PROVIDENCE, RI – Brett Smiley, Democratic candidate for Mayor of Providence, today pledged that he will make Providence one of the nation’s leaders on full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents and city employees. Providence currently ranks below many cities of its size according to the highly respected Municipal Equality Index put out each year by the Human Rights Campaign​ (HRC)​.

Brett Smiley said, “As Mayor, I will enact policies that ensure full equality for LGBTQ residents and city employees. This is not only fundamental fairness; it is critical to attracting talented young workers and entrepreneurs essential to our economic growth.”

Smiley committed to requiring all city contractors to ​enact non-discrimination policies as well as provide​ equal benefits to same sex couples. He also promised to ​designate​ LGBTQ liaisons for the ​m​ayor’s office and the ​p​olice department​. Smiley also noted that Rhode Island ​​ranks far below dozens of other states on the H​RC’s Healthcare Equality Index, and he announced that all city employees will receive equal healthcare coverage and all city contractors must guarantee the same to their employees. In addition, Smiley committed to ensuring that City Hall and other municipal buildings have gender-neutral restrooms.

Over a decade ago, Smiley worked for the Gay and Lesbian Student Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization that addresses bullying and harassment in our schools. Smiley ​will work with GLSEN, Youth Pride, and other organizations committed to eliminating intolerance in Providence schools.​

Rhode Island is one of only a few states in the country that does not have an anti-bullying law, while Massachusetts passed one almost two decades ago.

Smiley commented, “I will step in where the state has not and enact a strong anti-bullying policy​ in Providence. ​Our capital city should be a place in which the safety of children, transgender people, and all LGBTQ individuals is an absolute guarantee, and I will work to make that a reality.”

Providence received a rating of 81 in the 2013 Municipal Equality Index​. In comparison, Boston and New Haven both received scores of 100 and Hartford received a 99.​ As the Municipality Equality Index asserts, “Openness and tolerance are not just moral imperatives, they are economic ones as well.”​ And research from Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, confirms​ that communities known for diversity and equal treatment get an economic leg up.​

Brett Smiley has spent his career fighting for progressive causes, including the successful marriage equality campaign in Rhode Island last year. He will be marching in this Saturday’s Pride Parade with his husband and dozens of supporters in honor of Pride Month.