Breck to consider sexual orientation clause at meeting
BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Town Council will get its first peek at a draft ordinance that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.Assuming the council approves the ordinance – tentatively set for its first meeting in December – it will represent a giant step for gays and lesbians in the community who hope the town would add sexual orientation to the town’s equal opportunity statement.Town manager Tim Gagen has often noted that town officials don’t tolerate discrimination of any sort, although he has suggested that implementing such an ordinance could open the door to lawsuits.Gagen also said the town could lose its liability insurance if it decided to include sexual orientation in the town’s equal opportunity statement.Age, gender, race and disability are included in the town’s statement.Key features of the draft ordinance defining sexual orientation say that the town cannot hire or fire anyone based on their sexual orientation and allow people to sue the town if they believe they’ve been discriminated against.If someone were to successfully sue the town, the town would be liable for a maximum of $200,000. That damage cap is based on federal civil rights laws, town attorney Tim Berry wrote in a memo.Members of the gay community said they were happy the town is entertaining the ordinance.”Wow,” said Frank Accosta, who began working on the ordinance two years ago. “I think it’s awesome – and about time. I’m very happy they worked with us, that they see the value in this and I’m very excited at the possibility that this is actually going to happen. It’s long overdue.”For many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people, the inclusion of sexual orientation in the town’s equal opportunity laws was a matter of principle, particularly in an “at-will” state where people can be fired without reason.”This sends the message that won’t happen based on sexual orientation,” Accosta said. “It’s very important to members in the GLBT community.”Catherine Gregorak, the president of Parents Friends Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) said she was kind of surprised Breckenridge will consider the ordinance.”I expected another round of resistance,” she said. “It was a long two years of trying and trying.”And I’m proud of the community for recognizing that this is an issue that needs to be spelled out, that they’re not leaving the subject to, ‘Of course people won’t be discriminated against.'””It’s high time the town followed along the ideals of the residents here – we’re a pretty progressive town,” said Dave Rossi of Breckenridge. “I think it’d be looked upon favorably by an overwhelming majority of the community. This says a lot to people thinking about living here, working here. This is a community that cares about everyone. This is a really easy way to send a great message.”Others believe passage of such an ordinance will result in more business in the town.”Look at Aspen and Telluride,” Accosta said. “They’re gay-friendly ski resort towns, and gays choose them over other towns that are not. When word gets out that Breckenridge has such policies in place, it will benefit tourism and business.”Jane Stebbins can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at email@example.com.
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