Transgender measure passes City Council vote
by Matt Simonette 2016-06-22
This article shared 1354 times since Wed Jun 22, 2016
The Chicago City Council, on June 22, approved a measure that removes a provision in the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance requiring individuals to show a government-issued ID upon request when trying to access restrooms and other public accommodations. The provision could potentially be used to to bar transgender individuals from accessing those accommodations should the gender-marker on their ID not match their gender-presentation.
The measure was introduced on May 18 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ald. Ed Burke and the members of the City Council's LGBT Caucus, who include Alds. Raymond Lopez, Deb Mell, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Tom Tunney and James Cappleman. It passed the Council's Human Realtions Committee, chaired by Ald. Pat Dowell, chaired by Ald. Pat Dowell.
Mell and Ramirez-Rosa both spoke on behalf of the measure at the June 22 meeting.
"Tragically, the recent events in Orlando have shown us that …our struggle is far from over," Mell said. "It wasn't long ago that I stood on the floor of the Illinois General Assembly and pleaded with my colleagues to recognize that 'love is love,' and that, as an American citizen, I should be afforded the same right as anyone else, the right to marry someone I love. We won that battle, and it wasn't just because the LGBT community was organized and fought hard. It was because hearts and minds were changed. It was because Americans realized that they wanted a better life for their friends and family members who struggled to be accepted for so long.
"During our hearing, we heard testimonies from mothers and fathers who came to realize that their child never identified with the gender that was listed on their birth certificate. Parents who struggled to explain why our society had set up barriers for something as simple as going to the restroom … I ask my colleagues who are on the fence on this issue to think about those parents, think about those children, think about how you would feel if this was your friends or loved ones," she added.
Ramirez-Rosa noted that 23 of those killed in the Orlando shooting were of Puerto Rican descent, and the vast majority were Latino.
"That's why the violence and the hatred has struck me so much," he added. "As a city, the Supreme Court has tied our hands in many ways when it comes to reining in and controlling gun violence. But if we will stop future Orlandos, if we will save lives in the future, we must do everything that we can to legislate love and reject hate. Make no mistake about it. The 49 in Orlando were murdered because of internalized homophobia, because of internalized Islamophobia, because of the hatred that is so rampant in our society. When we as legislators legislate hate, we are paving the way for the hatred that drives that violence.
"I ask that my colleagues join me in supporting this ordinance today because we can legislate love. Because we can show that we as a city that we will not discriminate against our trans sisters and brothers and we will allow equality to reign supreme when it comes to access to public accommodations," Ramirez-Rosa said.
The Council did not vote in full. Dowell asked that the measure be passed on the basis of the last vote with a positive outcome, a procedure utilized many times in the meeting. Her motion was approved. Alds. Patrick Daley Thompson, David Moore, Willie Cochran, Nicholas Sposato and Anthony Napolitano asked to be registered as "no" votes.
"We applaud the City Council's action today. Removing the discriminatory language towards transgender people not only expands access to spaces like bathrooms, but it also helps ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect," said Kim L. Hunt, executive director of the Pride Action Tank (PAT), a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, in a statement.
PAT's Chicago Restroom Access Project (CRAP) working group led grassroots efforts to coordinate oral and written testimony submissions to the committee and to encourage the LGBTQ community and allies to call their alderpersons to encourage them to support the amendment. ACLU of Illinois, Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal played critical roles as well. On the government side, Commissioner Mona Noriega of the Commission on Human Relations worked with her staff on changing the provision for more than a year.
The vote came during a tumultuous meeting for the Council, much of which focused on a measure regulating ride-sharing services such as Uber. Many members objected when that they were just this morning presented with a water-down version of the measure that had passed through a committee vote. At one point, discussion became so heated that Emanuel threatened to adjourn the meeting. The measure eventually passed, however.
The Council opened their session with a tribute and moment of silence for the 49 persons who were killed in Orlando on June 12.
From a press release
Chicago, IL ( June 22, 2016 ) Today the Chicago City Council approved an amendment to remove a provision in the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance ( HRO ) that requires patrons to show a government-issued ID upon request to access public accommodations that are private in nature, including bathrooms.
"We applaud the City Council's action today. Removing the discriminatory language towards transgender people not only expands access to spaces like bathrooms, but it also helps ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect," said Kim L. Hunt, executive director of the Pride Action Tank ( PAT ), a project of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.
The Equal Access Consistent with a Person's Gender Identity Amendment was introduced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the LGBT Caucus, and Ald. Ed Burke at the May 18 City Council meeting. The next step was a June 8 public hearing hosted by the Committee on Human Relations, which is chaired by Ald. Pat Dowell ( 3rd ward ).
PAT's Chicago Restroom Access Project ( CRAP ) working group led grassroots efforts to coordinate oral and written testimony submissions to the committee and to encourage the LGBTQ community and allies to call their alderpersons to encourage them to support the amendment. ACLU of Illinois, Equality Illinois and Lambda Legal played critical roles as well.
"We congratulate the mayor and the City Council on making this critical change to the city code, a measure built on the principles of fairness and respect. Because of today's action, transgender people both those who reside in the City of Chicago and those who visit the city as tourists and for business will no longer need to fear being asked to prove their gender with a state-issued identification card," said John A. Knight of the ACLU of Illinois.
The City Council's vote comes a little over a week since the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, where a lone gunman killed 49 people and injured over 50.
"As other states try to erase transgender people from public life, let's recognize that this Equal Access Ordinance is about more than public accommodations. In the wake of the violence against LGBT people in Orlando, it is about standing up for the dignity of all Chicagoans and ensuring our city remains a welcoming and affirming place," said Brian C. Johnson, CEO of Equality Illinois.
CRAP is now planning a campaign to educate small businesses and institutions on the policy change and to encourage expansion of gender-neutral bathrooms in Chicago. To find out more about this and the other work of the Pride Action Tank, visit prideactiontank.org .
This article shared 1354 times since Wed Jun 22, 2016
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