DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council passed a hate crime and anti-discrimination ordinance Monday, becoming the fifth city in Georgia to pass the legislation.
The ordinance protects against discrimination related to race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, familial status or veteran/military status. It also requires hate crime training for city law enforcement and yearly data reports for hate crimes sent to the FBI.
Dunwoody follows Chamblee, Clarkston and Doraville in DeKalb County who have passed similar local laws in the past year.
The ordinance was presented by Council members Pam Tallmadge and John Heneghan, who performed the first read without any further debate from the City Council at the May 20 meeting. The measure drew support in public comments, but it was a slightly different matter June 10 when the item came before the council on its consent agenda.
The first public comment speaker of the evening, Ted Freye, took his Bible to the stand and used his three minutes to relate how homosexuals are not made in God’s image. The audience responded with groans.
Several speakers later, Rachael Kates took the stand to thank the council for passing the ordinance. Kates identifies as pansexual and gender fluid.
Two years ago, Kates said she was left with no recourse after she felt she was discriminated against and taken out of her position at her employer. She went to the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia to see what options she had, but she said she was left with complicated paperwork and no state, county or local laws protecting her.
“Knowing that I will be living in a place where if someone comes at me as a queer person or as a Jewish person that I will be able to go to my city, my law enforcement and say, ‘this has happened to me again, please help me,’ and there will be something that can be done. It’s everything to me,” Kates said.
Kates’ comments drew applause from several members of the gallery in attendance.
The ordinance is one of the strongest pieces of legislation from the city protecting LGBTQ+ rights and prevents businesses from refusing to serve a customer or choose to fire an employee for religious reasons.
Allison Padilla-Goodman, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League Southeast thanked the city during public comments. She cited a 17 percent increase in hate crimes toward race, religion and national origin last year. Only four states in the nation do not have a hate crime statute and Georgia is one of those states, she said.
“I’m really excited to see a community like Dunwoody that is so rich and diverse and full of life claiming who they are besides what’s going on at the state level,” she said.
The ordinance coincides with June’s celebration of National Pride Month, which commemorates those who rioted against a police raid on June 28, 1969 in Greenwich Village. The Stonewall riots have been seen as one of the starting points for LGBTQ+ organization and recognition nationally.
The ordinance passed unanimously, along with 11 other consent agenda items, with applause from the audience.
This article has been edited to correct the ADL from American Defamation League to the Anti-Defamation League and correct Allison Padilla-Goodman's title to Southeast regional director.