By SCOTT JACKSON
The City Council approved legislation amending Quincy’s anti-discrimination ordinance to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The measure, sponsored by Councillors Brian Palmucci and Nina Liang, was approved by an 8-0 margin on June 4; Ward 5 Councillor Kirsten Hughes – who was elsewhere in the chamber during the roll call vote and not seated with her colleagues – did not vote on the item. Mayor Thomas Koch planned to sign the amendment into law, his spokesman, Chris Walker, said following the meeting.
The ordinance adds gender identity to the 15 other bases – including age, ancestry, citizenship, gender, race, and sexual orientation, among others – upon which discrimination in matters of housing, employment, education, contracts, purchasing or public accommodations are prohibited.
Palmucci said the council’s vote was a symbolic one meant to show discrimination on the basis of gender identity would not be allowed.
“The purpose of this is really, I think, more symbolic than anything else…this would put in place the policy perspective of this body that gender identity is something that the City Council feels as though should be codified as unlawful to discriminate against somebody on the basis of,” Palmucci said.
“I don’t think it changes the way in which the city does business one iota. I don’t think it means any type of facilities are open or closed to anyone gender identity-wise or for any reason.”
“I think it’s important that as we continue to work to be inclusive here in the city that we show gestures that show we want everyone to be included,” Liang added.
Councillor Anne Mahoney said the School Committee had previously voted to add similar language to the school system’s anti-discrimination policy.
“I’m happy to support this tonight and I think it’s long overdue,” she said. “It’s not a matter of whether it’s a problem or not, it’s a matter of acceptance.”
A 2012 state law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, lending, credit and mortgage services based on an individual’s gender identity. That same law expanded the definition of a hate crime to include criminal acts motivated by prejudice towards transgender individuals and prohibited discrimination based on gender identity in public schools.