Local Steps Forward: Celebrating Advances Across the Country in SeptemberBy Megan Clayton • September 23, 2015 • 10:44 am
As Summer draws to a close and lawmakers prepare to return to State Houses across the country, the campaign to win comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans will drive forward, ramping up efforts to win protections in more states and encourage progress at the local level. As we enter into new legislative cycles in some states and prepare for elections in other jurisdictions, here’s a look at how LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination has moved forward in the past month:
- ALASKA: In Anchorage, Alaska, the Assembly is considering an ordinance that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, and public accommodations like shops, restaurants and parks. Hundreds of residents spoke at the September 22 Assembly meeting, and a vote could occur on September 29.
- FLORIDA: Municipalities in the Sunshine State are working to ensure that Florida continues to lead on issues of LGBT fairness. In Pensacola, Councilman Brian Spencer has proposed an ordinance that would update the city’s civil rights law to include non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. And lawmakers in the village of Wellington voted unanimously to pass an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination bill.
- GEORGIA: Connie Galloway spoke with Georgia Equality about her personal experience with workplace discrimination. As a lesbian, her story highlights the need for non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender Georgians in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations. Watch here.
- INDIANA: Public and business support for inclusive non-discrimination protections continues to grow in the Hoosier State, where advocates are pursuing a plan to win non-discrimination in 2016. This week, Freedom Indiana announced a partnership with Open for Service – an organization dedicated to advancing legislation that would protect people from discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. And in Columbus, IN – the hometown of Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the discriminatory RFRA this spring – a City Council comprised entirely of Republicans passed an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policy.
- MASSACHUSETTS: Freedom for All Americans has been proud to serve as a founding member of Freedom Massachusetts, the campaign to advance legislation that would update the state’s civil rights law to protect transgender Bay Staters from discrimination in public accommodations. This month, momentum for the legislation continued to grow; more than 100 businesses joined the Massachusetts Businesses for Freedom coalition and pledged their support for the bill, including Facebook, Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, and the Boston Chamber of Commerce. On September 17, Freedom Massachusetts held a Lobby Day at the State House, bringing hundreds of constituents to meet face to face with legislators and urge them to pass full protections for transgender people in Massachusetts. More than 300 emails were submitted to legislators by constituents who couldn’t attend in-person.
- NORTH CAROLINA: In Charlotte, North Carolina, residents elected seven pro-equality candidates to the City Council on September 16, securing a pro-equality majority. Advocates and community members are hopeful that the new City Council will vote to pass an LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. Additionally, in Wake County, NC, the Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted on Monday, September 21 to include LGBT public employees in its anti-discrimination ordinance.
- PENNSYLVANIA: In York, Pennsylvania, Councilman Michael Helfrich introduced two bills to update the Human Relations Act to explicitly protect people from discrimination on the basis of gender identification. In housing, employment and public accommodations like parks, hotels, and movie theaters. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Competes, the statewide campaign to win LGBT non-discrimination, teamed up with the Gill Foundation for a matching gift program, raising a total of $30,000 to advance anti-discrimination legislation through the Legislature.
- TEXAS: In Houston, public debate is heating up around the November 3 ballot fight to uphold Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which protects Houstonians from discrimination in 15 different classes. Houston Unites released a chart that breaks down reported discrimination by class, with race, gender, and familiar status constituting the highest percentage of cases (86% combined). Three major business and hospitality groups announced their support of a YES vote to Proposition 1, the ballot initiative to uphold HERO. The Houston Chronicle Editorial Board also endorsed the campaign.
- WYOMING: In Cheyenne, Wyoming, Councilwoman Annette Williams said she plans to introduce a non-discrimination ordinance that would prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. If passed, Cheyenne would become the second city in the state to pass a comprehensive non-discrimination law.
Freedom for All Americans is the campaign dedicated to ensuring that every American, regardless of where they live, is protected under the law from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. We are proud to work alongside local partners to advance non-discrimination at the local level, in both rural and urban communities, to protect LGBT Americans and make the case for a national, comprehensive non-discrimination law.