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Iowa town's ordinance protecting gays faces opposition

Iowa town's ordinance protecting gays faces opposition

A proposal to include sexual orientation as a protected characteristic in Dubuque, Iowa's nondiscrimination code is being opposed by some business and religious leaders. The city council is scheduled to take an initial vote on the issue February 7. It's the third time the city's Human Rights Commission has tried to include sexual orientation in the city's nondiscrimination code. The council voted down similar proposals in 1988 and 1999. In the past several months, the council has received several communications from citizens who oppose the latest proposal. Brad Smith, general manager of TEMPositions, of Cedar Rapids, submitted a letter at the council's January 3 meeting. "We are strongly against allowing sexual orientation to be a protected class," Smith wrote. "I am not opposed to gays in the workplace, but I am certainly opposed of someone being able to show they are gay in the workplace, to flaunt it, express it, and then be protected from discipline for the disruption they are causing in the office or workplace." The company's Dubuque office interviews more than 75 people each month and hires about 20. "Gay people should not be treated differently than anyone else when it comes to apartment rental, job, promotion, credit, or service, but if a gay person does not hide his sexuality, then I should be allowed to go on to the next applicant with the same experience that does not express his or her sexual preference," Smith wrote. The Reverend John Hulsizer, pastor at Dubuque's Church of the Nazarene, also opposes the proposal. He said a Human Rights Commission note printed on city letterhead in October could influence council members to vote in favor of the ordinance. Six Iowa cities include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination codes. They are Iowa City, Des Moines, Bettendorf, Cedar Rapids, Ames, and Davenport.

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