CLEVELAND- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio called on Cleveland City Council members to pass legislation that would create a domestic partner registry and add gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination policy. The registry would allow unmarried couples to register their partnership with the city, no matter their sexual orientation. Adding gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination policy will mean that no person can be denied employment, housing or equal access to government facilities based on their gender identity.

ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link said, “This would represent a tremendous step towards ensuring fairness for all Clevelanders. By expanding our rights, city leaders our showing we are a tolerant, progressive community who cares about fundamental rights like equality. As businesses with diverse employees and clients look at areas to invest, this is an important factor that will keep Cleveland competitive with other metropolitan areas.“

Along with Cleveland’s recent move to include gender identity into its non-discrimination laws, legislators in the Ohio General Assembly are considering bi-partisan legislation that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA) would apply throughout the state, including municipalities that have already adopted similar measures in their local ordinances.

“While it is vitally important that Cleveland and other cities stand up for basic fairness, we cannot forget about the many Ohioans who are not fortunate enough to live in a city with these protections. We must press our legislators to act now on the EHEA, which would extend greater equality to all people in our state,” added Link.

Cleveland will be the third city to provide a domestic partner registry in Ohio. These programs make it easier for non-married couples to obtain benefits at work, gain access to hospitals where their partner may be admitted and extends membership for some recreational programs. By prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, Cleveland joins other Ohio cities like Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton in protecting all citizens from unfair bias.