U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Resolution Supporting Our Work

This week the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or larger, adopted a resolution supporting mayors working toward LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination and against anti-LGBT policies and laws.

The resolution, “Supporting Mayors Fighting Against LGBT Discrimination,” reads, in part:

WHEREAS, the primary responsibility of city government is protecting the rights and safety of our diverse residents, including our LGBT neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family, and LGBT equality and equal treatment is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone; and

WHEREAS, as leaders of economic development within our communities, we know that protecting all people is good for business and today’s top job creators and talent seek communities that are welcoming to everyone, including LGBT employees and their families; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors supports mayors advocating for nondiscrimination policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression and encourages cities and states around the country to take action to ensure inclusiveness in their own cities, and to use their collective voices and resources to oppose discrimination across America.

Thank you to San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee for proposing the resolution – and to the many mayors who signed on as cosponsors.

Also, at last week’s Summer Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami, several members of the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition convened for breakfast.

Over breakfast, the group of mayors discussed ways to contribute to the coalition and the best ways for the coalition to come together to create safer, more inclusive communities free from discrimination. Thank you to all of the mayors for joining us!

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Mayors Across The Country Are Celebrating the Diversity Of Pride In A Diversity of Ways This Year

June 23, 2017 by admin

We’re well into Pride Month, and that means our 250+ coalition of mayors are showing their rainbow stripes—literally.

The rainbow flag is going up at city halls across the country, but that’s not the only way mayors are celebrating Pride. They’re also marching in rallies and parades, and speaking out publicly in other ways to spread the message far and wide that equal treatment for LGBT Americans helps us build stronger communities for everyone.

Here’s a short look at how mayors are honoring Pride:

Waving the Pride Flag Above the City

In dozens of cities, mayors have ordered the rainbow LGBTQ Pride flag to be raised above City Hall or other government buildings—and for many cities, it’s the first time that’s happening.

That’s the case for Ithaca, NY, where Mayor Svante Myrick is having the city fly the Pride flag above City Hall for the first time, throughout the entire month of June. Mayor Myrick announced the news himself on Facebook. “It will remain there the entire month of June,” he wrote, “as an appreciation of the immeasurable impact the LGBT community has had on Ithaca, and as a reminder of the horrors caused by unchecked discrimination.”

Ithaca isn’t the only city waving the flag this month. In Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan is also flying the flag for the first time in the city’s history. The flag was hoisted over Hart Plaza in advance of the Motor City Pride Festival, the state’s largest Pride event.

“We are proud to be building a diverse city that includes our LGBT neighbors,” Mayor Duggan said.

Philadelphia has long hosted one of the country’s most robust Pride celebrations. But this year, the city’s “More Color, More Pride” event is trying to further add to Pride’s spirit of inclusivity by adding the colors black and brown to the traditional rainbow flag to lift up the experiences of LGBTQ people of color. “This shows we will fight for justice, equality and stand in solidarity with all members of the LGBTQ Community,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, who was involved in the decision.

Official Proclamations of Pride Month

Mayors are also recognizing the entire month of June as Pride Month, and using their proclamations to recognize the important contributions LGBT make to their communities.

In a statement designating June as LGBT Pride Month, San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee made a point to specifically mention two events that have defined the city’s LGBT community as one of the largest in the nation. 

First, he recognized that 2017 would be San Francisco’s 41st year hosting an official Pride parade, making San Francisco’s celebrations some of the oldest in the nation. On a more somber note, Mayor Lee marked the 30th anniversary of the emergence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in San Francisco, and paid tribute to advocates who helped combat the disease, both them and now.

“Serving San Francisco as civic, business, non-profit and community leaders, our LGBT community contributes to our City’s history, economic vitality and culture, building a brighter future for all in San Francisco,” Mayor Lee said. Separately, in an op-ed, Mayor Lee discussed how Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, which he conceived last year, plays into the important work of ensuring LGBT equality for all. 

Chicago Mayor Emanuel also proclaimed June as LGBT Pride Month, and issued a proclamation recognizing the “academic, economic, artistic and social” contributions that LGBT people have made to the greater Chicago community. He also renewed the city’s commitment to protecting LGBT people’s civil rights. He said: “The power and purpose of this iconic event proves vital in our unified effort forge a more open and just society.”

