State Rep. Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) announced today that she will be reintroducing legislation to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing or public accommodations. Dubbed the Ohio Fairness Act, the legislation will add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the lists of classes protected from discrimination found in the Ohio Revised Code.
“An individual’s ability to pursue a career, enjoy safe housing, and be a contributing member of society should not be based upon one’s sexual orientation,” said Antonio. “While our country has taken an historic step toward equality with the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, an Ohioan can still get married in the morning and get fired from their job in the afternoon just because of who they are or whom they love. That is not acceptable.”
Ohio remains one of 28 states without clear, inclusive, non-discrimination protections for the LGBT community. Fourteen Ohio cities have already passed fully inclusive non-discrimination ordinances, and 80 of the 98 top employers in Ohio have corporate policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“Many companies understand that laws and policies that allow for discrimination against a class of people act as a barrier to attracting the best and brightest talent to our state,” said Antonio. “Ohioans know our state is a great place to live, work, and raise a family – and that should be true for ALL families, gay and straight alike. The public believes in equal protection for all citizens, and now it’s time for Ohio law to catch up.”
According to a 2013 poll conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, 79 percent of Ohio registered voters believe that laws should be passed banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on both sexual orientation and gender identity.
Legislation has been introduced in the last five General Assemblies to protect all Ohioans from losing their job, being denied housing, or being refused public accommodations based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This is the third time Rep. Antonio has introduced an equal protection measure. The Lakewood lawmaker was joined at the press conference today by Equality Ohio Managing Director Alana Jochum, Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Anita Gray, and several LGBT Ohioans who shared past experiences of being discriminated against at work or in regards to housing because of their sexual orientation.