Texas Town to Require Proof of GLBT-Friendly Policies from Contractors

by Kilian Melloy
Friday Aug 7, 2009

Austin, Texas now requires contractors working for the city to provide proof that their companies include gays and lesbians in their non-discrimination policies.

The city council approved legislation requiring such proof on Aug. 6, according to local news station Channel 8.

The new ordinance applies to companies with contracts worth $50,000 or more with the city, the article said.

The Channel 8 story added that the city had required contractors to offer gays and lesbians non-discrimination guarantees for seventeen years, but had not previously required that such policies be verified.

The article also reported that companies doing business with the city that do not have such policies could receive assistance from the city government in establishing them.

An Aug. 4 article in the American Statesman noted that the new policy would also apply to transgender individuals. The original 1992 policy only specified that companies undertaking projects for the city extend anti-discrimination protection to gays and lesbians; language covering gender identity was added in 2005.

The article added that companies looking for tax incentives from the city, or seeking city-provided loans, would be asked whether they offered such guarantees of non-discrimination, but that in those cases such policies on the part of the companies would not be mandatory, the American Statesman reported.

Participants at the conservative chat site, which often posts gay news for comment, attacked the new ordinance.

Wrote one poster, "Sick, sick Austin......they have to imitate California."

Contributed another, "The whole 'same sex' thing is hard enough to stomach, but they go too far with the 'gender identity' thing."

Added the contributor, "It's pure evil"

One commentator ascribed the economic ills of her husband's employer on the company adopting non-discrimination policies, rather than on the national recession.

Wrote the commentator, "My husband's company had to have NON-DISCRIMINIATION POLICIES in force in order to authorize contracts to many other companies (He works in Procurement/Project Mgmt).

"Course, now the company is dying on the vine....after 100+ years in business...."

Another, noting that the city would ask about non-discrimination policies, but not deny requests for loans or tax breaks based on whether companies had such policies, demanded, "Then why ask at all?"

Added the posting, " penalties at the start...."

The posting continued, "Glad I do not have to do business with them."

Wrote one individual, "We have to do business with the fads [sic] at times and they require disclaimers like that and we give them.

"But its getting ridiculous," the posting went on. "I just want a man's best price, not the history of his bed partners or ancestors."

Chimed in another, "The very best non-discrimination policy is to treat every applicant exactly alike. Same background and reference check, same testing, all of which should be done prior to the first face to face interview.

"Even the names should not be on the tests, just a coded number," the posting continued. "That way Ta'quesha or Javier can't claim bias!"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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