The Council’s Committee on Human Relations meets today to consider an appointment to a city-run board on human rights and a proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanuel that aims to prevent discrimination against transgender individuals in public restrooms.
This will be the committee’s first meeting under Chairman Pat Dowell (3), who was selected to replace Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1) as committee chairman during the leadership shuffle prompted by 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns’ resignation. Moreno now oversees the Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development.
Under Mayor Emanuel’s anti-discrimination measure, which he introduced with the sponsorship of City Council’s recently-formed LGBT Caucus, public accommodations like hotels, restaurants or grocery stores would be barred from requiring that patrons show a government ID when that person requests to use the restroom. It’s a response to the national attention over transgender rights in public restrooms, first initiated by a controversial law passed in North Carolina.
The ordinance amends the definition of “sex” within the city’s Human Rights Ordinance to include “both biological category and gender identity” and states that “Each person determines his or her own gender identity; no proof shall be required except his or her expression of his or her gender.” The measure follows new guidelines recently issued by Chicago Public Schools.
The members of the LGBT Caucus are Ald. Tom Tunney (44), Ald. James Cappleman (46), Ald. Deb Mell (33), Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), and Ald. Raymond Lopez (15).
Mayor Emanuel has also requested that the committee appoint Ryan Dunigan, a litigation associate at the Chicago law firm Winston & Strawn, to the city’s Commission on Human Relations.
The Mayor created the 19-member board in 2012 to enforce the city’s Human Rights and Fair Housing ordinances. Under city law, the Mayor is allowed to appoint 14 of those 19 members. They serve without compensation but can be reimbursed for their “reasonable expenses” incurred while on the job.
Dunigan will serve out the remainder of Curtis J. Tarver, Jr.’s term. Tarver, the co-owner and brewer for the Vice District TapRoom, was appointed to the board in 2014 and has since resigned.