Dubuque, Iowa, considers sexual orientation policy

BY admin

December 15 2004 1:00 AM ET

The Dubuque, Iowa, city council will consider adding sexual orientation to the list of protected characteristics in the city's nondiscrimination code after the Human Rights Commission voted to forward the issue on to the council. The commission voted 8-0 Monday to present an amendment to the council for consideration.

The commission's sexual orientation subcommittee recommended last week to take the amendment to the city council in February. The city council rejected similar measures in 1988 and 1999. The Human Rights Commission revived the issue about one year ago in hopes of bringing it to the council for the third time. Six cities in Iowa include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination codes: Iowa City, Des Moines, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Ames, and Davenport.

The proposed Dubuque ordinance would make it illegal to deny someone an apartment, a job, a promotion, service at a business, credit, or housing solely on the basis of sexual orientation. Sexual orientation subcommittee chairman Bill Ross said educating the community has been a major focus of its campaign this time around. "This has been over a yearlong project for us," Ross said.

Judy Haley Giesen, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission, said the group has been "slow and methodical in our approach. We have tried to educate many facets of the community, and we have noticed that when people hear the whole story of what this ordinance change would mean, they see no reason for not accepting this."

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