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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 10, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 10
Seattle City Council to pass Equality Act resolution
Section One
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Seattle City Council to pass Equality Act resolution

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Seattle City Council is expected to pass a resolution supporting the federal Equality Act at its March 13 meeting.

The resolution is sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold with support from her colleagues Mike O'Brien and Lorena Gonzalez.

The Equality Act is federal legislation first proposed in 2015 that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes in US civil rights laws. If it passed, LGBT Americans would gain federal protections in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and service on juries.

The measure is intended to replace the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) as the vehicle to advance LGBT rights at the federal level, because it is not limited only to employment issues and does not include as robust exemptions for discrimination based on religious belief.

The prime sponsor in the US Senate is Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and in the House it is David Cicilline of Rhode Island. Both of Washington's senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, support the measure.

Seattle has already passed ordinances protecting its LGBT residents - including, most recently, banning conversion therapy for minors - and Washington state also has civil rights protections on the books, but the federal government has yet to act on LGBT rights.

The resolution that will be put before the City Council addresses the lack of federal legislation, saying:

'As public officials elected to protect the welfare of the City of Seattle, we find that federal laws that fully prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex are essential to furthering the well-being of the residents of and visitors to Seattle.'

The measure goes on to say that LGBTQ people 'have a right to live free from discrimination in the core aspects of their lives, including but not limited to employment, education, housing, public accommodations, all government-funded programs, and jury service.'

The resolution will call on Congress to pass the Equality Act and on the City Clerk to send copies to Sens. Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, and Jeff Merkley; Rep. David Cicilline; the executive director of the LGBT Congressional Equality Caucus; the President of the United States of America; and civil rights leader Richard H. Noble.

Noble is a veteran LGBT rights activist, with roots in Queer Nation, who is playing a leading role in national efforts to pass the Equality Act.

According to Herbold's office, she and her colleagues drafted the resolution with input from the City's LGBTQ Commissioners and the activist groups LGBTQ Allyship and Gender Justice League.

Boston and Palm Springs have passed similar legislation.

The City Council will convene on March 13 at 2:00 p.m. to act on the resolution, and there will be an opportunity for public comment.

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