Sandy Anderson and Lynn Readey have lived in Dublin, Ohio for 21 years.
They lived there 14 years before they were married. They there 15 years before their marriage was legally recognized in Ohio. But it wasn’t until this week—more than two decades after Anderson and Readey put down roots in the Columbus suburb—that they felt fully protected.
At their November 15 meeting, the Dublin City Council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance with fully inclusive LGBTQ+ protections in the areas of housing, employment. and public accommodations.
“With the passage of this non-discrimination ordinance, our home has told us, ‘You are welcome and safe here,'” said Anderson. “That is huge. We are so grateful for that message of support, that investment in return.”
As the 35th municipality in Ohio to pass these protections, Dublin may not have been one of the first in the state, but they may have been one of the fastest.
Although some conversations about adding these protections began four years ago, action kicked into high gear in 2020 when Dublin received a 44 out of 100 on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index. A Community Task Force that was already planning ways to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in Dublin placed LGBTQ+ equality high on their list of priorities.
“There was immediately a concerted desire to do something about that HRC score and Dublin responded immediately—and positively—to the idea of adding these LGBTQ+ protections,” explained Joseph Soza, Central Ohio Regional Organizer for Equality Ohio.
A proposal was sent through to the City Council in August of 2021 with widespread support of the voting Council members to advance language to city attorneys for their review.
Specifically, the proposal would update Chapter 140 of the Dublin Codified Ordinances to add sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as protected classes in Dublin, which would then provide protections in three areas: employment practices, housing accommodations, and public accommodations.
Only a few months later, the proposed ordinance landed in front of the Dublin City Council at their November 8 meeting for a first reading. Members of the public showed up at the meeting to speak in favor of the language, including representatives from PFLAG Columbus and Rainbow Dublin, a recently-formed LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the community. The speed at which this legislation came together was apparent to supporters
“We whipped this together so darn quick, it was incredible,” said Bobby Weston of Rainbow Dublin. “I’m used to government working so slow, so this was amazing to see how motivated Dublin has been to get this important language passed.”
Members of the Dublin City Council expressed their own enthusiasm at the meeting.
“I’m thrilled that we’re doing what we need to do to create a city that’s welcoming for everyone,” said Jane Fox, Council Member for Ward 2.
After the Council and Mayor Chris Ambose Groomes endorsed some suggestions from Equality Ohio to make the language even more fully inclusive, the proposed ordinance returned to the agenda for their November 15 meeting.
Dublin City Council passed the LGBTQ+ protections unanimously to applause from supporters and Boy Scout Troop 111 who were there to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I’m pleased that we have taken this step to support the LGBTQ+ community,” said Andy Keeler, an At-Large member of the Dublin City Council. “Dublin welcomes everyone. My hope is that, by passing a Non-Discrimination Ordinance, other communities will follow. I also feel it’s important to demonstrate that we heard the Community Task Force, and appreciate all of the effort that they gave in creating the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Framework.”
With the Ohio Fairness Act in committee, Ohio currently does not offer statewide LGBTQ+ protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations. With the Equality Act seemingly stalled out, nor are these protections provided federally.
Advocates note that Dublin’s passing of LGBTQ+ inclusive language represents key proactive action, especially given the lack of movement with the state and federal government.
“When cities like Dublin take it upon themselves to protect their own community members, they are making a statement of support and inclusivity that all individuals should have equal and fair access,” said Soza. “Dublin showed that this can be done.”
And done quickly. 🔥
(Additional support for this piece provided by Jaron Terry.)
- Thank the Dublin City Council for their work to pass fully-inclusive LGBTQ+ protections.
- Contact your Ohio State Representatives to make your voice heard about the Ohio Fairness Act. You can go here and enter in your info to find out “Who represents me?”
- Dial 472472 to be connected to your U.S. Senator to make your voice heard about the Equality Act.