In movement to protect LGBT rights, FW leads

Vice President Joe Biden said in a New York speech on Thursday what many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists have said often since the Supreme Court’s milestone June 26 ruling that the Constitution requires states to recognize same-sex marriages.

The next goal, Biden said, is legal protection against LGBT discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.

“There are 32 states where you can be married in the morning and fired in the afternoon,” Biden said. Activists have added that in many places LGBT people are evicted from an apartments or restaurants.

Kevin Nix, communications director for Texas Wins, a campaign to end such discrimination, wrote in an opinion piece published Friday by the Texas Tribune that 86 percent of the Texas workforce is not covered by LGBT employment discrimination laws.

As much as a local law can fight LGBT discrimination, Fort Worth took that step years ago.

In 2000, the city was the first in Texas to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in a place of public accommodation, employment or housing.

In 2009, Mayor Mike Moncrief and the City Council amended that ordinance to add transgender, gender expression and gender identity protections.

“Fort Worth’s vision to be Texas’ ‘Most Livable City’ cannot be realized without providing equal protection in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation to all members of the Fort Worth community,” said the 2009 ordinance amendment resolution.

The ordinance carries the threat of fines up to $500 for “each day that a violation exists.”

Has it made a difference? There’s no way to measure what doesn’t happen because an ordinance like this is on the books.

City officials told the Star-Telegram Facebook executives studied the city’s ordinances before announcing a new $1 billion data center investment here last week.

Awareness of LGBT rights has jumped dramatically. Fort Worth can be proud that it helped lead the way.