New Britain Pride: State of Pride 2020

Community members at New Britain’s Second Annual Pride Flag Raising on June 8, 2020.

Members of the Common Council: Tonight you will be taking up and voting on Resolution №2: The 3rd annual Pride Resolution for the City of New Britain. The resolution tonight will not only officially recognize June as “Pride Month” in the City, but this Council will become the first legislative body in the State of Connecticut to endorse the federal Equality Act (House Resolution 5–2019).

During these difficult times that we are going through as a nation, it is important to recognize that celebrating pride month is not only about an individual’s sexuality or gender identity. Pride is about standing up for one’s self and the community. We stood up at Stonewall 51 years ago, and we are now collectively standing up in light of George Floyd’s murder, as we aim to recommit ourselves as citizens to becoming a “more perfect union”. That is our legacy as a Nation.

Some of you might be wondering, what is the Equality Act? The Equality Act is a federally proposed bill which will amend — among other laws — the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure that individuals won’t be discriminated against based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community still occurs in society when it comes to employment, housing, public accommodation, education, judiciary, and federal funding. This legislation would prohibit this. On May 17, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act in a bipartisan fashion and the legislation now awaits action in the Senate. Your endorsement of this legislation could very well encourage other municipalities — not only in Connecticut but around the nation to take action. As we all know that municipal government is where the rubber hits the road and where citizens can make the greatest impact.

Speaking of support, the Business Coalition for the Equality Act, a group of more than 283 major companies with operations in all 50 states, and headquarters in 31 states, with a collective revenue of over $5 trillion, and 12 million workers support this action. Connecticut businesses include Boehringer Ingelheim (Ridgefield), Diageo North America (Norwalk), Synchrony (Stamford), Xerox Corp (Norwalk), and our own, Stanley Black & Decker Inc. Unions also support this legislation, including the AFL-CIO and AFSCME.

It is also my responsibility as Chair of NBP, as stated in our organizational charter, to present you with a summary of what we have accomplished since the previous, “State of Pride” from June of 2019. Attached to these remarks you will find a comprehensive list of the numerous contributions we have made to the community. In summary, we have had a successful year — even with the challenges posed by COVID-19 — and we are looking forward to more community engagement in the year and years to come.

In closing, please vote Yes on tonight’s historic resolution to be the first Connecticut municipality to endorse the Equality Act and set an example for our nation as we move towards that timeless ideal of becoming a more perfect union.

Thank you.

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State of Pride Community Engagement Results for 2019/2020:

(in no particular order)

  1. Pride in the Community — An initiative to visit different eating establishments in the city and having our monthly meetings. One complaint we have received from members is that we historically have always had our meetings at City Hall and sometimes that is not the most inviting environment. We were able to hold one “Pride in the Community” before the onset of COVID-19.
  2. Pride & Politics = A tri-partisan zoom roundtable discussion with Connecticut leaders (Erick Russell — CT Democrats Vice-Chair, Themis Klarides — House Republican Leader, Monte Frank — Past President of the Connecticut Bar Association & 2018 independent Lt. Governor Candidate) to discuss LGBTQ+ oriented [proposed] public policy.
  3. Teaming up with Five-Churches Brewing: Originally we planned to hold “Pride & Politics” at 5CB, however, due to COVID-19 we were unable to do so. However, we still supported this New Britain Business and promoted them during the event.
  4. Bin the Blood Ban — Encouraged all elected leaders (Congressional, State Executive, General Assembly, Political, and Municipal leaders [over 400+]) to sign a letter encouraging FDA Commissioner Hahn to eliminate the discriminatory blood ban against men who have sex with men.
  5. 2020 Census — Encouraged LGBTQ+ New Britain residents to complete the 2020 Census.
  6. Statewide LGBTQ+ Community Involvement — One of the positive aspects to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, is it has forced the “municipal pride groups” to come together and communicate with each other. Statewide leadership developed a survey and New Britain Pride participated and help to disseminate the survey.
  7. Gender Neutralization of City Ordinances — Collaborated with the Mayor’s office and advocated for the gender neutralization of our city ordinances.
  8. Human Rights Campaign Municipality Equality Index (HRC MEI) Score — Meeting with the Mayor regularly to work towards improving our City’s MEI Score, and reviewing our progress with the human rights and opportunities officer.
  9. Strengthening our relationship with Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) — Attending various LGBTQ+ events at CCSU (Rainbow Breakfast, the Pride Center, GSA meetings) and engaging in a dialogue with the University President to establish a Pride Crosswalk on campus.
  10. Pride Crosswalk — Before entering into a discussion with CCSU, we also spoke with the police chief, the Mayor, and Police Commission about having a Pride crosswalk downtown. The Police Commission rejected the proposal, despite over a dozen other municipalities across the Nation having similar crosswalks.
  11. Board of Education & Superintendent — Met with the Board of Education and Superintendent to discuss including LGBTQ+ history and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). These talks are ongoing.
  12. Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CTGLC) Involvement — Attended multiple CTGLC meetings, getting to know other members. We were selected as one of five members to question Governor Lamont on a Zoom breakfast meeting.
  13. Gay Panic Defense — Attended the “LGBTQ+ bill signing” where Governor Lamont signed three bills; including the outlawing of the Gay-Panic Defense in which we played a major role. Governor awarded us the ceremony bill which he signed.
  14. Stanley Black and Decker — Strengthened our relationship with Stanley Black and Decker, a corporation that consistently a perfect 100 on the HRC scorecard.
  15. Human Rights and Opportunities — Attend Human Rights and Opportunities Commission Meetings regularly and communicate with the city’s human rights and opportunities officer.
  16. Support other municipalities — Attended Middletown Pride 2019 and marched with other towns and elected officials. We were recognized for our work and contributions to the greater community.
  17. LGBTQ+ Roundtable with Lt. Governor — Attended a roundtable discussion with other groups and advocates, was able to engage with Lt. Governor on important issues for our community.
  18. Mayoral Debate — Submitted a question to the League of Women Voters 2019 Mayoral Debate. First-time LGBTQ+ rights were mentioned in a New Britain Mayoral Debate.
  19. 2020 Flag Raising — Over three dozen attendees and able to attract two State Executives to speak. This is the second time the Mayor has agreed to raise the Pride Flag in the entire history of the city.

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Remarks as prepared to deliver to the New Britain Common Council on June 10, 2020, at 7:00 via telephone during public participation.

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