CLEVELAND- Today, on July 19, at 1:30p.m., the Cuyahoga County Council is expected to consider two provisions that would protect LGBT community members. The first is a charter amendment that will add gender identity and expression to the list of protected classes in the HR manual for the county. The second measure is a nondiscrimination ordinance providing employment, housing, and public accommodations protections for a whole list of characteristics including sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

The charter amendment will go before voters in November; however, the non-discrimination ordinance only requires a majority vote of the council to pass.

“The ACLU of Ohio wholeheartedly supports the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to Cuyahoga County’s non-discrimination ordinance and, hopefully, the creation of an impactful Commission on Human Rights, one with teeth, that offers real remedies. We applaud the Council and its leadership for taking these critically necessary steps,” said J. Bennett Guess, executive director for the ACLU of Ohio.

If passed, Cuyahoga County would join about 20 Ohio cities and counties that offer non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. HB 160, the Ohio Fairness Act, would extend Ohio’s workplace and housing discrimination protects to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Currently, there is no statewide law protecting LGBT people in Ohio.

“While supportive, the ACLU must underscore the importance for Cuyahoga County Council to create a substantive Human Rights Commission, one that can do more than just levy fines to fund diversity education efforts, but also provide real remedies, especially recovery for the damages that victims of discrimination face. Any ordinance that creates the illusion of protection, while good intentioned, is problematic and inherently lacking in true justice, because it gives the impression that people who face discrimination have a real opportunity to have that wrong righted, when, in fact, this commission could potentially provide mere tokenisms, not real and meaningful redress,” concluded Guess.