Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Spokane Valley declares itself an "inclusive city" with nondiscrimination resolution

Posted By on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 3:58 PM

Tuesday, Spokane Valley City Council unanimously passed a resolution affirming it as an "inclusive city" where discrimination is not tolerated.

The resolution received support at the meeting from Spokane NAACP President Phil Tyler and members of the Spokane County Human Rights Task Force. The resolution declared that "discrimination of any form is not and shall not be tolerated," and that "all individuals, families, and businesses are welcome so that they may flourish and prosper within its boundaries."

This comes two days after the city of Spokane approved a human rights ordinance. But Spokane's ordinance is different than Spokane Valley's resolution. Spokane's ordinance is more comprehensive, including updates to its own rules and outlining protection and enforcement of civil rights under municipal code. Spokane Valley's resolution, on the other hand, mostly re-affirms Washington's nondiscrimination law, the state constitution, and the Valley's commitment to inclusiveness.

Spokane Valley councilman Ed Pace says that's not insignificant.

"It's not trivial, what we did," Pace says. "It's us standing up and saying, 'we really believe this stuff.'"

Pace advocated for the resolution after asking a local black pastor what he would like from the city. Pace says he received no pushback from the rest of council.

The Valley's resolution cites the state's nondiscrimination law, which includes protections from discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, or disability. 
click to enlarge Spokane Valley councilman Ed Pace
Spokane Valley councilman Ed Pace

One public commenter at the meeting asked that the Valley council add the words "gender identity" to the resolution (Spokane mentions "gender identity" several times in its ordinance passed Monday). In 2015, Washington's Human Rights Commission added gender identity discrimination protections to the nondiscrimination law in Washington that included the clarification that transgender people can use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. Spokane Valley City Councilmembers Pace, Arne Woodard, Sam Wood and Mayor Rod Higgins signed a letter opposing that change last year.

Pace tells the Inlander that this resolution applies to everybody, including transgender people. He says this is about constitutional rights.

"I hope people see us as leaders saying, 'Look, the vision of our city is that this is a place where people can live, work and prosper.'"

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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione, born and raised in Spokane, is an Inlander staff writer covering education and social services in the Inland Northwest.