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Before Marching In Columbus Pride, Businesses Must Walk The Walk On LGBTQ Rights

This year, participants in the city's pride parade will have to prove they protect employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Columbus hosts one of the largest Gay Pride Parades in the country, with nearly a half million people attending every year. But starting this June, parade planners say participants will have to prove their commitment to protecting LGBTQ rights before they're allowed to march.

Riana Brewer of Stonewall Columbus, the local non-profit in charge of organizing the parade, says that before any business or organization can march, they'll have to sign a waiver stating they have a policy in place that protects employees against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

If the organization does not have a policy, they must promise to enact one by 2018.

A similar requirement already exists as a city ordinance in Columbus, but Brewer says the current political climate influenced the new provision.  

"Since it's obvious to us that we cannot soon expect federal protection for our community, we decided we needed to take action to create a safer city," Brewer says.

Brewer says over 200 organizations and businesses march in the parade every year, and she doesn't expect the new requirement will bar any from participating this year.

The change, she says, is really about honoring the mission of the parade, which began in Columbus in 1981.

"At that time, 200 people marched, a lot of them with bags over their heads, to protect them from losing their jobs due to employment discrimination," Brewer says.