Golf Manor approved the first reading of an ordinance to “combat discrimination and for the guarantee of equality and inclusion” at its Nov. 25 council meeting.

Council then decided to wait until its Jan. 13 meeting for the second reading due to the installation of new council members next month.

The ordinance has been discussed in the village since last year, according to village solicitor Terrance Donnellon.

Although changes were made since a Nov. 12 meeting where the issue was discussed, there were still questions on whether what should be in the ordinance and whether it is needed at this time.

Rabbi A. D. Motzen, the national director for state relations, Agudath Israel of America, said he wants a wide exemption for religious organizations to the proposed law.

“We simply want a complete religious exemption that follows Cincinnati (ordinance),” Rabbi Motzen said.

He said if a wide exemption was not given it would have a “potential chilling effect on religious exercise.” 

“The very investigation by a commission on whether certain aspects is ... religious, not religious, does it fit the definition or not, that alone is what create the chilling rights,” he said. “That is why states that have adopted SOGI rights, sexual orientation, gender identity, with that much strong protections.”

Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, which is a lobby group for more protections for the LGBTQ community, said her group does not oppose religious exemptions, but wants the rights to be consistent with state and federal law.

“To capture what I believe has occurred is the idea that there would be a preference for the rabbinical community to be fully exempt from this ordinance applying, at all, in every circumstance; it just simply does not apply to them,” Jochum said. “That’s not how state and federal law applies now.”

The debate is over whether religious organizations can apply the law to all aspects of their community, including jobs which do not have a religious aspect, such as a janitor.

Golf Manor has no other religious organizations that are not Orthodox Jewish. 

Motzen said the law has some protection but it is not the protection he maintains is needed.

He said an option for the village is to hold off on any legislation in order for the state and federal courts to make decisions on human rights issues.

“One of the biggest issues that wasn’t raised tonight is the fact the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled and has cases in front of it,” he said. “The state of Ohio has language in front of it that may change the whole discussion to be mute. Other cities and villages have decided to hold on local ordinances until we get clarity. That’s an option they have, just hold off until there is clarity.”

The Jewish organizations in Golf Manor opposed to the ordinance as currently written are the Cincinnati Community Kollel, Golf Manor Synagogue, and Cincinnati Hebrew Day School.

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