July 28, 2016 at 1:19 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Bowser describes D.C. as ‘open city’ during DNC panel
Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser attends a Mayors Against Discrimination forum at Philadelphia City Hall on July 27, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

PHILADELPHIA — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday promoted the nation’s capital as an “open city” during a forum that coincided with the Democratic National Convention.

“We are very proud of our level of inclusiveness,” she said during the event at Philadelphia City Hall that featured pro-LGBT mayors from across the country.

Bowser pointed out the D.C. Human Rights Act bans discrimination against LGBT Washingtonians. She also noted that same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in the nation’s capital since 2010.

“We wanted to be sure that that wasn’t the end of discussion for making sure that everybody was treated fairly and not discriminated against,” said Bowser.

Bowser acknowledged that a “good portion of homeless youth” in D.C. are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. She also conceded that economic disparities persist among LGBT Washingtonians.

Bowser noted that trans people continue to “face outrageous discrimination and have significant levels of unemployment in our city.” Her comments come two weeks after Deeniquia Dodds, a trans woman of color who was shot in the neck on July 4 in Northeast Washington, died.

“I remain very concerned about violence in our community,” said Bowser.

Bowser did not mention her gay brother during the forum.

Charlotte mayor seeks federal action against HB 2

Mayors Against Discrimination formed earlier this year after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, which prohibits trans people from using public bathrooms that are consistent with their gender identity and bans local municipalities from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures. The coalition also criticized House Bill 1523, the controversial religious freedom law that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed in April.

The statute was to have taken effect on July 1, but a federal judge issued a last-minute injunction against it. Bryant appealed the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans after Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood declined to do so.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee noted during the forum that he banned city-funded travel to Indiana and other states that had enacted anti-LGBT laws. Bowser rescinded a similar prohibition after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who is Donald Trump’s running mate, modified his state’s religious freedom law.

“With that action, we were able to turn that state around,” said Lee, referring to the Indiana law. “Now our focus is on states like North Carolina and Mississippi.”

Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, discussed the executive order her husband issued in May that says trans New Yorkers can use bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity.

“Access to bathrooms and other single-sex facilities is a fundamental human right that should not be restricted or denied to anyone,” said McCray.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said that pro-LGBT laws and policies are “good for business.”

Gay West Sacramento (Calif.) Mayor Christopher Cabaldon noted the U.S. Conference of Mayors held their annual meeting in Indianapolis last month. Greg Ballard, the city’s Republican mayor, was among those who led the opposition to the religious freedom law that Pence signed.

“It was mayors that were leading the opposition,” said Cabaldon.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and gay Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline, who introduced the Equality Act that would amend federal civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity, also sat on the panel. Charlotte (N.C.) Mayor Jennifer Roberts was among those who attended the forum that took place less than a week after the National Basketball Association announced its 2017 All-Star Game would no longer take place in her city.

McCrory signed HB 2 into law after the Charlotte City Council approved a measure that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance.

“We need federal action,” said Roberts at the end of the forum. “Our state has made it very clear they will not budge until forced to by the courts.”

The Justice Department in May sued North Carolina over HB 2. A federal judge is scheduled to consider lawsuits for and against the law on Nov. 14.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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