I think it’s a really good thing, sometimes, to focus on local civil rights activism. Here’s something from a press release sent to Pam’s House Blend:
Ask Cleveland, Cleveland’s most active LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights organization, announced today that Cleveland volunteers will present more than 2,500 postcards from supporters of a transgender non-discrimination law to members of Cleveland City Council before Monday evening’s Council meeting. The postcards, signed by voters across the city, urge council to enact legislation that would add gender identity and gender expression to the city’s existing non-discrimination law.
“Right now, it’s legal to fire someone from a job, throw them out of housing, or even deny them service in a restaurant just because they’re transgender,” explained David Caldwell, spokesperson for Ask Cleveland. Transgender people, including thousands of people in our city, make up one of the most marginalized groups in society. A 2006 study concluded that the unemployment rate for transgender people was 35%, with 59% earning less than $15,300 annually. Many of Ask Cleveland’s own transgender volunteers have suffered discrimination — discrimination that is currently legal.
So what did Ask Cleveland do? Here’s the plan:
In response to an August survey by the Gay People’s Chronicle, an Ohio gay newspaper, only 8 of the 21 members of City Council expressed support for the non-discrimination law. “It will be much easier for members of Council to publicly express their support for this law — and vote to pass it — knowing that thousands of the voters they represent are asking them to support it,” added Caldwell.
Ask Cleveland, a volunteer-based grassroots organization, has been working since May to organize supporters of the law in Cleveland. Hundreds of volunteers have talked with thousands of voters where they live – Glenville, Fairfax, Collinwood, Edgewater and other neighborhoods. “We’ve seen overwhelming support for legislation that would protect transgender people in our city,” said Jennifer Dowd, Ask Cleveland’s field director, “and it’s clear that voters want Cleveland to join the many cities throughout Ohio that already have laws like this one.”
Basic civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is something the general public has been supporting in opinion polls, and have voted to support is cities like Gainesville, Florida and Kalamazoo, Michigan. It seems that antidiscrimination and public accommodation laws are the low-hanging fruit on the LGBT civil rights tree. Essentially, there’s no reason to think civil rights based on gender identity and expression couldn’t become law in Cleveland, Ohio.