LOS ANGELES - On June 26, the Glendale City Council, after hearing testimony in previous weeks from the ACLU and others, voted 4 in favor, 0 opposed, and 1 abstaining to add comprehensive protections against discrimination in the use of its Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds -- protections that prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, domestic partner status, pregnancy and parenthood, and AIDS/HIV status. The new law would prevent any organization that practices discrimination against anyone on these bases, such as the Boy Scouts of America, from receiving such funds.
"Last night's vote was a real victory for fairness in Glendale," said Martha Matthews, the ACLU of Southern California's David Bohnett staff attorney, a position funded by the Bohnett Foundation to advance the civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. "The Glendale City Council made the right decision, guided by their own instincts for fairness and the leadership of the League of Women Voters and the Human Relations Commission."
Cities use federal CDBG funds to provide education and job training programs, to assist small businesses, to provide services for youth, seniors and the disabled, to implement anti-crime programs, and more. Cities distribute their CDBG funds as sub-grants to non-profit organizations. Glendale receives about one million dollars per year in CDBG funds.
Federal law already requires that CDBG grant recipients cannot discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex or disability in providing services. In addition, under California law, CDBG grant recipients cannot discriminate in employment, on the basis of all these categories plus marital status, age, and sexual orientation.
"This overlap of federal and state law creates different standards for services and employment, which could lead to unfair results," said Matthews. "For example, under current law, an after-school sports program could not refuse to hire a coach because he was gay, but could legally exclude gay youth from participating in the program."
The new protections added last night would ensure that the same non-discrimination protections apply to services as to employment and adds new categories not covered by current law: gender identity, domestic partner status, pregnancy and parenthood, and AIDS/HIV status. Only two other cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, have extended the non-discrimination requirements for CDBG grants beyond what is required by federal and state law.
The Glendale Human Relations Coalition drafted the proposed policy last fall. After an initial rejection by the City Council, the League of Women Voters held a community forum to study the issue and presented a report to the City Council on May 8. ACLU staff attorney Martha Matthews advised these community groups, and testified at a May 15 hearing. All three organizations view the new policy'the first non-discrimination ordinance adopted by the city of Glendale--as a major step forward for the city.