Post submitted by Ben Gibbs, Atlanta HRC Political Co-Chair
Atlanta has a rich and storied history of civil rights leadership. This history is rooted in the collective belief that our diversity makes our city and community stronger. As a result, Atlanta is home to one of the most vibrant LGBT communities in the country.
HRC Atlanta has been hard at work to ensure that our city’s policies reflect these values.
Recently, we researched our city’s municipal code to identify areas in which we could make improvements to ensure Atlanta has fully inclusive policies and ordinances. In 2000, the Atlanta City Council extended protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to private employment, housing, and public accommodations. However, while sexual orientation was added as a protected class in city employment, gender identity was not. HRC Atlanta made it a goal to help correct this inequality.
In the process, we identified 14 other areas in the code that, while protecting individuals based on sexual orientation, failed to include gender identity as a protected class. We worked closely with our allies in the city council to prepare legislation to ensure all ordinances were inclusive of gender identity.
On July 15 of this year, the Atlanta City Council unanimously passed legislation adding gender identity as a protected class to all 15 city ordinances and sent it to the mayor for signature, who signed the legislation into law.
In Atlanta, we are proud to live in a city that believes discrimination based on gender identity is not acceptable. That value is now reflected in all of our city ordinances.
HRC Atlanta’s work will continue as we seek to ensure our city’s policies protect our community and reflect Atlanta’s continuing belief that our diversity is our strength.
The progress we have been able to achieve at the municipal level in Atlanta reflects a larger movement that is happening across the country. Where states and the federal government have failed to act, municipalities are taking action. More than 170 cities and counties across the country – including Atlanta! - have passed non-discrimination laws that protect their LGBT constituents. HRC’s Municipal Equality Index demonstrates the ways that many cities can – and do – serve the LGBT people who live and work in those cities. In Atlanta, we are leading the way in showing how a city can protect its LGBT citizens when a state or the federal government does not.
Read the Municipal Equality Index report here, and click here to see the detailed scorecards for the 137 cities the MEI rated in 2012. The 2013 Municipal Equality Index is rating 291 cities and will be released this fall.