Twenty Ohio cities now include sexual orientation and gender identity in local nondiscrimination laws.
By Bob Vitale
On the eve of a hearing in Columbus on statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people, city commissioners in Springfield approved a similar law locally.
A proposed ordinance approved, 4-1, on Tuesday night will bar discrimination in the city of 59,000 based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender presentation. It covers employment, housing and public accommodations, which is a catch-all term for retail shops, restaurants, business services, schools, and other public and private facilities.
The new law goes into effect two weeks from today, on Tuesday, Feb. 13.
“I am supporting this because it is the right thing to do,” said Commissioner David Estrop, one of two newcomers who took office this month and created a majority in support of the proposal. “Our country has had a history of discrimination time and time again. It has never served us well. We are better together.”
Springfield is the 20th city in Ohio to adopt its own ban on discrimination against LGBTQ people, something Ohio legislators have refused to do at the state level despite polls showing broad public support.
Locally expanded discrimination bans now exist in cities that are home to a total of 2.6 million Ohioans, or 22 percent of the state’s population. They protect LGBTQ people in 10 of Ohio’s 20 biggest cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron and Dayton.
While several opponents of the measure addressed commissioners by quoting the Bible, supporters also addressed the measure as a moral, religious–and economic–matter.
That was the view of Mayor Warren Copeland, who supported a similar ordinance that was defeated in 2012.
“People of good will of various faiths can disagree about this issue,” he said. “For some of the rest of us, it’s a faith issue, too.”
Although Springfield’s ban only mentions sexual orientation, that term is defined within the new law to include both sexual orientation and gender identity. Copeland said discrimination against transgender people in Springfield will be against the law also.
The ordinance also adds sexual orientation and gender identity to Springfield’s local hate-crimes law.
[Follow us on Twitter @PrizmNews for live updates from tomorrow’s Ohio House of Representatives’ committee hearing on the Ohio Fairness Act.)