On Wednesday, the Cincinnati City Council voted to update their municipal code to offer more protections for the LGBTQ+ community.
The previous “Unlawful Discriminatory Practices” ordinance protected individuals from discrimination based on race, natural hair styles, and sexual orientation in the areas of housing, employment, and public accommodations.
Transgender individuals had been included under the header of sexual orientation.
Councilmembers Victoria Parks and Reggie Harris introduced new language that added categories for gender identity, gender expression, and sex. New categories were also introduced for familial status, military status, and breastfeeding status.
The new language passed by a vote of 9-0.
Harris, an out councilmember, praised the vote, particularly at a time when Ohio’s state legislature is debating multiple pieces of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
“I’m proud to lead the update of Cincinnati’s municipal code to be a model of inclusiveness and equality,” Harris told The Buckeye Flame. “These updates make critical steps in ensuring that folks are protected equally under the law with housing, employment, and other elements of public life. In a time where our state legislature is doubling down on anti-LGBTQIA bigotry, Cincinnati is taking important symbolic and legal actions to advance the lived experiences of our community as much as possible.”
Equality Ohio noted that Cincinnati was one of the first of Ohio’s 35 municipalities to pass nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community and that they do well to serve as a role model for the rest of the state.
“Cincinnati continues to remind us that there is more support for LGBTQ+ expansive laws than our state legislature wants us to think there is,” Jen Scott, Equality Ohio’s Statewide Field Manager, said in a statement. “Because of leaders like those in Cincinnati, we are paving the path towards legal and lived equality across the state.”
In 1992, Cincinnati became one of the first cities in the United States to pass an ordinance prohibiting discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodation because of sexual orientation.
In 1993, voters overwhelmingly passed “Issue 3,” repealing these protections. That repeal was codified as Article XII in the city’s charter, preventing the city from offering LGBTQ+ protections.
More than a decade later in 2004—after a city-wide mobilization of activism and grassroots community organizing—voters repealed Article XII by a vote of 54% to 46%.
It was an extraordinary LGBTQ+ victory particularly given the context of that year’s election in which 13 states—including Ohio—banned same-sex marriage. The repeal of Article XII was the only ballot victory for the LGBTQ+ community in the entire country in 2004. 🔥