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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 7, 2007

Dayton city commission
passes LGBT equality law

City 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 anti-discrimination code.

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 everywhere.’ ”

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 a referendum.

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 Strickland.

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 gender identity.

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.



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