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Victory in Cuyahoga County!

Oct 1, 2018

Eric Hayes, Communications and Development Coordinator

On Tuesday, September 25ththe Cuyahoga County Council made history with the passage of Ordinance 02018-0009, a county-wide measure barring discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations that includes protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This ordinance also creates a Human Rights Commission—a three-person body to adjudicate complaints of discrimination in the county. It was reported to be the largest attendance and the longest meeting in the history of the County Council.
The night was not an easy one for the many LGBTQ+ and allied community members showed up to support the ordinance. Over 80 people signed up to speak in a public comment session that lasted for about 4 hours. For about half of that time, LGBTQ+ individuals in attendance listened and cringed as those opposing the human rights legislation demonized our community—most specifically the trans community. Those in favor of the ordinance answered back with impassioned pleas to be seen as people rather than monsters, statistics about the economic advantages of inclusion, and real life discrimination stories that underscored the need for this ordinance to pass.
Many in the crowd who have been following this issue expected the legislation to pass. When the 8-3 vote in favor of the ordinance was complete, the room erupted in applause and tears as many felt fully seen and supported by the County for the first time.
As we celebrate this victory, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a small step towards equality for LGBTQ+ people. Here are some things you can do to keep the ball rolling:
1.      Register to Vote — Register to vote by October 9th so that you can make your voice heard for LGBTQ+ equality in November. Register online here or come in to The Center for a paper form.
2.      Vote — Now that you’re registered, make sure you actually make it to the polls on November 6 and that you support issues and candidates the prioritize equality.
3.      Support HB 160 The Ohio Fairness Act — For a decade, the state of Ohio has been floating around legislation to protect LGBTQ+ Ohioans from discrimination without ever bringing it to a vote. Call your representatives and ask them to support the passage of HB 160.
4.      Support organizations that advocate for the LGBTQ+ community — This victory would not have been possible without a broad coalition of organizations working together to leverage support for the issue. The Center was part of a team headed by our friends atEquality Ohio and supported by the Human Rights Campaign, The Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research, the ACLU of Ohio, Stonewall Democrats, Plexus LGBT and Allied Chamber of Commerce, TransOhio, and others. We need your support to keep the work going!

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