Press

Philadelphia City Council Votes to Add Gender Identity to Fair Practices Ordinance; Mayor Street Promises to Sign Measure

Date: 
May 16, 2002

Today the Philadelphia City Council voted 15-2 to add gender identity to its Fair Practices Ordinance, which prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing. Mayor Street has promised to sign the measure into law.

"Transgender Philadelphians are now more free to express their gender identity as they live, work and play in the city. Not only does this ordinance grant rights to transgender people, it also permits all of Philadelphia’s residents, whether heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, to express their gender in the way that feels right to them," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of NGLTF.

"Philadelphia, home to the Liberty Bell, and birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and our nation's Constitution, is once again proclaiming a message of personal freedom for all of its citizens," she continued.

In the last month, two other major American cities have voted to include transgender-specific language in anti-discrimination ordinances. On May 8th, by a vote of 13-2, the Dallas City Council added coverage for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents to its anti-discrimination law, and on April 30th New York City's Mayor Bloomberg signed into effect an amendment to the city's Human Rights Law adding explicit coverage for transgender people, after the city council approved the measure 45-5. Other jurisdictions that have passed anti-discrimination ordinances this year, simultaneously adding sexual orientation and gender identity language, are Tacoma, WA; Erie County, PA; and Allentown PA.

"The overwhelming margins by which these anti-discrimination laws have passed this year show the growing consensus that discrimination against transgender people is wrong and should not be tolerated in a civil society," noted Jean.

The OutFront! Coalition of Philadelphia, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, the Pennsylvania Gender Rights Coalition, and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights worked collaboratively to push for the amendment. NGLTF assisted Philadelphia activists by evaluating and helping in the revision of the proposed legislative language. At the public hearing before the Committee on Law and Government on May 8th, Lisa Mottet, NGLTF's Legislative Lawyer for the Transgender Civil Rights Project, testified in support of the amendment, as did representatives of the organizations above, transgender Philadelphians who shared their experiences of discrimination, and the Executive Director of Philadelphia's Commission on Human Relations. Councilman Frank DiCicco sponsored the amendment and activists worked closely with his office to build support for the legislation.

With the addition of Philadelphia, there are now two states, eight counties, and 35 cities that have explicit coverage for transgender people in their anti-discrimination laws. The Philadelphia ordinance was amended to include sexual orientation in 1982.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.