Cleveland City Council to Vote on Closing Discrimination Loopholes in Local Ordinances

A coalition of advocates led by the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland and Equality Ohio say Cleveland City council is set to continue work it started in 2009

CLEVELAND, OH, November 6, 2014 — Cleveland City Council’s Workforce and Community Benefits Committee is scheduled to vote on Ordinances 1445-13 and 1446-13 on Wednesday, November 12th at 1:30 pm. The Ordinances, co-sponsored by Councilmen Joe Cimperman and Matt Zone, would update existing protections to include the transgender community in Cleveland’s Municipal Code.

“These are exactly the kind of improvements to Cleveland’s Code that we hoped for in the wake of the successful 2014 Gay Games” said Phyllis Harris, Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland. “We are pleased that Cleveland City Council is stepping up to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Ordinance 1445-13 would amend Cleveland Code section 187.15 to add “gender identity or expression” to the groups currently protected against discrimination by contractors hired by the City of Cleveland. Additional sections of Cleveland’s Code will be amended as part of the ordinance to include “gender identity or expression” where not previously enumerated among existing protected groups. In 2009, the Council added some protections for “gender identity or expression” throughout the Code. These amendments would correct the few remaining areas.

Ordinance 1446-13 would amend Cleveland’s nondiscrimination protections for public accommodations to enumerate sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression. It would also remove a provision harmful to the transgender community that currently allows businesses to designate which bathroom an individual can or cannot use. The provisions do not require the construction of new facilities in any buildings, nor do they increase costs to the City of Cleveland. Similarly, they do not change the fact that it remains illegal to enter a restroom to harm, harass, or invade the privacy of others. It simply allows a person to use the bathroom that matches the gender they live every day.

“These are common-sense updates to the Cleveland Code,” said Alana Jochum, Northeast Ohio Coordinator for Equality Ohio, the statewide LGBT education and advocacy organization. “It’s about striking a balance between allowing everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the opportunity to go about their daily lives.”

A coalition of local, state and national LGBT-supporters and advocates have been working to educate Clevelanders about the provisions for several months leading up to the vote.

“In a short amount of time, we have had conversations in every ward with Clevelanders who support this change,” says Jacob Nash, a Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund and founder of Margie’s Hope, a Northeast Ohio nonprofit devoted to assisting transgender individuals in need. “We have had thousands of conversations that have encouraged Clevelanders to think about their community and how they can engage in making it a more accepting place for everyone, including transgender people.”


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Media Contacts:
Mark Daley
Chief Communications and Marketing Officer
(Office) 202.639.6325
(Cell) 202.379.8318

Jorge Amaro
Media and Public Relations Director
(Office) 202.639.6306
(Cell) 213.842.7564

Alana Jochum
Equality Ohio