Upper Arlington will soon see new laws banning discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
The city council unanimously decided on June 28th to update its anti-discrimination ordinance for the first time in 50 years. The updated law comes into effect on July 28th.
The new ordinance brings city laws in line with state and federal laws and makes it illegal for anyone in the sheltered classes to be denied housing or employment in the city.
“This is actually true of all activities within the city, not just what the city does itself,” said City Attorney Darren Shulman. “This also applies to private companies that operate within the city.
“The old code only protected against discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry. The revision adds gender, military or veteran status, age, disability, as well as sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”
The Council adopted the regulation after almost an hour of discussion, led mainly by 16 public speakers, all of whom were in favor of updating the city law.
There was no resistance in public or among councilors.
“I envision an Upper Arlington where people will be able to be their true selves without having to be prepared for the moment that they will be harassed or discriminated against based on their identity,” said Bob Roehm, of himself identified himself as a lifelong resident of Upper Arlington.
After reading what she said there were proxy statements in support of the changes on behalf of Cameron Mitchell, founder and president of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, and John Lowe, CEO of Jeni Splendid Ice Cream, told Catherine Kennedy she took the move personally supported.
She said this was in line with the vision of Equal UA, an organization for which she is a board member.
“I would like to sincerely thank the members of the Upper Arlington City Council for supporting and advancing this important revision of our Upper Arlington Anti-Discrimination Ordinance that protects our LGBTQ + friends, families and neighbors who live or work in Upper Arlington,” said Kennedy . “Equal UA’s mission is to advocate diversity, equality and inclusion, and our vision is for a just and vibrant Upper Arlington where everyone will feel safe, welcome and celebrated.”
Among others who supported the change was David Polakowski, President and CEO of the Tri-Village Chamber Partnership, who said he had been married to a woman for years and raised two children before realizing, “To be a better father , I had to be me. ”
Polakowski said he has been married to his husband for 22 years and that updates to Upper Arlington’s anti-discrimination laws are “something moving us into 2021”.
Another advocate, Jacquie Mahan, identified as an LGBTQ + member.
“We really don’t need awareness. We need acceptance, ”said Mahan in a broken voice. “I’m sorry. It touches me because it is important that we are all protected and respected. ”
New provisions of the ordinance also allow anyone who believes they have been discriminated against to file a complaint with the town clerk within 180 days of the incident.
The parties may then agree to take the matter to a city-appointed mediator, or the case may be referred to a city-appointed hearing officer.
If discrimination is found to have occurred, a fine of up to $ 1,000 may be imposed. Multiple violations of the regulation within five years could result in fines of $ 2,500 for the first recurring violation and $ 5,000 for the second violation.
The council passed the ordinance during Pride Month, which celebrates LGBTQ + people and rights, and at the 52nd Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.
Councilor Jim Lynch, who approved the updated law, was “right” as the city was supposed to address a “pathetically outdated” ordinance.
Councilor Michaela Burriss, who worked with Shulman on the updates, praised those who spoke on behalf of the proposal for their courage. She said the new regulation would better represent the whole community.
“The world has moved,” said Burriss. “The world has changed.”
Burriss added that she hopes the updates can “help our culture as a community and what it means to accept and love”.