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Discrimination not a settled issue in Riverdale

By Justin Boron

Riverdale City Council member Michelle Bruce, a self-acknowledged inter-sexed individual, said she will not let her proposal to broaden the city's discrimination policy to include transgendered and homosexual employees fall by the wayside, and neither will some of her supporters in the lesbian, gay, and transgendered community.

"It's not a dead issue," she said.

The measure reached a divisive vote Monday night, when Mayor Phaedra Graham voted against it, splitting a tie between Council members Kenny Ruffin and Rick Scoggins.

"That's not to say it can't be brought up again," Graham said, adding she needed more discussion on the topic before proceeding.

"I favor inclusion and I do not favor discrimination within our city," she said. "Some council members had concerns. I would like to see those concerns addressed in a future meeting."

Bruce said she proposed the measure to strengthen the city against discrimination after the previous year's debacle with a Department of Justice investigation into the city's employment practices.

The probe was followed by the resignation of the Riverdale police chief and pushed the city to make changes in its leadership positions.

Having discussed the amendment twice in work sessions Monday and last year, Bruce said the council had ample time to discuss the proposal.

A hate letter addressed to Bruce and allegations of discrimination against a homosexual employee last year prompted the proposal, Bruce said.

"We're 'the city that cares,' and that means we're not supposed to discriminate against anybody," she said, referring to the slogan on the city's emblem.