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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 17, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 11
Seattle City Council to Congress: Pass the Equality Act for LGBT rights
Section One
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Seattle City Council to Congress: Pass the Equality Act for LGBT rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its March 13 meeting, calling on Congress to pass the Equality Act.

The resolution adopted by the City Council states, 'We find that federal laws that fully prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or expression are essential to furthering the well-being of the residents of and visitors to Seattle.'

The proposed Equality Act would add protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to federal civil rights laws.

Currently, individual states are able to deny access to housing, employment, education, public accommodations, and more because of a resident's sexual orientation or gender identity. While Washington state law protects LGBT rights, other states do not.

The Equality Act would set a national standard that prohibits discrimination under the law based on gender identity or expression.

The City Council resolution was sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold and co-sponsored by Council President Bruce Harrell and Councilmembers Mike O'Brien and Lorena González. Boston and Palm Springs have passed similar resolutions.

'State borders shouldn't dictate whether a person can lose their housing because they're gay or be rejected for a job because they identify as transgender,' Herbold said in a statement. 'Seattle joins with a growing coalition of cities from around the nation to show Congress that the Equality Act has broad support and that America is not a place that tolerates discrimination.'

'The rights and freedoms of every single individual must never be denied,' Harrell added. 'Our government at the highest level must be strong leaders in reaffirming our declaration that everybody deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and by our society.'

'Frankly, I'm appalled that there are still states in this nation that enable blatant discrimination against people in our LGBTQ community,' O'Brien said. 'The Equality Act will help ensure that LGBTQ Seattleites visiting other states won't be denied basic services like being seated in a diner or rented a room in a motel.'

'As a former civil rights attorney, I stood by people who challenged all forms of discrimination,' Gonzalez said. 'The Equality Act is not only needed, it is long overdue.'

'I second Councilmember Herbold and her co-sponsors on the City Council for demanding that Congress guarantee equal rights of LGBTQ people nationwide,' Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.

'Washington state has had these constitutional and commonsense rights on the books for over ten years. It's time for members of Congress to stand up to bigotry and protect the LGBTQ community nationally.'

Debbie Carlsen, executive director of LGBTQ Allyship, who worked on the City Council resolution, thanked everyone involved but warned that 'the tough work is ahead of us in passing the Equality Act at the federal level.'

'[E]very single tool we have to proactively eradicate the attack on our rights is important,' she added. 'I'm proud of Seattle for once again leading the nation in fighting for inclusivity and justice.'

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