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April 4 , 2014

Maple Heights passes two equality measures

New LGBT ordinances cover housing and city workers

Maple Heights, Ohio--When two-thirds of city council are co-sponsoring equality legislation, it is a good bet that it will pass.

That’s exactly what happened on March 19, when Maple Heights city council voted to amend its equal employment policies for city workers to include sexual orientation, gender identity, military status, familial status and ancestry, and changed the term “handicap” to “disability.” The previous month, the city had similarly expanded its housing rights ordinance.

The legislation was put forward by councilor Richard Trojanski, the city’s first out council member, now firmly entrenched in his third term. He was reelected last November by a 3-1 margin in his predominantly African American district after proving his dedication to his constituents, hosting a health and wellness fair in collaboration with Zion Lutheran Church, Marymount and South Pointe Hospitals in 2012 and a home foreclosure outreach event at the local library last year.

“It’s taken me three terms to introduce and get City Council to consider and pass legislation to include protections for the LGBT community,” Trojanski said. “In February, City Council passed an amended ordinance regarding the city’s Fair Housing Policy to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The ordinance barring discrimination in city employment was opposed by councilors Bill Brownlee and Anthony Cefaratti, but members Alex Adams, Toni Jones, Ron Jackson and Edwina Agee all cosponsored the bill. It was also supported by Council President Jackie Albers and Mayor Jeffrey Lansky.

The Cleveland Stonewall Democrats quoted Trojanski saying, “I made a promise to my community, as someone who was proud to call Maple Heights my home and as a member of the LGBT community, that I would work tirelessly to make my hometown an even more welcoming place for all. I am particularly proud of my fellow city leaders for sharing this vision for our community and supporting this legislation.”

With passage of the housing ordinance, Maple Heights becomes Ohio's 18th city with sexual orientation in its equality laws and the 13th to include transgender people. These local measures--in all six of the state’s largest cities plus Canton, five other Cleveland suburbs and five college towns--cover a fifth of the state’s population. No Ohio or federal law protects LGBT people from discrimination.





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