CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland’s anti-discrimination laws will grow to protect transgender citizens under an ordinance passed Monday by City Council.
Existing city codes prohibit businesses from denying jobs or housing to citizens for reasons of age, race, religion or sexual orientation.
Joe SantiagoActivists in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community had lobbied for more than a year to include gender identity and expression.
The unanimous vote was the latest step the council has taken to demonstrate a more tolerant atmosphere — one that helped the city land the 2014 Gay Games, an international competition.
“It’s taken some work,” said David Caldwell of Ask Cleveland, an LGBT rights group. His organization spent weeks solidifying support from fence-sitting council members.
Councilman Joe Santiago introduced the ordinance last year, about the same time that the council began considering a domestic partner registry that allows same- and opposite-sex couples to declare a relationship without marriage.
The registry passed by a 13-7 vote.
Santiago, the council’s first openly gay council member, urged his colleagues to continue fighting for equality.
Voters recently denied his bid for a second four-year term.
“I hope the new council coming on board will help this legislation evolve,” Santiago said Monday during a meeting of the council’s Finance Committee, which reviewed the measure.
Council members said they might expand the protections next year.
One issue they will consider: Allowing transgender citizens to use either a men’s or women’s restroom in public.