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On the heels of receiving a low score from a survey ranking the support of Racine’s LGBTQ community, Mayor Cory Mason worked with concerned citizens and Racine Common Council members to change that.

The Human Rights Campaign gave Racine a 29 out of 100 on a survey that “looked at the city’s laws, policies, and services of municipalities on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBTQ people.”

A score of 0 means the state does not have laws, policies, and services that support LGBTQ people, according to the advocacy group’s website. To address the issue, Mason announced Thursday at the LGBTQ Center of SE Wisconsin, 1456 Junction Ave., a series of ordinances that he plans to present to the Racine Common Council. The Center offers a number of programs for local employers, education and health screenings services, and support groups for youth and families.

“The City of Racine is dedicated to improving connections with the LGBTQ+ community to
encourage individuals and families to consider Racine an ideal place to live and work,” Mason said.

Sponsored by Alder Melissa Lemke, of the 15th District, the ordinances are intended to help the community be more inclusive.

“As a member of the LGBTQ community, it is such an important thing that we are here to recognize… the work that our community center is doing,” she said. “Nothing like this existed when I was a young person.”

According to a press release by the Mayor’s office, the proposed ordinances and actions include:

Non-Discrimination Laws: The City of Racine will revise ordinances to add gender identity to the already-existing provisions that expressly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of private employment, city employment, city contractors, housing, and public accommodations.

LGBTQ+ Liaison to the City: The Mayor has proposed expanding membership to the City’s Affirmative Action and Human Rights Commission to include a City resident who is a
member of the LGBTQ+ community. That Commissioner can serve as a direct link between
the LGBTQ+ community and the Mayor’s office.

Leadership’s Public Position on LGBTQ Equality: Mayor Mason and Alderperson Lemke have provided public support for LGBTQ+ issues since being elected.

Inclusive Workplace: the City of Racine has completed and will continue to provide LGBT
training to City personnel.

“These ordinances will strengthen the City’s law prohibiting discrimination in the areas of
employment, city contracts, and public access to facilities, such as housing,” Lemke said. “It is my sincere hope these efforts will encourage members of the LGBTQ+ community to be proud to call Racine their home.”

Barb Farrar, vice president of the LGBTQ Center of Wisconsin, applauded Mason’s efforts.

“We believe this measure is a representation of the supportive culture in Racine and
look forward to ways we can contribute to improvements in the future,” she said.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.