Sending a Message to Constituents

Other mayors are taking a more direct approach to celebrating Pride, reaching out to the community in unique ways about why they support LGBT non-discrimination.

Some mayors, like Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, have submitted editorials to local papers—in his case, to The Journal Sentinel. “Fundamental to the celebration of our diversity is recognition that every person has rights, rights that are protected by law and by basic human decency,” Mayor Barrett wrote. 

In his editorial, Mayor Barrett praised Wisconsin’s state lawmakers’ attempts to pass the Privacy Protection and Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act, which would update state law to ensure transgender people are protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public places.

Mayor Barrett also lauds the bravery of Ash Whitaker, a Kenosha boy who was discriminated against at his school because of his gender identity. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently decided in favor of Ash in a discrimination suit he brought against the school for violating his rights under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—the first federal appeals court to deliver such a ruling.

Participating in Pride Celebrations

No Pride celebration is complete without a march or a rally. Many mayors, including Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke, use Pride parades as an opportunity to take their message of inclusion to the people. This year’s rally in Chattanooga featured a unified group of faith, business and political leaders who spoke out against a bill recently passed by the legislature that would essentially “erase” transgender people from current law.

“The state tells us a lot what we can and can’t do. And what we have to do to make sure to make progress is to make progress in the halls of Nashville as well, so everybody here knows what we have to do Chattanooga is a place where every person counts,” Mayor Berke said.

On July 1, San Antonio will hold its annual Pride celebration, too – and for only the second time in the city’s history, an acting mayor will participate. Mayor Ron Nirenberg, newly elected to the position – and the most recent member of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination – will march in the Pride Bigger Than Texas Parade. Nirenberg is a Grand Marshal of the parade this year. His wife and 8-year-old son are also serving as Spirit Marshals. He has said, “We deserve a city that treats everyone fairly whether you’re transgender, bisexual, lesbian, gay or straight or whatever your definition, you deserve to be treated fairly by your city government.”

Painting the Crosswalks Rainbow

Atlanta’s new crosswalks

Other innovative ways of celebrating Pride include rainbow sidewalks. Many cities are getting into the spirit this way, including DC and Atlanta.

In DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser and others helped paint the town red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet in celebration of DC Pride this year. The city debuted nearly a dozen rainbow crosswalks earlier this month.

“We want to send the strong message that we value and protect D.C. values,” Mayor Bowser said.

And Atlanta has actually made these colors permanent. Mayor Kasim Reed announced on the one-year mark since the Pulse nightclub shooting that the crosswalks of Midtown would remain painted permanently as a way to remember all victims of anti-LGBT violence, as well as celebrate the contributions and advances of Atlanta’s vibrant LGBT community. “Today, on the anniversary of this horrific event, we remember those whose lives were lost and those that were forever changed,” Mayor Reed said.

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Protected: Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Update: June 22, 2017

June 21, 2017 by admin

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Celebrating LGBT Pride Month In Newspaper Editorials

June 16, 2017 by admin

Throughout the month of June, many mayors are speaking out in favor of LGBT non-discrimination to celebrate LGBT Pride Month! Read one op-ed from Mayor Laurence Keller in New Hope, PA, published here in the Bucks County Herald:

Envisioning a Pennsylvania Where All LGBT People are Treated Fairly

By Laurence Keller

This Pride month, I’m happy to showcase my full support for LGBT people in New Hope and across the country. For too long, too many people have faced harassment and unfair treatment simply because of who they are. And despite increased visibility and understanding about LGBT issues in past years, there are unprecedented attacks in many parts of America today to single out LGBT people — especially our transgender siblings — for harm.

Here in Pennsylvania, residents lack explicit protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — meaning that anyone can be fired from their job, refused service at a public place, or denied a home because they are (or are perceived to be) LGBT. This is a gap in our law that must be fixed, especially in light of hostility from the federal government towards the community. In March, the Trump administration rescinded federal guidance issued by the Departments of Justice and Education last year that instructs public schools on how to best support transgender students. As recently as this month, rumors continue to circulate surrounding an anti-LGBT executive order that may be issued anytime.

