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Pride or Prejudice? See Columbus’ recently-released LGBTQ equality score

614now Staff

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Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its eighth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), assessing LGBTQ equality in 506 cities across the nation, including eight in Ohio.

The Municipal Equality Index, the only nationwide assessment of LGBTQ inclusion in municipal law and policy, shows that cities across the country, including in Ohio, continue to take the lead in supporting LGBTQ people and workers.

The average score for cities in Ohio is 90 out of 100 points, which falls above the national average of 60.

Figures gathered on 8 Ohio cities cited in the 2019 MEI

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“This year’s Municipal Equality Index shows that across the country, city leaders are working tirelessly to ensure that their constituents can secure housing, make a living and participate in community life without being discriminated against because of who they are,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement.

The MEI rated 506 cities including the 50 state capitals, the 200 largest cities in the U.S., the five largest cities or municipalities in each state, the cities home to the state’s two largest public universities, 75 municipalities that have high proportions of same-sex couples and 98 cities selected by HRC and Equality Federation state group members and supporters. It assesses each city on 49 criteria covering citywide non-discrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement and the city’s leadership on LGBTQ equality.

The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at www.hrc.org/mei.

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Columbus man shares sexual assault allegations against OSU doctor on NBC News

614now Staff

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As sexual assault accusations continue to mount in the case against an Ohio State University sports doctor, one alleged victim shared his story on a national platform.

NBC News recently published an interview with Stephen Snyder-Hill, a Columbus-native, LGBTQ activist, and military veteran who has accused Dr. Richard Strauss of sexually assaulting him as a student over two decades ago.

Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005

Snyder-Hill told NBC after years of trying to suppress the memories of 1995, it all came flooding back when allegations first surfaced against Strauss last year.

Now, Snyder-Hill is among hundreds of men accusing Strauss of sexual abuse, and more than a dozen individuals seeking legal action against the university.

For more on Snyder-Hill's allegations against Strauss, visit nbcnew.com.

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Flying cars coming to Columbus? Local startup shows off drone-like vehicle

Mike Thomas

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From the newly unveiled SmartLane to self-driving shuttles, Columbus is a leader in forward-thinking transit options. Now, it seems a local startup is poised to take your daily commute into the next century—and into the skies!

According to a report from CNBC, Columbus-based company the Workhorse Group showed off its SureFly Octocopter—a drone-like vehicle with room for two passengers—at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this week.

CNBC reports that functional prototypes of the craft are already taking flight as the Workhorse Group pursues certification approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Built almost entirely out of carbon fiber, the autonomous SureFly resembles popular commercial drones already on the market, only much larger. The man-sized drone is powered by a combination of electric motors, diesel, and/or jet fuel.

The Workhorse Group expects production of its vehicles to begin in less than two years and is already taking deposits. When available for sale, the craft is expected to cost around $200,000. For more information, visit the official Surefly website.

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Map: Local man thinks he has the answer to Ohio passenger rail

Regina Fox

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Kevin Verhoff really doesn't like the idea of cars. He believes they're
"highly inefficient," they take up a "ton of space," and they cost a "lot of money," not to mention the "ridiculous amounts of money" Ohio shells out on highways every year.

Instead, Verhoff would like to see the Buckeye State use its resources to build a comprehensive rail network, which looks a little something like this:

"Is this crazy? Yes. Would it be awesome? Yes," wrote Verhoff.

Not only would this proposed network "use technology and processes which are currently available (unlike the hyperloop)," according to Verhoff, there's several more reasons to get onboard, literally:

  • It would serve 23 of Ohio’s 25 largest counties
  • With stops in 44 of Ohio’s counties, it would serve 9.6 Million residents (about 83% of Ohioans).
  • Cleveland to Columbus in about 2.5 hours.
  • Columbus to Cincy in 2 hours.
  • It could be part of a broader regional and national rail network that would connect Ohio to other major cities in the region, along with international connections in Canada.

Verhoff knew he couldn't get this train on the tracks, literally, without a projected cost. He estimates that in total, the 1,800-mile project would bear a $8.98 billion price tag ($5 million per mile), spread out over 20 years.

"That’s about a 10% increase in ODOT’s annual budget!" Verhoff added.

No doubt that's not a number to scoff at, but Verhoff believes the implication of passenger rail in Ohio would be much larger.

"Imagine someone being able to go from Sandusky to Cleveland for cancer treatments or a heart surgery, without having to pay $8000 per year to own a car," he wrote. "Businesses would start to look to Ohio as an innovative place that creates opportunities and links human capital together. More importantly, people would just have more options for getting around. It’s not that expensive, and it would be life-changing for a lot of Ohioans.

"It’s a crazy idea. But, it’s also a really good idea," Verhoff said.

To read more about Verhoff's master plan for passenger rail in Ohio, click here.

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