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Opposition to anti-discrimination legislation grows

Posted at 6:26 PM, Aug 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-30 18:26:12-04

There is growing opposition to proposed legislation that would create a Commission on Human Rights in Cuyahoga County.

If passed, it would increase protections based on gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression.

But now critics are coming forward, calling the move unnecessary and bad for business.

"It would really provide a blanket level of security where there hasn't been before," said Jackson Siegel, transgender man who said the trans community is under attack.

"We have people from one side saying you should not be recognized, or heard, or seen. And the question is why not," said Siegel.

Siegel, responding to the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County unanimously voting to oppose the creation of a county Commission on Human Rights.

"We are concerned about the human rights of every individual,” said Rob Frost.

However, Frost, the Chairman of the Cuyahoga County GOP, said he believes the legislation, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to classes already protected, is redundant and goes against state law.

"Let's work together, we can get some great things done even where there are places we disagree," said Frost.

With violators facing potential fines, Frost claims it's bad for the economy.

"We shouldn't want this as an individual county to essentially say to a business owner, just go outside the county line to start your business," said Frost.

Frost said there's concern it infringes on religious freedom. These are all issues members of the GOP plan on bringing up at the next council meeting.

"I think they are going to hear some comments from the pastoral community, the business community and the taxpayers of Cuyahoga County on Sept. 12," said Frost.

Members of Equality Ohio will also be at the meeting.

"It's about preventing discrimination in the county," said Gwen Stembridge.

Stembridge told News 5 that members of the LGBTQ community could lose their civil rights on their daily commute.

Right now, they could have added protections against discrimination when it comes to employment, housing and use of public spaces in one city but not another.

"There are six cities in Cuyahoga County, which covers about 42 percent of the population, that already have these laws in place and we haven't seen negative impacts from that," said Stembridge.

Stembridge said it is perfectly legal for the county to create uniformity. However, the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County says it is a political overreach.

"To say that it's an improper overreach to make sure that someone can do and act and navigate the world safely is quite frankly, I mean offensive, it transcends offensive, it's just not okay," said Siegel.