Tucker passes non-discrimination law after four years of talks
Residents erupted in cheers on June 12 as the Tucker City Council voted 6-0 to pass an ordinance protecting against “unlawful discrimination” from businesses and organizations.
Once a grassroots movement by members of Tucker Open Door, the ordinance was four years in the making “to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to be free from unjust discrimination” based on actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion and more.
The issue reached a fever pitch in October 2021 days before his reelection, when Mayor Frank Auman introduced a last-minute resolution confirming that the “city embraces diversity and seeks to protect all people from discrimination.”
Critics said that while Auman’s resolution was a step in the right direction, it was not enforceable and provided no actionable consequence.
Nearly two years later, an ordinance was ready for presentation.
A first read on May 8 drew more than 100 people to Tucker City Hall. Some stood shoulder to shoulder in the lobby listening to council members and public comments.
At the June 12 meeting, slight changes were presented by Mayor Pro Tem Anne Lerner, who sponsored the ordinance with council members Virginia Rece and Cara Schroeder.
During the city council’s discussion period, Auman tried to introduce five “friendly amendments,” asking for political parties to be covered by the ordinance and suggesting an expiration date for the ordinance.
The proposed amendments were denied by council members.
Auman delivered a 30-minute diatribe calling the ordinance “legally indefensible.” He said discussion of the ordinance “has driven a wedge in our community.”
“Everyone’s put in a box. Everyone’s told that the person in the other boxes might be the victim, might be the victimizer,” said Auman. “Just stop. Leave it where it is, don’t call for a vote.”
But Lerner called for a vote, which was seconded, and Auman asked for a recess. City Attorney Ted Baggett advised the council to proceed with a vote, so Auman left the room while council members voted.
The mayor later said it was not his intention to miss the vote, and asked for his vote to be registered as a no.
Tucker’s new ordinance will take effect in 45 days.
Damyon Claar-Pressley of Tucker Open Door said she is disappointed that “some members of the faith community and the mayor continue to portray the LGBTQ community as second-class citizens.”
“The vast majority of Tucker supports the ordinance, and that has been apparent from our meetings. I am grateful to the faith community that supported the passage of the NDO and to the City Council for working to make this an ordinance created by Tucker for Tucker. We create our best work when we do it together,” Claar-Pressley said.
The passage of Tucker’s ordinance came on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., a 2016 mass shooting that killed 49 and injured 53 clubgoers at a gay-friendly bar.
This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Rough Draft Atlanta.