Prizm News / April 10, 2018 / By Bob Vitale
Sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are covered in the Ohio’s latest local LGBTQ civil rights law.
By Bob Vitale
South Euclid is the latest city in Ohio to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. City Council members in the Cleveland suburb of about 22,000 voted unanimously Tuesday night for a nondiscrimination ordinance that covers employment, housing and public accommodations.
“We have been telling people that we are an inclusive community and we’ve been doing it for years, and we didn’t have the laws to back it up,” said council member Ruth Gray.
The law that more than one person said will back up South Euclid’s motto of “Come Together and Thrive” will take effect immediately upon the signature of Mayor Georgine Wilo, who also spoke in favor of the legislation.
“I ask you: Love thy neighbor,” she told a full City Council chambers.
Before their final vote Tuesday, council members scaled back a religious exemption that would have gone beyond Ohio law in defining what constitutes a religious affiliation. Although the law still exempts religious organizations as defined by state law and as recognized by the IRS, several people opposed to the ordinance called it an attack on their beliefs.
The Rev. Dave Ireland, a priest at South Euclid’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, called himself “a proud member of this community up until now” and accused City Council members of doing the bidding of Equality Ohio and discriminating against the city’s Catholic residents.
Mark Langley, academic dean at The Lyceum, a local Catholic school, told council members: “When you say you can’t discriminate against one, you are actually discriminating against others.”
“Do you see the logic in that?” he asked.
“No,” Gray responded.
Marilyn Murray, who described herself as a Catholic woman who’s proud of her Catholic education, said: “I was raised with the value of ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ I am grateful for that education. I’m asking you to act in a way that reflects that we’re one world and one family,” she said.
Equality Ohio counts South Euclid as the 20th city in Ohio to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Although the City Commission in Springfield adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance in January, the statewide LGBTQ civil rights group says that city’s religious exemption is too broad to be counted as an effective law.
In South Euclid, complaints under the nondiscrimination law will go to a new, five-member Civil Rights Review Board for investigation and resolution.
More than 2.6 million Ohioans—about 20 percent of the state’s population—live in communities that ban discrimination against LGBTQ people. Other cities with nondiscrimination laws include Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton and Youngstown.
Ohio lacks a statewide nondiscrimination law.