An ordinance bill to establish a Human Rights Commission was on its way to passage during Monday night’s Town Council meeting—until it wasn’t.
The ordinance will now go to a committee of council members to resolve textual inconsistencies between the Resolution Against Racism and the Ordinance Establishing a Human Rights Commission.
The Resolution Against Racism was revised before its passage on September 7 to extract the sentence “The Human Rights Commission will be empowered to investigate and resolve allegations of discrimination in employment, housing, by town agencies and by businesses.” It was removed to clarify that the Commission was not designed to function as an investigative or punitive mechanism.
However, Ward 2 Councilman Tom Herz pointed out that the same text appears in the language of the current ordinance and needed to be removed to be in concert with the final resolution’s language.
Merz also wants the Council to consider widening protections against discrimination of all kinds. While fighting systemic racism was fundamental to writing anti-discrimination policy, Herz said that he wanted the ordinance to be more inclusive and consider adding “age, race, religion, color, sex, ancestry, country of origin, marital status, disability, and sexual orientation” to the list of protected right.
Additionally, Herz offered a motion to amend Ordinance 02020 in committee and resubmit it to the Council for passage. Mayor Cerino seconded the motion to move the ordinance into committee to address changes, additions and edits to the text.
That meeting, open to the public, will be held on Monday November 9 from 7pm-9pm.
Commenting to the Spy today, Herz said that the Council needed to be sensitive to getting the ordinance right.
This video is approximately nine minutes in length.