The Somersworth City Council voted late last night by an overwhelming majority to expand the city’s Pledge Against Discrimination to protect transgender city workers from discrimination on the job.
Somersworth’s Pledge Against Discrimination is a personnel policy that currently ensures the city’s public workforce and contractors can’t be fired or harassed on the job because of their age, marital status, race, color, creed, national origin, sex, political affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation. The update will add gender identity to that list.
The favorable vote came after a public hearing this evening, which drew a robust crowd to testify and show support for the policy change. Ultimately, a majority of city councilors co-sponsored, a couple of whom called it a “no brainer.”
This is an important step forward for LGBT equality in New Hampshire. Lawmakers are set to get to work this week on legislation that would fully protect all transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in employment, housing and public places like restaurant and hospitals. However, in the absence of these statewide protections, local ordinances like Somersworth’s are critical to ensuring transgender workers are protected from discrimination.
With this ordinance, Somersworth joins 8 other cities across the state who have such local protections on the books. This signals strong and growing momentum for transgender non-discrimination at the local level. As support grows in cities and towns, a statewide law would provide important clarity for municipalities considering protections, and would provide much-needed consistency for transgender residents, workers and visitors—allowing them to work and live free of the threat of discrimination without having to navigate a patchwork of local laws and ordinances.
The 2017 legislative session kicks off tomorrow. Click here to rush a message to your lawmakers urging them to pass transgender non-discrimination protections statewide.