition against sexual-orientation-based discrimination before they will provide grants or donations, she said.
Violating the city's anti-discrimination ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $200.