This Tuesday was a great day for equality, as city councils in two major cities voted to prohibit job and housing discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
In Fort Worth, a gender identity nondiscrimination ordinance was already in the works when the much-denounced June raid of a local gay bar prompted the city to create a task force to study LGBT issues in the Texas city. The task force recommended immediate passage of the ordinance, among other initiatives. Following hours of testimony from an overflow crowd, the council voted 6-3 to approve the ordinance Tuesday night. Fort Worth now joins Austin, Dallas and El Paso in prohibiting discrimination against transgender people. The city will also be implementing training for city staff on working with the LGBT community, and appointing an LGBT liaison for the police department.
In Salt Lake City, the city council unanimously approved the ordinances after also hearing overwhelming support from witnesses, including a groundbreaking statement of support from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. An LDS statement described the Utah capital’s ordinances as “fair and reasonable” because it “grants common-sense rights that should be available to everyone” – the first time the Mormon church has publicly embraced protections for LGBT people. This victory is a first for Utah, and equality advocates there hope it will prepare the way for passage of statewide legislation.
Gender identity nondiscrimination legislation is also set for a vote this month in Cleveland, OH., and a final vote next week in Tampa, FL. This latest wave of local equality measures – which already exist in well over a 100 municipalities around the country – powerfully illustrate the growing majority support for gender identity nondiscrimination nationwide.