Gay discrimination ordinance is withdrawn in Tennessee at request of LGBT rights group

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A controversial Employment Non-Discrimination Ordinance (ENDO) created to protect LGBT people from discrimination when applying for jobs with the city council of Memphis, Tennessee, has been withdrawn – at the request of a local gay rights group.

According to eyewitness news, the group, which is called the Tennesse Equality Project (TEP), requested that councilwoman Janis Fullilove withdraw the ordinance when it “became clear” that it would not get a fair hearing when read before city council.

ENDO was set for three readings in Memphis City Council, but Michelle Bliss, vice-chair for the Shelby County TEP said: “It became very apparent that it was being treated differently, and it became very, very apparent we were not going to get a fair hearing from the majority of the council members.”

Local religious leaders had already expressed their views against the ordinance. Bishop Edward Stephens from Golden Gate Cathedral said: “It was a subtle move to desensitise what’s taking place as a way to ease in a lifestyle and to cause everyone who’s against it to agree with it.”

Bishop Stephens also said that he felt the move would have “opened the floodgates”, adding, “the ultimate question is where – does all of this end? From here, then to the school[s], to the teachers. Where does this really stop?”

Ms Fullilove expressed her regret at the failure of ENDO bill, which she reportedly claimed was due in part to “closed-minded” council members and lack of support from the Mayor of Memphis, A.C. Wharton.

TEP said that they would bring the issue before the mayor and city council again when they felt the ordinance had a chance of being taken seriously and fairly by the city’s leaders.