imageA unanimous East Point City Council on Monday expanded the city’s nondiscrimination policy to include gays, just a few weeks after voters rejected two LGBT candidates and ousted the incumbent mayor.

The move puts East Point among 11 other governments in Georgia that include sexual orientation in their nondiscrimination ordinances. But the measure approved Monday puts East Point ahead of most others—it also adds gender identity as a protected category.

Council member Lance Rhodes (top photo), who is gay, proposed the expansion of the city’s anti-bias policy; four years ago, he also led successful efforts to offer domestic partner benefit to city employees.

“Although our city charter mentions sexual orientation, East Point did not have any specific law that protected gay and transgender citizens from discrimination,” Rhodes says in a statement issued by Georgia Equality. “In order to support our charter and the movement in securing equal rights for the LGBT community, I felt it imperative that we protect our city employees from discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation with a city ordinance.”

The DeKalb city of Chamblee added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination ordinance in November, but the measure did not include gender identity. Rhodes says adding both sends a strong message.

“Simply stated, good business works to identify and reward those who contribute to the success of the business. Denying people an equal opportunity to contribute to our community based on sexual orientation or gender identity is simply bad business,” Rhodes says.

imageJeff Graham (bottom photo), executive director of Georgia Equality, praised East Point’s elected leaders for their actions Monday.

“While we may have a way to go before employment nondiscrimination is protected by federal or state statute, actions such as that taken by the City of East Point prove that these protections have become a standard part of operating any municipality or business. Discrimination in any form is simply unacceptable in the workplace,” Graham says.

The move by the city council comes just weeks after voters rejected two gay candidates hoping to unseat incumbents. Both Eric Morrow and Ken DeLeon lost their city council bids 53 to 47 percent. But East Point voters ousted incumbent Mayor Joe Macon.