The Ohio Fairness Act does a simple thing. It adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to the laws that make discrimination illegal in Ohio, and it would bring Ohio in line with 21 other states with a similar law. On Monday, Senator Nickie Antonio announced the bill would be back in the Ohio’s 133rd Senate, and on Tuesday it was filed with co-sponsors Senators Craig (D), Fedor (D), Maharath (D), O’Brien (D), Sykes (D), Thomas (D), Williams (D), Yuko (D) and Rulli (R).
The Ohio Fairness Act received a hearing for the first time in nearly a decade in the last legislature. Over 150 Ohioans submitted testimony––so many that much of it could not be delivered verbally and had to be submitted to the committee only as written.
Ohio Competes board members are optimistic it will go further this time––particularly with support from both aisles.
Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio said: “We’ve worked to get 22 localities in Ohio to pass local, LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. But you shouldn’t have to move to the big city to feel safe just because you’re LGBTQ. It’s time for Ohio’s legislators to make a real commitment to all LGBTQ Ohioans––urban, suburban and rural––that they have the same right to work hard and provide for their families as everybody else.”
James Knapp, Executive Director of TransOhio said: “Representatives have already heard about the harmful impacts of LGBTQ discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations straight from Ohioans who have been most impacted. We’ve been watching from the sidelines while other states’ economies flourish after passing comprehensive nondiscrimination laws. Now it’s time to move forward with the Ohio Fairness Act.”
Shawn Copeland, Ohio State Director of HRC: “No one’s rights should depend on their zip code, but thousands of LGBTQ Ohioans currently live under a patchwork of protections that leaves them and their families at risk of real discrimination. Sen. Nickie Antonio and pro-equality champions are driving equality forward in the state senate, but these legislators cannot drive progress alone. It’s time for both chambers to show up for all of their constituents and finally pass the Fairness Act. No matter who they are or whom they love, all Ohioans deserve to be able to live, work and thrive in their communities free from unfair and unjust discrimination.”
Jocelyn Rosnick, Advocacy Director of the ACLU of Ohio said: “In Ohio, you can work in one place, live in another, and lose your rights on your morning commute. All Ohioans should be protected from discrimination in housing, employment, and public spaces. The Ohio Fairness Act is good for business and for Ohio families and communities.”
Ohio Competes is home to Ohio Business Competes, a coalition of hundreds of corporations, universities, professional service firms, nonprofits and small and medium businesses, all of which support statewide, LGBTQ-inclsuive nondiscrimination protections.