The Flagstaff City Council gave its initial approval to the city's first civil rights ordinance Tuesday night. The often politically divided Council unanimously backed a new law that creates legal protections against discrimination for sexual orientation, gender identity and military veterans in the areas of employment and public accommodations, such as hotels and restaurants. Excluded from the ordinance are religious-based organizations, "expressive groups" like the Boy Scouts, businesses of fewer than 15 employees and most government agencies, including Coconino County. Councilmember Celia Barotz made the motion to approve the ordinance, offering a minor concession to her colleagues who had concerns about fines that could cost a business as much as $2,500 if found guilty of violating the ordinance. Her motion included lowering the fine to a maximum of $500, although a city judge could decide to waive the fine for the first offense.
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