On Saturday, October 27, Vice Mayor E. Denise Simmons will open the doors of Cambridge City Hall for a public Town Hall Meeting focusing upon the LGBT Community. The meeting, to be held in the historic Sullivan Chamber from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., is part of the Vice Mayor’s ongoing efforts to increase civic engagement and to provide a meaningful forum for Cambridge’s diverse community members to communicate their interests and concerns directly to their local government officials. Cambridge, the very first city in the nation to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples in 2004, continues to be a leader in the advancement of LGBT rights and inclusiveness, and the Vice Mayor’s prior LGBT Town Hall meetings in 2004 and 2008 have helped further this image. This year’s Town Hall Meeting will feature Massachusetts Rep. Byron Rushing, who has been celebrated for his work in advancing LGBT equality across the Commonwealth, as keynote speaker.
The event begins with a brief overview of the LGBT experience in Cambridge, followed by Rep. Rushing addressing the pressing issues that are facing the LGBT community, and then participants will break into facilitated discussion groups. These groups will offer attendees a chance to discuss specific areas, such as issues affecting LGBT seniors and LGBT parents of school-age children, and a chance to offer their feedback on these and other issues. That feedback will then be reported back to the entire room, at the end of the meeting.
The afternoon will also feature brief “advocacy updates” from Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD, representatives of the Cambridge GLBT Commission, and from representatives of MassEquality.
Vice Mayor Simmons called this meeting because “I want to make certain that city officials hear from all of their constituents, and everyone must realize that they have an important role to play in shaping their community. Town meetings are as old as our democracy, and they are the best way for citizens and their representatives to have an unfiltered, honest discussion about the state of the community.” Past LGBT Town Hall Meetings have helped set priorities and agendas for the City Council and other local officials, and have directly led to the establishment of the City’s GLBTCommission. In addition to the speakers and the discussion sessions, attendees will be served a meal and given the opportunity to learn about other LGBT issues being discussed and acted upon at the state and federal level.