Pittsfield City Council backs equality for transgender residents

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PITTSFIELD — It should seem obvious, city councilors said, because it is.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to "support full equality" for all city residents, including members of Pittsfield's transgender community.

"If you're human you should respect the human rights of everyone," said Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo. "And I do."

The vote came in response to a petition from the city's Human Rights Commission. Still, some councilors questioned why the vote was necessary, and some were concerned residents would mistake the vote for an endorsement of ballot Question 3, which prohibits in public places any discrimination based on one's gender identity.

Councilors said they don't normally take positions on ballot questions because they don't like telling people how they should vote.

Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell moved to make the statement more general, suggesting they remove the measure's reference to transgender residents. "It's sending the wrong message," he said, to give even the appearance that the council is weighing in on a ballot question. Connell's motion failed, with Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli joining him in dissent.

Councilors ultimately agreed unanimously, the state ballot question aside, to offer support to the transgender community.

"It's an important time for that to be said," said Councilor At Large Pete White.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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