Bowling Green City Council will likely introduce two ordinances regarding unlawful discrimination at its
July 6 meeting.
Council’s Community Improvement Committee forwarded the ordinances following a 70-minute meeting Monday
One proposal would amend the city’s Fair Housing ordinance by adding several protected classes, while the
second ordinance is based on one in Cincinnati and would cover public accommodations, education and
CIC Chairperson John Zanfardino said the city administration favored amending the Fair Housing ordinance
but cautioned against the second proposal because of potential costs for enforcement. He praised the
administration for greatly expanding the list of protected classes in the Fair Housing ordinance but
said it was important for the city to take a bigger step.
Committee member Larry Sorrells also voted to send the proposals to the full council. Mike Frost, the
third committee member, was absent. Council members Gordy Heminger, Bob McOmber and Megan Newlove also
attended the meeting.
"We want to protect (Fair Housing) because it has worked and worked for a number of years. We’re
also concerned with enforcement. We want to be able to enforce it. We don’t want token
legislation," Mayor John Quinn said.
No one presented any cost estimates Monday night, but Quinn said the administration is convinced there
will be cases if the legislation is passed.
City attorney Mike Marsh said there could be investigation, hearing officer, mediator and litigation
costs. "It’s wrong-headed to adopt this and assume no one will ever pursue the remedies."
Zanfardino said 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies are more inclusive than the Fair Housing proposal and
pointed out that Toledo has had a similar law (the second proposal) for 11 years and has had no cases.
In the Fair Housing document, discrimination would be prohibited based on race, color, religion, national
origin, gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, pregnancy, age, sexual orientation, creed,
ancestry, disability, political ideology, military status, veteran status, marital status, family
status, physical characteristics, HIV status or genetic information.
The only prohibitions in the present ordinance are race, family status, disability, color, religion, sex,
national origin, HIV-positive persons and ancestry.
Quinn said the administration would like to see the state pass more inclusive legislation.
However, several individuals pointed out that waiting on the state may be a long-time coming since a
proposal has been stuck in committee for five years.
Bowling Green resident Kay Chapman said the issue is not like a cell phone ban because these proposals
affect human rights, "where they live and work and where."
Jane Rosser, director of service learning at Bowling Green State University, said Equality BG would
"highly endorse" the amendment to the Fair Housing law and also would like to see the second
proposal adopted. "It’s not about special treatment, it’s about equality, not special rights."
Sandy Rowland, former chairperson of the city’s Human Relations Commission, said that group had discussed
the concepts and "the feeling was that the city ought to take this as far as it can take it."
She said Ohio’s existing unlawful discrimination law "is the worst in the nation."
Barbara Toth of BGSU’s Human Relation’s Committee, "fully supports the proposals" and offered
the commission’s help to the city on mediating cases.
Dafina Stewart, a BGSU faculty member, said she had chosen to live in BG "because it is a welcoming
and open community." Stewart said cost is "no excuse not to do what is right." She urged
the city to set the tone and not wait for the state to do anything.