Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla will be signing an executive order this morning making all the bathrooms in the city gender neutral.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“This is a chance for Hoboken to lead the state and the country in affirming the civil rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community,” Bhalla said in a statement.
“Frankly, this is a no-brainer, and I hope the Council will do the right thing and pass this ordinance unanimously. From here, let’s continue to identify ways in which our community can be more supportive of our LGBTQ+ residents and visitors.”
The city council will vote on the order at their May 2nd meeting, and if approved, will make the Mile Square City the first municipality in New Jersey to pass such a measure.
“Hudson Pride Center is proud to represent and serve a county that is revolutionizing the fight for gender identity and expression,” added Hudson Pride Center CEO Michael Billy.
“The actions taken today by Mayor Bhalla strengthen the ongoing resistance to discriminatory policies and practices against LGBTQ people across the country. Now, more than ever, it is important that our cities take inclusive strides in policy that embrace our diversity.”
Furthermore, the mayor’s executive order will take effect immediately at the time of signing and the City of Hoboken has committed to changing all affected restroom signs by May 31, 2018, in time for the start of June – which is LGBT Pride Month.
Bhalla originally planned on signing an executive order that would pertain to city-owned single occupancy restrooms, but decided to expand upon that once it was pointed out that would only impact two bathrooms overall.
Early this evening, city spokesman Santiago Melli-Huber noted that the executive order actually pertained to 17 bathrooms: two at City Hall, 1 at One Police Plaza and 14 throughout various city fire stations.
1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, a political opponent of the mayor who is openly gay, said he is in support of the measure and plans on expanding upon it at next week’s council meeting.
“Bringing single-user gender neutral bathrooms to Hoboken is a conversation that started last year after I spoke out about our city’s failing grade on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, and I’m glad to work with Mayor Bhalla to move ahead on this symbolic but meaningful issue,” he said in his own statement.
“… At this coming Wednesday’s City Council meeting, I will be sponsoring a resolution which encourages a trans-inclusive healthcare plan for employees, offers services geared towards trans residents as well as LGBTQ senior citizens who are often forgotten about as they grow older and adds an enforcement mechanism to the city’s “Fair and Welcoming City” commission to protect LGBTQ rights.”
In March of last year, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed an executive order making all bathrooms in city building gender neutral.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with new information.