HRC and Equality Ohio, the statewide group working to advance LGBTQ equality, hailed the Cuyahoga County Council for passing a county-wide ordinance expanding existing non-discrimination laws to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations. The second most populous county in Ohio, Cuyahoga County is home to more than 1.2 million Ohioans and the first county in the Ohio to pass such protections.
“Cuyahoga County leaders have taken an important step and we hope their leadership will build momentum in other communities that lack protections,” said HRC Ohio State Director Shawn Copeland. “But more must be done to move equality forward and end the unacceptable patchwork of non-discrimination laws across this state that leave LGBTQ Ohioans at risk. In November, we must elect a pro-equality governor and state legislature committed to passing the Ohio Fairness Act, and we must address the epidemic of violence facing Ohio’s transgender community -- particularly transgender women of color. Every Ohioan should have a fair chance to earn a living, provide for their families, and live their lives without fear of discrimination and we look forward to working with our local partners and elected officials to ensure that all are protected.”
“I am incredibly proud of the Cuyahoga County Council and of the message this sends to the LGBTQ residents of Cuyahoga County,” said Alana Jochum, Equality Ohio Executive Director. “I hope that in particular, this sends a message to LGBTQ youth in the county that they are welcome, they are accepted, and they shouldn’t have to move to the big city to be treated with dignity.”
HRC and Equality Ohio volunteers recently wrote emails and made calls to Cuyahoga County council members, urging them to expand protections to support equality. While non-discrimination protections exist in some Cuyahoga County cities including Cleveland, this ordinance expands these protections to the county’s 58 municipalities.
Ohio is one of 30 states without fully-inclusive, comprehensive LGBTQ non-discrimination protections. First introduced in 2009, the Ohio Fairness Act would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations statewide. This crucial legislation had its first ever committee hearing on January 31 of this year, but has since stalled in the Ohio House.