By Mary Gordon
The most recent convening of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials (GLBTLO) offered members a chance to discuss LGBT issues affecting cities and towns, as well as hear from a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) representative.
During GLBTLO's meeting at NLC's Congressional City Conference in March, a number of topics were discussed which related to membership growth and opportunities for members to lobby Congressional representatives about NLC's legislative priorities.
Cathryn Oakley, HRC Legislative Counsel for State & Municipal Advocacy at the Human Rights Campaign, served as a guest speaker at the meeting. She reported on HRC's 2012 Municipal Equality Index (MEI) which is the first of its kind nationwide evaluation of LGBT inclusion in municipal and law policy. The report finds that cities need to do more to protect LGBT employees and citizens.
The report outlines that many U.S. cities lack sufficient protections for LGBT people, even in some the "bluest" states with progressive reputations according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization. The MEI finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community. The MEI was issued in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute.
Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation - these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples. Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.
As America moves forward in support of LGBT equality, cities across the country are on the forefront of this movement. Cities in every region of the country are fighting for equality at the most intimate level of government. At the same time, cities across the country also have room for improvement. The MEI articulates a path forward and celebrates the success of cities undertaking this important work. For more details about the report, log onto HRC.org.
GLBTLO President Bob Gaiser, Councilmember, Broomfield, CO, is pleased to announce that LaWana Mayfield, Councilmember, Charlotte, NC, is a newly-elected member of GLBTLO's Board of Directors. She was elected at NLC's Congressional City Conference in March.
"We are pleased that she has become a part of our leadership and that she will help us strengthen our leadership here at NLC," remarked President Gaiser.
GLBTLO's Board officers are: Bob Gaiser, Councilmember, Broomfield, CO (president); Keith McGlashan, Mayor, Shoreline, WA (first vice president); George Toles, Councilmember, Cathedral City, CA (second vice president) and Craig Lowe, Mayor, Gainesville, FL (immediate past president). At-large Board members include: Andy Amoroso, Commissioner, Lake Worth, FL; Karen Kellen, Councilmember, Lakewood, CO; Steve Kornell, Councilmember, St. Petersburg, FL and LaWana Mayfield, Councilmember, Charlotte, NC.
Details: For membership in GLBTLO, dues are $50 annually. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request membership information or call NLC staff at (202) 626-3169.