Richland County Passes Non-discrimination Ordinance!

June 7, 2011

Columbia, SC   June 8, 2011-  On June 7, 2011, Richland County Council voted unanimously to pass a new ordinance to prevent and punish discrimination in public accommodations and housing.  Sponsored by freshman Councilman Seth Rose, the ordinance protects individuals from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, disability or sexual orientation and establishes a fine of $500 for offenders.  For purposes of the ordinance, sexual orientation is defined as "a person's real or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity or expression". Richland County now joins Charleston and Columbia in progressive ordinances!
This public accommodation ordinance passes on the heels of another non-discrimination policy enacted by Richland County.  In May, the County Council amended their personnel policy to include protections from discrimination in employment based upon sexual orientation and gender identity.
As the sponsor of both measures, Councilman Seth Rose stated, "Both these efforts to eliminate discrimination in Richland County represent a giant step forward in our policies.  I commend my colleagues for joining me in taking a stand against discrimination and proclaiming that regardless of shape or form, discrimination is not welcome in our County.  These measures represent the fruition of a campaign commitment I made to the LGBT community to advocate for equality and fight discrimination. I am proud to say I have kept my word".
South Carolina Equality approached Councilman Rose in January 2011 to request that he sponsor these measures.  Executive Director, Christine Johnson commended the work of the County Council saying, "The Richland County Council has lead by example and demonstrates the unique ability of elected officials to respond to community needs.  Richland County has a significant LGBT presence, and on behalf of Richland County lesbian, gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender individuals and their families, SC Equality thanks the Council for embracing diversity not only in word, but in deed.  We invite other local government officials to follow the exceptional leadership example of the Richland County Council."
During the summer of 2010, SC Equality conducted a statewide survey of LGBT South Carolinians.  Over 1,000 respondents from 44 of 46 counties participated with over 31% residing in Richland County.  55% of all respondents stated they had experienced homophobia, transphobia or harassment in a public establishment.