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Anti-discrimination measure passes through Macon-Bibb committee

Macon-Bibb officials hear plea in support of anti-discrimination measure

Macon resident Jake Petermann describes the importance of adding gender identity and sexual orientation language to an anti-discrimination measure. The resolution was approved Tuesday by a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee.
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Macon resident Jake Petermann describes the importance of adding gender identity and sexual orientation language to an anti-discrimination measure. The resolution was approved Tuesday by a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee.

A resolution prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity moved through a Macon-Bibb County Commission committee Tuesday after opposing sides stated their cases.

The resolution proposes adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the county code as part of anti-discrimination language regarding appointments, employment and promotions. The resolution came a month after another anti-discrimination resolution was narrowly passed by the County Commission when Mayor Robert Reichert cast the deciding vote.

The Operations and Finance Committee voted 4-1 to add the resolution to the April 18 commission agenda. Commissioners Larry Schlesinger, Virgil Watkins, Gary Bechtel and Elaine Lucas supported the resolution, while Commissioner Scotty Shepherd voted against it.

Schlesinger sponsored the resolution.

“We’re talking about adding a class to our civil rights doctrine, and the purpose of our civil rights doctrine is to make sure people aren’t discriminated against,” Watkins said.

Tim McCoy questioned the need to add the language. As similar ordinances have been approved across the country, there is not evidence of people being discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender identity in these circumstances, he said.

Tim McCoy discusses how unintended consequences can arise from a Macon-Bibb County resolution that adds gender identity and sexual orientation to an anti-discrimination measure.

McCoy is the pastor of Ingleside Baptist Church, but he said he was not speaking Tuesday on behalf of his congregation.

“I think the unintended consequences may be it will teach that the Judeo-Christian worldview is not only false but discriminatory and rooted in animus,” he said.

Macon resident Jake Petermann, who is transgender, said the County Commission has the ability to show Macon-Bibb takes a strong stance against prejudice.

“Why should I not be afforded the same protections as every other citizen?” he asked. “Why should I be fired or not promoted or not hired because of how I was born?”

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph

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