Tuesday, October 4

City of Oberlin Moves Forward to Add Full LGBTQ+ Protections

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On December 6, the Oberlin City Council held a first reading on an ordinance (No. 20-64 AC CMS) to “Prohibit Discrimination Within the City of Oberlin Based Upon Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity or Gender Expression.” If passed, Oberlin would become the 33rd locality in Ohio to pass LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

According to a memo written by Jon D. Clark, Oberlin City Law Director, to the Oberlin City Council:

This ordinance prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in the employment of four or more persons ,other than family members and by employment agencies and labor organizations. The ordinance further prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in places of public accommodation. The ordinance provides that the enforcement provisions are to be applicable to the City’s fair housing ordinance to address discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

The proposed ordinance would contain exceptions for religious organizations “to assure that the constitutionally protected right of the free exercise of religion is not impaired.” The ordinance also calls for mediation over formal adjudication over resolution of any complaints of discrimination that may arise.

In his “Conclusion and Recommendation,” Clark writes, “With a limited exception, there are no protections from discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression at the state or federal levels. Local ordinances are presently the only means to provide such protections.” He then recommends that the Council pass the ordinance to provide those protections.

“We are very happy to see this moving forward,” said Gio Santiago, Northeast Ohio Organizer for Equality Ohio, during the December 6 meeting. “As someone who grew up on Lorain County, I’m very familiar with Oberlin and all the amazing things Oberlin has done over the years. This is just another piece to show the community just how welcoming Oberlin can be.”

The motion of the first reading passed the Oberlin City Council unanimously. The second of three readings needed to pass the ordinance will be held on December 21.

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About Author

Ken Schneck is the Editor of The Buckeye Flame. He received the 2021 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for the LGBTQ Journalist of the Year from the NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. He is the author of "Seriously, What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew" (2017), "LGBTQ Cleveland" (2018), "LGBTQ Columbus" (2019), and "LGBTQ Cincinnati" (2020). In his spare time, he is a professor of education at Baldwin Wallace University.

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