Cleveland Passes Transgender Ordinance Before GOP Convention

News: Government
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  July 15, 2016   

Violation of the ordinance punishable with up to six months in jail and $1,000 fine

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Cleveland ( - Days before the GOP convention scheduled to take place in Cleveland, the city council has passed an ordinance allowing so-called transgenders to use locker rooms, bathrooms and changing rooms in accord with their professed "gender identity," contrary to their biological sex.

Council members voted in favor of the ordinance Wednesday by a 16 to 4 vote. If signed by Cleveland's mayor, Frank Jackson, the law would take effect within 10 days.

This ordinance makes it unlawful to "refuse, deny, segregate, or discriminate, or make a distinction, either directly or indirectly, in offering its goods, services, facilities, or accommodations to any person because of race, religion … gender identity or expression."

The council removed a segment in the ordinance that allowed private business owners with public accommodations the option not to comply with the rule "provided reasonable access to adequate facilities is available." The quoted clause was removed.

Complaints of discrimination are to be filed with Cleveland's fair housing court, which can issue a civil penalty. Ignoring that penalty could result in a first-degree misdemeanor charge punishable with up to six months in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.

In 2013, similar rules were first introduced as an expansion of "anti-discrimination" precepts towards self-identified transgenders. Advocates of the proposed ordinance in 2014 argued during council hearings that transgender people are often harassed when using restrooms that don't match their "gender identity."

The passage of the transgender bill comes the same week that Republican delegates gather in Cleveland to formalize the GOP platform, which includes opposition to Obama's transgender bathroom mandate for schools.

Twenty-three states are currently suing the Obama administration over the federal mandate issued by the Department of Justice and Education . The mandate orders all public schools to allow so-called transgender students use of bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.

Last week Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts signed a law opening up public showers, locker rooms and bathrooms to members of the opposite sex. Massachusetts became the 19th state to replace "biological sex" with "gender identity" pertaining to public use of restrooms and locker facilities.


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