Guest Editorial: Scottsdale’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance. It’s About Time.

By Don Henninger, The SCOTT Perspective

Scottsdale’s leaders are proud to proclaim that we are a Golden Rule City. We’ve been one for a couple of years now. The city adopted the One Community Unity Pledge a few years before that. That also was a nice gesture and a good way to talk about how much the city values fairness and equality.

It looks like the city is ready to go beyond talk and good intentions and put some accountability behinds its principles. Truth is, it’s about time.

By all counts, the City Council appears to have the votes – possibly even unanimously – to adopt an anti-discrimination ordinance. Judging from its work-study session this week and the messaging from just about all six council members and the mayor, it should be easily approved when the council meets April 20.

Yes, all looks well, but as the cliché goes: don’t count the chickens before they’re hatched.

It’s not been an easy road to this point. Various city council members have been wrestling with this issue for nearly a decade and they rejected a similar ordinance five years ago. While they did adopt the “unity pledge” in 2015, it did not prevent people from being denied service or housing in the city based on things like sexual orientation or gender identity. And proclaiming itself a Golden Rule City in 2017 was a positive step too, though again it had no enforcement teeth.

The non-discrimination ordinance now being considered would expand on coverage under the state’s Fair Housing Act by offering protections to members of the LGBTQ community and other protected classes; it would apply to employees working in businesses of all sizes and cover all public accommodation and city services.

After the state legislature failed to pass a bill in 2018 that would have made discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, services and housing illegal, the city’s Human Relations Commission in August asked the City Council to revisit the issue.

“This discussion is occurring within the renewed national discourse on race and equity, a movement that has touched and activated many within the Scottsdale community,” the commission rightly said in its presentation to the council.

It also said other competing tourist destinations have approved similar laws and major businesses in Scottsdale have adopted policies along those lines, too, including the San Francisco Giants, Nationwide, HonorHealth, Mayo Clinic, Vanguard and GoDaddy.

Phoenix, Tempe, Chandler, Sedona, Tucson, and Flagstaff have had such measures for several years and the city of Mesa adopted its ordinance last month.

Not only is the ordinance the right thing for a Golden Rule City to do, it also keeps the city competitive in the business and tourism segments as companies and tourists consider this issue when deciding whether to locate or visit here.

Mayor David Ortega has been quoted as saying that passing the ordinance is “about doing the right thing … Scottsdale has a reputation for being internationally known and a hospitable destination, and I believe that government, local government regulations should match that openness.”

Let’s get this issue behind us and make our city one that does more than talk about fairness and equity and actually does something about it.

Don Henninger, executive director of SCOTT, can be reached at