This week Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, the national coalition of mayors who support comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, celebrates the one-year anniversary of its official launch.
In its first year the coalition took several significant steps in addressing the issue of anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and made local, statewide, and national strides in lending their support to causes championing fairness and equality for all.
Here’s a recap of some of the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination accomplishments in 2017:
Launching a Robust Coalition of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination:
On January 13 of 2017, Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination officially launched during the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, with over 150+ mayors signed on to the coalition. The co-chairs and leaders of the coalition included Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia, Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco. In the week following the official launch, more a dozen new mayors signed on, bringing the total number of mayors to nearly 200. As of January 2018, more than 275 mayors have signed onto the coalition.
Defending Transgender Students from Discrimination
In February, the coalition spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision to rescind guidelines on how public schools can best be inclusive of and affirming for transgender students. A statement issued by the coalition’s co-chairs said, in part: “As mayors, we will continue to support school districts in our cities that are protecting transgender students from discrimination and providing the best possible environment for them to receive an education.”
As the case Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County Schools was scheduled to go before the U.S. Supreme Court in the spring of 2017, 31 mayors, cities, and municipalities signed an amicus brief that was submitted to the Court. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said in a statement, “Every student deserves equal education regardless of gender identity.”
Speaking Out for Transgender Servicemembers and Veterans
In July, the coalition spoke against President Trump’s attempt to bar transgender Americans from enlisting or serving in the United States military. In August, the President signed an executive order as such, but the ban has been prevented from going into effect by several court cases concerning its constitutionality. In a statement, Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination said:
‘This nation’s guiding principles promise equal protections and rights for everyone, which includes the honor of joining the military and sacrificing for one’s country. These are brave, honorable individuals who seek to serve their country by putting their lives on the line in defense of others. To deny them those rights based on their gender identity is bigoted and marks a betrayal of American values.”
Fighting for Equal Treatment in the Public Square
Near the end of 2017, the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig & Mullins went before the Supreme Court. The case concerns a baker who refused to offer his services to a same sex couple, citing his religious beliefs. In a strong show of support, more than 150 Mayors and jurisdictions from Rhode Island to California signed a brief submitted to the Supreme Court that spoke out against LGBTQ discrimination.
The brief read, in part: “The cohesiveness and inclusiveness of our communities depend on our ability to insist that everyone – whatever their beliefs and values and however they conduct their private affairs – treat one another equally and with respect in employment, housing, public accommodations, and other areas of public life.”
Remembering Mayor Ed Lee, Founder of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination
In December 2017, Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination lost a pillar of the movement, co-chair Ed Lee of San Francisco, who unexpectedly passed away.
Mayor Lee was the first Asian-American mayor in his city, and was an advocate for many important causes. Under his leadership the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition grew to more than 275 members nationwide. One of Mayor Lee’s last actions was to sign the amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in the Masterpiece case.
Following Mayor Lee’s death, the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition said, “Mayor Lee was committed to taking a stand for the dignity and respect of all of his constituents, including LGBT people, and the impact of his good work has been felt across the country for decades.”
Mayor Lee leaves behind his wife, Anita, and daughters, Brianna and Tania. We hope the memory of his tremendous character will bring them comfort.