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Jan 6, 2015

Greensboro Approves Historic Protections for Gay and Transgender Citizens and Employees

Greensboro becomes the first North Carolina city to bar discrimination in housing based on sexual orientation and gender identity, joining more than 200 other cities, counties and states across the US.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Greensboro city council members voted unanimously tonight to add historic protections for gay and transgender North Carolinians to the city’s key housing, administrative, and employment non-discrimination policies.

Greensboro City Council members from left: Sharon Hightower, Marikay Abuzuaiter, Tony Wilkins, Zack Matheny, Nancy Vaughan, Yvonne Johnson, Mike Barber, Jamal Fox, Nancy Hoffmann.

With tonight’s amendments to the Greensboro's Fair Housing Ordinance, the Gate City becomes the first city or county in North Carolina to protect gay and transgender citizens from discrimination in housing. In addition, Greensboro added additional protections against discrimination in the delivery of city programs, services or activities.

The city council also codified Greensboro’s long existing non-discrimination policy for city employees, making it an official part of the Greensboro Code of Ordinances.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan introduced the motions for the changes with the support of all Council members.

"The city [of Greensboro] has had a long standing policy to not discriminate," said Vaughan.

During public comment, Chris Sgro, a Greensboro resident, and executive director of Equality NC, the organization, which helped spearhead the policy updates, said the changes were necessary to help the city protect all Greensboro citizens and help the city compete for the best and brightest employees.

“These ordinances provide a crucial update to city code for the LGBT community, and for fairness in general,” said Sgro.

In a full statement released by Equality NC, the state's leading LGBT advocacy group praised the local action in Greensboro.

“This historic vote in Greensboro sends a clear signal that gay and transgender citizens, workers and their families should be treated fairly and equally by the laws and policies in North Carolina, while also sending a strong message to other parts of the state that no one should have to choose between who they are or who they love, and where they can live, where they can work, and the basic services they receive.

By updating their policies tonight, the City of Greensboro has leveled the playing field for citizens of Greensboro who are willing to work hard, earn a living, and provide for themselves and their families -- a model every corner of the state should aspire to achieve and a message we'll continue to make loud and clear in Equality NC's continuing work to pass updates to non-discrimination policies on the state and local level."

Eighteen city and county governments across the state provide some form of employment protections for LGBT workers. Only five other cities — Asheville, Boone, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Charlotte — also include protections for gender identity or expression.

Equality NC is a statewide organization working to secure equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender North Carolinians.

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