House Democratic Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) and Rep. Michael Skindell (D-Lakewood) joined Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Equality Ohio today to urge action on the Ohio Fairness Act to protect LGBTQ+ Ohioans from discrimination in employment, housing and accommodations.
The call follows a new directive issued by Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) on Friday that failed to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ+ House employees despite Democratic requests to the Speaker to include the provisions during the drafting process.
“The Speaker’s new directive sends the wrong message, not only to LGBTQ+ staffers at the House, but also to the thousands of Ohioans across the state who worry that they can be fired any time, any day simply for being who they are,” said Leader Sykes. “The governor and leading Ohio businesses have it right—we can’t compete for jobs and investment if we don’t value our workers. It’s past time to pass the Fairness Act to renew our promise of opportunity for all Ohioans.”
More than 800 leading Ohio businesses and organizations have signed onto the Ohio Fairness Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and accommodations.
“Businesses and workers alike say non-discrimination policies often determine investment and relocation,” said Rep. Skindell, who plans to introduce a version of the Ohio Fairness Act in the Ohio House. “That’s why we’re bringing business leaders and advocates to the table to make our state more inclusive and attractive to young workers, their families and the businesses who will drive Ohio’s economic future.”
Ohio remains one of 28 states where individuals can be denied jobs, housing and services based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In Ohio, more than two dozen communities have enacted ordinances protecting LGBTQ+ residents, but the majority of Ohioans still have no protections from discrimination.
Ohio currently has the sixth largest LGBTQ+ population in the nation.
“No one should go to work fearing they could be fired simply for who they are or who they love. This is a real opportunity for the Ohio House of Representatives to join Governor DeWine, the Ohio Senate, the City of Columbus, and dozens of other municipalities in Ohio who protect against overt discrimination against our LGBTQ friends and neighbors. Discrimination is morally wrong, and it sends a terrible message that Ohio isn’t an opening and welcoming state for future employees,” said Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein.