The Village of Golf Manor will likely hear the first reading of an ordinance to “combat discrimination and for the guarantee of equality and inclusion” at a Monday, Nov. 25, meeting.

The ordinance, which has been considered since at least December 2018, was discussed at a Nov. 12 meeting where Alana Jochum, executive director of Equality Ohio, which is a lobby group for more protections for the LGBTQ community, and Rabbi A. D. Motzen, the National Director for State Relations, Agudath Israel of America, debated the ordinance and six amendments that were offered to the original ordinance.

Rabbi Motzen said if the village moves forward with the ordinance, they should be “protecting religious freedom and give religious organizations the widest berth possible” in an exemption to this ordinance.

The ordinance would expand anti-discrimination to the LGBTQ community, that Mayor Stefan Densmore said would make the “community feel welcoming … and if not feel welcoming to try to recapture that welcoming feeling.

“We are not into taking away anyone’s rights.”

Village administrator Ron Hirth said he thought there was agreement on the ordinance before the Nov. 12 meeting, considering the Jewish community and Equality Ohio had been involved in discussions from the beginning.

“We thought everybody was in agreement with the ordinance and the sticking point was the religious exemption,” Hirth said. “We were kind of surprised when (Rabbi) Motzen came Tuesday night and didn’t want the ordinance at all.”

Rabbi Motzen wants the village to model its ordinance after a similar one in the city of Cincinnati, where religious organizations are exempt from the human rights ordinance.

“Educational institutions (such as) Catholic schools are exempt from this ordinance and religious organizations are allowed to hire employees who buy into their school’s missions and are therefore excluded from this part of the ordinance,” he said “They would still be bound by state laws. The issue here is the state has not ruled yet.”

Hirth said the village does not have a human rights ordinance. The ordinance under discussion was meant to cover “everybody, we mean everybody, we mean religion, we mean sexual orientation, we mean race, we mean basically everybody is welcome in Golf Manor.”

Densmore said the exemption is already the law of the land. “No one can make the rabbis or rabbinical community accept it. No one can change those rules.

“I see it as a very forward, positive thing we’re doing including the LGBTQ community in the ordinance. I don’t see it as threatening to the Orthodox community.”

Hirth said the ordinance and the six amendments are up for the first of three readings at Monday night’s meeting. A number of different scenarios could happen – it could be passed on the first reading, council could add six amendments that were discussed at the Nov. 12 meeting, or it could be tabled and left for discussion for another day.

“Anything less than a full exemption would not satisfy our community concerns,” Rabbi Motzen said. 

“Golf Manor does not have any religious organizations other than those than that are orthodox Jewish. … Whenever it says anything about a religious organization it is referring to our community, no one else. So it leaves us concerned. Therefore, when the ordinance comes and say we won’t give you an exemption that’s a message to us.”

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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