- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Cleveland City Council unanimously approved legislation Wednesday that prohibits private businesses from telling transgender people which restroom they can use.

Ordinance 1446 eliminates language in the city’s municipal code that had until now allowed owners of businesses with “public accommodations” to discriminate based on gender identity or expression.

Once in effect, the rule will make it illegal for business owners to dictate which bathroom a person uses, “provided reasonable access to adequate facilities is available.” The legislation will automatically take hold within 10 days if not authorized before then by Mayor Frank Jackson, Fox 8 Cleveland reported.

Wednesday’s 16-0 vote unfolded as Republicans plan to descend on Cleveland for the GOP’s national convention, beginning Monday, where presidential hopeful Donald Trump is expected to be officially offered the party’s nomination.

A draft copy of the 2016 GOP platform obtained previously by CNN indicated that the Republican Party supports 11 states currently suing the Obama administration after the president issued a directive in May saying transgender individuals should be allowed to use whichever facilities match their gender identities.

In Cleveland, businesses owners who feel otherwise risk a $1,000 fine and three months in jail once Ordinance 1446 is officially on the books.

Jacob Nash, a co-chair transgender equality organization “Cleveland is Ready,” told WKSU public radio that passage means he’s free from harassment “because I don’t have to worry about whether someone knows me in the place of an establishment and says: ‘Hey, I know that guy’s transgender; he needs to use the women’s room because he was born female.’ “

“Now it won’t matter. I can walk into a place and use the men’s room without worrying anything about that,” Mr. Nash said.

“While national Republican leaders are doing everything possible to relegate LGBTQ people to second-class citizens, the Cleveland City Council is standing up and sending the world a different message — that Cleveland is a welcoming city and won’t tolerate discrimination against transgender people,” said JoDee Winterhof, the senior vice president of policy and political affairs for the Human Rights Campaign.

Ordinance 1446 contains an exemption for religious organizations, the Fox affiliate added.

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