Palm Springs’ first-ever LGBT Town Hall will take place at City Hall Friday evening and feature a discussion on current and upcoming legislation affecting the LGBT community both locally and across the state.
Assemblyman Evan Low and the general public have been invited to the 5:30 p.m. event, which will cover both existing and new legislation aimed at increasing protections for LGBT individuals, as well as a look at what local governments can do to further the cause.
Low, D-Silicon Valley, who also serves as chair of the California LGBT Caucus, will be joined by city councilmembers Geoff Kors and Lisa Middleton for the community meeting.
The assemblyman is expected to update attendees on the latest regarding his bill AB 2943 prohibiting conversion therapy, which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation.
AB 2943 would declare conversion therapy a fraudulent practice in the state of California. The state barred the therapy’s use on minors in 2012, while Low’s bill addresses its practice on adults.
Kors said that officials are hoping to hear from locals, who can let the assemblyman and city officials know “where they see gaps in protections for the LGBT community.”
In addition, organizers are hoping that the meeting can serve as outreach for those looking to educate themselves on available resources, as well as providing assistance toward AB 2943’s passage in the form of direct testimonials regarding the effects of undergoing conversion therapy, which Middleton described as “absolutely horrific.”
Middleton said she was “very hopeful that we will hear from some individuals who have undergone conversion therapy” in order to help pass AB 2943.
The councilwoman said that one of the key issues she saw confronting the LGBT community was “a radical interpretation of religious liberty that would allow individuals to withhold services from LGBT individuals.”
Speaking on her experiences at a hearing in Sacramento earlier this year regarding AB 2943, Middleton said the opposition seemed to feel that “prohibiting gay conversion therapy was going to somehow jeopardize their ability to practice their own faith,” which she called “patently false.”
Friday’s town hall meeting will also address what advances Palm Springs has made regarding protections for LGBT individuals, such as non-discrimination ordinances establishing protections for LGBT workers.
“Palm Springs is at the forefront of LGBT rights in the country,” Kors said, though he acknowledged that there were still advances to make, particularly with homeless LGBT youth and LGBT seniors.
Low previously invited the history-making, first ever all-LGBT city council to be recognized at the state capitol in Sacramento earlier this year. The city also recently earned the distinction of a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2018 Municipal Equality Index, which measures a city’s laws and policies regarding protections for its LGBT citizens.
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