Prizm News / August 2, 2018 / By Bob Vitale

The national campaign counters efforts to legitimize discrimination as a religious issue.

 

By Bob Vitale

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Do they take reservations? Do they have a patio? Will they refuse to bake a cake for your wedding or demand you use the other restroom? 

More than 70 million Yelp users have a new bit of information to consider when choosing a restaurant, nightclub, coffee shop, plumber or other business. The app and website are offering businesses a chance to declare their openness to all customers as part of a national campaign that counters right-wing efforts to cloak discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom.” 

Open to All is an effort that now includes more than 1,200 businesses and nearly 200 civil-rights groups, business alliances, faith organizations and labor unions. Open to All includes the ACLU and Equality Ohio, which also has been lining up businesses behind the latest push to add sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the state’s nondiscrimination laws. 

“When a business opens its doors to the public, it should be open to everybody on the same terms,” Calla Rongerude, the campaign manager of Open to All, told journalists this week in a national conference call. “No one should be turned away from a business simply because of who they are.” 

The Open to All pledge commits businesses to “maintain a welcoming and safe environment for people—including employees, visitors, customers, vendors and clients—regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion or disability.” 

Yelp expands the Open to All message exponentially. 

Luther Lowe, Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy, said adding the Open to All pledge is left up to businesses, which can manage their information at biz.yelp.com. Once they’re on their dashboard, he said, they should click Unlock Business Features. Under Edit Attributes, where they manage information for consumers, there’s an option to add Open to All, he said. 

The campaign is an updated version of one Ohioans might recall from the fight for marriage equality earlier this decade. 

Then, a group called Why Marriage Matters Ohio offered businesses signs to hang in their windows that declared their support for marriage equality. 

When businesses take the new Open to All pledge, they also will get a sign to display. 

bobvitale@prizmnews.com

 

Bob Vitale
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, he has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Contact: BobVitale@prizmnews.com