The Medina County Board of Elections rejected Monday the referendum petitions submitted by the Concerned Citizens of Medina, a group seeking to have an LGBT ordinance voted on by the people.
More than 1,100 Medina residents signed the petition to place the new LGBT ordinance on the ballot for a vote by the people. The Board said the citizens only had 939 valid signatures and needed 983. Equality Ohio declared victory, but Concerned Citizens of Medina are not finished.
Congratulations Medina 🎉. As we work to advance LGBTQ equality throughout the state of Ohio, we are so proud of cities like Medina and their continued efforts to promote equality, justice, and inclusivity amongst all people. https://t.co/dryDDiL2EV
— Equality Ohio (@EqualityOhio) August 20, 2019
Ordinance 112-19, which passed Medina City Council 5-2 in early July, prohibits “discriminatory conduct on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.” It applies to housing, employment, and public accommodations and is considered a SOGI (sexual orientation gender identity) law.
Joann Campbell, one of the Concerned Citizens of Medina, shared details with The Ohio Star.
“Monday evening, Finance Director Keith Dirham notified us via email, that of the 983 signatures needed to place Ordinance 112-19 on the ballot, Medina County Board of Elections validated 939 of our 1173 collected total, leaving us 44 shy of the mark,” she wrote in an email.
“In response, we sought a public records request to review the discounted signatures, and are optimistic we will be able to secure validation for the 44 needed to allow Medina City residents to vote on this measure in 2020,” Campbell added.
Chris Long, president of the Ohio Christian Alliance (OCA), issued a public statement about the Board of Election’s rejection of the signatures, which, if upheld, will keep the referendum off the ballot and allow the ordinance to take effect.
A Statement from the Ohio Christian Alliance. A Public Records Request Has Been Made – https://t.co/k15FjJa4lk
— Chris Long (@ohiochristianal) August 21, 2019
“A Public Records Request Has Been Made to the Medina County Board of Elections Regarding the Referendum Petition on the LGBTQ Special Rights Ordinance 112-19,” the statement said.
According to Long, the Medina County Board of Elections informed Dirham that the required number of signatures for the referendum petition had fallen short. OCA is skeptical of that claim. Their attorneys believe there are discrepancies in the Board of Elections’ report.
Long made the following statement,
Today we officially made public records request for the complete report of the signature review by the Medina County Board of Elections. There are a number of questions concerning the initial report. We believe that upon further review enough signatures will be validated to place the measure on the ballot in November 2020. The Concerned Citizens of Medina City, along with the Ohio Christian Alliance and their attorneys will review and challenge the Board’s findings on the signatures they invalidated…We are confident that the court will validate enough signatures for the referendum to be on the ballot and let the people decide’.”
If OCA and Medina citizens are successful at proving they have enough signatures to send the ordinance to the ballot for a vote next fall, the city will be unable to enforce the new law until after the 2020 vote – if the residents vote to keep it.
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