Council

 

ST. LOUIS, MO – County Councilwoman Hazel Erby has come under scrutiny recently as she balances her reelection campaign, which relies heavily on political allies, and her opposition to anti-discrimination legislation which they support. Mrs. Erby faces her first competitive primary challenge after ten years in office from Wesley Bell, a professor and attorney who has voiced support for non-discrimination ordinances meant to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens.

 

Despite authoring a recent minority inclusion bill, County Councilwoman Hazel Erby has historically worked to undermine LGBT equality. During her tenure on County Council, Councilwoman Erby voted against two nondiscrimination ordinances protecting LGBT residents of St. Louis County in matters of public accommodation, housing and employment. The first, up for a vote in 2007, failed after she withdrew her support and voted to defeat the bill. A second bill passed in 2012 despite Councilwoman Erby’s vote against it. She was the only Democrat to oppose the measure.

 

Councilwoman Erby said she objected to the 2007 bill because it included language that protected the rights of St. Louis County residents who identify as LGBT. "I don't think it's right that you can hire a man one day and the next day he shows up as a woman," Erby told the Post-Dispatch. Erby has indicated openness to meeting with her constituents on the issue, but her prejudice seems to outweigh their experience of discrimination. In her words, “I’m not sure anything they say will change my mind.” In a scathing rebuff, the St. Louis American chided Councilwoman Erby, branding her comments as “ignorant and insensitive.”

 

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley has stated his support for County Nondiscrimination Ordinances inclusive of all minority groups, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “I am against discrimination of any kind.” Though Dooley and Erby seem to have joined forces lately in County Council meetings and in their reelection campaigns, the two are sharply divided on protecting the rights of LGBT individuals in St. Louis County.

 

It is unclear whether current legislation penned by Erby regarding minority inclusion extends to LGBT citizens or whether the proposed St. Louis County Office of Diversity will reach out to LGBT community members in St. Louis County.

 

Hazel Erby and Wesley Bell will compete for County Council’s District 1 in the August 5th Democratic Primary Election.

 

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