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Equality forum stresses education

All five of the Springfield city commissioners attended a forum Tuesday night to discuss expanding the city’s nondiscrimination laws after Equality Springfield ran a full page ad encouraging them to continue the dialogue.

The ad focused on the three commissioners who voted against adding sexual orientation to the city’s nondiscrimination language last year — City Commissioners Joyce Chilton, Dan Martin and Kevin O’Neill. City Commissioner Karen Duncan and Mayor Warren Copeland also attended.

“We wanted to send out a message that would encourage serious conversation,” Equality Springfield President Rick Incorvati said. “We were happy to see the commissioners were willing to be a listening part of that conversation.”

Incorvati said he doesn’t know what effect the forum had on the commissioners’ views. None of the commissioners spoke during the forum.

As of Wednesday afternoon the Commissioners Kevin O’Neil and Dan Martin couldn’t be reached for comment and Commissioner Joyce Chilton declined to comment.

Before the meeting,O’Neill said he hadn’t changed his mind and hadn’t seen evidence of discrimination occurring in Springfield based on sexual orientation with regards to housing and jobs.

Martin also reiterated his stance before the meeting that the state or federal governments should regulate such rights issues.

Commissioner Karen Duncan, who voted in favor of the expanding the local nondiscrimination laws, was pleased that all five commissioners made it out to the forum.

“It was a good opportunity for education, not only for the community but also the commission,” she said.

The forum featured talks from Incorvati and Equality Ohio Executive Director Elyzabeth Holford.

Both Incorvati and Holford said education about issues concerning lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents needed to happen both inside and outside of that community.

Incorvati also noted that he saw people at the forum who hadn’t been there before and cited the ad in the Springfield News-Sun as the reason. That included representatives from the Springfield NAACP and the Springfield Chapter of Peace Keepers.

According to Incorvati addressing public policy is just one of Equality Springfield’s many missions, along with staying visible within the Springfield community and continuing its support of the community.

“This really is a state that is about fairness and that it [LGBT issues] matter to people locally, regionally, and on a statewide level,” said Holford.

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