COLUMBUS, OH – Following passage of the discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in Indiana, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined municipal leaders from around the state to invite businesses to invest in Ohio.
“We’re here today with one message: Ohio is open for business—for everyone,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said. “While we still have more work to do in Ohio to ensure that LGBT Ohioans have full legal equality, I believe we are on the right track. Our business leaders and our mayors, like those here today, make it clear that we welcome everyone to Ohio. That’s how you grow your economy in the 21st century. And that’s why we are here today to say Ohio will not join this wave of discrimination. We’re open for business to everyone, everywhere, regardless of whom they love or how they worship.”
During a press conference today, Brown was joined by Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Canton Mayor William Healy, Columbus City Council President Andrew Ginther, and Ohio business leaders to discuss how Ohio cities are open for business.
“Dayton is a community that is open for everyone,” said Mayor Nan Whaley. “It is a message that this Commission has clearly articulated through programs like nationally recognized Welcome Dayton, the Human Rights Campaign’s All Star City designation, and local legislation to support marriage equality. Today I am proud to be a Daytonian, as we set ourselves apart from those states that protect only some citizens through RFRA laws. Dayton is open to every business and every citizen.”
“While some communities are turning back the clock on equal rights, Columbus is focused on being the most welcoming, inclusive and diverse city possible,” said Columbus City Council President Andrew J. Ginther. “Residents overwhelmingly agreed with City Council when they voted to place anti-discrimination language in the City charter. I look forward to the day when the rest of America can embrace equality like Columbus has.”
“Columbus is a city that prides itself on being open, friendly, and responsive to all of its citizens and visitors, including members of the LGBT community and all religious backgrounds,” said Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman. “We will happily welcome any business, convention, or meeting that would like to be a part of a community that accurately represents the values and beliefs of their organization.”
“The City of Cincinnati is a strong supporter of LGBT people and the principle of equal rights and equal protection under the law for all people – regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley. “In 2003, I led the effort to add sexual orientation to Cincinnati’s Human Rights Ordinance, which I am proud to say City Council supported. Last fall, the Human Rights Campaign gave the City of Cincinnati a perfect score of 100 on its Municipal Equality Index for our efforts at inclusion. We were one of just 38 cities nationwide to get the honor out of more than 350 communities. That’s because we welcome all people to Cincinnati. Plainly and simply, discrimination is wrong – whether it’s cloaked in a veil of legality or not. For those businesses and organizations choosing not to travel to Indiana, I encourage you to consider Cincinnati as an alternative. Our hearts are big enough to accommodate everyone in the Queen City. Although other places may spurn you, you will be treated like family in Cincinnati. Thank you.”
“The City of Cleveland offers the opportunity to provide a strong foundation for a public-private partnership for all businesses that look to relocate, expand, grow and become a part of this great diverse and inclusive community,” said Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. “Cleveland is open to everyone, including the LGBT community and everyone regardless of whom they love or how they worship. I invite you to Cleveland where you can grow your business without discrimination and laws that will impede your freedoms.”
“The City of Toledo passed our antidiscrimination law in 1989 and updated it most recently to include those persons who may be discriminated based upon their sexual orientation,” said Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson. “The City of Toledo has declared our city as a ‘Compassionate Community’. This means that all legislation and work that we do must be done with the idea of compassion. Thus, it is only fitting that I stand with all citizens of Ohio who understand that any action that is based upon the differences of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, handicap, age or sexual orientation is wrong.”
“We're very proud of our diverse and open community and we will welcome any group to Columbus,” said Brian Ross, Experience Columbus president and CEO. “We often hear from meeting planners, convention attendees, visitors and media that our city stands out for being so friendly and accepting to all.”