New Albany pressed to protect gays from discrimination

Omar Faruk

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, LGBT activists are focusing attention on businesses and residences in the fight for equal rights.

May 23, 2017

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/07/07/activists-to-press-new-albany-to-protect-gays-from-discrimination.html

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, LGBT activists are focusing attention on businesses and residences in the fight for equal rights.

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage, LGBT activists are focusing attention on businesses and residences in the fight for equal rights.

“It is completely legal for someone to be fired, turned away by an employer or denied housing because of their sexuality or because they’re (transgender),” said Omar Faruk, founder of Wenited.org, a millennial-focused, Columbus-based advocacy group.

“We want a statewide law passed, but in lieu of that, we’re asking municipalities.”

Add New Albany to that list.

Bexley banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity on June 23.

Columbus has a similar ordinance, as do dozens of other cities across the state, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Grandview Heights has passed a resolution urging the state to define LGBT as a protected class, but the city has not adopted a ordinance.

Tonight, activists plan to call on the New Albany City Council to protect the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexual and transgender people.

“We’ve communicated with the (New Albany) mayor several months ago, but we haven’t had much luck getting them to initiate anything,” Faruk said.

City Manager Joe Stefanov said he was unaware of the group’s plan to speak to the council.

“I think it’s going to be very important for the city, as is its practice, to obtain broad input and gain an understanding of the implications of any type of policy or legislation that the group would propose,” he said on Monday.

Stefanov said he was unfamiliar with Bexley’s ordinance.

“It’s all fairly new to me,” he said.

Some businesses in New Albany, including Abercrombie & Fitch, have policies that forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Still, Faruk said, “an employee can step out of their company and be turned away by a restaurant.”

Activists plan to meet at New Albany City Hall, 99 W. Main Street, before the 6:30 p.m. council meeting.

Faruk said that some of the 30 to 40 people expected to attend the meeting plan to speak during the public-comment period.

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