Celebrating inclusion and human rights: Human Rights Commission annual dinner

On a night celebrating the importance of human rights and discussing the topic of immigration, speakers at the Columbus Human Rights Commission’s annual dinner meeting shared several common messages — gaining greater understanding, getting involved personally and taking action.

Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop told the crowd of more than 300 people Thursday night at The Commons that a few months after Columbus City Council unanimously approved in 2015 an amendment to the city’s human rights ordinance that added sexual orientation, gender identity, age and veteran status as protected classes, the city and the commission were added to a lawsuit that challenges the legislative “fix” to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The lawsuit is ongoing, and the plaintiffs are vocal and active, the mayor said, but the city is committed to protecting the rights of its residents from those who would deny them.

“The city of Columbus will remain vigilant and will pursue the protection of those rights and the protection of our ordinance as long as we can,” Lienhoop said.

Lienhoop said it’s important to gather annually to reaffirm the community’s commitment to human and equal rights. Aida Ramirez, the commission’s director, said that the presence of those in attendance shows support for the commission, whose stated mission is to build and maintain an inclusive community.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Republic.