is Ohio’s 14th to cover gays and lesbians,
3rd to include transgender people
Dayton--Equality came to the Miami Valley on November
21 with the city commission’s passage of an ordinance
adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Dayton’s
The 3-1 vote makes Dayton the 14th Ohio city that bars
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation--heterosexuality,
homosexuality or bisexuality--and the city now joins Toledo
and Cincinnati in protecting transgender people as well.
Mayor Rhine McLin and commissioners Nan Whaley and Matt
Joseph voted in favor of the measure, while Dean Lovelace
voted against it. Commissioner Joey Williams abstained.
“I have been challenged by friends on both sides to make
the right decision,” said McLin. “Clearly, the right decision
for me personally would be to ‘abstain’ or find some obscure
rationale to vote ‘no.’ ”
“This would be politically expedient, but would it be
the right thing to do as mayor of the city of Dayton?”
she asked, according to the Dayton Daily News.
She then quoted Coretta Scott King, the late wife of
slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I have worked too long and hard against segregated public
accommodations to end up segregating my moral concern.
Justice is indivisible. Like Martin, I don’t believe you
can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny
it to others,” McLin quoted. “I still hear people say
that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian
and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial
justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther
King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
The mayor concluded by noting, “It has been nine years
since the City Commission first discussed this issue.
Justice delayed is justice denied.”
Some religious leaders called for more public discussion
on the ordinance before its passage, the same tactic used
in 1999 when Mary Wiseman, then a city commissioner, tried
to get a similar ordinance passed. They also threatened
The 1999 measure was opposed by then-mayor Mike Turner,
who is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Wiseman, Dayton’s first openly gay council member, tried
again the following year, and was again unsuccessful.
She is now Ohio’s first openly gay judge, having been
appointed to fill a seat vacated by a retiring judge on
the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas by Gov. Ted
The new measure takes effect on December 21. Then, Dayton
will join Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and
Canton, the college towns of Athens, Yellow Springs and
Oberlin, and the Cleveland suburbs of North Olmsted, Shaker
Heights, Lakewood, East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights
in protecting residents on the basis of sexual orientation.
(No federal or Ohio state law does this.)
With the addition of Dayton, 19.6 percent of Ohioans,
just under one in five, will be protected from discrimination
by sexual orientation, and 6.7 percent on the basis of
Canton’s law director has issued an opinion that that
city’s sexual orientation ordinance can be interpreted
to include gender identity. Westlake’s law director has
also said its existing fair housing code can be applied
to sexual orientation as well.