FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29th, 2023
COLUMBUS, OH – Today, Equality Ohio is proud to announce that Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood), the only LGBTQ+ lawmaker serving in the 135th General Assembly, has reintroduced the Ohio Fairness Act (OFA) alongside a bipartisan group of eight supportive cosponsors. The Ohio Fairness Act is a crucial legislation aimed at eliminating discrimination against Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community by including sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories in Ohio’s existing anti-discrimination law. has been co-sponsored by Senators Craig, DeMora, Hicks-Hudson, Ingram, Lang, Manning, Smith, and Sykes. As we celebrate Pride month, it is significant to note that this marks the twelfth introduction of the OFA in the Ohio Legislature, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to equality and justice for all in our state.
“Minority Leader Antonio’s exceptional leadership in championing this bill deserves our wholehearted commendation,” declared Alana Jochum, Executive Director of Equality Ohio. “Through the enactment of the Ohio Fairness Act, Ohio would send an unequivocal message that discrimination has no place within our borders. Presently, about 400,000 LGBTQ+ Ohioans lack essential protections, with 30% of them nurturing beloved children, and over 300,000 contributing tirelessly to our thriving economy. Let us forge a more inclusive, secure, and just Ohio for all. With even broader support this year, there is an overwhelming wave of public favor for ensuring these crucial safeguards. Fairness is the core of the Ohio Fairness Act.”
Maria Bruno, Policy Director, highlighted the significant progress achieved during the last General Assembly in advancing this crucial legislation, “By enacting this legislation, Ohio would be taking a crucial step towards advancing essential, practical protections against discrimination for LGBTQ+ Ohioans. These protections are essential for recruiting a quality workforce, enticing current college students to stay in the state after graduation, and ensuring that Ohio remains open for business. When people decide where they’re going to raise their families, they need to know they’re going somewhere safe. The right to exist in peace and be free from discrimination is a non negotiable baseline expectation for all families. The Ohio Fairness Act gets us one step closer to making that a reality.”
Maya Simek Esq, Legal Director, underscored the importance of fostering an environment where individuals can bring their authentic selves to the state, promoting happiness and productivity. “The Equality Ohio Legal Clinic commends Senator Nikki Antonio, and all lawmakers supporting the Ohio Fairness Act. Our legal team, alongside our Attorney Referral Network members, serve hundreds of clients a year, many of whom have been denied access to employment or housing due to discrimination based upon their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. We know this will have such a positive impact on LGBTQ+ Ohioans, alongside the enormous network of allies at our jobs, in our homes and within the walls of our institutions. OFA sends a powerful message that the Buckeye State is welcoming and inclusive for all who live and work here.”
Siobhan Boyd-Nelson, Deputy Director and executive trainer for CHROMA Consulting, reiterated the significance of the Ohio Fairness Act as a critical piece of legislation to ensure comprehensive protections for all LGBTQ+ Ohioans. “Genuine love compels us to take concrete actions, and a just future relies on the tireless pursuit of statewide protections against discrimination, exemplified by the Ohio Fairness Act. To every LGBTQ+ individual, particularly the LGBTQ+ youth in Ohio, Equality Ohio extends our steadfast backing, limitless affection, and an enduring dedication to advocate for your fundamental right to wholeheartedly embrace your true identities and thrive authentically.”
The recent surge in efforts by right-wing groups to spread doubt and misinformation across the nation has not spared Ohio. However, it is imperative to recognize that these attempts to influence everyday, private activities, such as personal medical decisions or validating loved ones’ identities, are driven by a minuscule faction of extremists, whose impact is disproportionate to their numbers. A 2022 study shows that 12% more college graduates leave the state to work and live—Ohio companies are, in reality, finding it more and more difficult to maintain a workforce in the Buckeye State.
About Equality Ohio: Equality Ohio is a statewide organization advancing the rights and protecting the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ Ohioans. Equality Ohio identifies and transforms systems and institutions so LGBTQ+ Ohioans can fully access legal and lived equality in pursuit of an Ohio where people are welcome, affirmed and flourishing. Learn more: www.EqualityOhio.orglinktr.ee/EqualityOhio