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City Council votes 5-1 to support Virginia transgender teen’s lawsuit

Gavin Grimm | Photo: ACLU

The San Diego City Council voted 5-1 Monday to join with other cities in a legal brief on behalf of a Virginia transgender student who is suing a school board for his right to use restroom facilities with the gender he identifies with.

Dozens of speakers spoke out about the issue Monday before the Council went into closed session to discuss signing the amicus curiae brief, which literally means “friend of the court.” The Council did not discuss it in open session.

All five Democrats, Christopher Ward, Barbara Bry, David Alvarez, Georgette Gomez and Council President Myrtle Cole voted to join in the legal brief. Councilmember Scott Sherman, a Republican, voted no. Councilmembers Chris Cate and Mark Kersey, both Republicans, did not vote and Lorie Zapf was absent.

The city of San Francisco reached out to San Diego and other cities to sign the amicus brief, said Gerry Braun, spokesman for the city attorney, on Tuesday. The city is not a party to the lawsuit, but is interested in the outcome.

The transgender student, Gavin Grimm, 17, has sued the Gloucester County School Board in order to use the bathroom that corresponds to his identifying gender. USA Today reported Tuesday that tech companies Apple, e-Bay, Airbnb, PayPal and others also joined the legal brief in the same lawsuit.

Cate issued a post on Twitter that was critical of City Attorney Mara Elliott’s role, saying she was “playing politics” and urged her to focus on enforcing criminal matters in San Diego. Cate accused Elliott of “wasting valuable hours of city staff time to pursue national headlines.”

“For the second time this month, Elliott is plunging the city of San Diego into divisive national policies versus doing her duty to put local criminals behind bars,” wrote Cate.

The Council voted 8-1 Feb. 14 to join the state of Washington in filing an amicus brief against President Donald Trump in challenging his executive order for an immigration ban barring people from seven countries and others from entering the U.S.

City Attorney Mara Elliott defended her role, saying she would be playing politics if she had not brought forth the amicus requests. She said the accusation is baseless.

“To set the record straight, protecting the rights of transgender citizens has long been an issue for San Diego, as defined by the City Council,” said Elliott in a statement.

Elliott cited the Council’s nondiscrimination in contracting policy in 2015 and the 2003 statement of policy the Council adopted that says discrimination based on gender identity “poses a substantial threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community.”

Despite his protest, Cate wrote this on Twitter: “There is nothing about this lawsuit that I disagree with. I have stood and will continue to stand with my colleagues and advocate equal rights for the LGBT community.”



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Posted by on Mar 2, 2017. Filed under Top Highlights, Around the City, Latest Issue. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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