Balto. Co. Council votes not to outlaw bias against gays Localities shouldn't decide the issue, 3 say.

December 11, 1991|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Evening Sun Staff

Homosexuals will not have any legal protection against discrimination in Baltimore County with the County Council's decision not to change county law to include them.

An informal vote on the issue at the end of yesterday's council work session showed four council members against the change and two in favor. Councilman Donald C. Mason, D-7th, was not present for the vote.

Melvin G. Mintz, D-2nd, one of the two members to say he would vote for such a measure, asked council Secretary Thomas Peddicord whether a gay person would have legal recourse if that person were denied an apartment rental or a loan based on his or her sexual orientation. Peddicord, an attorney, said the person had none.

Discrimination against homosexuals is illegal in Baltimore, and in Howard, Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

Three members of the seven-member County Council said that they don't think local governments should have to vote on the issue.

Chairman Douglas B. Riley, R-4th, who supports changing county law, brought up the issue, saying the council should at least discuss it because the county Human Relations Commission voted 8-7 to recommend the change.

Riley said he wanted an informal vote to see whether to introduce a bill to change the law at Monday night's meeting. After the work session, he said he will not introduce a bill and considers the issue dead for the time being.

Riley said he supports a change in the law because of his belief that "most people don't choose to be gay," and that "one act of discrimination is wrong."

Councilwoman Berchie Lee Manley, R-1st, opposed changing the law, partly on the grounds that outlawing discrimination against gay people might condone "this unusual lifestyle."

Members Charles A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-3rd, Vincent Gardina, D-5th, and William A. Howard 4th, R-6th, all said they oppose voting on the issue, saying it should be decided statewide or nationally.

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