Council to create official city policy against sexual orientation discrimination

November 17, 2009

Akron City Council is expected to make official next week what it already knows is the right thing to ensure a fair work environment for city employees.

Council referred to next week’s agenda an ordinance which would amend the city code to provide equal opportunity and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Gender identity is defined as the gender with which a person associates him or herself.

Council President Marco Sommerville sponsored the legislation with Mayor Don Plusquellic. He said the decision was solely based on what is right and long overdue for city and county employees.

Summit County Council also recently passed similar legislation, Sommerville said.

“We don’t want it to be controversial because it’s not controversial,” Sommerville (W-3) said. “The Mayor and I were talking about this a long time ago. The county wanted to do it so we decided to do it with the county.”

Other local governments throughout the state have passed similar laws. In 2007, Gov. Ted Strickland prohibited such discriminatory practices toward state employees. 

Sommerville said Akron’s code of ordinances until now did not specifically address discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. When passed, the ordinance will officially document a clear policy for the city, he said.

“The legislation will merely say that everybody should be treated the same,” Sommerville said. “If you are hired with the city it should be based on your qualifications – not your sexual orientation.”

The legislation will be offered by the Budget and Finance Committee next week.