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Alabama Passes Ordinance Protecting LGBTQ Individuals

December 25th, 2018


Montevallo, Alabama passed an ordinance earlier this year protecting individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Montevallo, Alabama passed an ordinance earlier this year protecting individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Earlier this year, Montevallo, Alabama passed an ordinance protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in relationship to housing, employment discrimination, and public accommodations. This is an historic event because Montevallo is only the second city in Alabama to pass an ordinance of this kind.

Alabama is one of only 31 states that does not offer comprehensive anti-discrimination policies for people who identify as LGBTQ. Birmingham became the first city in Alabama to pass an LGBT inclusive ordinance last year, and now that Montevallo has followed suit, the Human Rights Campaign has said the time has come for other cities in Alabama to pass similar laws.

What You Should Know about Montevallo, Alabama

Montevallo is located south of Birmingham and hosts approximately 6,700 residents. The town’s Mayor, Hollie Cost, described the town as inclusive and diverse. Not all people in the town, however, supported the ordinance. Two councilmen voted against the ordinance and expressed concern that the creation of these laws would create serious complications.

How the Ordinance Arose

In 2016, the Montevallo Acceptance Project initiated its ordinance. The LGBTQ rights group heard several frequent criticisms including that there was no reason to create these laws in Montevallo, which some people see as just a small college town. After the proposal, opponents of the ordinance performed research to determine that there had not been any complaints of discrimination at nearby realtors or the town’s university. Those against the ordinance also argued that half of the 160 people who signed the petition for the ordinance did not actually live in the area. The final draft of the ordinance was created after multiple community conversations including two formal forums during which time LGBTQ individuals discussed challenges they had faced and proponents argued in favor. During these sessions, many citizens in Montevallo discussed concerns about the ordinance as well as religious beliefs that interfered with the creation of these laws.

What the Ordinance States

The new ordinance prohibits discrimination in areas like housing, public accommodation, and employment based on color, race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status, or veteran status. The city’s municipal code at the time already contained protections that are required by federal law. There is a risk, however, that Montevallo might face lawsuits challenging the ordinance because it is not supported on either a state or federal level.

Montevallo’s ordinance will be executed in a unique way. The city’s Human Rights Commission is tasked with receiving complaints of ordinance violations and then attempting to mediate complaints prior to sending them to court. If a judge determines that the activity in question is discriminatory, the person who committed the violation will be required to pay a $100 fine for each day the discrimination occurs.

The Universal Life Church’s Blog

One of the reasons that the passage of these laws is unique is that Alabama is well known for its conservative politics. Since 1980, the state has voted for a Republican in every presidential election. In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign launched “Project One America,” an initiative to make progress for the LGBTQ community in red states like Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi. By reading the Universal Life Church’s blog each month, you can stay up to date with the creation of various other LGBTQ protections throughout the country.

(image courtesy of Milind Kaduskar)

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