State Reps. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) today expressed disappointment with the passage of House Bill (HB) 36, which writes discrimination into Ohio law by allowing ministers not to solemnize marriages that are contrary to their personal beliefs.
HB 36 was pushed through the Community and Family Advancement committee Tuesday after not receiving a hearing since February 2017.
“What occurred was procedural ambushing and manipulation the Republicans deliberately performed, both in committee and on the House floor, in order to pass this bill that hasn’t seen a hearing room before yesterday,” said Rep. Boyd. “HB 36, or the Pastor Protection Act, does not protect pastors or clergy people from marrying whomever they do not want to marry. That protection already exists. The U.S. Constitution extends that protection, and it always has.”
In response to this discriminatory bill, Rep. Boyd attempted to introduce a floor amendment that would add to the bill the language from Rep. Antonio’s HB 160, the Ohio Fairness Act, which would bar discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in areas of employment, housing and public accommodations in Ohio.
Unfortunately, the amendment was ruled out of order, because before Rep. Boyd could introduce the Fairness Act amendment, state Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) introduced an amendment that doubled down on discrimination by giving priority to protecting pastors if a conflict arises between pastor protection and the public accommodations law.
“By ruling the Fairness Act amendment out of order and passing Rep. Seitz’s discriminatory amendment, the Ohio House of Representatives missed a true opportunity to provide civil rights protections for LGBT Ohioans,” said Rep. Antonio. “HB 36 writes discrimination into law, and while the existence of the bill may give some a new sense of protection from societal changes, it is cold comfort for those who believe in the separation of church and state and the constitutional rights already afforded religious leaders.”
“This bill, in essence, allows proprietors of property and services that rent to the public at large to turn away members of Ohio’s LGBTQ community. I know from personal experience, how hurtful and wrong it is to be turned away because of who you are,” said Rep. Boyd. “The sponsor of HB 36 referenced ‘Christian principles,’ and I would respectfully remind him, and all of my Republican brothers and sisters, that turning classes of people away is not a Christian principle.”
Ohio remains one of 28 states without clear, inclusive, non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. Nearly two dozen Ohio cities have already passed non-discrimination ordinances, and over 80 percent of the top employers in Ohio have corporate policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“The Ohio Fairness Act is supported by many of Ohio’s most successful businesses, The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Manufacturing Association, among others, and has the potential to serve as an economic catalyst to drive innovation, spur investment and attract the best and brightest to Ohio,” said Rep. Antonio. More than 200 leading Ohio businesses have offered support of HB 160 since it was introduced earlier this year.
Rep. Boyd attempted to offer the amendment today on the floor in Rep. Antonio’s stead. In the eight years that Rep. Antonio has been in the Ohio House of Representatives, today marks a rare session absence as she is in the hospital recovering from hip surgery.