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Austin City Council Moves to Expand Rights for LGBT Community in Austin

by: Genevieve Cato

Mon May 26, 2014 at 10:00 AM CDT

The Austin City Council has a history of progressive action, such as showing their support for the Women's Health Protection Act of 2013 and dedicating themselves to environmental protection and emissions reduction.

On Friday, councilmembers supported a resolution focused on ensuring that the city is a safe and equitable place for it's LGBT citizens.

More on this resolution below the jump.

The Human Rights Campaign recently released their Municipal Equality Index scorecards for 2013. These scores reflect the HRC's assessment of the rights and experiences of LGBT residents in the city. Austin received the highest score possible, but City Council doesn't want to stop there. They want to review their Municipal Equality Index to find opportunities to further expand rights for LGBT residents in the city, and to become one of the nation's leading cities when it comes to equality.

Councilmember Chris Riley, who sponsored the resolution, said,

I'm proud to stand with the LGBT community and proud that Austin has a strong record on equality, but we can do better. Let's not just be #1 in Texas, let's be #1 in the country. Momentum is building across the country for greater equality, and Austin should be a leader.

Other leaders from the Austin community applauded City Council's resolution. State Representative Celia Israel added,  

As leaders in our community, it's our job to make sure Texas really is an exceptional place for all of its people. Living up to the promise of equality and treating all Texans and their families with the dignity and equality they deserve should start in Austin, and I am proud of our City Council's work on this important issue.

Paul Rhea, the Chair of the Austin Human Rights Commission, stated,

The Municipal Equality Index examines the laws, policies, and services of municipalities and rates them on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people who live and work there. I'm extremely proud that the City of Austin has the highest score on the MEI of any Texas city, and appreciate Council Member's Riley's efforts to further evaluate and improve our policies to ensure the LGBT community is welcome and included in city government.

Vice President of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Ceci Gratias, said,

The Human Rights Campaign looks forward to working with Austin's City Manager, the Human Rights Commission, and other non-profit partners to assure that Austin remains safe and welcoming to everyone that resides, works, and visits here.

And Eugene Sepulveda, former Co-Chair of President Obama's GLBT Leadership Council, added,

Council Member Riley once again raises the bar for Austin, and challenges us to take the lead in equality. Thank you Council Member Riley for calling on all of us, including Austin's LGBT community, to set national standards for equality and inclusion.

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