Anti-discrimination ordinance passes by 9 - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Anti-discrimination ordinance passes by 9

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

After years of debate, especially heated over the last month, Memphis city council voted to pass the city's anti-discrimination ordinance by nine votes.

The veto-proof ordinance protect gays, lesbians, and gender identity city employees. 

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Council chairman Bill Morrison, District 2 Councilman William Boyd, and Councilmen Joe Brown and Kemp Conrad voted against the ordinance.

Councilman Shea Flinn presented a resolution to direct human resources change to the policy and that also passed with nine votes. The city's human resources department will be directed to develop LGBT protections for employees.

In September, city council shelved the idea of the ordinance, as they awaited a legal opinion to make sure such a measure wouldn't violate the city's charter. 

Last week, city attorney Herman Morris ruled that there would be no violation.

But the controversy doesn't end there. Last month this ordinance was delayed, but it was Republican Councilman Reid Hedgepeth who gave the measure legs with an unexpected seventh vote.

He says he's been harassed ever since.

During the council session Tuesday, Councilman Hedgepeth said he started receiving robo calls from those against the anti-discrimination ordinance. He received at least 1,000 robo calls, the councilman told FOX13 News.

Hedgepeth was able to trace these calls back to the Family Action Council of Tennessee. With the help of City Council Attorney Allan Wade, he is preparing to file a complaint with the FCC.

Wade said these types of harassing calls are illegal and the offending agency can be fined as much as $16,000  per call.

"You don't have the ability to harass people incessantly, treat them inappropriately," said Wade, who added that the calls from the Family Action Council qualify as robo calls.

FACT leader Paul Houghland, disagrees.

"If we reached a voter, a citizen, we told them what the issue was, had a recorded message on there, I identified myself and our organization and said if you're concerned about this, contact a councilman," Houghland said. "But no robo calls."

Councilman Hedgepeth said the FCC complaint should be completed and filed by next week, but the councilman said that wasn't the only harassment he received over the last month. Hedgepeth says he was flooded with e-mails, some that called out the members of his family by name.

"The personal attacks towards me from this very small group, claiming to be Christians, is unbelievable," the Memphis councilman said. "Some of the hateful e-mails I've received have said, and I quote, 'I hope you and your family burn in Hell together.'"

Houghland said FACT is not behind the e-mails that were placed to the councilman.


FOX13 News reporter Lauren Lee contributed to this report.

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