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Anti-discrimination Legislation Introduced to Cuyahoga Council


Media Contact:
Mary Louise Madigan: (216) 698-2521; mlmadigan@cuyahogacounty.us

Focus is on residents who experience discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression

Cuyahoga County – Today, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Council members Dan Brady, Dale Miller and Michael Houser introduced new legislation intended to broaden protections for citizens of Cuyahoga County.

This new legislation gives residents who feel that they have experienced discrimination due to sexual orientation and gender identity or expression to file a formal complaint which will be heard by a newly established County Commission on Human Rights. 

“This is an important step forward in our quest to make sure that all residents have equal access to justice and that they feel safe and supported,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “You can say that you support equal rights for all, but until there is legislation that supports this, it isn’t a reality.

The proposed Ordinance supports current protections against discrimination based upon race, color, religion, military status, national origin, disability, age, ancestry and gender. Cuyahoga County is determined to make sure that all persons in the county have equal access and opportunities to employment, housing, and public accommodations. 

The purpose of the County Commission on Human Rights is to promote principles of diversity and inclusion. The Commission will be comprised of three appointed, licensed attorneys and will be supported administratively by an Executive Director. 

Luis Cartagena, current Inclusion Officer for Cuyahoga County, will serve as Executive Director. 

One of the primary roles of the commission will be for it to receive and investigate complaints. The commission will be empowered to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas and determine whether or not an act of discrimination has taken place. 

“Freedom from unlawful discrimination is fundamental to human dignity and prosperity. This ordinance is a statement of our commitment to fostering diverse and inclusive communities by extending meaningful civil rights protection to every person who lives, works, or transacts business in Cuyahoga County,” said Council President Dan Brady. 

If the Commission finds that there has been discrimination, they may impose a civil penalty. Dollars collected will go towards a fund that will be used to provide education and awareness regarding the problems and effects of prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and discrimination. 

"In Ohio it's generally legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people," said Gwen Stembridge, Northeast Ohio Coordinator for Equality Ohio. "With this ordinance, Cuyahoga County is taking a stand for inclusion and acceptance. It's time that we treat everybody with dignity."