Prizm News / July 10, 2019 / By Ken Schneck

Christopher R. Long, (right), president of the Ohio Christian Alliance, said a citizens committee is considering filing a referendum in an attempt to repeal the ordinances.

A Conservative Christian organization announces they will attempt to repeal the protections passed this week in Medina

Mere days after Medina became the 25th community in Ohio to pass comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ+ community, it would seem the fight is not over yet. The Ohio Christian Alliance, a conservative organization that has a long history of opposing LGBTQ+ rights, has announced that they will likely be moving forward to collect signatures to file a referendum in an attempt to repeal the ordinances. Prizm spoke with Grant Stancliff, the Communications Director for Equality Ohio, to find out where this action all heads next. 

Grant Stancliff,
Communications Director at Equality Ohio

Given the vast number of nondiscrimination ordinances on which Equality Ohio has worked over the years, is it normal for there to be opposition like this after protections pass?

No. It’s not normal. The Ohio Christian Alliance has been around for a while. They played a big role in getting Ohio to pass defense of marriage legislation and working on the Issue 1 campaign. This is in their DNA. But in terms of a repeal effort, we haven’t really seen this since Bowling Green which was over ten years ago and Cincinnati which was way back in the 90s. 

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How did you all hear that the Ohio Christian Alliance might be taking this action? 

We have a lot of people we know in Medina through these efforts, and so we found out that they were intending on doing this a few days ago. We have been waiting to see if they were going to follow through with it. 

Why Medina as a battleground and none of these other cities that have passed protections?

[Ohio Christian Alliance] might think they have a shot at doing this in Medina, as opposed to say Cuyahoga County, which has more of a reputation of being LGBTQ friendly than Medina. But they might be surprised. The relationships we’ve built are strong, and there has been great support that has been seen in city council meeting after city council meeting. Their plan to move forward might feel like a setback, but the law is currently in the books and nothing has changed yet. 

What happens now?

What [Ohio Christian Alliance] has to do first is get a certain amount of signatures. We expect that they will be out there collecting signatures, drumming up fears, spreading lies about transgender people, using scare tactics about things that are going to happen in bathrooms. We also suspect that if they were to describe the law exactly as it is, no one would sign. Because they would be asking people to take away other people’s civil rights. We have to be out there with them. They have a First Amendment right to be out there and so do we. We will have people out there correcting the lies, and explaining that this ordinance protects LGBTQ from discrimination. Period. And that’s it. We’re going to ask people not to sign. Decline to sign. 

It has to be a little frustrating to have this opposition right after the great work that has taken place to get this passed. 

That’s the nature of these things. It’s a little cliché, but this work really is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. This is an example of the fact that we can’t for a second sit on our wins. We can’t have a win and then leave a community when it gets tough. If the fight is brought to our community and someone is trying to take away the rights we have won, we are going to be there on the frontlines and we are going push back. 

What can readers to do get involved?

Right now, if people want to get in involved, we’re going to need volunteers to get the truth out, to be standing in front of these people trying to get these signatures and setting the record straight. We’re going to make to make them work for every single signature. 

For Medina volunteer opportunities, go to https://www.equalityohio.org/ and sign up for the Equality Ohio newsletter found right on their homepage. 

Ken Schneck
Ken Schneck is an author, professor, radio host, and rabble rouser. His travelogue, "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here?: The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" was published in 2017, "LGBTQ Cleveland" was released in 2018, and "LGBTQ Columbus" hits the shelves in June of 2019. He is a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, Cleveland Magazine and FreshWater Cleveland. For 10 years, he was the producer/host of "This Show is So Gay," the award-winning, long-running radio show/podcast, and will launch “The Do Gooder Podcast” this September. In his spare time, he is a Professor of Education at Baldwin Wallace University where he teaches courses on antiracism and communities organizing for social change.