Prizm News / May 28, 2019 / By Ken Schneck
Worthington passes a nondiscrimination ordinance in a process marked by unity and support
By Ken Schneck
Equality recently took a huge step forward right smack in the center of Ohio as Worthington became the 24th locality in the state to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination protections that are inclusive of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Our mission has always been to make Worthington a welcoming community,” says Jack Miner, the chairman of the Worthington Community Relations Commission (CRC) that spearheaded the legislation. “This language directly supports that goal of inclusivity.”
Though the drafting of the nondiscrimination ordinance began over a year ago, the real origin story can be located more than 50 years ago with the creation of the CRC. The community organization was originally formed to encourage African Americans to move into the Worthington community during the peak years of the discriminatory—and still present—housing practice of redlining. Decades later, the CRC has steadfastly remained engaged in their mission of promoting an atmosphere of mutual understanding and cooperation among all members of the Worthington community. As opposed to other municipalities where a CRC-type organization is born out of the creation of a nondiscrimination ordinance, in Worthington, the process was flipped.
“We did a scan of the community a few years ago and one of the things that came quickly to the fore was that we didn’t have a nondiscrimination ordinance,” remembers Miner. “In the early days, every single time we spoke about the creation of an ordinance, someone would say that they were surprised we didn’t already have one. This was an opportunity to affirm the values that Worthington already had.”
Far from being a process that took place behind closed doors, the CRC intentionally engaged their Worthington neighbors at every available opportunity in a series of dialogues with affiliate groups, faith congregations, and invested citizenry. In return, the community provided valuable feedback to help strengthen the language and solidify support for the final product. The culmination was the passage of Ordinance No. 14-2019 at the Worthington City Council meeting on May 20. There was no opposition to the legislation.
“All of the council members didn’t just vote yes, but instead took the time to share how important this was to them,” says Miner. “It was my proudest moment as a Worthington community member.”
Up next for the CRC will be a coordinated education effort via information releases, guest articles, and many more conversations. On the face, the goal of the educational campaign is to ensure the Worthington community is as informed as possible about the new language. But these efforts will also be an opportunity for Worthington to both take pride in a process that has been marked by unity as well as celebrate the core values inherent in their town.
“As a smaller suburb, Worthington has not seen the same amount of economic growth compared to others,” says Miner. “We have really set ourselves apart with this ordinance, and everyone sees it as an opportunity. This has really put Worthington in a great place.”