Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Equality Ohio hailed members of the Cleveland City Council for unanimously approving anti-discrimination legislation protecting the right of transgender people to use restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identity. While city law prohibited anti-transgender discrimination in employment and public accommodations, due to exemptions in the 2009 legislation, transgender people have continued to face legal discrimination in access to single-sex facilities such as locker rooms and restrooms.
“While national Republican leaders are doing everything possible to relegate LGBTQ people to second-class citizens, the Cleveland City Council is standing up and sending the world a different message — that Cleveland is a welcoming city and won’t tolerate discrimination against transgender people,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “We commend City Council members for setting a pro-equality example for other cities and states by soundly rejecting the dangerous, fear-mongering rhetoric many anti-equality activists are peddling across the country.”
“This action by the City Council delivers on the promise of the Gay Games,” said Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “Cleveland is now a world class city with laws that foster a culture of inclusion. When the world is watching Cleveland on television, whether it’s the NBA Finals or the Republican National Convention, they’re seeing a city that is welcoming of LGBTQ people.”
Originally introduced in 2013, the anti-discrimination ordinance update had not been publicly heard since November 2014, remaining dormant in committee. Last month City Council President Kevin Kelley expressed support for the measure and announced plans for a vote. Under the new law, transgender people can use facilities consistent with their gender identity in the workplace and in public places.
Today’s pro-equality vote comes just days ahead of the 2016 Republican National Convention, which is being held in Cleveland. A slew of anti-LGBTQ provisions have been proposed this week by the party’s policy subcommittee, including a provision supporting anti-transgender discrimination, a provision calling for a Constitutional amendment undermining marriage equality, and another supporting the discredited and dangerous practice of so-called “conversion therapy.”
Cleveland now joins 19 states and more than 100 cities that have explicit non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations, housing and employment. Columbus and Cincinnati also have similar protections in place.
The passage of this ordinance follows years of discussion, debate and public education on transgender equality by Cleveland is Ready, a coalition consisting of ACLU of Ohio, AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, Beyond Identities Community Center, Equality Ohio, HRC, LGBT Center at Case Western, LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland, LGBT Ministries, Margie’s Hope, Movement in Black, National LGBT Task Force, PFLAG, Plexus, Stonewall Democrats, TransCleveland, TransFamily and TransOhio.