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August 28, 2009

 

Cleveland TG measure may have less support in council

Cleveland--If a proposed city ordinance to bar discrimination by gender identity was put to a City Council vote today, only eight council members are committed to voting for it.

The Gay People’s Chronicle asked all 21 councilors if they would support the measure in its current structure. Only ten responded to the written survey.

Councilors were told that all responses were on the record and that non-responses would be viewed as intent to vote against the ordinance.

The eight committed votes for the ordinance are its sponsor and council’s only openly gay member, Joe Santiago of Ward 14, with cosponsors Michael Polensek of Ward 11, Joe Cimperman of Ward 13, Matt Zone of Ward 17, and Jay Westbrook of Ward 18.

Joining them are Phyllis Cleveland of Ward 5, Mamie Mitchell of Ward 6, and Dona Brady of Ward 19.

Council president Martin Sweeney of Ward 20 replied, “I do not deal in ‘If’s.’ ”

Ward 16 councilor Kevin Kelly wrote, “I am generally in favor but this ordinance needs more discussion before I can absolutely commit to voting for this ordinance.”

The ordinance passed the Legislative Committee on December 1, 2008.

Afterward, the city law department took the measure back for additional consideration and has not approved it yet, according to Santiago.

It is not clear what the law department’s concerns are. Eight other Ohio cities, including Columbus and Cincinnati, have approved these measures without such difficulty, and there is little difference in the language granting the protection. The only differences are in how the ordinances meld with the city’s already established codes.

Smaller cities, including Cleveland Heights and Bowling Green, drafted and adopted their measures expanding protection to transgender people in very short periods of time.

The Chronicle’s survey suggests, however, that council support for the ordinance is not as strong as originally believed.

Last winter, the measure’s backers believed it would have support similar to the domestic partner registry, which passed 13-7.

The Cleveland Stonewall Democrats have endorsed ordinance supporters Mitchell, Polensek, Cimperman, Brady, and Westbrook for re-election.

They also endorsed the uncommitted Sweeney and Brian Cummins over Santiago in the new Ward 14. Cummins did not respond to the survey.

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