Aldermen right to table ordinance
Natchez aldermen did the right thing Tuesday when they decided to table a proposed non-discrimination ordinance that may have created more problems for the city than it solved.
The ordinance pushed by a national civil rights group was written in response to HB1523, the so-called religious freedom bill signed into law by Gov. Phil Bryant in 2016.
So too was a resolution passed by the Natchez Board of Aldermen, which stated its opposition to what many perceived as the governor’s efforts to make some forms of discrimination legal and acceptable in the state. The words in the resolution are clear and unambiguous.
“The City of Natchez is open for business, tourism and residential developments to all law-abiding individuals and groups regardless of religion or identity.”
Unlike the resolution passed in 2016, the non-discrimination ordinance tabled by the city contained penalities and fines for violators that some on the current board said were contradictory to state law and could not be enforced.
The proposed ordinance also saddled the city with the creation of a series of guidelines for identifying, documenting, enforcing and reporting hate crimes in the area — guidelines left to the city to define for itself.
The ordinance had good intentions, but would have forced the city to spend time and money it doesn’t have to do what the 2016 resolution already did, which is to state clearly and emphatically the city does not tolerate or support discrimination.
Natchez is a city where the tolerance of people from different cultures, beliefs and background is not just appreciated but also is necessary for its economic survival.
Discrimination based on skin color, gender, religion and sexual orientation should not be tolerated — not in our city, not in our state and not in our nation.
But creating unnecessary regulations that conflict with state law and creates more red tape is not the answer.
Thankfully the aldermen recognized this and decided to move onto more important business.