Mayors Herald LGBTQ Protections in Municipal Equality Index Release

Mayors across the country – including many members of the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition – are assessing their city’s record on LGBTQ equality through the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which recently released its 2017 edition.

The Municipal Equality Index examines the LGBTQ-inclusivity of municipal laws, policies, and services. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leadership’s public position on equality. The 2017 MEI is the sixth annual edition and rates a total of 506 cities on 44 different criteria from every state in the nation.

Two cities of merit in the index, designated as “MEI All Stars,” are Tempe, AZ and Pittsburgh, PA, both of which scored 100, the highest possible rating. Notably, both scored the maximum rating, 30 out of 30, on examination of their non-discrimination laws, which protect LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public accommodations. These ratings were in relation to both the individual city and the county it is located in; currently, both Arizona and Pennsylvania do not have statewide non-discrimination protections on the books.

Mayor of Tempe, Mark Mitchell, joined local government and business leaders to celebrate the announcement. He said:

“It’s important that our LGBTQ employees, residents, and visitors feel safe, welcome and celebrated. We let people know that in Tempe, we will welcome you as you are and protect you from discrimination at home, at work and in public spaces because inclusivity is not only a moral imperative, it’s an economic imperative, and the bottom line is that it’s the right thing to do. We need to continue our work to take equality outside of the five cities with non-discrimination ordinances in Arizona and work for comprehensive statewide non-discrimination protections.”

On May 2, Mayor Mitchell publicly announced the results of Tempe’s MEI rating at the 2017 Mayor’s Ability Awards, honoring individuals and businesses who support Tempe’s values of inclusion, equality, and commitment to improving life for all Tempe citizens.

Pittsburgh celebrated improvement over last year’s MEI rating, jumping up from a 2016 rating of 93. On October 19th, Mayor Bill Peduto announced the provision at the City-County building, surrounded by dozens of people celebrating the city’s score. Mayor Peduto attributed the improvement to several factors, including adding gender confirmation surgery to the city’s insurance program. Mayor Peduto said:

“It helps us to get good employees within the city, and certainly we want to be able to allow everybody to live their life to their full potential. By doing this, we’re guaranteeing that our employees have that ability.”

According to government officials, other factors that attributed to Pittsburgh’s All Star score include the appointment of an LGBTQ liasion to the Pittsburgh police department, as well as a move by the city council in December 2016 to ban so called “conversion therapy” for minors.

Tempe and Pittsburgh join 41 other cities with All Star ratings of 100, including Seattle, Washington, Fort Worth, Texas, and Columbus, Ohio. Read the full index here.

Even with these success stories, Mayors Against LGBTQ Discrimination remains committed to fight for nationwide comprehensive non-discrimination laws. Visit us to see the list of more than 260 mayors who have signed the pledge in support of LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination.

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Mayors from All Corners of the Country File Landmark Supreme Court Brief Defending LGBTQ Non-Discrimination

October 29, 2017 by admin

More than 150+ mayors and jurisdictions have joined to file a friend-of-the-court brief to the United States Supreme Court supporting the principle of nondiscrimination in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The case concerns a Denver baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, attempting to create a constitutional right to discriminate based on religious grounds.

The brief is signed by 80 individual mayors, as well as 70 cities and counties. The brief is also signed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the non-partisan organization of the 1,400+ cities in the country with populations of 30,000 or more. The brief is led by the County of Santa Clara, the City of New York, and the City of Los Angeles. One hundred and two individual jurisdictions are showcased in the brief, representing more than 50 million constituents across the country. 

READ THE BRIEF HERE.

The mayors and municipal leaders represented in the brief know how vital this case is. This brief makes a forceful argument for what’s at stake with this case – for LGBTQ people and everybody else. The brief reads:

“Local non-discrimination protections embody our commitment to pluralism and tolerance in the public sphere, helping to ensure that members of our communities are able to live and work together despite differences in how they look, what they believe, or whom they love. 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.”

The cities brief argues that local laws are necessary to both address significant harms against LGBTQ residents, and to benefit LGBTQ residents and their communities. Furthermore, recognizing an “exemption” from nondiscrimination laws based on speech or religion grounds would cause harm against LGBTQ people and the cities they live in.

Here are reflections from just a few of the mayors who signed the brief:

“Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law. The religious freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution should never be used as a cover for bigotry — and we cannot allow anyone to undermine protections that shield Americans from discrimination.”

– Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles, CA

“In 2009 our voters decisively extended our non-discrimination ordinance to include our LGBT community, a proud moment for our City and an important step towards fully protecting all people from discrimination. Diversity is a source of strength and is what makes Kalamazoo and other cities the unique and dynamic places they are. It should never be the basis for denying services, employment, or housing. All people should be treated fairly and we will continue to support efforts that aim to realize this goal for every person.”

– Bobby J. Hopewell, Mayor of Kalamazoo

“Alexandria, Virginia, is a city of kindness and compassion. We are an accepting and embracing community where we treat each other with human dignity and respect. There is no place for intolerance in our city, and it goes against our core values and is not valid to claim that the Constitution endorses discrimination against LGBT individuals.”

– Allison Silberberg, Mayor of Alexandria, VA

“I want to be a strong voice for the people of Jackson – and ensuring equal treatment of all people in the Town of Jackson and better enabling us to meet the basic needs of the community is a top priority. Members of Jackson’s LGBTQ community experience significant harms when they are denied equal treatment, and that should be unacceptable to all members of this wonderful community.”

– Pete Muldoon, Mayor of Jackson, WY

“I know first-hand both the struggles Allentown faces and the potential Allentown possesses. But in order to reach this potential, we must respect the diversity of religious beliefs in our community and ensure religion is never used to justify discrimination. Maintaining this inclusiveness requires that public accommodations be open to everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender residents.”

– Ed Pawlowski, Mayor of Allentown, PA

“Allowing others to to live their lives does not alter anyone’s personal religious belief. It’s so important that all people are able to live their lives authentically and fully, without fear of being turned away from a business just because of who they are. Non-discrimination laws help to keep people safe and equal, and I hope the Supreme Court does not fall for anti-LGBTQ opponents’ efforts to water down these vital protections.”

– Jess Herbst, Mayor of New Hope, TX

“In Kansas City, everyone is welcome, including the LGBTQ community. As Mayor, I’ve worked hard to share this message and I’m proud of our city’s Civil Rights Ordinance which protects all our citizens from discrimination. Our laws seek to ensure no one is turned away in housing, employment or public accommodations based on who they are, what faith they follow, or who they love. Granting a business the right to refuse service sanctions discrimination, weakens our communities and leaves our citizens vulnerable. It should be opposed at all costs.”

– Sylvester ‘Sly’ James, Jr., Mayor of Kansas City, MO

“Salt Lake City is the Crossroads of the West, and in order to continue growing and thriving, we must ensure all people in our City are treated fairly and equally under the law, have an equal opportunity to earn a living and access services, and can participate fully in society and public life. As the first openly gay mayor to lead this great city, I feel a personal responsibility to ensure we are building a city for everyone, and not creating a ‘license to discriminate’ anywhere in this country.”

– Jacqueline Biskupski, Mayor of Salt Lake City, UT /h4>

“No one should be turned away from a business because of who they love. As Mayor, I stand strongly against any attempt to divide and weaken our communities. I’m proud to join fellow mayors in opposition to the exemptions discussed in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. These exemptions would create a license to discriminate that undermines the promise of respect and equal treatment for all people.”

– Jorge Elorza, Mayor of Providence, RI /h4>

“In Ypsilanti we believe in being proactive in ensuring opportunities for residents of every background–even across lines that can divide us. That’s why we’re one of nearly forty cities in Michigan that protect our residents from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. I hope other cities will join us, and certainly that no one will take our local protections away.”

– Amanda Edmonds, Mayor of Ypsilanti, MI

“Our town has been called the most diverse square mile in America, and for good reason. We’re home to all kinds of people, from all over the world. We know how to treat our neighbors, and part of that means that when a business opens its doors to the public, it’s open to everyone, case closed. That’s why I’m proud to join my fellow mayors from across the country in signing an amicus brief in this critical case for the principle of equal treatment. We’re not just standing up for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer neighbors, we’re standing up for everyone in Clarkston who agrees that discrimination of any kind is just plain wrong.”

– Edward Terry, Mayor of Clarkston, GA

“Rochester is the city of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas. Our city has been continually recognized as a leader on fighting LGBTQ discrimination in New York State. I’m proud that Rochester protects LGBTQ people from discrimination – and it would be wrong and unfair if the Supreme Court took away our city’s ability to fight discrimination. LGBTQ people need more protections at the federal level – not less.”

– Lovely Warren, Mayor of Rochester, NY

“Austin is inclusive, diverse, and welcoming, and that has helped us attract top talent. Part of what keeps us welcoming is our LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance – and we don’t want to see the ordinance’s protections weakened or undermined in any way. I’m proud to have joined mayors and city leaders from across the country in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against anti-LGBTQ discrimination. In Austin we support every star and stripe on the flag and every color of the rainbow.”

– Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, TX

“Boulder is a wonderful community that works hard to be open and friendly to people from all walks of life. Our local non-discrimination protections ensure that the members of our community are able to live and work together despite differences in how they look, what they believe, or whom they love. Our residents are overwhelmingly committed to treating others equally and with respect – and our local protections solidify that cohesiveness and inclusion with the power of law.”

– Suzanne Jones, Mayor of Boulder, CO

“Lansing, Michigan is a welcoming city with a diverse tapestry of multicultural populations that enriches us as a community, and as a nation. We strive to be inclusive of all people, including every race, religious affiliation, immigration status, nationality, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, size or ability. That’s why we are proud to stand with other cities in opposition to legalized discrimination against LGBTQ citizens and other members of our community.”

– Virgil Bernero, Mayor of Lansing, MI

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Myrick presents in observance of National Coming Out Day

October 11, 2017 by admin
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Mayors Announce Strong Opposition to Mississippi’s HB1523, Nation’s Most Extreme Anti-LGBTQ Law

October 11, 2017 by admin

Yesterday, October 10, House Bill 1523, the nation’s most extreme anti-LGBTQ law, took effect across the state of Mississippi. The measure, the most extreme anti-LGBTQ law in the country, went into effect after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissed a lower federal court ruling striking down the law as unconstitutional.

HB1523 specifically allows some residents with anti-LGBTQ beliefs to refuse service to married same-sex couples, people who have sex outside of marriage, and transgender people. Under this unprecedented religious refusal law, Mississippi state employees could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, public school counselors could turn away LGBTQ or questioning youth in crisis, and health care providers could deny transgender people access to healthcare at any time, among just a few examples of potential discrimination.

The Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination expressed its strong opposition to this shameful law this week. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued this statement on behalf of the coalition:

“Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination strongly opposes Mississippi’s HB 1523, which is one of the most sweeping, egregious anti-LGBTQ laws in the country. Under the guise of religious beliefs, business owners now have the freedom to openly discriminate against LGBTQ residents. That directly contradicts our Constitution’s requirement of the separation of church and state and is antithetical to our country’s values of freedom and justice for all. This law will have a cruel effect on the tens of thousands of LGBTQ people living, working and raising families in Mississippi.”

Learn more about the law from Freedom for All Americans.

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Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Condemns Department of Justice’s License to Discriminate

October 6, 2017 by admin

Today, October 6, the Department of Justice issued new guidance that grants unprecedented leeway to federal agencies, employees, and even some businesses to cite individual religious belief as justification for discriminating against LGBTQ people and denying them services.

The guidance issued today amounts to a sweeping “license to discriminate” — a radical departure and sweeping reinterpretation that far exceeds the original modest intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was passed to protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their religion.

The Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition, which represents 250+ mayors in nearly every state who support LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, condemned the new guidance today, underlining that the guidance is a thinly veiled effort to pave the way for anti-LGBTQ discrimination nationwide. The coalition said:

“As elected officials, our role is to protect our residents fairly and equally – and that includes protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. This guidance from the Trump Administration undercuts that responsibility and underlines the importance of local and state leaders standing up for full equality.”

The guidance elevates the urgent importance of protecting LGBTQ residents with LGBTQ-inclusive non-discrimination ordinances, which provide protection and cover against discrimination based on employment, housing, and public accommodations. These cities and towns with comprehensive non-discrimination protections will continue to not tolerate any anti-LGBTQ discrimination, and today’s news doesn’t impact that. At the same time, the federal government’s ongoing attempt to provide religious carveouts and exemptions from existing civil rights laws is alarming.

Mayors know what’s best for their local communities – and what’s clearly best, in a nation where LGBTQ people continue to face incredibly high rates of discrimination, is to pass laws and policies prohibiting such egregious discrimination.

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Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Respond to Trump Ban on Open Service for Transgender People

July 27, 2017 by admin
President Donald Trump announced this week in a series of tweets that he is re-instating the ban on open service in the military by transgender Americans, stating that transgender individuals will not be allowed to serve “in any capacity.”
Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco issued the following statement on behalf of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, a broad-based coalition of more than 250 mayors across the country who support fairness and freedom for all LGBT people:
“This is just the latest example of the discriminatory and divisive policies being crafted by the Federal Administration. 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.”
There are currently approximately 15,000 transgender service members already serving in the armed forces. It is unclear when or how the new policy will be implemented – the Pentagon has said it will not make any policy change until President Trump discusses further with the Department of Defense.
Last year, the Obama Administration ended the ban on transgender Americans serving openly. Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that the ban on transgender people enlisting in the armed forces would be extended until the end of this year. Just last week, the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives rejected a discriminatory amendment that would have stripped transgender service members and their families of critical health care coverage.
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U.S. Conference of Mayors Adopts Resolution Supporting Our Work

