While things may be moving slowly, or sometimes not at all, on a national level in regards to equality for the LGBT community, we must not forget that we can create change on a local level. Many don't realize the impact local leaders can have on their daily lives and on the advancement of our community.
I was honored to have support in my run for City Commission in Oakland Park from all around the country, especially from within the LGBT community. People gave time, money, and support because they hoped for change. We ran an open and honest campaign that celebrated my marriage to my husband and our family, spoke openly about the need to use the office as a platform for equal rights, and changed hearts and mind in our city and region.
I wanted to pass on some amazing news about the things happening in our city. We have to keep pushing on every level of government, from our municipal levels all the way to the White House. From adding additional protections for our transgender brothers and sisters to celebrating Pride Month in the city for the first time to supporting national leaders in repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the three months I've been in office have really moved our cause forward!
Transgender Non-Discrimination Policies Added to ALL City Contracts
The biggest news is that I have gotten the city to make sure that a non-discrimination clause that includes sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is included in all city contracts, which forces any company that does business with the city to add in these fully-inclusive protections.
This is wonderful news for the transgender community, not just in our city but in these companies as well. It helps spread fully-inclusive non-discrimination policies outside of just Oakland Park
City Reviewing All Ordinances to Expand "Family" to include GLBT Families
I have also directed the city to examine and broaden the city's ordinances that include the mention of "family" and "spouse" (which is narrowly defined as "married man and woman, children, or blood relatives") to include the LGBT community and other family forms including domestic partnerships.
It's an issue I've been passionate about since before I ran. Bringing these out-of-date definitions into modern day inclusivity is paramount to protecting LGBT families and show exactly how welcoming Oakland Park is to ALL families.
First Ever Proclamation for GLBT Pride & Equality Month
At my request, this past Wednesday at the City Commission Meeting, Oakland Park issued its first ever "LGBT Pride & Equality Month" proclamation. You can find a copy of the proclamation online here, but here are some of the highlights:
WHEREAS, Oakland Park is committed to equal rights for all in Florida, having adopted provisions in its City Ordinances protecting Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) employees from discrimination with the inclusion of "sexual orientation", "gender expression" and "gender identity" as protected classes; and
WHEREAS, Oakland Park continued its leadership role by unanimously voting to oppose any attempts to take these important benefits away from its employees; and
WHEREAS, Oakland Park proudly celebrates and supports the diversity of its citizens, including the GLBT Community;...
It is a strong, inclusive proclamation that I am proud our city issued!
Hosts First Pride Event in Oakland Park- Focuses on LGBT History
Oakland Park is also hosting its first official Pride event in conjunction with Pride of Greater Ft. Lauderdale in our newly built Jaco Pastorius Park. The event focuses on education and history on this historic 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
The city is hosting a free "Cinema Under the Stars" outdoor film event. The feature film, "Before Stonewall," is a colorful documentary of the struggles of the LGBT civil rights movement leading up to the Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village, NY in June 29, 1969.
Bringing Forward A Resolution to Support House Bill HR 1283 Repealing DADT
The Commission has also moved to pass a resolution supporting House Bill HR1283, which would repeal the shameful "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. The Servicemember Legal Defense Network asked municipalities to pass the resolutions to help gain sponsors and support from legislators, as well as show the grassroots support for this action.
I am proud that the resolution is moving forward and will be voted on in our next meeting.
Politics are Local
I ran for office to help our entire community and not run away from the issues important to our community once I was elected, and I always want to be a voice for those who can't speak for themselves. Working to find new ways to expand the rights of the LGBT community and to bring in new allies to our cause has been an amazing experience.
Let's keep up the fight!