Vulnerable citizens across the country are turning to city hall in fear of a rollback of recent civil rights advances at the federal and state level.
Mayors Against LGBT Discrimination, has been formed to expand local protections amid Republican dominance of federal and state government. It was conceived in 2016 by mayors from Seattle, Philadelphia and other cities. Formally unveiled on Jan. 18 during the Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, it now counts among its members some 175 mayors from 42 states.
“It’s going to have to be the cities [that] will be our focus to move the states, and eventually to move the federal government,” Ed Murray, the first openly gay mayor of Seattle, said at the group’s kick-off event.
Charlotte’s city council voted in February 2016 to expand its ban on discrimination in public accommodations to include protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Akron, Ohio, is currently drafting a non-discrimination ordinance. “People are starting to worry, and I don’t want people to worry — I want to be build an inclusive city,” mayor Daniel Horrigan said in an interview at the group’s meeting.
Federal law, and the majority of states, offer no explicit ban on anti-LGBT bias in public accommodations or employment. But dozens of local jurisdictions passed new protections in 2016, including Cleveland, whose council unanimously approved an anti-discrimination law a week before the city hosted the Republican National Convention in July.