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December 03, 2010

Both Bowling Green ordinances pass with provisional votes

Bowling Green, Ohio--After almost everything was said and done, those promoting equal rights won out over those decrying “special rights” with the November 22 certification of the election results.

With all votes counted, including the provisional ballots, both city ordinances protecting LGBT citizens have passed and will become law.

The Bowling Green city council approved the two measures in August 2009, one adding sexual orientation and gender expression, among other classes, to the city’s fair housing ordinances, the other applying them to employment and public accommodations.

After the ordinances passed, a group eventually calling itself BG Citizens Voting No to Special Rights Discrimination started a petition drive to put a repeal on the ballot. The battle over the ordinances was fought door-to-door and mailing by mailing over the following months, culminating at the ballot boxes on November 2.

On election night, the ordinances, 7905 and 7906, split the bill, with the housing ordinance passing and the employment and public accommodations ordinance failing, both by slim margins.

However, that was before the provisional ballots were counted Provisional ballots include those cast by college students who may be registered in another county, but are voting in the county in which they are attending school.

Over three quarters of the provisional ballots were in favor of retaining the ordinances, which held to the immediate results. In both situations, the majority of the two precincts that included Bowling Green State University supported the ordinances.

Ordinance 7905 saw an increase in yes votes of 661 to 4,765, while no votes only went up 204 to 4,284. Ordinance 7906, which originally fell by 116 votes, saw an increase in yes votes of 632 to 4,635, while the no votes only went up 219 to 4,338.

During the campaign, the anti-gay side argued that religious organizations like Bowling Green Christian Academy would have to hire men in dresses.

However, both ordinances have religious exemptions, so the pro-gay side were able to counter much of the “religious freedom” arguments put forward.

Bowling Green now becomes the 17th city in Ohio with equality ordinances for its LGBT citizens. These cover a fifth of the state’s population.

Ten of these measures include transgender people: Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton, Akron, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, Bowling Green and Oxford. 

The other seven cover sexual orientation only: Athens, Canton, East Cleveland, Lakewood, North Olmsted, Oberlin and Yellow Springs.

No state law protects either group. A bill to add housing and employment protections passed the Ohio House last year, but has stalled in the Senate.

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