Cleveland City Council will vote on a law protecting LGBT rights Wednesday, council spokesperson Joan Mazzolini confirms.
The ordinance would make it a first-degree misdemeanor for employers or business owners to discriminate against anyone who uses a restroom associated with their gender expression.
The law also punishes discrimination based on “race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, age, disability, ethnic group” or veteran status. Violators would be subject to a $1,000 fine or three months in jail.
The ordinance was originally introduced by former city councilman Joe Cimperman in 2014 but was stuck in committee after a raucous hearing.
Although the legislation still carries Cimperman’s name along with co-sponsors Matt Zone and Phyllis Cleveland, recently seated councilman Kerry McCormak — who is openly gay — now carries the torch. In June, council president Kevin Kelley told BuzzFeed News, “We are very close, but we need just a few things ironed out.”
During Wednesday’s council meeting, the text of the LGBT legislation may change somewhat. But the current version protects people who use a place of “public accommodation” consistent with their gender identity or expression, including bathrooms, showers, locker rooms and dressing facilities.
“It’s going to be amended at the table tomorrow,” says Mazzolini.
Is there a chance council will delay again?
“There’s always a chance,” says Mazzolini. “The likelihood is that it will not be tabled. The expectation is that it will be passed by council tomorrow.”
The ordinance does provide exemptions for businesses of less than four people, religious institutions and schools, and organizations that have “a purely social or fraternal purpose.”
Also on the schedule for a jam-packed council session is whether to put Mayor Frank Jackson’s proposal to raise the income tax rate from 2 to 2.5 percent on the ballot. Additionally, council will consider contracts for the purchasing of rock salt and a $4 million roof replacement at Harvard Yards. Gripping.