IMAGINE Magazine-Spring2016 - Page 18

DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION BETTER TOGETHER by Michael Iskowitz W hen I worked for Senator Ted Kennedy, he used to say that civil rights are both the cornerstone of what makes America America—and our great-unfinished business. Unfinished because life always provides us with new opportunities to more fully open our hearts and our doors in an effort to be a more diverse and inclusive community. The Sedona Human Rights Ordinance—now the law—provided such an opportunity. The founding partners of the Sedona International City of Peace were pleased to join with dozens of organizations in strong and enthusiastic support for the proposed Human Rights Ordinance which we all believed was fully consistent with Sedona’s vision and values, its Community Plan and our collective efforts to foster a “culture of peace” here in Sedona. In our view, there are multiple pathways to create a culture of peace, a variety of which are very positively promoted by this ordinance such as: l Diversity and inclusion. Where individuals and families, whether residents or visitors, feel safe and respected. Where differences are not just tolerated but celebrated, and where diversity is seen as a sign of strength, not a cause for fear. Where people can feel “a part of” and “included in” the fabric of the community. 18 IMAGINE l SPRING 2016 l Fundamental fairness and equal- ity. Where everyone is treated fairly no matter who they are or who they love. We do not see this as special rights but as equal rights—human rights. l And Restorative justice. Where when disagreements arise they are resolved through dialogue, mediation and reconciliation to the fullest extent possible rather than through punitive approaches. Where we learn from each other and we grow together. Sedona, in many ways, is this kind of community and the human rights ordinance codified these foundational principles and aligned us further with our longstanding vision and the full range of our citizens and visitors. In addition, the ordinance provided essential new protections for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) individuals and families like ours, who do experience discrimination, even here in Sedona, and until now, had no recourse at the federal, state or local level. According to Lambda Legal, who has been providing legal services to LGBT families in Arizona for more than 25 years, they have received nearly 500 requests for help with a broad range of discrimination issues in the last 4 years—with the number steadily increasing each year. Despite the fact that a recent poll shows that 73% of Arizonans believe that our human rights laws are fully inclusive, it is still perfectly legal in Arizona to fire a hardworking employee or deny him or her an apartment or other essential services, simply for being gay. While discrimination against LGBT people in employment, housing and public accommodations is prohibited by all of our neighboring states (CA, CO, NM, NV, UT)—Arizona has not yet taken this important action. It was for this reason that we in Sedona were happy to join with Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, Arizona, and 230 cities across the country that have enacted comprehensive human rights ordinances that include LGBT people. As a result of this action, 41% of Arizonans now live in cities with fully inclusive human rights ordinances. And when Mesa, Scottsdale, Glendale, and Bisbee, Arizona follow suit, that number will just keep on growing! As the Sedona Chamber of Commerce reminded us, “the human rights ordinance is BW7BFR&vBFpFF'WB6FR6'BFrFFFW&62&( 2&vW7BGW7G'vVW&FrV&ǒC#&ƖF&V7@7VFr#B6VF( 2ƗfVƖ@BV6֖2f'&72&6VBFR&V֗6RFBVRvBF6Pf6BfW7BB&6RFV"f֖ƖW2W&RWBFW&R&RVPbFfW'6R667VGW&BWF0&6w&VG2vvBG&fVF6W2vW&RFW&RV7W&RbFW&R6fRBvV6RB4"c"&V֖FVBFVFB&W7B֖v@7F&RRbF6R6W2( Ф6WFFfR&'F66ƗFb'W6W76W2@&v旦F2v&rF&FPF67&֖FBV6֖0FWfVVBF&VvWVƗG@