Forum for Equality was on the front lines in the early 1990’s to pass one of the first inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in the South, to protect New Orleans’ citizens from discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing. It was the first of its kind to call for protecting people against discrimination based on sexual orientation and, when later expanded, to include gender identity protections.
Unfortunately, soon after the measure passed, a federal judge ruled that the City did not have the authority to enforce the ordinance. Therefore, the current Human Relations Commission cannot fully investigate or arbitrate discrimination claims, including those brought by members of the LGBTQ community.
Now, we have an opportunity to truly move New Orleans forward. On November 16, a proposed amendment to the City Charter will appear on the ballot to formally establish a new Human Rights Commission. This body will have the full backing of City government and the authority necessary to realize the vision of an inclusive and welcoming City.
The parish wide ballot measure – HRC Amendment – Art. V, Secs. 5-1101 through 5-1103 – CC, will read as follows:
Shall Article V of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans be amended to add Sections 5-1101 through 5-1103 thereto to create a local Human Rights Commission to safeguard all individuals in the City of New Orleans from discrimination and to exercise all powers, duties, and functions provided by applicable state and municipal law?
The Forum for Equality strongly recommends a YES vote on the proposed amendment.
We believe creating a Human Rights Commission under the Home Rule Charter is the right thing to do. As the Forum for Equality Executive Director Sarah Jane Guidry, said, “Giving the Human Rights Commission the power to investigate, mediate, and resolve discrimination claims will ensure that efforts to end discrimination are people-centered and efficient. The courtroom should be the last resort for seeking relief, and this initiative would create systems to resolve these cases before they escalate to that level.”
Voting yes will safeguard residents from discrimination and strengthen the City’s human rights laws – while also helping to prevent costly litigation.
Further information on this and other issues on the ballot can be found at the ActionNewOrleans page.
To learn more about the upcoming election, including information on early voting, go to GeauxVote.