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Jack Gordon




STATEMENT by John F. Gordon, President of Seattle Civic Unity Committee at a public Hearing before the Seattle City Council, endorsing the enactment of an Open Housing Ordinance for Seattle as proposed by the Human Rights Commission of Seattle - October 25, 1963

"The following reflects the point of view of the Seattle Civic Unity Committee. Permit us to stress the name of our long-established organisation, which has the task of fostering among all citizens of the Seattle area - as no official, public agency alone can do - an everyday, working spirit of neighborliness and mutual understanding. CIVIC UNITY. In tha broadening of this iaea of unity lies Seattle's strength, yet now we see the necessary further enhancement of this Unity endangered by fixed, opposing positions on the issue of legislation to end discrimination in housing.

"We of the Civic Unity'Committee feel that no reasonable, knowledgeable person can deny that such discrimination exists in this City. It must also be stated - as a fact - that this community, like many others throughout the nation, cannot proudly hold its head up until unfair practices on the basis of race are officially prohibited. For two years your Honorable Council has had - as a specific objective - the elimination of such discrimination in housing.

"This can be achieved by the only process tolerable to American citizens: the process of consent, accommodation, and legal action within the framework of law. Each day that passes without such a law against housing discrimination aggravates the problem; resentments are hardened; there is an undermining of confidence in the possibility of legal and peaceful solutions.

"Your problem here today is to pass an ordinance that the majority of citizens will perceive gives residents of all colors and creeds a fair and equal break - an official guarantee that while selectivity in sales or rentals may continue to be exercised on the basis of many honorable factors, such as financial reliability or personal habits, such selectivity on the basis of skin color alone will no longer be condoned.

"Civic Unity Committee believes that the ordinance now before you accomplishes no more than this objective. Yet, to safeguard the future cf the principle which it sets forth, we suggest that some changes could be considered.

"Your Honorable Council may want to consider striking the jail sentence clause from the penalty section, and omitting the multiple offense fine.

"In addition, it is our feeling that the Council may wish to demonstrate its good faith through passage of a fair housing ordinance on a "pilot law" basis, ordering it into effect for a stipulated one or two year period, after which there could be passage of a permanent ordinance based on the accrued experience.

"In this connection, Civic Unity would call to your attention the section contained in the ordinance adopted this year, on an emergency basis, by the City of Albuquerque New Mexico. The section reads: "It is understood that this ordinance may be less than perfect in drafting or structure ana that it may not entirely accomplish the purposes stated. If so, it is the intention (of the City Council) to amend and modify it as experience indicates. It is drafted with the intention of providing a point of focus for dealing with conflicting viewpoints in the public interest, and is not intended to provide positions from which persons of differing viewpoints may carry on public controversy." (Unquote)

"It is the earnest, urgent hope of Civic Unity Committee, as we lock ahead to our continuing task of bettered human relations, that some or all of the foregoing suggestions will bring support for the needed ordinance from those organized oppositions which cannot conscientiously deny the existing problems of unfairness or civic shame."








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