As Mayor of Knoxville, I am outraged at the statements by Knox County Sheriff’s Detective Grayson Fritts. To clarify, the detective is not a city of Knoxville employee but an employee of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
However, Fritts’ statements raise concerns locally and nationally about protecting LGBTQ+ rights and equality. Fritts’ statements have cast a negative light on our community making it imperative to share my personal position and the position of the city of Knoxville.
The city of Knoxville has been proactive in implementing LGBTQ+ equality and promoting inclusiveness in policy decisions and employee benefits for many years, including the following:
• In 2012, we expanded our non-discrimination ordinance for city of Knoxville employees to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
• Since 2014, the city of Knoxville has offered equal health, dental, vision and life insurance benefits for LGBTQ+ and other city employees who are registered in domestic partnerships.
• Since 2012, elected officials have participated in the Pride Parade and offered public welcoming remarks at Pridefest.
• As a member of the national organization Mayors Against LGBTQ+ Discrimination, I joined other mayors across the country in 2015 in signing on to the amicus brief in support of the marriage equality case before the Supreme Court.
• Both the Mayor and the Police Chief have community LGBTQ+ liaisons who work locally and nationally on issues of equality.
A comprehensive list of LGBTQ+ equality efforts is on the city website: <knoxvilletn.gov/lgbtq>.
June is Pride month. I appreciate the work of Knox Pride in organizing the annual parade and Pridefest on Saturday, June 22. This year’s Pridefest will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the first pride march in the country.
The city takes very seriously the safety of everyone in our community. We also take great pride in serving a city that is both diverse and inclusive. We are excited to welcome the LGBTQ+ community and their supporters for PrideFest. We are planning and mobilizing staff to oversee the safety for all those in attendance.
Our goal is a safe and secure atmosphere to allow the diversity of our city to be celebrated. Elected officials, the Knoxville Police Department, the Knoxville Fire Department, and other City employees will be present to support, protect, and participate in this year’s Pride events.
We are actively engaged in ensuring our LGBTQ+ residents and visitors know that Knoxville is a welcoming and inclusive city.