June 29, 2017 by admin

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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Protected: Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Update: May 12, 2017

May 12, 2017 by admin

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Coalition of Nearly 250 Mayors Condemn Possibility of Anti-LGBT ‘License to Discriminate’ Executive Order

May 3, 2017 by admin

According to a new report from Politico that cites administration officials, the Trump administration is considering action on an executive order that could make it easier to discriminate against LGBT people as soon as this Thursday. The report comes days after a Trump administration official refused to rule out some type of executive action in a USA Today article. Earlier this year, a draft order leaked that was sweeping in scope: it outlined a broad License to Discriminate that would have made it easier for federal employees, as well as non-profits and for-profit businesses receiving federal funding or contracts, to discriminate against LGBT people and others. According to today’s Politico report, the latest draft order under consideration “hasn’t been dialed back much – if at all – since the February leak.”

Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, and Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia today released the following statement on behalf of Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination:

“Any action from the administration that permits individuals and business owners a sweeping license to discriminate against LGBT people and other groups of Americans is inexcusable. Using the guise of religion in an attempt to allow unfair treatment is unconstitutional and not reflective of American values. Religious freedom is a constitutional right we all cherish. But it cannot be abused in order to give people the right to discriminate.”
A previous draft of a similar or identical executive order leaked by the Nation in February would have established broad exemptions for individuals and businesses to claim religious objections under virtually any circumstance in order to refuse services and discriminate against individuals and certain groups of people. Some examples of what this discrimination could look like towards LGBT people include:

  • A lesbian or bisexual woman who is suffering from intimate partner violence could be refused screening and counseling if their provider does not approve of same-sex relationships.
  • LGBT people who work for a federal contractor could be fired from a job simply because their employer disapproves of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  • A doctor could refuse to provide medical care to an LGBT person, and an LGB person could be prohibited from visiting their dying spouse in the hospital.
  • A pharmacist could refuse to refill a prescription for someone living with HIV/AIDS.
  • A nursing home could turn away an elderly LGBT person or same-sex couple.
  • A federal employee could harass or even engage in violence towards an LGBT person.
  • Foster care and adoption agencies could undermine the best interests of children by refusing to place them with loving, committed same-sex couples who are best qualified to care for them, including close relatives such as an aunt or uncle who is LGBT.
  • Federal government employees could deny LGBT people Social Security benefits by refusing to process important paperwork.
  • Homeless shelters or food kitchens could turn away LGBT people in need of assistance.
  • A pediatrician could refuse to provide care and treatment to the child of same-sex parents.
  • Agencies could refuse to accept LGBT kids who are in urgent need of safe, loving homes – or they could place them with parents who intend to subject the children to dangerous practices, like conversion therapy.

 

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a a broad-based, nonpartisan coalition comprised of local officials who support equal protections and fair treatment for all LGBT people. The coalition launched at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January in Washington, DC and currently includes 242 mayors from 46 states and the District of Columbia.

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Protected: Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Update: April 21, 2017

April 21, 2017 by admin

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Texas Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination Oppose Bill to Revoke LGBT Protections

April 19, 2017 by admin

Today three Texas mayors who are part of the Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination coalition of nearly 250 mayors across the country released the below statement on HB 2899. HB 2899 would prohibit cities across Texas from passing measures that protect transgender people from discrimination in restrooms, and would even void existing protections that do just that in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, and San Antonio. The bill was introduced in the Texas House of Representatives last week and is scheduled for its first committee hearing today, April 19.

The statement can be attributed to Mayor Steve Adler, Austin; Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston; and Mayor Jess Herbst, New Hope, the first openly transgender state official in Texas. Collectively, these mayors represent more than 3 million constituents.

“As mayors, we are best positioned to make decisions that protect our communities and allow all our citizens to thrive. In addition to creating an unprecedented level of unfair treatment towards people who are transgender, HB 2899 would take power out of the hands of local officials who know what’s best for their constituents. This bill is an insidious piece of legislation that serves no purpose other than to single out transgender people for discrimination in the Lone Star State. It is a threat to our Texan values of freedom, fairness, and individual liberty, and has no place in the state legislature.”

Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination is a a broad-based, nonpartisan coalition comprised of local officials who support equal protections and fair treatment for all LGBT people. The coalition launched at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January in Washington, DC and currently includes 242 mayors from 46 states and the District of Columbia.

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