That’s why this week I’m joining Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, a nonpartisan coalition of hundreds of mayors across the country who are committed to equal protections and fair treatment for all LGBT people. Mayors who are part of the coalition pledge to take action when anti-LGBT legislation is introduced, speak out about their support for equality in the media, and share best internal practices for supporting our LGBT constituents. In a climate where so many feel vulnerable, we must do whatever we can to send a message of acceptance, especially for our youth.

As a mayor, it’s my obligation to make decisions that protect our entire community and allow all our citizens to thrive. As a Republican, I believe strongly in allowing every individual to live their life freely as they choose. In my roles as a local business owner and mayor of a small town, I have seen firsthand the importance of welcoming every individual for who they are and creating an environment that thrives on the diversity and talent of every person. Legislation that allows businesses to refuse service to LGBT people on the basis of religion is impermissible. Religious freedom is a constitutional right we all cherish, but it cannot be abused in order to give people the right to discriminate. Businesses that are open to the public must be open to everyone.

Similarly, legislation that singles out transgender people for discrimination by preventing them from participating in daily life has no place in Pennsylvania or anywhere in the country. Transgender people are our friends, family, neighbors, and community members. They make valuable contributions to society, and we must be unwavering in our opposition to bills that threaten their safety and well-being.

I look forward to continue doing my part to help the LGBT community, and to contribute to an America where no one suffers discrimination or harassment because of who they are. We must live up to our promise of liberty and justice for all, with no exception.

Read the piece in The Bucks County Herald.

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Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Roster Climbs to More Than 250 in Nearly Every State

June 7, 2017 by admin

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, a broad-based nonpartisan coalition of local elected officials around the country, has reached more than 250 members who have pledged their support for LGBT nondiscrimination protections. In total, 258 mayors from 47 states and the District of Columbia are part of the program, led by the national organization Freedom for All Americans.

The mayors hail from cities large and small and represent in total more than 57 million constituents. In recent weeks, new mayors include Lawrence Keller of New Hope, Pennsylvania, a Republican representing a small town of only 2,500 people; John Mulfield of Whitefish, Montana, who represents constituents living in a state with zero explicit protections for LGBT people in any area of life; Mike Purzycki of Wilmington, Delaware, the first Delaware mayor to join the coalition; and Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, Maryland, who is kicking off her city’s Pride events at the end of next week.

Check out some statements from the newest members of the Coalition!

Mayor Catherine Pugh of Baltimore, Maryland: “I have been proud throughout my career to sponsor initiatives that strengthen equal protections for all people, including our LGBT neighbors, friends, and community members. Baltimore is stronger and more competitive when we welcome everyone, no matter who you are or who you love. Our LGBT residents have made invaluable contributions to the community and to our City’s growth. As part of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, I’ll continue my commitment to equality and justice for all.”

Mayor Larry Keller of New Hope, Pennsylvania: “I’m proud to be a longtime supporter of full equality for LGBT residents in New Hope and across the country, and I’m looking forward to continuing my contributions as part of the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition. As a Republican, I believe strongly in allowing every individual to live their life freely as they choose. In my roles as a local business owner and mayor of a small town, I have seen firsthand the importance of welcoming every individual for who they are and creating an environment that thrives on the diversity and talent of every person. I look forward to an America where no one suffers discrimination or harassment because of who they are.”

Mayor Mike Purzycki of Wilmington, Delaware: “Wilmington is a place where all of our LGBT friends, family members, and neighbors are welcome. Our City has a long history of promoting equal opportunity and justice for LGBT employees as we were one of the first governments in this region to establish a domestic partnership benefits program. Wilmington has been at the forefront of the State of Delaware’s efforts to ensure statewide protections from discrimination and through the enactment of marriage equality. While we have and will continue to make progress, too many LGBT people continue to face unequal treatment and hostility simply because of who they are. I am proud to join Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination to show support for my LGBT constituents and to do our part to help finish the job of bringing equality to all in America.”

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination launched in January at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, and will convene at the next conference in Miami Beach at the end of this month. In past months, mayors in the coalition have spoken at in-person briefings and hosted online panels about equality, spoken out in the media about their personal stories of support, and issued public statements against discriminatory legislation and rollbacks to LGBT rights.

In Washington state, where opponents of transgender equality are similarly attempting to repeal a decade-long transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law at the ballot, five new mayors have joined the coalition in the past month, bringing the total to 12 across the state.

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