Raising of LGBT pride flag signifies call for change in Syracuse

Supporters of LGBT equality gather for the flag raising at City Hall in Syracuse.

Cheers were heard outside Syracuse City Hall Monday as the LGBT pride flag was raised over the city.

It was a chance for supporters to celebrate recent victories including the right for gay and lesbian couples to marry in New York State. But for many, the fight for equality continues.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner told the crowd, "We are in the midst of a revolution." She urged supporters to fight on to push for a new law called GENDA, the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. It would protect the rights of transgender people across the state. "Continue to fight on and when you think it's not worth it, reflect upon the victories that we have already had and that will give you enough energy and voice to continue to move forward with progress," Miner said.

Miner sent a letter to New York State Senate Majority Coalition Leader Dean Skelos, urging him to bring GENDA for a full vote. "GENDA is an important bill that will protect the rights of transgender New Yorkers and it deserves to be passed in this legislative session," Miner said. "Now is the time for Albany to do what is right and extend these important protections to transgender New Yorkers."

GENDA has passed the New York State Assembly. Mayor Miner signed a gender identity non-discrimination law in 2013. "Currently, in 33 states transgender employees can be fired for being who they are," Miner said in the letter. "Sadly, New York is one of those states that does not enshrine in law the civil rights of our transgender citizens. Discrimination against transgender Americans has an effect on our economy. Surveys conducted by the Human Rights Campaign and others point to high rates of workers not being hired, being denied promotion, and otherwise discriminated against in the workplace. It is time we safeguard transgender New Yorkers in the workplace."

Nationally, a White House official says President Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. The move follows years of pressure from gay rights groups for Obama to sign the order. The White House has long said it preferred that Congress pass legislation applying to nearly all employees, but that the bill has languished in the House and there is little sign that lawmakers will take it up in an election year.

The official would not say when Obama planned to sign the order, only that the president had asked his staff to prepare a measure for his signature. The official insisted on anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the president's decision by name.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this article.

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