This panel will discuss the prospects and perils of local human rights initiatives. Specifically, I will talk about the nature of these local initiatives and their advantages and disadvantages. Time permitting, I will also talk about our successful effort last year in Toledo, Ohio to pass a human rights ordinance that includes sexual orientation as a protected category, and why it is so crucial that lawyers and law professors become involved in these local campaigns. I believe that with determination, most communities can achieve what we did in Toledo. Local human rights ordinances (HROs) take a variety of forms, and can greatly differ from each other in substance, scope and enforcement. It is important to note that state and federal legislation is always preferable to local legislation because of the broader scope, more appropriate penalties, and better enforcement mechanisms. However, until we gain the kind of prominence needed to achieve broad based protections, we must take full advantage of well-crafted local initiatives. I will provide you with an overview of the pros and cons of local initiatives, and conclude that these initiatives are of great importance to gays and lesbians worldwide.


Symposium: Re-Orienting Law and Sexuality